Wringing the most fuel economy out of its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder EcoBoost engine is paying off for Ford as customers are flocking to EcoBoost-powered vehicles. The automaker aims to make EcoBoost available in 90 percent of its lineup by 2013, largely to meet tougher fuel economy standards going forward.
Now that the EcoBoost is available in the 2012 Ford Explorer three-row mid-size SUV and the smaller, two-row 2012 Ford Edge crossover, the question becomes: Is EcoBoost power right for family buyers? And if so, when does it make sense? Here are some points to consider.
2012 Ford EdgeEnlarge Photo
Is fuel economy your main goal?
If fuel economy is your main goal in choice of engine in a family vehicle, there’s no question that the EcoBoost engine option in either the Explorer or Edge is the way to go. That’s if you’re looking at a Ford SUV or crossover, since only Ford offers the EcoBoost. The numbers are pretty dramatic. The 2012 Ford Explorer with EcoBoost is rated at 20 mpg city/28 mpg highway and an estimated 23 mpg combined. The 2012 Ford Edge, being smaller and lighter weight, when powered with the four-cylinder EcoBoost, comes in at 21/30 mpg and a combined rating that’s likely to be around 24 mpg.
Tow or no?
Ask yourself how often you plan to tow and, if so, how much weight will the load be for that boat or trailer? This is important because there are a lot of vehicles equipped with towing packages on the road that seldom, if ever, get used. It might be a nice selling feature for the right buyer when it’s time to unload the vehicle, but do you really need to tow or no?
Here’s the straight scoop on towing capability with the EcoBoost-equipped Explorer and Edge, versus V-6 engines in each. The Explorer with EcoBoost can tow up to 2,000 pounds, while the highest-powered V-6-model carries a maximum tow rating of 5,000 pounds. The EcoBoost-powered Edge can tow up to 1,500 pounds and, with V-6 power, that number goes up to 3,500 pounds.
Off-road crawler or suburban hauler?
The kind of vehicle that can go just about anywhere, including climbing easily over rocks and navigating steep inclines with ease just doesn’t fit with front-wheel drive and EcoBoost. If your family is really into serious off-roading, the Edge is most definitely out, since it’s more fitting as a suburban crossover. The Explorer, on the other hand, is quite capable going off-road, but only when equipped with the V-6 engine. That’s because you can only get all-wheel drive with the V-6. It’s not available with the EcoBoost four.
Then, again, there are other choices in the marketplace for serious off-roaders who require a vehicle that does double duty as an everyday family vehicle.
Weighing the $995 EcoBoost cost
Getting down to the nitty-gritty, if fuel economy is your main goal, you don’t plan to tow or can live with a lower maximum tow rating, and don’t itch to go off-road every weekend, the bottom line may well be is the EcoBoost engine in either the 2012 Explorer or 2012 Edge worth the $995 option cost? How long will it take you to recoup that grand in gasoline costs, given the uncertainty of the marketplace? How many miles you drive each year, and what the cost of gasoline is going to be years down the line when you still own the vehicle are other variables.
Maybe you just want to buy the most fuel-efficient SUV or crossover that you can that also offers the space, flexibility, technology and safety features that you deem right for your family. If so, then paying an extra grand for the EcoBoost may be well worth it.
[Ford via GreenCarReports]