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Fuel Economy Test: 2.7-liter EcoBoost vs. 5.0-liter V8 - 2015 Ford F-150 Long-Term Road Test

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Posts: 10,059
edited May 2016 in Ford
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Fuel Economy Test: 2.7-liter EcoBoost vs. 5.0-liter V8 - 2015 Ford F-150 Long-Term Road Test

We compared the fuel economy of our 2015 Ford F-150 with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 to a similar truck with a 5.0-liter V8 engine and found surprising results.

Read the full story here


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Comments

  • geezermikegeezermike Posts: 22
    Excellent write up! Exactly the question I have been asking myself .... that and how the 2.7 EcoBoost compares to Ram EcoDiesel. It will be interesting to see how the F150's 10 speed next year changes these compares.
  • daryleasondaryleason TexasPosts: 501
    Thank God someone at Edmunds.com has finally seen the light. This is something I've been pointing out when I've compared my 2013 F-150 XLT SuperCrew with the 5.0 Coyote to the Edmunds' F-150. My truck has been consistently beating the all-aluminum, EcoBoosted vehicle in fuel economy. Granted, my truck is 2WD, but it has the 3.73 rear end.
  • bankerdannybankerdanny Posts: 1,021
    The just released issue of C&D has a bunch of NA vs Turbo comparisons, including an F-150, but compares the 3.5 vs the 5.0 and includes towing. They experienced similar results from a fuel economy perspective, but the 3.5 was materially faster when towing.
  • daryleasondaryleason TexasPosts: 501
    I get what Ford is offering. You have the base 3.5 Liter NA V6. It's the bread & butter of the rental fleets & the "I have to buy a truck, no matter what" buyer. Then you have the 2.7 Liter EcoBoost, which is supposed to offer the towing of the 5.0 Coyote with better fuel economy. Then you have the 5.0 Coyote for the "won't settle for less than a V8" buyer (at least according to the EcoBoost Forums). Last, you have the "top of the heap" 3.5 Liter EcoBoost engine for the "max towing & fuel economy." But the problem is, these arbitrary groupings were created mainly by Ford Marketing. The 3.5 NA base engine is a fuel hog for the entry-level engine. It's DEFINITELY not the way to go for towing or fuel economy. The 2.7 Liter EcoBoost is a great engine, except it really doesn't fulfill it's purpose, in my opinion, because it's not a drastic difference between the 5.0 and the 2.7 in fuel economy. In addition, you now have the turbo to have to worry about at some point, on top of the same things that will wear out, get replaced, or get serviced with the 5.0 Coyote. With the 3.5 Liter EcoBoost, it's probably a better option for fuel economy and towing, if you tow a majority of the time. Otherwise, I don't think the price premium over the V8 makes it worthwhile.

    Here's what it would take for me to pick either EcoBoost over the Coyote. I can live with both of their tow ratings. The fuel economy would have to jump drastically though. I'm averaging 18-19 MPG in my 2013 Steel Bodied F-150 SuperCrew. To make the EcoBoost worth it to me, the EcoBoost would have to average 24-25 MPG and offer about the same towing.
  • Frankly not impressed with the quality of the analysis here. I think everyone knows by now that the 2.7 is way underrated from Ford, probably for marketeing purposes. The gulf between 2.7 EB and 3.5 EB tow ratings is not grounded in reality and the gulf between 5.0 and 2.7 EB tow ratings is similarly not grounded in reality.

    Easily-obtained dynos, performed on both of these trucks by the same outfit, the same Dyno Dynamics dyno (which read very conservative compared to other chassis dynos), under controlled (similar) conditions, stock final drive ratios, show the 5.0 making a peak of 285 hp at 5,600 rpm, vs. the 2.7 making 265-270 at around 5,300.

    The 5.0 makes over 275 lb/ft of torque from 3,350 rpm to 5,600, peaking at 290-295 from 4,100 to 5,000. The 2.7 makes over 275 lb/ft of torque from 1,750 rpm to 5,000, peaking at around 330 lb/ft at about 3,100 rpm. It's over 320 lb/ft from 2,800 to 4,000.

    There is no way, shape or form in which the 5.0 with the 3.31 is as competent towing 9,000 lb as the 2.7 with 3.73 towing 8,100. Remember, the figures I gave above are with the 2.7 with the 3.55 rear end, not your 3.73s.

    The 2.7 with the 3.55 is a superior tow/haul vehicle to the 5.0/3.31...the 2.7 with 3.73s will leave the 5.0 for dead.

    Really, really a pity that you did not hook up your 6,500-lb trailer to both of these trucks, side by side, in addition to your mpg loop with nothing in the bed and nothing on the tow ball.

    Oh - and for all its 35%-40% higher tow ratings, compared to the 2.7, the 3.5 dynos are all but an exact overlay of those of the 2.7...maybe 2% higher torque and 5% higher hp. Really - you didn't think this 5.200-lb brick was running the quarter in [email protected] mph on 325 flywheel hp, did you?
  • actualsizeactualsize Santa Ana, CaliforniaPosts: 451
    edited May 2016
    Yes, I would have liked to add a trailer component. Some years ago I would not have taken such tow ratings at face value, but now we have a standardized J2807 tow rating test procedure. And here, at least, we have a Ford versus Ford contest. There's no reason to expect them to hold back on one and overstate the other. It's in their best interests to make sure the ratings for all engine and axle ratio combinations are as competitive as they can be.

    Moreover, such tow ratings are not based on an extrapolation of the results of a 10-second dyno pull on a chassis dynamometer. It's a marathon, not a drag race. Tow ratings are based on a real-world 10-minute+ pull with a trailer attached in high-ambient conditions up the Davis Dam grade near Laughlin, Nevada. SAE J2807 defines all of the conditions, including the frontal area of the box trailer to be pulled, the way it must be loaded, and it defines a minimum speed for the climb that the vehicle cannot fall below even if it is giving its all with the throttle pinned. You can bet that the truckmakers adjust the load to get as close to this minimum as possible in order to publish the highest figure.

    So, yeah, I have no trouble believing that over an extended pull up a very long grade with a box trailer, the 5.0-liter V8 may well be able to soldier on steadily while the furiously-spinning turbos of the EcoBoost 2.7 V6 get all cherry-red and heat-soaked and have to be reined in. A turbo mill can be screwed up to do anything for short bursts, but its a different story if you want to sustain that output indefinitely.

    Twitter: @Edmunds_Test

  • sxty8stangsxty8stang Posts: 58

    Frankly not impressed with the quality of the analysis here. I think everyone knows by now that the 2.7 is way underrated from Ford, probably for marketeing purposes. The gulf between 2.7 EB and 3.5 EB tow ratings is not grounded in reality and the gulf between 5.0 and 2.7 EB tow ratings is similarly not grounded in reality.

    Easily-obtained dynos, performed on both of these trucks by the same outfit, the same Dyno Dynamics dyno (which read very conservative compared to other chassis dynos), under controlled (similar) conditions, stock final drive ratios, show the 5.0 making a peak of 285 hp at 5,600 rpm, vs. the 2.7 making 265-270 at around 5,300.

    The 5.0 makes over 275 lb/ft of torque from 3,350 rpm to 5,600, peaking at 290-295 from 4,100 to 5,000. The 2.7 makes over 275 lb/ft of torque from 1,750 rpm to 5,000, peaking at around 330 lb/ft at about 3,100 rpm. It's over 320 lb/ft from 2,800 to 4,000.

    There is no way, shape or form in which the 5.0 with the 3.31 is as competent towing 9,000 lb as the 2.7 with 3.73 towing 8,100. Remember, the figures I gave above are with the 2.7 with the 3.55 rear end, not your 3.73s.

    The 2.7 with the 3.55 is a superior tow/haul vehicle to the 5.0/3.31...the 2.7 with 3.73s will leave the 5.0 for dead.

    Really, really a pity that you did not hook up your 6,500-lb trailer to both of these trucks, side by side, in addition to your mpg loop with nothing in the bed and nothing on the tow ball.

    Oh - and for all its 35%-40% higher tow ratings, compared to the 2.7, the 3.5 dynos are all but an exact overlay of those of the 2.7...maybe 2% higher torque and 5% higher hp. Really - you didn't think this 5.200-lb brick was running the quarter in [email protected] mph on 325 flywheel hp, did you?

    Great points here. I have thought about this question too and what I would do if I bought an F-150, and I think I'd buy the V8 too for the sound, the simplicity and the minimal difference in performance except for extreme towing, and I wouldn't do that anyway.

    Not sure if it adds to the conversation at all, but on 2011-2014 Mustang GT's, the 3.31 vs. 3.73 gear thing seems to result in a 3-4 MPG difference, which is massive.
  • markinnaples_markinnaples_ Posts: 251
    What's the price difference between these two trucks, MSRP?
  • cameronrcameronr Posts: 37

    What's the price difference between these two trucks, MSRP?

    Edmunds F-150: $51,800

    Loaner F-150: $54,570
  • aspadeaspade Posts: 42
    I don't understand this focus on spread against the EPA numbers. Those are Ford and the EPA's problem, not yours. Focus on the results on their own. The 2.7 is faster by Edmunds' own testing (5.0 numbers here: http://www.edmunds.com/ford/f-150/2015/road-test-specs1.html) and as good or better on gas. How is that not a win?

    Nobody is going to be any kind of happy towing 9,000 lbs with a small displacement V8 and 3.31 gears no matter what the brochure says.
  • actualsizeactualsize Santa Ana, CaliforniaPosts: 451
    edited May 2016

    What's the price difference between these two trucks, MSRP?

    The base price for each of these 2015 Lariat crew cab 4x4 trucks was IDENTICAL when we had both window stickers together in one place. That was also the case when I originally configured the truck we bought. I could have had a V8 for the same money, but the 2.7-liter EcoBoost was the new and newsworthy engine, so we went that way.

    The borrowed V8 test truck had more options (502A versus 501A, bedliner, FX4, etc) so it did indeed have a higher as-tested price.

    I think the V8 base price has drifted up $800 relative to the 2.7-liter EcoBoost since then, possibly because their model mix included too many lower mpg-rated V8s relative to their CAFE target. Also, the CAFE target incrementally increases year over year, so I can easily imagine a 5.0-liter V8 price increase to tamp down its appeal and encourage more EcoBoost sales. I've seen this sort of thing done before.
    aspade said:

    I don't understand this focus on spread against the EPA numbers. Those are Ford and the EPA's problem, not yours. Focus on the results on their own.

    Well, shoppers use the window sticker to decide what to buy, so it's their problem, too. I think outright fuel economy and the difference from advertised performance are both relevant.

    Twitter: @Edmunds_Test

  • Yes, I would have liked to add a trailer component. Some years ago I would not have taken such tow ratings at face value, but now we have a standardized J2807 tow rating test procedure. And here, at least, we have a Ford versus Ford contest. There's no reason to expect them to hold back on one and overstate the other. It's in their best interests to make sure the ratings for all engine and axle ratio combinations are as competitive as they can be.

    Moreover, such tow ratings are not based on an extrapolation of the results of a 10-second dyno pull on a chassis dynamometer. It's a marathon, not a drag race. Tow ratings are based on a real-world 10-minute+ pull with a trailer attached in high-ambient conditions up the Davis Dam grade near Laughlin, Nevada. SAE J2807 defines all of the conditions, including the frontal area of the box trailer to be pulled, the way it must be loaded, and it defines a minimum speed for the climb that the vehicle cannot fall below even if it is giving its all with the throttle pinned. You can bet that the truckmakers adjust the load to get as close to this minimum as possible in order to publish the highest figure.

    So, yeah, I have no trouble believing that over an extended pull up a very long grade with a box trailer, the 5.0-liter V8 may well be able to soldier on steadily while the furiously-spinning turbos of the EcoBoost 2.7 V6 get all cherry-red and heat-soaked and have to be reigned in. A turbo mill can be screwed up to do anything for short bursts, but its a different story if you want to sustain that output indefinitely.

    The 2.7 has been proven to have excellent charge-cooling and coolant-cooling properties. No tests I've seen have found any instances of timing being pulled due to detonation or due to an overheated turbo.. The tests that Ford did on the Davis Dam Road with the 2.7, the Chevy 5.3 and the Dodge EcoDiesel showed the Ford recording the same time going up the hill during the hottest part of the day and after the sun went down. The naturally-aspirated Chevy 5.3 was pulling timing early when it was over 100 degrees out, not the Ford.

    The grille and under-bumper surface of a half-ton pickup has plenty of area for large radiators and intercoolers, and the short engine length provides room for very thick cross-sections of those components - the 2.7 has a half-quart more coolant capacity than the 5.0 liter, and .8 quart more than the 3.5 EB does. They did their homework.

    Davis Dam, due to the elevation, will show still more advantage that the forced-induction 2.7 brings as opposed to the atmospheric 5.0.

    Ford has a product mix they are trying to sell...they have plenty of sunk costs in certifying the Coyote for use in the F150. They'd like to make that back, and so far they're not selling anywhere near as many V8 F150s as they forecast. It's a great engine but it's not as good as the turbo V6s in that application.

    Also, check your style sheet on "reigned in." The expression is "reined in" (as in reins - that you use to control a horse - that's where it came from.).
  • aspade said:

    I don't understand this focus on spread against the EPA numbers. Those are Ford and the EPA's problem, not yours. Focus on the results on their own. The 2.7 is faster by Edmunds' own testing (5.0 numbers here: http://www.edmunds.com/ford/f-150/2015/road-test-specs1.html) and as good or better on gas. How is that not a win?

    Nobody is going to be any kind of happy towing 9,000 lbs with a small displacement V8 and 3.31 gears no matter what the brochure says.

    I have said this many times here...apparently there is gas, and there is EPA gas...and apparently EPA gas mileage is more important than gas mileage.
  • yellowbalyellowbal Posts: 234
    @longtimelurker That's just like your opinion. EPA mileage numbers are often self-reported by the manufacturers and used in advertising. If someone bought the 2.7L thinking that it'd get 18% better overall fuel economy over the 5.0L, isn't that deception?
  • tommister2tommister2 Mechanicsville, VAPosts: 330
    I just noticed that your truck has the front license plate in the center. I thought the ecoboost trucks had the front plate offset because there was an air intake in the center, maybe for the intercooler?
    2011 Toyota Camry, 2014 Jeep Wrangler, 2015 Subaru Forester, 2017 Honda Civic Coupe
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 13,555
    @tommister2,
    Nice observation, that's blocking the intercooler.
    My 2014 has the plate mounted to the right of the center opening.
    Now you've opened a new can of worms. :)
    2017 Ford Fusion SE 2017 Ford F-150 Limited
  • I just noticed that your truck has the front license plate in the center. I thought the ecoboost trucks had the front plate offset because there was an air intake in the center, maybe for the intercooler?

    That was the previous model that was not originally designed for turbos and the engineers had to work with what was already there. The new truck was engineered for turbocharging so it's no longer necessary to make room for the intercooler.
  • handbrakehandbrake Posts: 99
    So Ford spent many millions of dollars to design, test, refine, build, etc. the ecoboost and in the end, the V8 is the one that really impressed me with its MPG numbers. I'm sure Ford has spread the costs of developing the ecoboost engines across all truck prices, even if you don't buy the ecoboost. So if you buy an F150, part of that price is to pay for what I see as a failed experiment. As someone else said, the ecoboost would have had to get in the range of 25 mpg for it to be considered a worthwhile improvement.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 13,555
    @allthingshonda,
    I looked a bunch of pictures at a local dealer website, and all the Ecoboost trucks have a plate mount smack dab in the middle of the bumper.
    2017 Ford Fusion SE 2017 Ford F-150 Limited
  • moparbadmoparbad Posts: 3,870
    Not having to deal with stop/start is a plus for the V8. Not having to deal with two vey expensive turbos is another bonus. Having a mechanical parking brake i/o electronic is a third positive for V8.
  • s197gts197gt Posts: 485
    excellent test. i was very curious what the results would be. i think both engines have their pluses so i can definitely see arguments for both.

    if i were in the market i'd probably have to look at aftermarket engine tuning support, product availability, and real world transaction prices to make my choice.
  • handbrake said:

    So Ford spent many millions of dollars to design, test, refine, build, etc. the ecoboost and in the end, the V8 is the one that really impressed me with its MPG numbers. I'm sure Ford has spread the costs of developing the ecoboost engines across all truck prices, even if you don't buy the ecoboost. So if you buy an F150, part of that price is to pay for what I see as a failed experiment. As someone else said, the ecoboost would have had to get in the range of 25 mpg for it to be considered a worthwhile improvement.

    A failed experiment - five years ago, these engines accounted for 0% of all F150 sales - today it's 62%, roughly divided between the 2.7 and the 3.5 EB engines. Some failure - you people kill me.

    The stop-start on this vehicle is considered one of the best implementations on any vehicle regardless of price, and turbo failure isn't really a thing anymore, folks, if it ever was.

    So, a lengthy comparison, with the EB truck making more power and slightly better fuel economy, then a final "no-brainer" decision on the "strength" of a verbiage-based towing comparison (reading factory specs - no actual towing involved) to buy the V8 due to a suspect theoretical superiority the average owner might encounter in maybe 10% of all towing scenarios.

    Uh-huh.
  • legacygtlegacygt Posts: 599
    edited May 2016
    Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is this the analysis I've been waiting for (privately and in comments here) for years. Since you had the Explorer with the 2.0L Ecoboost. I was repeatedly asking you to track down a V6 Explorer with FWD and similar specs to do this same sort of test. I believed the V6 would have gotten better mileage and been a more satisfying drive.
    Now you've done this test and your conclusion is that you'd rather have the V8 and I think you're right. The F150 has two other engine options I'd be curious to know how they perform. I would bet that the NA V6 and the Ecoboost V6 both get better real world mileage than the two versions you tested here and it's possible that the Ecoboost V6 is the most satisfying driver of the bunch.
    I have nothing against turbocharging. I have nothing against Ford. But I am very skeptical of Ford's move to put undersized Ecoboost engines in larger vehicles. Some will say that the 2.7L Ecoboost in the F150 is not undersized as it moves the truck along just fine. This is true, but it requires the turbo to spool up all the time and then it consumes fuel like a larger engine. In order for a turbo to be fuel efficient, it needs to be able to operate without spooling up during certain conditions and that is only the case when the engine itself is big enough to move the vehicle without boost. This just isn't the case when you have a 2.7L engine in a large truck. The only real world gain is whatever weight savings you see between the 2.7L Ecoboost and the larger engine options. But this is negligible relative to the weight (and payload and towing capacity) of an F150. The engine weight difference may be huge in a Focus or a Fusion but not so much in an F150.
    So why do they push these small turbos in large cars? The answer is simple. CAFE. The EPAs fuel efficiency test cycle does not accurately predict real world efficiency of turbo engines. I don't know why. Maybe they allow really slow acceleration. Whatever it is, the test favors turbo engines and Ford is taking advantage in a way that hurts consumers. This is not deception like VW but it is similarly motivated.
  • misterfusionmisterfusion Posts: 471
    @longtimelurker - So Ford has shown that their engine with much smaller displacement and two fewer cylinders can get about the same mileage as a 5.0 V8. Pardon me if I fail to be impressed by that.

    I'm sure I would enjoy driving the 2.7 from a performance standpoint, but the Coyote is no slouch either. I can totally see why people may feel a bit let down by the Ecoboost's real-world economy figures.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 13,555
    Performance was excluded from this test, it was strictly a fuel mileage comparison between the best mileage setup for the 5.0 and the worst for the 2.7.
    Has anyone looked at the mileage Edmunds is getting with the Honda Pilot?
    2017 Ford Fusion SE 2017 Ford F-150 Limited
  • darthbimmerdarthbimmer Posts: 606
    Great analysis, Dan. Thanks for doing this. And thanks for holding back on publication until you could reasonably rule out oil overfill as a factor.

    To make the test truly fair, though, apples-to-apples, you needed to hit the second truck with a hammer. ;)
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 13,555
    edited May 2016
    If I can get this with my 'heavy' 2014 Supercab 3.5 with 3.55, why can't Edmunds do better?
    This was mostly downhill overall, but look at the average speed.
    My truck is rated @ 15/21.

    2017 Ford Fusion SE 2017 Ford F-150 Limited
  • chainheartchainheart Posts: 1
    Supercab 2.7L 4x4 owner here. Either this 'test loop' is biased, these auto journalists have lead footed acceleration, or I have a ringer, because I average just over 20 MPG in my truck. I have 3.73 gears, which may actually help in the city driving to get into higher gears easier, or it hits a sweet spot in the RPMs on the highway at 65 MPH. Either way, I have no problem hitting EPA estimates and going over if I try (hypermiling). Here is my fuelly page with a few notes: http://www.fuelly.com/car/ford/f-150/2015/chainheartmachine/377595
  • V8 all day long - Even if the MPG's were slightly lower, always a proven V8 over a turbo - great linear V8 power, great sound, simplicity, ""Long Term"" reliability (no turbos) etc.....
  • ballsonchinballsonchin Posts: 10
    I love my 2.7. I pulled a 7000k trailer over 4000 miles and lots of hills. It kicks [non-permissible content removed]. I drove the 5.0 and yes it pulls harder at high RPM but I the 2.7 has way more low end. If your buying a truck for MPG then your making a mistake.
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