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2015 Ford F-150 EcoBoost engine shootout

The 2.7-liter turbo V6 wins on fuel economy and acceleration

Published: April 28, 2015 05:30 PM

In the midst of testing our two new 2015 Ford F-150 XLT Supercrew pickups, we discovered a bit of a game-changer. The F-150 with the smaller engine, a new 2.7-liter turbo V6, is not only less expensive than the truck equipped with a larger and higher-horsepower 3.5-liter turbo V6, but it's also more fuel efficient and a little quicker in acceleration.

This is noteworthy because most people would probably assume that the smallest-displacement engine on offer, especially in a pickup truck, would come with much slower acceleration times. That’s not the case here, thanks to some creative gearing, as well as considerable “lightweighting” by Ford in using aluminum instead of sheet steel for the truck’s construction.

The performance differences aren’t huge, and both trucks are very capable—significantly more so than the last-generation F-150. In the 0-to-60 mph sprint, the new 2.7 V6 clocked in at 7 seconds flat, while the 3.5-liter took 7.2 seconds. In contrast, our last-generation F-150, which weighed 700 pounds more with a beefy 5.0-liter V8, took 7.8 seconds to hit 60 mph.

In our fuel-economy tests the turbo-2.7 averaged 17 mpg overall, versus 16 mpg for the turbo-3.5. The one notable plus for the larger engine is in its rated towing capacity, 10,700 pounds, versus the smaller turbo’s 7,600 pounds. But that’s still plenty of oomph to tow a 25-foot Chris Craft power boat, for instance.

The little-turbo-that-can also knocks off the competitions' bigger engines in our acceleration tests. The 2.7 is quicker than both the Chevrolet Silverado V8 (7.5 seconds) and Ram V8 (7.1 seconds). Only the V8-powered Toyota Tundra was quicker, at 6.7 seconds to 60 mph, the last time we tested one. And aside from the Ram 1500 diesel, which averaged 20 mpg, the 2.7-liter F-150 is the only full-sized pickup that managed 17 mpg in our tests, same as the smaller Toyota Tacoma. The Silverado 1500, meanwhile, got 16 mpg.

How did Ford’s smaller engine manage this trick? At least part of the explanation lies in its shorter standard rear-axle ratio, 3.55 versus 3.31 in the turbo 3.5. As that number gets higher it brings better acceleration and towing but worse fuel economy. So in return for endowing the smaller engine with more grunt at the rear wheels, Ford scraped off some but not all of its potential fuel savings.

Learn more about trucks with our pickup buying guide.

How much does the smaller engine save in price? We equipped our optioned-up 2.7 and 3.5 F-150s comparably, and the 2.7 version came in at $45,750—about $1,200 less. But it won’t cost you that much to get into that engine

The 2.7 isn’t the base engine in the F-150 lineup—that would be a non-turbo 3.5 V6. But it’s only a $795 price bump to opt for the wee turbo. Pricing starts at $27,040 with shipping for a base XL with the 2.7 turbo, rear-wheel drive, regular cab, and 6 ½-foot bed.

Choosing the 2.7 instead of the 3.5 turbo is not a bad trade-off in our book. A lower price and better performance is all to the good, so long as the lesser towing capacity is not an obstacle.

We’ll have lots more to report as we continue with our tests, including such key judgments as ride, handling, noise, comfort, towing performance, and so on, not to mention how the new F-150 compares overall with its direct competitors, the Chevy Silverado and the Ram 1500.

—Gordon Hard

By the numbers

2015 Ford F-150 4WD XLT

2.7L Turbo V6

3.5L Turbo V6

Power 325 hp 365 hp
Acceleration (0-60 mph) 7.0 sec 7.2 sec
Overall fuel economy 17 mpg 16 mpg
Rated towing capacity 7,600 lbs. 10,700 lbs.
Rear-axle ratio 3.55 3.31

 

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