Ford has just announced that by the 2017 model year, all EcoBoost-powered F-150 pickup trucks will automatically shut off when possible to save fuel.
“Automatic start/stop” is becoming a common feature in cars and it’s pretty much exactly what you think; the vehicle shuts itself down when stopped at lights, stuck in traffic or any other period of time it might be sitting static but still “running.” When you release the brake the engine comes back to life and you can carry on driving as normally.
Climate control, heated seats, the radio and whatever other accessories you’re running stay active during the brief periods the engine’s shut off.
The reason this technology exists is to simply save fuel and reduce emissions. Engineers have theoretically determined the exact moment at which it’s more efficient to shut an engine off rather than keep it running and that’s what’s happening. Ideally the experience is pretty seamless.
By 2017 Ford will offer three EcoBoost turbocharged engine variants for the F-150; a 2.7 liter efficiency-oriented one, a 3.5 liter powerhouse that’s considered the premium option on luxury-spec trucks, and a higher-performance tune of the 3.5 for the new Raptor.
Ford stated that it expects these engines to account for “more than 60 percent of truck’s sales” in a press release, but would not specify exactly how much fuel drivers could expect to save. The company is promising “smooth and refined engine restarts” made possible by all the work it’s done on building hybrid cars.
Practically speaking, 2017 Ford EcoBoost F-150s will have auto start/stop active as the default in 2WD mode but it can be deactivated with a button on the dashboard if you don’t trust it. The system is automatically shut off in 4WD or two/haul modes.
I haven’t had much experience with this technology in Ford trucks but frankly I’m thrilled at any prospect for improving their fuel economy. Some readers may recall we squeezed out a little less than a 17 MPG average over more than 1,000 miles in our 3.5 EcoBoost F-150, and didn’t do a whole lot better with the smaller 2.7 EcoBoost in normal driving.
Auto start/stop is already standard on the smaller-engined trucks, but I’m excited to see how much it can really help the flagships trim their diet!
Images via Ford