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2012 Ford Explorer

EcoBoost 2.0-liter four-cylinder  (Source: Dana60Cummins/Wikipedia)
The new EcoBoost engine option gives up 40 hp to the V6, but betters it in low-end torque and fuel efficiency

With rising gas prices and the government's keen eye on CAFE numbers, more and more fuel efficient vehicles are starting to flood the market. Turbocharging was once relegated to performance cars and diesels, but now manufacturers are starting to adopt the direct injection and turbocharging for their mainstream gasoline engine vehicles. Hyundai has found success by replacing its V6 engine on the Sonata with a 274 hp turbocharged inline-4. Likewise, Ford has found success with its EcoBoost V6 engines in the Taurus SHO, Flex, and F-150. 

Now, Ford is bringing a new 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder to the recently revamped Explorer crossover. While the Explorer is currently available with a naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 that produces 283 hp (@6,500 rpm) and 252 lb-ft of torque (@4,100 rpm), the new EcoBoost generated 240 hp (@5,500 rpm) and 272 lb-ft of torque (3,000 rpm). The new engine is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission and is only available with front-wheel drive models. 

Many people would likely give up the 40 horses for the added low-end grunt and the fuel economy increase. The V6 is rated at 17/25/20 (city/highway/combined) while the new EcoBoost four-cylinder is rated at 20/28/25. Ford says that these numbers better segment rivals like the Toyota Highlander and the Honda Pilot.

Much like the EcoBoost V6 engine option (which is more expensive than the 5.0-liter V8), the EcoBoost four-cylinder in the Explorer will command a $995 price premium versus the V6.

"Today's SUV buyers place a high priority on miles per gallon, so Explorer has expanded its portfolio of fuel-efficient engines with an all-new EcoBoost offering," said Amy Marentic, Ford group marketing manager. "SUV buyers deserve efficiency with their capability, so Explorer now offers best-in-class V6 and four-cylinder fuel efficiency." 

Ford has seen the sales of its V6-equipped F-150s eclipse those of the larger V8 engines as buyers flock to power and fuel economy -- the company is hoping that that same formula works for the Explorer which has already sold more units in the first six months of 2011 than the old model did in all of 2010. 

Ford is also bringing an EcoBoost three-cylinder engine to its subcompact Fiesta.



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Is it worth it?
By cknobman on 7/28/2011 11:05:28 AM , Rating: 2
Lets figure:

20mpg for 1 year @ 18000 miles = 900 gallons * 3.75/gal = $3375 cost for fuel.

25mpg for 1 year @ 18000 miles = 720 gallons * 3.75/gal = $2700 cost for fuel.

~$675/year in fuel savings (considering cost of fuel does not go up or down).




RE: Is it worth it?
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 7/28/2011 11:07:20 AM , Rating: 2
I guess it depends. If people trade in every five years, that is a $3375 savings. That's a lot of beer money :)


RE: Is it worth it?
By Solandri on 7/28/2011 3:04:32 PM , Rating: 4
Not so fast. There's something wrong with those mileage numbers. It says 17/25/20 city/hwy/combined for one engine, 20/28/25 for the other. The difference between city mileage (17 vs 20) is 3 mpg. The difference between highway mileage (25 vs 28) is 3 mpg. Yet somehow the difference between their combined mileage is 5 mpg? That doesn't make sense. There's no algebraic combination of A*city + B*hwy which can give you combined ratings of 20 and 25.

If 17/25/20 is correct, then the weighting to get the combined mileage is A=53%, B=47%. You drive 53 miles at 17 mpg (3.11 gal), 47 miles at 25 mpg (1.88 gal), for a total of 5.00 gallons over 100 miles, or 20 mpg.

But if you apply A=53%, B=47% to 20/28/25, you get 53 miles at 20 mpg (2.65 gal), 47 miles at 28 mpg (1.68 gal), for a total of 4.33 gal over 100 miles, or 23 mpg.

If 20/28/25 is correct, then the weighting for combined mileage is A=30%, B=70%. The 4-cyl engine gets 25 mpg combined. The 6-cyl engine gets 22 mpg. I'll assume this is the correct figure since A and B work out to be round numbers.

So re-doing the annual fuel cost savings, we get:

@18k miles/yr
22 mpg for 1 year = 900 gallons * 3.75/gal = $3068
25 mpg for 1 year = 720 gallons * 3.75/gal = $2700
$368 savings, 2.7 year payback

@12k miles/yr
22 mpg for 1 year = 900 gallons * 3.75/gal = $2045
25 mpg for 1 year = 720 gallons * 3.75/gal = $1800
$245 savings, 4.1 year payback


RE: Is it worth it?
By Solandri on 7/28/2011 3:08:26 PM , Rating: 3
Whoops, forgot to change the gallons used numbers. But the $ amounts are correct.

18k miles/yr @ 22 mpg = 818 gallons

12k miles/yr @ 22 mpg = 545 gallons
12k miles/yr @ 25 mpg = 480 gallons


RE: Is it worth it?
By Stiggalicious on 7/28/2011 3:25:10 PM , Rating: 1
The EPA's numbers are still quite plausible, actually.

When you completely change the engine dynamics for a car, the mileage dynamics also change.
Sure, the minimum mileage can change by only 3, and the maximum can change by only 3, but the change in engine can also cause its mixed mileage to shift more towards highway mileage. Turbocharged engines usually do that since they're more efficient while delivering a higher amount of power than while delivering a lower amount. If you notice that the peak power/torques are also at lower RPMs, that means it's working closer to its peak efficiency more of the time.

To help visualize, enjoy this simple, er, visualization. The bars are city/highway, and the * is mixed.
V6:
| * |
Ecoboost:
| * |

It's still quite valid that the mixed mileage can shift more than both the minimum and maximum.


RE: Is it worth it?
By Solandri on 7/28/2011 4:02:55 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Sure, the minimum mileage can change by only 3, and the maximum can change by only 3, but the change in engine can also cause its mixed mileage to shift more towards highway mileage.

Nope, the "EPA combined" mpg is just a straight algebraic combination of their measured city and hwy mileage. I finally found it:
http://www.epa.gov/fueleconomy/420f04053.htm#calc

It's just 55% city, 45% hwy. So the correct figures would be 17/25/20 and 20/28/23.


RE: Is it worth it?
By tastyratz on 7/29/2011 10:31:35 AM , Rating: 2
I think you are close but not quite. Turbocharged engines are more *mechanically* efficient by utilizing losses, but they are not more *fuel* efficient making the same power at 100% engine output. Don't forget the turbocharger is not a free lunch, while it uses waste exhaust gas energy to spin it does so by placing a restriction in the exhaust and in off boost in the intake as well. This piled on the fact that you need less efficient air fuel ratios and timing to support a denser charge per liter lead to less fuel efficiency. Anytime you are in boost to get max power, you use more fuel than another engine of equal power NA uses.
Generally NA engines have a bsfc of .50 at peak, turbocharged might be .60.

Also overall fuel efficiency for light driving in a non stressed turbo engine that is not making boost will be better because it is a smaller engine I am totally on board with that.


RE: Is it worth it?
By Spuke on 7/29/2011 11:09:05 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
This piled on the fact that you need less efficient air fuel ratios and timing to support a denser charge per liter lead to less fuel efficiency.
How does this change on direct injected engines?


RE: Is it worth it?
By tastyratz on 7/29/2011 4:01:44 PM , Rating: 2
direct injection allows for a more precise mixture and flexibility, but you can't get away from needing a richer mixture under power for engine safety/reliability. the biggest benefit I think of direct injection is the precision control of the injection event relative to crank angle. This allows full flexibility and leaner cruising mixtures. high pressure turbocharged events benefit from the better atomization so you can run a leaner mixture than before per say, but it still needs richer at wot compared to a similar NA engine


RE: Is it worth it?
By Spuke on 7/29/2011 6:25:00 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
but it still needs richer at wot compared to a similar NA engine
Thanks for the explanation.


RE: Is it worth it?
By JediJeb on 7/29/2011 5:00:31 PM , Rating: 2
Where fuel efficiency increases come in relative to turbo versus NA engines is that with the increased torque you can get away with a higher gear ratio so you travel farther per revolution of the engine. It is a trick that some people are using when putting the 4 cylinder Cummins (Bread Truck) engines in vehicles. They crank up the boost and the fuel injectors which should be using more fuel, but they also put in crazy high gear ratios and get better fuel efficiency in the end.

Same reason I can get fair mileage from my F150, because I can run in 5th gear at 30 mph or lower. Even in town I can do a quick 1,3,5 shift and be in overdrive for most of the distance between stoplights. It isn't as easy to get away with that in the V8 5.0L trucks because their torque curve maxes out at much higher rpm than my I6 4.9L.


RE: Is it worth it?
By Philippine Mango on 7/29/2011 12:21:19 AM , Rating: 2
The actual equation the EPA uses is 45% highway driving 55% city driving but thanks to your math, you came close. Just an FYI


RE: Is it worth it?
By aguilpa1 on 7/28/11, Rating: -1
RE: Is it worth it?
By GruntboyX on 7/28/2011 11:50:19 AM , Rating: 3
Its not greed. It cost more to build that direct injected and twin turbo charged motor. The V6 is much less complex. While the displacement is smaller on the I4, it isnt the sole contributing factor in price.


RE: Is it worth it?
By Iaiken on 7/28/2011 12:11:40 PM , Rating: 2
You can start with the fact that it's an all-aluminum engine and that aluminum prices are 6x that of cast iron before you factor in the additional machining costs.


RE: Is it worth it?
By FITCamaro on 7/28/2011 2:07:06 PM , Rating: 2
The V6 they use is also all aluminum. I don't know anything other than truck motors and diesels that are built with a cast iron block anymore.


RE: Is it worth it?
By Iaiken on 7/28/2011 3:01:18 PM , Rating: 3
Correct, for some reason I read that as Duratorq (cast iron block, aluminum head) while Duratec is all-aluminum. But at least they are not as absurd as BMW's current engine naming schemes.


RE: Is it worth it?
By cknobman on 7/28/2011 11:59:43 AM , Rating: 2
I live in DFW Texas and I drive 20-22k per year so I used 18 as a conservative estimate.


RE: Is it worth it?
By Spuke on 7/28/2011 12:12:25 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Charging an extra $1000 for a smaller engine is a despicable thing to do by Ford and just shows how greedy they are.
The tech costs more money. I guess you haven't been reading the previous articles on this.


RE: Is it worth it?
By aebiv on 7/28/2011 12:46:36 PM , Rating: 2
I average 51k a year, but then again my job requires a lot of travel.


RE: Is it worth it?
By wyrmslair on 7/28/2011 1:16:56 PM , Rating: 3
Um, it looks like neither of us is near the average, which you are correct to state as around 12K miles per year, but you are as far below the average as I am above at 25K miles per year. Either way, the numbers justify well enough around the average and there are as many of us who exceed the average by enough margin to make that $995 a good trade off for a reasonable increase in mileage without much trade off in power. If gas goes up at all, it just gets better.

As for the price being too high, turbo engines cost more money to make period. Realistically, compared to the cost of one of these, I'd say it's a relatively small percentage. You do realize that a sunroof costs $900 right? So a major engine option switch running $1000 isn't exactly highway robbery. Not to mention a diesel option would probably get another 5 mpg and cost another $1000 to $2000 over the turbo 4?

Basically, if it doesn't work for your needs, then fine don't sweat it. That doesn't make it despicable. In some cases, a smaller engine isn't a cheaper engine to make just because it has less displacement.


RE: Is it worth it?
By tng on 7/28/2011 1:39:47 PM , Rating: 2
I average about 25K a year and I am only home for 6 months of the year. If you live in a large urban environment, you need to get out to the suburbs and spend some time there, understand the other side.


RE: Is it worth it?
By Jeffk464 on 7/29/2011 12:18:50 AM , Rating: 2
With the number of miles you drive a year you could save a fortune by buying a 2012 ford focus or even a toyota prius. Why would you drive a low mileage vehicle?

By the way popular mechanics just did a review on all the current crossovers and the consensus was the new dodge was the best. This was do mainly to its Mercedes based chassis, and not on dodge know how.


RE: Is it worth it?
By tng on 7/29/2011 8:15:52 AM , Rating: 2
I drive a 99 Honda Civic 2dr Coupe. My last fill up I got 45mpg.

I would entertain the idea of the Focus, but not the Prius, I just can't stand the looks.


RE: Is it worth it?
By Jeffk464 on 7/29/2011 12:21:33 AM , Rating: 2
By the way anyone else realizing how amazing this engine will be in the ford focus? Screams Ford SVT team.


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