Long Term Test Ford F-150 EcoBoost Update 1
By Kevin Gordon
I would be remiss if I did not apologize to all of the readers of Autosavant for the delay in getting this first update to you. Since, we purchased the truck at the end of June, we have added 5,000 miles to it. Since the miles are being added so quickly, we plan to provide updates at 5,000 mile intervals going forward. As most of the questions we have received about the truck focus on fuel economy that will be first after the break. If you’re interested in more frequent updates on the life and times of the truck, please follow @autosavantkg on twitter.
To date we have averaged 17.9 miles per gallon. Our worst tank was the first at 15.3 and since average economy has steadily increasing. The best average tank was 19.6 MPG and some pure highway trip resets have seen averages above 22 MPG. The reality of this engine is that it isn’t magic, but it is an improvement on previous generations. If you drive hard, idle for extended periods, and spend inordinate amounts of time enjoying all 420 pound feet of torque expect to see numbers closer to 14 or 15. If you live in a lightly developed area, have a daily commute of pure highways, watch the eco gauge, and never tow anything expect to see numbers of 19 or 20. For our first 5k, the truck has not been called to on tow anything, and has been used for daily duties as an average truck would. As shown in the pictures, we did have a chance to spend a little time off-road and have used the 5.5ft bed to haul quite a bit. I don’t believe it has been overly babied, but it is far from being abused.
As a bit of an aside, I have lived with full size pickups before and I have never managed average mileage numbers close to these before. Since I was the person driving all of the vehicles in question, I can honestly say that I drove them all in the same fashion. This includes a 2001 Toyota Tundra with the 4.7 liter V-8, I put over 100,000 miles on that truck and despite it being smaller and giving up 100 hp/100 lb-ft to the EcoBoost, it couldn’t hit these numbers. I realize that truck is now over 10 years old, but at the time that was an advanced V8, and had less weight and frontal area to push around.
I have mentioned this before, but two things conspire against truly impressive fuel economy numbers on this truck. The first is living in the Philadelphia metro area with the average rate of travel of 70 MPH+. On those roads with a closely monitored 55 MPH limit, it is clear that this truck could beat its EPA estimated highway number of 21 MPG. The second issue is that the tallest rear axle ratio that is available on FX4 pickups is a 3.73. This results in this truck turning 2000+ RPM at 70 MPH. If you were towing or if you were to fit larger diameter tires this ratio would be welcome, but a stock truck that is unloaded could easily turn 500 RPM less without issue. With all of that being said, we are beating the EPA combined estimate by almost a mile per gallon.
Beyond the mileage there are a few other interesting lessons learned. The thing that comes across most often is that Ford knows how to build pick up trucks. The four door cab in the F-150 is a quiet and comfortable place to spend time. Road noise is well managed and so far there is not a squeak or rattle. The lower grade leather seats are missing the cooling feature, but they are comfortable and have been easy to wipe down. The ride is smooth with minimal head shake. The interior is well laid out and the lack of any type of navigation leaves large, easy to understand buttons to access any infotainment functions. One major plus here is that there are 10 numbers as presets on the stereo. This has two benefits; one is that you can program more presets than you’ll ever need and that when you use SYNC to dial a phone number you just push in the numbers. In a world with smartphones and address books this might seem pointless, but just being able to mash in your desired number without turning a knob or being required to push a touch screen is intuitive and effective.
Not every thing is perfect with the truck. The base stereo (without the Sony sound package) can only be described as adequate if you enjoy AM radio. Any sort of bass response is missing, the lack of a separate tweeter is easily noticed and without the center speaker, any type of “stage” is missing. This is an area that needs to be addressed, and we plan to do that after visiting SEMA next month. The other major issue that has come up is that the rear view camera (which is behind the glass in the rear view mirror) has lost its night mode. In other words, at night the camera used to go to a much higher contrast view and that is no longer happening. In addition, the visual grid lines are no longer functioning as intended. Since this isn’t a major issue, we have not taken the truck back to the dealer for warranty service, but plan to address it during its first service. Other complaints have been that the headlights just are not bright enough and that there needs to be another stop indent when you open the front doors. The doors swing from barely open to wide open without a middle stop.This results in challenges when parking this large vehicle in crowded parking lots, and it seems like one of the things Ford could easily fix.
Overall the first 5,000 miles have been enjoyable and pain free. The maintenance minder has yet to tell us that any service is due, and according to the onboard computer, more that 50% oil life is remaining. Knowing that this is a turbocharged motor and living with them in the past, I had expected it to burn through and dirty oil quickly, but that has been far from the case. During a recent check the oil is barely dirty and the fill mark has not moved. As time passes this is going to be one of the other interesting points to track, but for now it appears as if Ford has done its homework with this engine’s development.
Please use the comments below – or shout to us on Twitter @autosavantkg – to let us know if you have any questions or if there are any truck specific products you would like reviewed. We have added two aftermarket accessories and we expect to post their reviews soon.