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Improving Ford Freestyle Gas Mileage

manyqxmanyqx Posts: 9
edited March 15 in Ford
We just got a 2007 SEL AWD (12,000mi) and were told to expect 19mpg in town and 24 mpg highway. So far it seems that the I get 16mpg in town and about 20mpg (the 50 mile drive on the highway was very windy..)on the highway, which is almost as bad as our 2000 Windstar... Is there a way to improve the mileage or is there possible anything wrong that causes the lousy fuel efficiency?
Also the FS seems to "roar" when I accelerate from standing to 25mp/h, especially when the engine is cold (about 45 degree in the morning), and going up even small hills. Is that normal??
Maybe all this is normal, just new to me. I would appreciate your input!!
Thanks!
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Comments

  • carstenbcarstenb Posts: 37
    it's easy to get such low mpg in town but i don't know how to get it so low on the highway at say 70-75mph or even higher speed. 24-27mpg at highway speed is pretty normal.

    You need to learn how to best use the CVT and find the sweet spot when accelerating. Higher rpm does not always mean better acceleration but always lower mpg. I try to keep the rpm around 2000, max 2500 when accelerating unless i really need to be quick like when merging onto the highway. This is especially important in town with all the stop and go. Also release the gas pedal once you're at speed and coast, the Freestyle is really good in it.

    Don't know about the roaring but your right foot controls the rpms if nothing's wrong with the car. As i've said, keep the rpms at 2000 and accept that the Freestyle is not a very sporty car. 19-20mpg in town is do-able and you're still not among the slowest ones.

    Do you have the mpg monitor? If so it is pretty educating to reset it frequently to see the actual mpgs and how they change with the driving style.

    At 12000mi you may want to replace the air filter as they won't do it during the normal maintenance.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,794
    The CVT will set the RPMs to match whatever your foot indicates as the desired accleration. Since there are no shift points like a conventional transmission, the engine simply goes up and stays there until you let off the pedal or you reach the desired speed. This is normal behavior.

    I had a 2006 FWD until recently. I was able to achieve 18 MPG in town, and 25.5 on the road @ 80 MPH. I had a small commuter vehicle for local stuff, so towards the end of my ownership I didn't have so much in-town miles - I generally got 22-23 on a mixed driving tank.

    You won't achieve full MPG until the engine is broken in, say around 5000 miles.

    I suggest you read some of the hybrid forums discussing ways to maximize MPG. The hybrid-only techniques aren't useful, but the driving style tips work for any car.

    Some of the techniques I used were:

    - Try not to rush to a light or with traffic. I went the speed limit, but did not accelerate to a red light. Remember that it takes a LOT of gas to accelerate those 4200 lbs, not so much to keep the speed up.

    - I accelerated to around 2200 RPM and then let off the pedal gradually as the speed increased until at around 35 MPH the vehicle was at around 1600 RPM (as I recall).

    - Very short trips will hurt MPG on any vehicle.

    - If you slow down to 65 MPH on the highway I wouldn't be surprised if you achieve 29 MPG. I have achieved 30 MPH on my 2006, but only when driving at 55-60 (traffic that day). That particular tank was from the San Fernando Valley, CA, to Disneyland. I got 33 MPG on the way down there (there is an elevation change of around 1000 feet down), and the 30 MPG was the figure I showed when I got back home.
  • barnstormer64barnstormer64 Posts: 1,106
    As i've said, keep the rpms at 2000 and accept that the Freestyle is not a very sporty car.

    If you're gonna keep the rpm's at 2000, please don't get in front of me. ;)
  • manyqxmanyqx Posts: 9
    I had no idea what the CVT meant in terms of how to drive...
    Do I get it right that even though I get off the gas pedal the speed stays the same or increases instead of - as I remember with my Windstar - going down?
    I also don't quite understand the term "coast" as in cartsenb's "Also release the gas pedal once you're at speed and coast".
    stevedebi and carstenb, thank you for your suggestions and barnstormer, should you end up behind me, I will let you pass :)
  • carstenbcarstenb Posts: 37
    the speed will not go up if you get off the gas pedal but the rpms will go down when you release the pressure on the gas pedal a bit while maintaining the speed. the CVT reacts very sensible on the gas pedal position and i attempt to maintain the lowest rpms neccessary. in other words: it is easy to drive with higher rpms (and higher fuel consumption) than neccessary without gaining much if anything.

    with coasting i meant that the CVT is programmed such that there's very little engine brake when driving on the flats. thus you can let the Freestyle drive without any fuel consumption for long. it pays off to look (and think) ahead as you can often release the gas pedal long before you need to come to a stop. the CVT kicks in the engine brake only on real declines where you will see the rpms going up although you don't even touch the gas pedal.

    i never understood why quick acceleration is so important here in the US. i grew up on the German autobahn without speed limits (back then) and my regular ride are motorcycles since 30 years. so i am well used to high speeds and 0-60mph in 4 seconds. it just doesn't make any sense to me to be 3 seconds earlier at the low max speed here. compared to the time i loose when driving at 70mph on open freeways for hours where i could be twice as fast it just isn't worth the additional fuel i waste.
  • barnstormer64barnstormer64 Posts: 1,106
    i never understood why quick acceleration is so important here in the US

    You must have really LONG acceleration lanes where you live. The problem around here is that the acceleration lanes are typically short.

    You're supposed to be at highway speed BEFORE you get to the first point where you could merge into freeway traffic. That way, you can THEN make the decision whether to speed up or slow down to make the safest merge.

    Too many idiots around here (especially now, trying to conserve gas) end up at only 40mph on the acceleration lane with the freeway speed of 65mph right next to them, and too short of an acceleration lane. So, they have no way to merge safely if there's traffic present.

    This makes everybody behind them on the acceleration lane have to slow down, too. Plus, people behind them on the freeway also have to slow down to let them merge. NONE of this saves any gasoline (in the aggregate sense of all vehicles involved in the area).
  • carstenbcarstenb Posts: 37
    from my original post ;)



    But i agree, in most cases there's someone ahead who isn't capable of using the potential of his or her V8 and thus i can still keep the Freestyle at 2000-2500rpm to safely merge in. But compared to the safety hazard from using cell phones while driving that behaviour is nothing...
  • barnstormer64barnstormer64 Posts: 1,106
    But compared to the safety hazard from using cell phones while driving

    It's not a huge safety hazard if you know WHEN it's safe to do so and when it's not.
  • bobw3bobw3 Posts: 2,997
    If you really need to accelarate quickly, the FS will do it, but you will hear the CVT roar for those few seconds (luckily I don't live in an area where I need to accelerate so quickly just to merge on a highway). Most cars can accelarate fast enough. It depends on the driver, not the car.
  • manyqxmanyqx Posts: 9
    I tried your suggestion yesterday on a 100mile roundtrip and even though the highway is hill-y - constant up and down- the final reading on the mpg-monitor was 25.7mpg. I probably annoyed the other drivers when the speed dropped from 65 to 55-60 on the inclines because I wanted to see if sticking to 2000rpm max would work.
    It did.
    I am from Germany too and there you have to accelerate presto on the autobahn as well as in the city or you're dead meat. I have to unlearn that driving style, I guess...
  • manyqxmanyqx Posts: 9
    I understand that the engine 'roars' when I accelerate really fast but it gets really noisy when I go up or even down a not very steep street or just slighly increase the pressure on the gas pedal.
    Is this due to the CVT or is the FS just a rather noisy vehicle?
    I guess what I want to find out is if this is normal or if there is anything wrong with the transmission.
  • barnstormer64barnstormer64 Posts: 1,106
    I understand that the engine 'roars' when I accelerate really fast but it gets really noisy when I go up or even down a not very steep street or just slighly increase the pressure on the gas pedal.
    Is this due to the CVT or is the FS just a rather noisy vehicle?


    Describe the noise.

    It's probably just the engine.

    At what rpm's is the noise most objectionable?
  • barnstormer64barnstormer64 Posts: 1,106
    I probably annoyed the other drivers when the speed dropped from 65 to 55-60 on the inclines because I wanted to see if sticking to 2000rpm max would work.

    Yes, that's VERY annoying.

    I am from Germany too and there you have to accelerate presto on the autobahn as well as in the city or you're dead meat. I have to unlearn that driving style, I guess...

    Why unlearn good, SAFE driving habits? A couple mpg savings isn't worth it if you're screwing up traffic (which, BTW, causes OTHERS to get poorer gas mileage).

  • bobw3bobw3 Posts: 2,997
    set the cruise to 65mph on the same hilly road and see what MPG you get.
  • bruneau1bruneau1 Posts: 468
    There is nothing wrong with your vehicle. What you describe is normal and the way it was designed. When you get to a hill or even a mild slope, the cvt will adjust to provide the necessary rpms. The cvt also provides slowing action when descending hills- this will increase the noise from the engine. The 3.0 engine is not the quietest on the market, but it is sturdy and reliable. I like the way the Freestyle climbs hills- it always does the right thing. Watch your tachometer and you will observe this constant changing- unless you are on flat ground at a steady speed. Of course, driving smoothly and decreasing speed will always give better mileage. When i want some energetic passing, i take it to 4500 rpms, the torque peak, and away we go. A cvt is not to everyone's liking, but I love it, despite the roars from the engine. The new 6-spd in the Taurus X is always busy shifting and detracts from the good feeling.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,794
    "But i agree, in most cases there's someone ahead who isn't capable of using the potential of his or her V8 and thus i can still keep the Freestyle at 2000-2500rpm to safely merge in. "

    On all my vehicles (my current is a Ford Hybrid Escape), I disregard all "MPG" driving techniques when merging onto a freeway. Hit the gas hard and enjoy the rare feeling of maximum acceleration - until you get up to speed, then resume MPG driving.

    The only time I (probably) annoy drivers in the city is when I don't barge on ahead at full speed when the light is red ahead of me. I begin slowing early. I can't help it if people want to use up their gas, and then use up their brakes!
  • bobw3bobw3 Posts: 2,997
    I agree..safety over MPG.
  • coldcrankercoldcranker Posts: 877
    One easy way to increase MPG about 1/2 MPG or more: Air up your tires right to whatever it says the maximum is on the sidewalls. I wouldn't do this on ice/snow, but other times its fine. On many tires that is up to 44 psi, others only go up to 35 psi.

    Another easy MPG booster (around 1/2 to 1 MPG boost): Make sure you use a 20 oil instead of a 30 or 40 oil like some of you out there are doing. Thats a 5w-20 or 0w-20 weight.

    Another way: remove any unnecessary roof rack cross bars when you're not using them. I've seen a few Freestyles lately with those just "permanently" up there.

    OK, and there is really a 4th way, although I'm not sure if we have any control over it: Make sure your CVT steel belt has optimal tension via hydraulic clamping force on the internal cones. I'm working on finding out whether that is a maintenance task or if it is really optimally set by software commands to a solenoid valve, although that force is not directly sensed. Later on that one. Don't know the answer yet.
  • bruneau1bruneau1 Posts: 468
    Boosting air pressure to the maximum on the tire is a silly and counter-productive measure. Your handling may become overly responsive, your tires will wear out faster, your ride will be awful, there will be more road noise. Maximum pressure will subject the tires to impact damage or worse, and your suspension will take a beating. Does all of this sound like a wise trade-off?
  • bobw3bobw3 Posts: 2,997
    I think that the means to improve MPG is often at the expense of something else.

    For example, some advocate turning off the engine at stoplights, but look at all the addional wear on the engine, starter, etc that will cost more to repair than the savings in MPG. Similarly with using oil that is not recommended by the manufacturer. As far as tires, while I would put them to the max, I generally keep them higher than the 32psi, usually in the mid 30sPSI.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,794
    "For example, some advocate turning off the engine at stoplights, but look at all the addional wear on the engine, starter, etc that will cost more to repair than the savings in MPG."

    Ford Motor Company recommended turning off the engine at stop lights to save fuel, in my 2006 FS owner's manual.
  • coldcrankercoldcranker Posts: 877
    Going to the max sidewall tire pressure is a favorite of the hard-core hypermilers out there. I agree there are consequences. I think the struts would wear out a little sooner if you were at 44 psi, but not that much sooner. The drawbacks are really not that bad. I usually keep pressure at 35 - 38 psi, just a bit above the recommended 32 psi, (summer only) and haven't noticed any problems. In the winter I keep it at 30-31 psi since ice/snow isn't something to mess around with. I would agree that 44 psi, in a tire whose sidewall says that, is probably a bit too extreme in this vehicle. The hypermiler crowd out there is growing fast at $4 gas, so expect more people going to 44 psi. As for the 0w-20 or 5w-20, this is exactly the oil Ford specs, so its the people putting 30 or 40 weight in there that are getting worse MPG and are also out-of-spec. One engineering paper I picked up a while back says that a 20 will give you less ring wear, although the valve train might wear a little more compared to using a thicker oil. If you take into account lower start-up wear with the 20, the overall wear is probably less in a 20 than in a 30 or a 40, so using 20 is best.
  • coldcrankercoldcranker Posts: 877
    This graph from www.fueleconomy.gov shows what is basically correct for the Freestyle as well as most vehicles. Note the dropoff in MPG as you go above 60. Air drag begins to really take a toll the faster you go. For the Freestyle, once I had a long trip (Jackson Hole area highways) where my speed was around 55-60 for many miles, and my MPG was indeed 31, just about like the graph shows. Freestyle MPG drops off because of its abrupt box-shaped rear end as you exceed 55-ish.

    image
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,794
    MY 2006 FS would consistently get 26.5 MPG at 80 MPH.

    I do not disagree with the premise of driving slower and making better MPG. I have achieved 33 MPG in my FS at 60 MPH average speed in (moving) LA traffic.
  • coldcrankercoldcranker Posts: 877
    stevedebi,
    Check your odometer calibration. I had to downgrade my calculated fuel economy when I found out my speedo was off about 4%, meaning the fuel economy MPG was too optimistic. I still get good MPG, near what you get, but 26.5 @ 80 is likely about 1/2 to 1 too high for the 2WD Freestyle, and almost impossible for a 4WD Freestyle type.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,794
    "Check your odometer calibration. I had to downgrade my calculated fuel economy when I found out my speedo was off about 4%, meaning the fuel economy MPG was too optimistic. I still get good MPG, near what you get, but 26.5 80 is likely about 1/2 to 1 too high for the 2WD Freestyle, and almost impossible for a 4WD Freestyle type. "

    I no longer own the FS, I drive an FEH now, which gets about 31 in town and 30 on the highway @68 mph.

    My speedo was off, indicating too high, as I recall from a GPS check.

    Nevertheless, it can be assumed that all FS have the same error, in which case reported speeds and MPG can be compared to other FS, if not to total reality.
  • coldcrankercoldcranker Posts: 877
    I assume FEH you mention is the Escape hybrid. Also, I don't think we can assume the odometer cal is the same across all or even most Freestyles built since 2004. It may be quite random. However, I do wonder if the odometer cal is closer to what the larger diameter tires on the Freestyle Limited models (mine is an SE with the smaller tires) need, since reading too fast means it would be perfect with a 4% larger diameter tire.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,794
    OK, it is coming back to me. My speedo was about 1.7 too LOW at 80 MPH. I think this means that I was actually going faster than the speedometer indicated, which means my MPG was slightly higher than I calculated by hand.
  • coldcrankercoldcranker Posts: 877
    stevedebi does get good MPG out of the Freestyle. I think mine is almost as good. I can remember getting about 26 at 75 MPH on long trips across Kansas I-70 with 4 adults and luggage inside, so the Freestyle is capable of some amazing stuff for a 4,000 lb boxy shape at high speed. Some people seem to have a lot of trouble getting top MPG. My theory is that the steel belt in the CVT may not have optimal tension, meaning some energy is lost to heat the steel belt up, carried away by the tranny cooler. I'm still waiting to get an answer on that from one of the original designers of our CVT.
  • barnstormer64barnstormer64 Posts: 1,106
    However, I do wonder if the odometer cal is closer to what the larger diameter tires on the Freestyle Limited models

    Possibly, since my speedometer seems to tie pretty well with my GPS.

    The computer's mpg, though, still seems to run a bit high compared to filling up and doing the math.
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