The 2009 Ford F-150 will offer improvements in both fuel economy and towing capacity as it launches in a vulnerable, but still hugely significant truck market.
With all the talk of tanking truck sales, it is easy to forget that the Ford F-150 remains the number one selling vehicle in the country. The challenge for Ford engineers was to appease some customers’ growing concerns about fuel efficiency without neglecting the truck’s massive and loyal base.
Ford says it has hit the mark on both counts. Fuel economy has been improved by eight percent across the lineup, with the volume selling 5.4-liter V-8 seeing a twelve percent boost. Meanwhile, towing capacity and hauling capability for that model have been increased to a best in class 11,300 lbs and 3,030 lbs, respectively. Ford will also offer a 4.6-liter V-8 powered F-150 SFE (Superior Fuel Economy), which will match the 15/21 mpg city/highway achieved by the similarly branded Chevrolet Silverado XFE while offering slightly more towing capacity.
Ford achieved much of the gains by adding a six-speed transmission across the lineup. Tall fifth and sixth gears act as double-overdrive, and return a 4-6 mpg improvement over the current generation’s 4-speed gearbox. Engineers also employed lightweight steel to shave about 100 lbs and improved the truck’s aerodynamics. There are also tweaks to the engines in the name of efficiency, most notably a fuel shut-off function that activates whenever a driver lets up on the gas pedal. The SFE model adds low-rolling resistance tires and a taller 3.15 axle ratio.
Ford has not released complete fuel economy figures for the trucks yet, but the EPA estimates the non-SFE 4.6-liter truck will return 15/20 mpg city/highway with two-wheel-drive and 14/20 with four-wheel-drive.