Full-size pickups are the most popular vehicles in the United States, but until this year, a properly mass-produced full-hybrid truck had never been sold here—or anywhere else, for that matter. Ford changed that with its F-150 PowerBoost drivetrain, which features a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 and a capable hybrid system to save fuel while increasing performance. And unless you're looking at diesels, the new hybrid F-150 is the most efficient full-size pickup out there, capable of an EPA-estimated 24 mpg both in the city and on the highway as a 4x4, and 25/26 mpg as a 4x2—an impressive feat for a heavy, non-aerodynamic lump.
But how accurate is that estimate? The EPA is known to get that sort of thing wrong, especially when it comes to EVs. To find out, Tim Esterdahl of Pickup Truck +SUV Talk tested his personal F-150 PowerBoost that he just drove off the dealer lot. The test involved taking the rig on a 50-mile economy run to see how much mileage he could squeeze out of it, and the results were impressive.
Over his run, he was able to achieve a calculated average of 29.7 mpg, while the truck's onboard computer was actually under-reading the true fuel economy. It was showing a less-efficient 28.5 mpg, though to be fair, that's still well over the EPA's highway estimate.
Esterdahl wasn't just driving along normally, though. He was trying to squeeze the most out of the truck, averaging 55 miles per hour in a 65-mph zone while hanging in the right lane, and slowing down on residential roads when there was no traffic behind him. So while this test proves the F-150 PowerBoost can get superior fuel economy to the EPA estimate, you really have to be conscious of throttle application and the like.
That being said, the F-150 PowerBoost has more up its sleeve to complement that fuel-sipping performance—especially with its Pro Power Onboard system. An electrical generator capable of maintaining 7.2 kilowatts is available, meaning you can quite literally power an entire kitchen, a feat which Ford engineers proved. But even without that upgrade over the standard 2.4-kW generator, every F-150 hybrid comes with a 1.5-kilowatt-hour battery that provides juice to a 47-horsepower electric motor mounted to the truck's 10-speed transmission. Being a hybrid, the motor is also capable of harvesting braking energy back into the battery, which is one of the keys to amping up fuel economy around town.
So if you're looking for a fuel-efficient pickup and don't want a diesel, this hybrid F-150 is really your best bet. Even if you don't hypermile quite like Esterdahl, you'll still see impressive gains.
Now I just have to figure out a way to get this drivetrain into my Cobalt SS.
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