Related: What It’s Like to Live With the 2021 Ford F-150 for a Year
In our last update in April, we were averaging a calculated 17.7 mpg, significantly lower than the F-150’s EPA-rated 24 mpg combined. After several months of clocking inferior mileage numbers, we finally exceeded the pickup’s estimated fuel economy in our recent testing:
“We surpassed our truck’s EPA-estimated combined fuel economy rating for the first time after owning it for more than a year and a half,” said Senior Road Test Editor, Mike Hanley. “Our truck is rated 24 mpg combined, and after a 133-mile trip, the truck’s trip computer indicated a 26.6 mpg fuel economy average. We added 5.2 gallons of gas at the end of the drive for a calculated fuel economy of 25.5 mpg. The 26.6 mpg trip-computer average was more than 4 mpg higher than our next-best 22.4 mpg reading, but the near-ideal driving conditions we experienced — a mix of flat suburban streets, rural roads and highways, where speeds ranged from 25 to 65 mph — likely contributed to the truck’s efficient performance.”
How Does Towing Affect MPG?
“The most recent thing we’ve towed with our long-term F-150 hybrid was an Airstream Flying Cloud 23FB camper trailer, which weighed nearly 6,000 pounds,” Hanley noted. “As you might expect, towing a boxy, heavy trailer significantly affected our truck’s fuel economy, dropping it into the 12-13 mpg range.”
Indeed, towing and hauling can significantly reduce mpg, according to the EPA, but only a fraction of our total trips have involved trailering. There are many other factors that can cause fuel economy to take a hit, including high-speed driving and aerodynamic drag, hilly or off-road routes, and even running the air conditioning at full blast can decrease mpg by 5%-25%.
A History of Mediocre Fuel Economy
Even though recording 25.5 mpg is a marked achievement, it’s proven to be an anomaly for our F-150, which routinely fails to meet EPA estimates. The mediocre numbers we observed over the course of owning the pickup challenges the notion that a hybrid vehicle will return better fuel economy than its gas-powered counterpart.
While a vehicle’s mpg rating can be a good starting point to narrow down the most fuel-efficient cars, shoppers shouldn’t solely rely on a vehicle’s EPA rating to predict fuel economy. Instead, it’s best to consider how you’ll use the vehicle on a daily basis and understand how you can optimize any car’s fuel efficiency.
We’ll continue to monitor the F-150’s fuel economy to see if it can replicate the improved mpg results in our recent test.
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