MPGs matter, it turns out, even to pickup buyers. Or, perhaps especially to pickup truck buyers.
Just four months after Ford added an EcoBoost engine option to its top-selling F-150 pickup truck, the company reports that fully 35 percent of the 2011 model's sales are fitted with either that fuel-efficient 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine or the even-more-efficient 3.7-liter base V-6.
"The No. 1 unmet need for full-size pickup truck owners has been fuel economy,” said Doug Scott, marketing manager for the Ford Truck Group. He said the 2011 Ford F-150 now has "best-in-class fuel economy, best-in-class capability and power, and more powertrain choices."
Ford has vowed that it will deliver best-in-class fuel economy in all of its new products.
The version of the EcoBoost engine used in the Ford F-150 pickup raises the truck's fuel efficiency to 16 mpg city, 22 mpg highway, for a combined 18-mpg rating, while the less powerful but even higher-mileage 3.7-liter base V-6 is rated at 17 mpg city, 23 mpg highway, for a combined rating of 19 mpg. All figures are for two-wheel-drive models.
The mileage of the base 3.7-liter V-6 is 12 percent better than the most economical V-8 offering, the 5.0-liter engine, which the EPA rates at 15 mpg city and 21 mpg highway, and 17 mpg combined.
2011 Ford F-150 EcoBoostEnlarge Photo
A rise from 17 to 19 mpg may not sound very impressive. But in fact, it saves almost two-thirds of a gallon of gasoline every 100 miles, the same amount as raising the gas mileage of a smaller car all the way from 38 to 50 mpg.
That's because miles-per-gallon isn't a linear scale, and actually confuses a majority of car buyers. But we'll leave that discussion for another time.
Many pickup trucks get driven more miles each year than passenger cars, and for those trucks, the fuel savings and reduction in tailpipe emissions are even higher.
Ford's line of EcoBoost engines uses gasoline direct injection and turbocharging to extract more power from a smaller displacement. The company says its 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 (fitted to the Ford Taurus SHO and Flex models, and the Lincoln MKS and MKZ) offers the performance of a V-8 with fuel efficiency up to 20 percent better.
The company's EcoBoost lineup will expand over the next few years. It will launch a 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine in its Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX models, though release dates have not yet been set. And there are even smaller EcoBoost fours to come, though they will be used first for models sold in Europe.