Ford's new F-150 takes aim at Ram's highway mpg crown

Ford's dealer ordering guide shows the new F-150 available only with 17-inch wheels, some of the smallest available in the big pickup segment.
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DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. hopes to regain fuel economy bragging rights in big pickups by offering a special “SFE” package on the aluminum-bodied 2015 F-150.

The Super Fuel Economy package -- or SFE -- will be available on XL and XLT models. It will be powered by the company’s newest engine: a lightweight and compact 2.7-liter twin turbo V-6 equipped with stop-start.

Ford’s dealer ordering guide shows the vehicle available only with 17-inch wheels, some of the smallest available in the big pickup segment, to lower weight and reduce rolling friction.

It will be available with a choice of regular or super cab configurations.

A Ford spokesman declined to provide more details about the truck.

Ford has released horsepower ratings for two of the 2015 F-150’s four available engines, but the EPA’s estimated fuel economy ratings on the truck have not been released.

Ford has said the new pickups will offer improved fuel economy, towing, and hauling capability, compared to 2014 models.

Ford has gone from first to worst in fuel economy among Detroit 3 pickups. General Motors’ Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra have edged out the most fuel efficient F-150, with the GM pickups getting 24 mpg on the highway compared with 23 mpg for the Ford, according to EPA estimates.

Chrysler’s Ram 1500 offers an HFE package -- for High Fuel Efficiency -- rated at 25 mpg highway and 18 mpg city.

And the hot-selling Ram EcoDiesel gets a 28 mpg highway rating.

"The half-ton segment is fiercely competitive and fuel economy is important among buyers," a Ram spokesman said. "We expect competitors to chase our numbers as Ram continues to improve its stake in fuel efficiency."

The Detroit 3 each use different tactics to boost pickup fuel economy.

GM uses cylinder deactivation and plans to add an eight-speed automatic transmission to enhance pickup mpg.

In addition to using stop-start on the SFE model, which improves fuel economy in city driving, Ford is removing weight by using an aluminum body and a high strength steel frame that together save about 700 pounds on all 2015 F-150s.

Ram employs fuel-saving technologies such as active grille shutters; an automatic air suspension system that lowers the vehicle at highway speeds, improving aerodynamics; stop-start; and an eight-speed automatic.

Ford’s weight advantage with aluminum is expected to yield highway fuel economy of 28 mpg, according to one analyst. That would give Ford the highest fuel economy of any gasoline-powered pickup and match the Ram EcoDiesel.

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


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