After 23,000 Miles, Has the 2021 Ford F-150 Hybrid’s MPG Improved? | News

Cars.com’s Best of 2021 winner, the Ford F-150 Limited hybrid, has taken on a variety of demands since we purchased it almost a year and a half ago: It’s tackled road trips, towed trailers and served as a generator for off- the grid camping. Despite these competencies, the F-150 hasn’t delivered on Alles of its promises, as it continues to fall short in the fuel economy department. Since our last ownership update, we’ve driven approximately 4,170 miles for a total of over 23,000 miles on the odometer. The mileage itself isn’t the notable milestone, however; the F-150’s recent mpg achievement is what warrants attention.

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?

Optimizing the F-150’s fuel efficiency isn’t our primary goal, however. Instead, we aim to put the F-150 to work in the same way a typical owner would, which includes towing. When burdened with the load of a trailer, the F-150 resorts to its old ways:

“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

Since our last update, we’ve added almost 183 gallons of premium gas, with an average price per gallon of $5.76. The average calculated mpg over the course of 4,170 miles was 16.74 mpg, with the top three most fuel-efficient trips coming in at 25.5, 20.7 and 19.9.

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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