The 3.5L EcoBoost in the 2016 Ford F-150 is a beast of an engine. It makes 365 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. That’s 20 hp less than the company’s 5.0L naturally aspirated V8 but 33 more lb-ft at significantly lower rpm (2,500 versus 3,850). The result is a pickup that feels ready to overtake anybody, or drag race anybody, at a moment’s notice. That’s great for having fun but what about actual work? We wanted to see how the engine performs while towing on a flat stretch of highway so we loaded up a 20-foot CM Trailers Cargo Mate trailer to 7,000 pounds and went on our standard 100-mile test loop just northeast of Denver, CO.
We are changing the rules a bit. We used to use a 5,600 lbs horse trailer for all of our highway mpg tests. Starting with this test, we will use the new trailer with a total trailer weight of 7,000 lbs for just half-ton truck testing. This more closely matches what you may tow behind your light-duty full-size truck. This represents a camping trailer, a large boat, or a race-car trailer. We will use heavier weights for the HD trucks, and a lighter weight in a smaller trailer for the midsize pickups.
This test is of particular interest to us since Ford recently debuted the next generation 3.5L EcoBoost engine that will be used in the 2017 F-150 and Raptor. Specs for that engine increase to 375 hp (+10) and 470 lb-ft of torque (+50) when it’s in the standard F-150. Final numbers have yet to be announced for the 2017 Raptor. The trucks will be mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission that is the result of a collaboration between Ford and GM. What effect will more power, torque, and gears have on fuel economy while towing? To figure that out we needed to first get a baseline figure. This fully-loaded 2016 F-150 Limited was able to achieve 8.5 mpg during the test while the EPA rates it at 16/22/18 mpg city/highway/combined. These results are typical as we usually see about half of the EPA city rating during these towing tests. After all, running a 70 mph with a big slab-sided trailer loaded to 7,000 lbs is not an easy task.
Check out the video above to see the test as well as our new trailer and our new GEN-Y Hitch weight distributing hitch setup.