The Truth About Cars » ford ecoboost The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 18 Jul 2014 11:30:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » ford ecoboost Event Review: Ford EcoBoost Challenge Thu, 26 Jun 2014 13:02:25 +0000 ecoboost-5

You may have noticed that Ford has been advertising its EcoBoost line of engines everywhere lately. Where I live ads for their EcoBoost Challenge event seemed to be on TV every commercial break. You’d know if you have seen one of these ads if you have heard any of the following lines:
“The Escape blew my mind. Yee Haw!”
“I love love love love it.”
“I don’t know when Ford went out and just like got awesome.”
“I felt like I was driving my mom’s car when I was in the Camry.”
“The Rav4 feels outdated. Feels like, hmm, maybe 20 years ago this could have been great.”
“Does this car also un-park itself?”
“If I had to choose between the Fusion and the Lamborghini Aventador, I’d take the Fusion.”

Sadly, I only made up one of those quotes, the rest actually aired on real Ford commercials. The fact is, Ford is putting EcoBoost engines into everything these days and want the general public to know. The public is invited to experience them at an event they call the EcoBoost Challenge. They have done this for the last few years now, and I decided to check it out and report back so  the readers of TTAC know if they should attend in the future.

The EcoBoost challenge is presented at 13 cities (there are still 2 remaining if you are near San Francisco or Indianapolis). They tend to move it around to different locations each year.


First off, you will want to pre-register. I signed up for the first time slot available, 9am, arrived at 8:45, and they were already letting people in. The main feature is the three distinct driving areas. These range from a leisurely electric vehicle economy challenge, to a direct comparison test drive, and lastly to a quick-lap time competition. The areas were designed to collectively convey the range of capabilities Ford wants you to think of with their latest series of EcoBoost engines.


The EcoBoost Challenge Course gives you the opportunity to compare the Ford Fusion to the Toyota Camry, the Escape to the CR-V, and the F-150 to the Silverado. We were told to drive at least one Ford vehicle and its competition, but were allowed to do all three if interested. Before you drive there is a 10-minute informational session you have to listen to.


The instructor was very knowledgeable and able to answer some technical questions. Specs on the cars we would drive were on the board. Noticeably absent were fuel economy numers. In fact during the entire time I was there no one once mentioned fuel mileage. This did not seem to be on accident after the recent news about over-estimated mileage.


At times during his talk I felt like he was either oversimplifying things, or just plain lying. He would point at the Fusion stats and say emphatically, “EcoBoost is NEW technology!” Then point the Camry numbers and say, “V-6’s are old technology!” Followed by repeatedly saying “New… Old… New… Old” while pointing back and forth. I wanted to be that guy that points out turbo charged engines were used in Renaults by the French in World War I (and probably lots of older applications), so not really all that “new”. I really wanted to be that guy who points out that Ford has even already had a turbo powered 4 cylinder engine in the Mustang… over 30 years ago. But I’m smarter than that and decided against it. Even though I wasn’t there with the media, I figured they would somehow find out I was with The Truth About Cars and remember our review of the Lincoln MKZ and ban me from driving their cars.

Another bold statement was when he spoke about how the rpms an engine runs at determines the wear and tear on a motor. “Lots of wear and tear at 4100 rpms in the Chevy, but very little wear and tear in the Ford at 2500 rpms. Which would you choose?” I began to raise my hand to ask why my friend’s 2013 Escape had been recalled 9 times, 5 of which involve the engine, but stopped myself. The course itself has a straight line acceleration section where they encourage you to floor it, followed by a 180 degree turn and a couple “S” curves through some cones.


Before I go any further, I must say I respect Ford a lot for doing this. I remember a few years ago Saturn offering test-drives in their top competitor’s car at the Saturn dealership. I went to take advantage of this program and was very disappointed to find them trying to have me compare a fully loaded V6 Aura with a base level four cylinder Camry and Accord. That was not the case with the EcoBoost Challenge. I drove a similarly trimmed Fusion Titanium and Camry XLE. Other Ford vehicles also had competitive vehicles that were similarly matched in terms of options. Well-played Ford. Compare your top trim with their top trim and let the best car win. They even left the all-wheel drive Fusion at home since there wasn’t a similar Toyota or Honda to compare it to.


As cool as it was to drive cars back-to-back, you’re still only driving the car for at most 30 seconds. I won’t bore you with a review of each vehicle because I don’t believe you can review a car in that short of time. You will absolutely need to more time behind the wheel than these test-drives if you are considering a purchase. You can however form an initial impression in that time. For whatever it’s worth, here’s my 30-second impression formed after driving each vehicle:

Fusion: Better styling inside and out than the Toyota, has a very soft comfortable ride, and nice lateral seat support.
Camry: Has a sportier feel, with tighter handling than the Fusion.


F-150: A modern interior layout, very soft suspension, and it took full steering lock to make one of the turns.
Silverado: Although a newer model, interior layout feels old; good tight feel to steering, easier to get around turns.


CR-V: Comfortable, predictable, good visibility, with everything right where you’d expect it.
Escape: Quicker in a straight line, edgier design, felt lower to the ground.


The point of the Hypermile Challenge Course was to complete a variable speed course with the highest overall gas mileage reading possible. Here people were comparing the C-Max Hybrid and Prius V. Unfortunately the line was too long for me to experience these so I skipped right on over to the ST Performance Academy Course. Besides, does it seem too gimmicky to anyone else to see how high mileage you can get a ¼ mile course? What’s the point?


The ST Performance Academy gives visitors the chance to drive the Ford Fiesta ST on an autocross style course as hard as they can. No instructors in the car, just you against the clock. This makes the whole event worthwhile.

You begin by pretending you are listening to the instructor’s warnings and tips for 10 minutes. In reality, everyone has their eyes on the scoring board to see what kind of times others in the previous group are getting. Correct that, all the guys were watching the board, a couple of the women were commenting on which color Fiesta they hoped to get to drive. The rules are to get into 2nd gear within a few feet of taking off, leave it there the whole course, and don’t turn traction control off. Hit a cone and 2 seconds are added to your time. Hit 2 cones and you have to go home. There was one Focus ST there as well, which was used by a “professional” driver for ride-a-longs.


I reviewed the Fiesta ST last year for TTAC and I still find the Recaro seats appropriately snug, the rest of the car too small, but the driving experience a total blast. Three laps were all you got. The track record from that morning as well as the previous day was 24.859. Other than driving a NASCAR once I have a total of zero experience racing anything outside of Gran Turismo. My goal was to get within 3 seconds of the record. I’m no Jack Baruth, but I figured I had some sort of reputation of TTAC to uphold.


The track layout suited the Fiesta well. I was disappointed to learn we had to leave it in 2nd gear, but to be honest; it was perfect for the car. The turbo felt strong throughout most of the track and the traction control never cut in. Lap one was a 26.1 for me. I was shocked. I came in at a 25.2 on my second lap. Perhaps I should have followed my dream of being the next Ayrton Senna?


Lap three… and I get distracted and blow it. Just kidding. I set a new track record with a time of 24.5 and backpedaled away from the car like a freakin boss. In my mind I’m pretty sure I’m some sort of driving phenom. I was told to come back in an hour and there would be a race against the driver with 2nd best time for prizes. “No one’s getting close to that time,” I was told.


That was the proudest moment of my life, which is to say if there was a video I’d put it on YouTube and make my kids watch it over and over 20 years from now. With an hour to kill, I took a ride along in the Focus ST with a “professional” driver (who had been driving the track all day and did a 23.9). Although it was fun, the Fiesta actually felt quicker off the line to me.


Watching other competitor’s times I was feeling pretty confident. Ok, cocky. I should have put I was feeling cocky. No one was within a second of me, until the very last driver went and did a 24.9. The one lap race was set. The announcer called people over to watch and introduced us.


Since I had the quicker time I got to go last. This meant my competition was able to get right back into the Fiesta and do another lap while everything was fresh in his mind (read: excuse #1). 24.6. Crap. Suddenly it became very apparent to me that I hadn’t seen the track in an hour and couldn’t remember the route. With everyone watching I start out great and feel even faster than before. Then, unfortunately, I remember a turn along the backstretch that wasn’t actually there. I hit the brakes hard before I realized I could have kept it floored. The rest of the lap I put the Fiesta up on 2 wheels (not really) and did what I could to recover. As I cross the finish line I turn back to see the clock flash 24.8. Although I still had the track record, I didn’t win. The winner was presented with a Go-Pro and diecast of a Focus ST to which he said, “Cool. I have a Focus ST as my daily driver,” (read: excuse #2). I walked away with a $300 pair of Sony headphones.


If you are OK with hiring a 2nd place finisher, I am available for hire to race. I specialize in very short autocross courses where shifting isn’t necessary. Since I didn’t get a trophy, I’ll probably just put the headphones up on display in my house.


As always, since this is The Truth About Cars, I need to point out a complaint as well. The TV ads for the event show people ride along as a Fusion parallel parks itself using park assist, be amazed at the foot activated lift gate, experience blind spot demonstrations, and learn all the cool features of Sync. That all sounds great, except that none of that actually happen at the EcoBoost Challenge (at least the one I was at).

As I look back, it is neat to see all Ford can do with slight variations of almost the same EcoBoost engine. Driving the Fiesta makes me feel a little better about what seems to be the trend in the auto industry of getting rid of big engines. Last year over 28,000 people participated in these EcoBoost Challenge events and I can see why. The event was more fun than I anticipated. Sony also had a display where guests were invited to sit in an Explorer and give opinions on different audio settings they are experimenting with. Sony rewards the feedback with a nice set of earbuds. Goodyear had a display; other Ford models were being shown, plus the usual free t-shirts and trinkets and trash were given out. Driving away I had a more positive view of Ford and their current models… and I guess that is probably the point. Thanks Ford, for getting regular people behind the wheel of some of your cars.


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QOTD: Are V6 Powered Full-Size Trucks Hitting Critical Mass? Tue, 05 Mar 2013 14:00:03 +0000

Even though Ford Ranger is dearly missed, Ford is claiming that Ranger customers are content with upgrading to an F-150 with one of Ford’s V6 powerplants – and they’re hardly alone in opting for the smaller powerplant.

Automotive News reports that the V6 powered F-150 has achieved a majority

F-150s equipped with V-6 engines, rather than V-8s, accounted for 53 percent of the 2012 sales total, a rate that exceeded Ford’s expectations.

The revival of the Ford Ranger has gotten plenty of attention this week, after an article by TTAC alum Justin Berkowitz shed light on the possibility of a compact, unibody pickup slotting below the F-Series. Whether or not this truck even comes to the USA is another matter.

What’s most compelling is the shift to a V6 engine in a segment where anything less than a V8 was seen as an emasculating choice. Even Ford was apparently caught out by the strong demand for the V6 engines. One source tells us that Ford initially expected a take rate of 15 percent for the Ecoboost, and hustled to meet demand when the real take rate ended up at around 40 percent or more.

Even though GM has downplayed the V6 option on their upcoming Silverado and Sierra trucks, Ram has been relentless in touting the new Pentastar V6 on the new Ram 1500. It will be interesting to get the data on Pentastar take rates once the redesigned Ram has had a full year of sales. The Ecoboost has the “urination contest” advantage of having two turbochargers and a lot more torque than competitive V6 and V8 engines, which may take some of the sting out of not having the two extra cylinders. Lest we forget that the emotional factor is frequently in play when choosing any car, and full-size trucks are no exception. The base 3.7L may be the prudent choice if fuel efficiency and saving money are the priorities – but as its minimal take rate demonstrates, the macho factor is still what’s important.

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Ford Could Boost Displacement Of Ecoboost 3-Cylinder Thu, 01 Nov 2012 15:50:45 +0000

The 3-cylinder Ecoboost engine developed by Ford won’t necessarily stay at its current displacement of 1.0L. According to the Blue Oval, there’s a fair bit of power – and displacement – left on the table.

In world markets where vehicles are taxed on displacement, the 999cc engine is a boon to buyers who can buy something like a Mondeo-sized vehicle while avoiding the steep levies of a relatively larger powertrain. But Andrew Fraser, Ford’s head of gasoline engine development, told AutoExpress that as the regulations vary by country, so can the engine’s displacement.

“We have a maximum capacity per cylinder of 500cc, so a 1.5-litre engine is certainly possible. In growing markets there are incentives for certain sizes of engines, so in Brazil they want a 1.0-litre engine, in India it’s 1.2 and in China it’s 1.5 – the EcoBoost engine could be all of those.”

Fraser cited 200 horsepower as a possible figure for the larger displacement motors. The 1.0L engine in maximum tune can put out as much as 220 horsepower when pushed to its limits.

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QOTD: What Is Up With Efficient Engine Nomenclature? Thu, 02 Aug 2012 12:00:28 +0000

Starting with the redesigned 2013 Accord, Honda will introduce its new, ultra-efficient/more powerful Earth Dreams engine lineup. And it’s far from the most silly moniker attached to automotive technology.

Acura, of course, had their Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive. If you’ve ever watched a Japanese market product video on Youtube (or, if you’re the at Kreindlers, pulled a dusty VHS tape off the basement bookshelf), you know that it would sound great being barked out by an overly enthusiastic Japanese-speaking narrarator, but sounds slightly absurd when processed by a North American ear.

By far the silliest is “Skyactiv”, from Mazda. The technology behind it is great; ultra efficient engines, light weight and automatic gearboxes that are actually enjoyable. But is it spelled “SKYACTIV”, “Skyactiv” or “SKYActiv”. Why the name? What does it mean? At least, on the American front, “Ecoboost” is pretty descriptive, even if its more “Boost” than “Eco”.

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Ford Bets On Ecoboost, Chrysler And GM On Natural Gas For Pickups Mon, 12 Mar 2012 20:47:26 +0000

While both General Motors and Chrysler are putting their money on Compressed Natural Gas options for their pickup-truck lineups, Ford is going with pretty much everything but CNG as it examines alternative fuel strategies for future vehicles – and for now, the 3.5L Ecoboost V6 will be the standard bearer for light duty versions of the Ford F-Series.

Automotive News spoke with Ford product development boss Raj Nair, who told the outlet

“Relative to what we’re achieving with EcoBoost and our electrification strategy in the U.S., what we’re achieving with the diesel strategy here in Europe and elsewhere, those are more solid bets to put really solid investments in for mainstream offerings,” 

Nair also cited CNG’s lack of infrastructure as another reason to avoid CNG. But Chrysler’s Ram Tradesman pickup will come in a CNG powered variant, while GM will offer a Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra with a 6.0L V8 that can switch between CNG and regular gasoline.

Buried in the article is a quote from Nair stating that Ford will

“…do conversions for pickups that would allow them to run on natural gas, Nair said. The market for trucks using the technology will be “very dependent on what the regulatory environment is going to be.”

So, Ford is still hedging their bets, and looking to see if this “Made in America” fuel will get the kind of economic incentives that EVs and plug-ins  are privy to. Chrysler and GM will join Honda as the big purveyors of CNG powered cars in the United States – Honda sells the Civic GX in small volumes.

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