It seems like just yesterday that our long term Ford F-150 Ecoboost FX4 SuperCrew hit the 5000 mile mark. Here we are with a truck that has rolled past the 10,000 mile mark. Since our last update, we have had our first service, been through one warranty repair and have seen fuel economy fall off from the first report. We are still looking to demo some products for the truck and are interested in your questions and comments. Read on for all the news and use the comments to let us know what you would like to see.
I am the primary driver of the F-150 and even after almost a year with it, I still enjoy the F-150 every time I get behind the wheel. When you spend time reviewing cars you can end up leaving your primary driver parked for long periods. There has yet to be a time when I have gotten back into the F-150 and missed whatever I had been driving previously. The truck remains quiet, comfortable, and the EcoBoost V-6 delivers such impressive power it is tough to be fair to fuel economy.
At this point of ownership, I can confidently say that the EcoBoost V-6 gets slightly better mileage when compared to the best in class V-8s. To date we have averaged 17.2 miles per gallon. This is almost dead on to the EPA estimate for mixed driving at 17 MPG. The first 5000 miles came in at 17.9 MPG and this 5000 mile segment came in at 16.4 MPG. I tracked our driving closely and this round was far more city focused than the first 5000 miles, so the decrease is not surprising. Over this time our average speed was 29.5 MPH and at our first update the average speed was closer to 34 MPH.
Originally, I had wondered how long it would take to pay off the extra $750 cost of the EcoBoost. From my experience it would take almost five years to gain back $750 extra the EcoBoost costs in fuel savings. If you go by the EPA (and we have been right on their numbers) the EcoBoost gets about 5.88% better fuel economy (1 MPG (the improvement over the mixed EPA number)/17 (the EPA mixed number for a 4*4 Ecoboost) * 100 (to get the percentage)) in mixed driving when compared to the 5.0. (Who said you’d never need word problems again??) If you drive an average 12,000 miles per year you would burn 705.8 gallons of gas. At $3.71 a gallon (the current average) that would be $2,618.82 spent on gas in a year in the EcoBoost. With the 5.0 you would burn 750 gallons and spend $2,782.50 per year. So, if everything went the way the EPA said it would it would take a little over four and a half years to make back your money. To be fair, keeping your truck clean, maintained, and your tires inflated properly could also gain you similar economy.
So with a potential five year payback is the EcoBoost worth it? Absolutely! It isn’t the economy that makes this engine special, it is the power. I would happily put this version of the EcoBoost (it is different from Ford’s other offerings) up against any European competitor. The EcoBoost is a torque monster that is both quiet and smooth.
Spending this amount of time in a vehicle does allow one to learn all of the little intricacies that you would not have a the chance of finding even after spending a week with truck. Here are a few things that we have found annoying and would love for Ford to address in future versions of the truck. This truck is outfitted with the FX4 package which is intended to boost its off-road prowess. It works well and the rear locker makes playing in the mud and sand a bit more comforting. The issue is that the engine bay gets filthy and is very difficult to clean. Part of the issue appears to be that the EcoBoost does not take up all that much space under the hood allowing dirty water, mud and sand to make its way all over the top of the engine. Beyond the large gap in front of the engine I’m at a loss to explain how dirty the engine bay gets. I have off-roaded other trucks and Jeeps and nothing gets as dirty under the hood as the F-150 EcoBoost.
SYNC works as well as can be expected once everything is connected, but it cannot handle re-connecting to a Bluetooth audio source after a restart. In other words, if you are listening to Bluetooth streaming and shut down the car, when you restart it Sync doesn’t reconnect to Bluetooth and defaults to the 3.5mm aux input. This then requires you to pick Bluetooth audio as the source once Bluetooth connects. Almost everything else I have driven recently has a pause when starting the car to give the audio system a chance to connect to Bluetooth and then start streaming again. I am going to ask Ford if they can provide an update for SYNC, stay tuned for our next update.
In our last updated I noted that the key pad on the door is very useful, but it is missing a feature. If you’re like me and wake before the sun rises, it would be very nice if the pad lit after a pull at the locked door handle. After you press the first button it lights, but at that point you have most likely pushed the wrong button. Another nice feature of the F-150s are the constantly powered 12 Volt outlets in the truck. Together with the USB port for SYNC, you can keep almost anything charged, even charging things while the truck is off. Here is another suggestion for Ford: allow the dashboard mounted power outlet to be switched from constant hot to ignition dependent. This way, if you’re like us and use a radar detector, you will no longer need to remember to turn on and off the device every time you enter the truck. The final improvement that this truck needs is an additional door holder indent. What is that you ask? You know when you open the door of your car and it has natural places it will stop and hold? Well, in the F-150 it has two options, barely open and you just smashed the car next to you. It just needs one more spot directly between the two that exist now.
Do those things sound too nitpicky? Maybe, but they are the little annoyances that you learn over time. Here is the good news: the truck has run like a finely made Swiss watch for over 10,000 miles. In that time it required one oil change, at 10,014 miles, and had one minor technical issue. The only glitch in the truck was a backup camera that had lost its high-contrast mode at night. I have talked to a number of our readers and most people didn’t know about this or understand what I was talking about. When I first bought the truck, at night when you shifted it into reverse, the backup camera came on as expected. The trick was it went into a high contrast mode, almost like a night vision. Then, one day, it stopped working and you had to ride the brake pedal to be able to see anything with the camera at night.
I took it back to Ford and they thought I was a bit crazy, but after checking their system they found a TSB (technical service bulletin) about the backup cameras. The TSB said that the software in the actual camera could be faulty and to replace it if a customer reported any issues, so a replacement was ordered. (If you’re having the same issue make sure you advise your service manager to order a new rear badge as well, because it needs to be broken off to replace the camera.) A week later I had a backup camera that works wonders at night and doesn’t require riding the brakes in order to see. The pictures attached are after the replacement camera was installed. You’ll note that the screen isn’t as grainy as it appears in the photos; the grain is a result of night photos with no flash.
During the service we chose to have them put synthetic oil in as a replacement. This was to see if synthetic performed any miracles for fuel economy (it hasn’t) and also to help with the longevity of a truck we plan to keep for years. The synthetic oil change cost $69.91 and they charged us $26.95 to rotate the tires for a total cost of $96.86 plus tax. Almost $30 to rotate the tires is a bit pricey so next time we’ll do that ourselves – or maybe we should just put new wheels and tires on the truck.
Here is where we need your help: what aftermarket parts would you like to see us test on the truck? We have started reaching out to manufactures to test products, but we would love to go to them with your ideas and feedback. As always, follow @AutosavantKG for more frequent updates on the long term test EcoBoost Ford F-150.