2009 Ford F-150
PickupTrucks.com cites "significant mileage gains" for the '09 Ram and F-150. In raw numbers, the F-150's 12 percent gain over 17 mpg by the EPA's ruler equals 19 mpg, not exactly the kind of numbers that earn awards from Greenpeace (those numbers are for an '08 Ford F-150 4.6-liter automatic 4X4 and an '09 version of the same, respectively).
Credit more gears and valves for Ford's mild mileage boosts, and a HEMI V-8 with variable valve timing for the Ram's extra 1 mpg for both city and highway. Swapping the previously standard four-speed automatic, Ford has finally installed a modern six-speed auto in the F-150 pickup. That new transmission, plus the three-valve head on the smaller (now base) 4.6-liter V-8 allow Ford to boost mileage up to 12 percent across the F-series lineup.
Meanwhile, Chrysler LLC's deliciously powerful HEMI 5.7-liter V-8 gets trick variable valve timing on its in-block camshaft (first used on the Viper) to boost horsepower and torque significantly, as well as squeezing out a tad more mpg. The new-for-'09 Ram continues to make use of a five-speed automatic transmission.
Bigger fuel economy news should come for both automakers when their newest engine technology debuts in the relatively near future. Ford's EcoBoost engines should bring much bigger mpg gains to the gasoline realm, and Dodge's new Cummins turbodiesel, rumored to ring in at 5.0 liters, should go head-to-head with GM's efficient new baby Duramax set to come out post-2009.--Colin Mathews