New F-150's fuel economy will improve, but can it best Ram 1500?

The 2015 F-150, which weighs 732 pounds less than the current model, will start with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that delivers 283 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque, Ford said today.
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DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co.’s new aluminum-bodied 2015 F-150 pickup coming this fall might not be able to beat Chrysler Group’s Ram 1500 and claim best-in-class fuel economy.

Ford officials said today the new F-150 -- which would need to deliver better than 28 mpg on the highway to top the Ram with its EcoDiesel engine -- will deliver better fuel economy and greater towing and hauling capability than the current steel-bodied truck. But they dodged questions about the redesigned F-150’s estimated fuel economy ratings.

“Very rarely do you own all of the [best-in-class] claims all of the time,” said Doug Scott, Ford’s truck group marketing manager.

“Stay tuned,” was all he said when asked whether the F-150 will top the Ram.

Scott, speaking at a media preview of two of the F-150’s four engines at Ford’s Dearborn, Mich., test track, said: “You want to be best in class all the time, but the marketplace is very competitive. We’re not seeing a lot of conquesting. So, when your customers come in, they want to see that the new truck can tow more and haul more and get great fuel economy.”

Bob Fascetti, Ford’s powertrain chief, said the company’s new 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine exceeded Ford’s fuel economy targets, but he would not divulge what the truck’s EPA ratings are expected to be. The 2.7-liter EcoBoost will debut in the 2015 F-150.

The F-150 likely will be able to top the Ram’s 28 mpg highway rating when Ford replaces the current six-speed automatic with a new 10-speed automatic it is developing with General Motors. That gearbox could be ready for the 2016 model year.

Fascetti said the 2.7-liter EcoBoost will generate 325 horsepower and 375 pounds-feet of torque, while the entry-level 3.5-liter nonturbo V-6 will be rated at 283 horsepower and 255 pounds-feet of torque.

Power ratings for the 5.0-liter V-8 and the 3.5-liter EcoBoost, which carry over from the current truck, were not released.

Scott said the 3.5-liter nonturbo engine is expected to account for 15 percent of sales, while the other three engines are projected to each account for roughly 28 percent of volume.

The F-150’s new 3.5-liter base engine is slightly less powerful than the F series’ current base 3.7-liter V-6 engine, which is rated at 302 horsepower.

The 2.7-liter engine -- the smallest displacement engine available in a full-size truck -- will be able to handle a 2,250-pound payload and haul 8,500 pounds.

Scott says the new F-150 will offer some of the industry’s best power-to-weight ratios.

To illustrate that point, Ford drove a 2015 aluminum-bodied F-150 onto a scale and an identical 2014 model with steel body onto a similar scale. The 2015 truck weighed 732 pounds less.

You can reach Richard Truett at rtruett@crain.com.


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