By on October 25, 2017

All-New 2018 Ford F-150 - Image: Ford

Think of the Ford F-150 pickup and one’s mind immediately turns to an excellent pair of EcoBoost V6 engines with 2.7 and 3.5 liters of displacement. And why wouldn’t you? Together, Ford’s twin-turbocharged V6 twins make up three-quarters of the model’s engine share. These beauties are the last word in full-size pickup torque, though the 2.7-liter is a wanderer that finds deserving homes in such models as the Ford Edge, Lincoln MKX, and Ford Fusion Sport.

For 2018, both EcoBoost engines see some refinements, but buyers of F-150 XL and XLT pickups won’t see either if they leave those option boxes unchecked. In a bid to increase fuel efficiency across the lineup, 2018 sees the introduction of a naturally aspirated 3.3-liter V6 in low-rung trims, replacing the previous 3.5-liter unit.

There’s no shortage of technology at work with the new 3.3, but it can’t match the fuel economy of the closest available engine upgrade.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a two-wheel-drive 3.3-liter F-150 sips gasoline to the tune of 19 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, for a combined rating of 21 mpg. Adding four-wheel traction sees those numbers slip by 1 mpg combined, and 2 mpg on the highway.

Respectable numbers, especially given the engine’s healthy output. The 3.3-liter makes 290 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque, assisted in its power and fuel economy goals by dual port- and direct-injection, plus twin independent variable cam timing. Last year’s 3.5-liter made less power and delivered 20 combined/18 city/24 highway in 2WD guise.

Still, there’s a reason automakers are flinging turbochargers at practically every model. Upgrading to the 2.7-liter EcoBoost, now with 325 hp and 400 lb-ft, means less pain at the pumps — at least on paper. The EPA rates that engine (in a 2WD F-150) at 20 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway, and 22 mpg combined. Going 4WD takes those figures to 21 combined/19 city/24 highway. More power, and still more fuel economy, it seems. (Keep in mind that the 3.3-liter still uses Ford’s six-speed automatic, while the 2.7 receives the new 10-speed.)

While the EPA claims the 3.3-liter can’t quite match the fuel consumption of the 2.7-liter, your mileage may very well vary. A recent test of an F-150 King Ranch, equipped with a 3.5-liter EcoBoost and 10-speed auto, saw the week’s observed fuel economy fall well below the EPA rating. The driver (yours truly) was not hoofing it, just to make that clear.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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43 Comments on “Despite Technology Boost, Ford F-150’s New Base Engine Still Guzzles More Gas Than the Upgrade...”


  • avatar
    doctorv8

    It’s either Eco or Boost…take your pick.

    • 0 avatar
      volvo driver

      Exactly, that’s the point of turbocharging. It’s essentially displacement on demand there is no free lunch without hybridization.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      doctorv8,
      You make a valid point.

      To achieve the figures that are on the stickers, you must drive like a tosser, creating havoc on the roads.

      If you are just keeping up with traffic you will need to use boost quite often. No 2.7 litre engine will keep a vehicle the size of the F150 mobile without using throttle.

      • 0 avatar
        Michael S.

        As an owner of a crewcab F-150 with the 2.7, I beg to differ. Like all fuel economy ratings, it depends on your speed and driving style. This month I drove 540 miles on a day trip to Columbia, SC, having to take mainly two-lane highways with the cruise control set at 65 most of the way, stop-go in Columbia, and a small amount of interstate driving at 75-80mph. I averaged 25.2 mpg on that tank with me, the wife, and a 2.5 year old. Two days later we had to do another trip, going primarily interstate for the same distance. With the cruise set at 75-80 most of the trip, and some extra stops along the way for food and idling in traffic, I got 22.4 mpg.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “Respectable numbers, especially given the engine’s healthy output. The 3.3-liter makes 290 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque, assisted in its power and fuel economy goals by dual port- and direct-injection, plus twin independent variable cam timing. Last year’s 3.5-liter made less power and delivered 20 combined/18 city/24 highway in 2WD guise.”

    Sure but at what RPM’s does each motor produce those torque/HP numbers?

    The big selling point for me with the EcoBoost engines is that they pull good and strong below 2K RPM. That’s what you want in a truck, not something that you need to rev the snot out of to get any power out of it.

    Put 7K pounds behind an F150 and the one with the EcoBoost will walk all over the base 3.3 V6.

  • avatar
    ajla

    You’d have to love Ford or Ram to not go for the 4.3L if you’re shopping the base V6.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      I don’t think that anyone is, has, or ever will shop the base motor to actually drive themselves.

      For your employees on company tires and a company gas card besides, the slower the better.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Our local GMC dealer literally does not have a single 4.3 V6 powered Sierra on the lot regardless of trim level (and he shows an inventory of 85). He even will keep several base models around (not SL anymore but no trim badge base).

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      They’re popular in woods trucks, particularly as RCSBs. Virtually all the weight saved by going for the smaller engine, is from the engine’s front. Pickups are already too front weight biased as is, so the weight savings benefit them more than the spec sheet would indicate. On soft ground in low range, on regular trucks without Power Wagon style low range specific throttle programs, the lower torque makes the trucks more adept as well.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    Simple. The 3.3 can only be paired with the 6 speed, and the rest of the lineup comes with the 10 speed.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      JimZ,
      In real life the 3.3 will be returning better figures than the EcoThirst. EPA and CAFE figure are just that numbers with little meaning other than to gauge against other vehicles.

      CAFE should use a 0-100 numbering system for FE as it will be just as accurate as the so called FE CAFE figures.

  • avatar
    MrIcky

    The ecoboost engines are great little runners that overachieve for towing capacity but I’ve never seen one consistently pull it’s rated mileage figures.

    I’d like the 2.7 in a 2door extra cab config with the 10speed and 4wd. That would be a great all around package.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @MrIcky – if one has good self discipline then yes, one can match or exceed EPA ratings but as the saying goes, “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” I had a rental F150 EB 3.5 for 8 days and drove it like a rental. The power was corrupting. You did have to treat it more like a diesel or like a 5.4 on steroids. One tends to expect to rev a V6 turbo’ed engine but that tends to push the motor into a RPM range where it produces less power.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      MrIcky,
      I have a 3.5 EcoThirst Expedition and it is superior to the 5 litre V8 aluminium vunder trux F150 I have in the horsepower department and liveliness.

      But, even driving around easy with the EcoBoost it still suck down the go go juice, no different than the V8 F150.

      Both vehicles are averaging between 14 and 15mpg every tank. Most driving is freeway/urban.

      • 0 avatar
        dont.fit.in.cars

        I drive Chevy 2500HD 6.0. While pulling a 7500 lb travel trailer came upon a EB Expedition towning a similar TT north bound on the Grapevine. The moment I caught the EB, he pulled anchor, dropped the hammer and pulled away effortlessly.

        If Blue Oval offered the Raptors’ HO EB in a F350, I’d switch in a heartbeat.

  • avatar
    Dan

    As expensive as these trucks are, and as cheap as gas is, only a fleet manager would care about a paper mpg here or there.

    And were I a fleet manager, between the $1,000 turbo upcharge and the ease with which that upcharge will burn up the rear tires, the base motor it would be and paper mpg be damned.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Given today’s lofty transaction prices for trucks, cheap gas, and the sales domination of trucks over anything else, I’m guessing nobody cares about a 1 or 2 mpg difference.

    “In a bid to increase fuel efficiency across the lineup, 2018 sees the introduction of a naturally aspirated 3.3-liter V6 in low-rung trims, replacing the previous 3.5-liter unit.”

    People are willing to pay for what they want, and the base engine won’t be it.

    The new base engine is an entry-price sales hook which can be built more cheaply than the EcoBoost engines. Its only purpose is to get customers in the door.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      Its really not even to get customers into the door, considering it is hard to even find the 3.3L. Its more to give fleet customers a cheap NA option in case they are concerned about longevity with the Ecoboost turbos.

      The $1000 upgrade to the 2.7 Ecoboost is a no brainier for most retail consumers and is effectively the base engine as far as most dealers are concerned.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Lou,
        I do think in “real life” the 3.3 will return better FE than the 2.7 EcoThirst, but for $1000 the upgrade to the EcoThirst appears to be good value, if you can live with 15mpg in real life.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @SCE to AUX – the 3.3 exists to keep fleets happy. TTDI engines will tend to be more problematic in the hands of employees who don’t have to foot any maintenance or repair costs.
      With that being said, my local dealer tends to have multiple fleet spec vehicles on hand and the 5.0 V8 tends to be the “go to” engine. Anything with a normally aspirated V6 tends to languish on the lot.

  • avatar
    Hydromatic

    I think I’ll just stick with the 5.0 V8. It’ll be a sight to behold when Ford finally phases out V8 power for the F-150.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Hydromatic,
      The 5 litre in the F150 isn’t not as good as the 5.7 in the Hemi. The Ram seemed to pull better from lower down and the Ford feels like a high revving 4cylinder in comparison.

      To get the F150 mobile with the 5 litre seems to use more throttle than the Ram.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Wait! Wait! Where are our TTAC “experts” who said the Ecoboost engines would be abject failures? We don’t hear much from them these days.

  • avatar
    brn

    I’m just delighted to see that Ford is still developing NA V6’s. I hope this motor works it’s way into other vehicles.

    I currently drive a vehicle with a Ford 3.5NA. It puts out nearly identical numbers to the new 3.3NA and I wouldn’t trade it for an EB.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      Agreed, brn. It’s not like Ford is re-introducing a license-built Iron Duke or Two Point Slow here. The notable feature is dual injection. Toyota seems to be having good luck with this technology; it’s a win-win in terms of improving emissions/efficiency and alleviating carbon build-up concerns. So in terms of fuel delivery at least, the 3.3 is a more up-to-date engine than the 2.7 EB or 3.5 EB. Obviously we’ll see dual injection in future iterations of the EB engines, but at this moment they don’t have it.

      I imagine we’ll see a transverse 3.3 in cars and CUVs sooner rather than later.

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        Correction: Ford’s site indicates some, not all, of the EBs already have dual injection as well. The point remains, though, that the 3.3 is a cutting-edge engine; it just is NA.

  • avatar
    johnnyz

    19mpg avg for a 2016 f150 supercrew 2.7. I have a lead foot too.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    CAFE and EPA figures are bullsh!t figures.

    I’m running an EcoThirst Expedition and a dual cab 5 litre F150. 14 to 15 mpg is what they offer.

    Even the 1500 Ram I had with a Hemi was 14 mpg.

    I do believe the V6 with the 6spd would offer slightly better FE. If it had more gears it would be better than any other F150.

    • 0 avatar
      Shane Rimmer

      I traded in my Titan on a 4WD F-150 crew cab with the 2nd gen 3.5 ecoboost and I’ve been getting between 20 and 21 mpg, calculated at the pump.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Shane Rimmer,
        I find that hard to believe. I’m not the only one with the Expedition, we have quite a few and the FE issue is the same.

        Earlier this year we had some 3.5EB Expeditions near Seattle and the same again.

        I had a 4×4 dual cab Ram and it’s FE was on par with the Expeditions. The only thing we had that got close to 20mpg was the Sienna people mover, it was sitting around 19mpg.

        • 0 avatar
          Shane Rimmer

          While I doubt the 10-speed transmission makes enough of a difference (not sure what the Expedition has), I have noticed that the fuel economy starts falling off a cliff, according to the computer, above 65 mph. My driving is about 80% highway at 60 mph. I have left the auto-stop/start system enabled, but that shouldn’t have much of an impact with my driving behavior.

          • 0 avatar
            Shane Rimmer

            On the subject, I drive my F-150 the same way I drove my 2011 Titan Pro-4X, and the Titan never delivered better than 16 mpg under the same conditions.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Why does Ford have such a hard time meeting EPA numbers?

    Do turbos from GM, Honda, BMW, the few Lexus turbos, VW have problems meeting their EPA numbers?

    The Ford engines seem very very good from a functional perspective, but I just cannot grasp how they can be so bad in real world economy, especially if other companies do not have this issue.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Jerome10,
      Turbo engines are great. But, many are disillusioned by their real FE vs the reported CAFE and EPA figures.

      When a normal person drives one of those EcoBoost V6 Ford products they don’t return the FE many Ford fans sprout. We have them at work and they just don’t deliver. They have power, but so did the Hemi Ram I had, with similar FE.

      I even doubt Fuelly figures as well to a degree.

  • avatar
    BobinPgh

    Can a driver tow with a turbocharged vehicle? I can remember in an owners manual for I think a Plymouth Laser not to use the turbocharged version for towing, probably because the TBGR would be on all the time and overheat. Or did Ford somehow solve this issue?

  • avatar
    nrd515

    I wouldn’t touch an EB F150 with a 10 foot pole. I have 2 friends with them and they have both had engine issues that Ford has refused to cover. The one truck is an early one, and it’s had a bunch of turbo issues, along with sensors and a front end issue. The engine issues started well before the first year and continue. He is saving up to buy a new truck and it’s going to be a V8 F150. With all the problems he’s had with Ford products over the 30 years I’ve known him, I don’t understand his loyalty to the brand at all. I would be looking at GM or Ram, but it’s F150 or nothing with him. The other friend’s truck is still under warranty, and it has an intermittent turbo issue where it loses boost at random times, along with blown head gaskets. The dealer seems to understand his frustration and has tried to get Ford to replace the engine, but they aren’t budging. He’s looking to bail on the thing as soon as it’s paid off. He’s making double and triple payments to get rid of it before the warranty is gone. Looks like it’s going to be a Silverado for him with the 5.3.

  • avatar
    hermann2012

    As an owner of a 2018 2wd regular cab with the 3.3 na V6 the hate thrown at it is unwarranted. My ave MPG is 21.2 in mixed driving. It has decent low speed grunt (not overwhelming) so I don’t have to rev the krap out of it. When you really get on it, it goes like vehicle with 290 HP that weighs 4100 lb. Like Holy Direct Injection Batman. It is an absolute blast to drive in Sport mode. You get to 70 mph in 3 Mississippi’s. Don’t slam this engine, it has its place for people who drive a truck as a daily driver. Others can have their V-8 burble, or the plumbing intensive EcoBoosts. I am happy. I chose this over an identical truck that had a 2.7 EB. YMMV

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