Boulder, CO to Estes Park, CO - As we drive highway 39 from Boulder, CO to Estes Park we stop to take pictures and catch our breath. We're at 8,000 feet, the air is thin, but the views are beautiful.
We are in Boulder, CO so that Ford can show us their new Ford Flex Ecoboost, a car that creates less CO2 with more horsepower.
"How do you tell people that you're going to sell them a smaller displacement engine for more money?"
Sue Cischke, Ford's vice president for Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering understands the issue. She also knows that in order to compete on a global level Ford is going to need Ecoboost. In Europe people who buy cars are taxed on the size of the engine and the amount of CO2 spewed.
Ninety-eight percent of America's cars run on gasoline. While there is the desire to move to other fuels and technologies that has not happened and won't happen in great numbers before 2012. Gasoline powered vehicles will be the number one seller for years to come. The race to get more miles per gallon out of the gasoline powered vehicle is on.
Traditionally, gasoline has been mixed with the incoming air in the inlet port to combust fuel and make your car run. That method works, but it's not a very precise delivery of fuel. Ecoboost takes highly pressurized fuel and directly injects that fuel into the combustion chamber of each cylinder. It is the direct injection of fuel into the cylinders that gives you better fuel "eco"-nomy.
You wouldn't get the high performance with just that part. Ford has incorporated turbo power with gas direct injection. A by-product of your engine is heat and exhaust. Ford takes that energy from the engine's exhaust and uses it to rotate a turbine wheel. Think of the turbine wheel as going around and around and squeezing air. That pressurized air "boosts" the engine.
When you combine the gas direct injection with the turbo power you get Eco-boost. You can also downsize the engine when you turbo power the engine. So, if you use a V-6 engine, you will get the performance of a V-8.
The key to this technology is using the right amount of air and fuel for the amount of performance you need. You're only going to need V-8 performance when you're asking for high performance from that vehicle. If you use less air and fuel you will get better miles per gallon.
The 2010 Ford Flex SE only comes in Front-wheel drive and starts at $29,270.
The 2010 Ford Flex SEL price for the Front-wheel drive starts at $32,045, the All-Wheel Drive (incl. D&D) starts at $33,895 and the Ford Flex SEL Ecoboost All-wheel drive starts at $36,890.
The 2010 Ford Flex Limited Front-wheel drive starts at $37,940 , the All-Wheel Drive (incl. D&D) starts at $39,790 and Ford Flex Ecoboost All-wheel drive starts at $42,785.
The Ford Flex 3.5-liter V-6 engine produces 262 horsepower @ 6,250 rpm, 248 ft.-lb. torque @ 4,500 rpm. All Flex's come with an advanced six-speed automatic overdrive. The front-wheel drive gets 17 mpg city/24 hwy. The all-wheel drive version gets 16 mpg city/22 hwy.
The twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 produces 355 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 350 ft.-lb. of torque at 3,500 rpm while still returning 16 mpg city/22 highway with standard all-wheel drive.
The Ford Flex ecoboost is $3,000 more than the regular Ford Flex all-wheel drive. Yet, it is $3,000 less than a V-8 truck and gets better horsepower and better miles per gallon.
If you want to compare a vehicle that gets around the same horsepower and miles per gallon you have to go up to the Chevy Tahoe HYBRID. That will cost you an extra $16,000!
smaller displacement engine
more miles per gallon than a regular internal combustion engine the same size.
There is one big boost that Ecoboost gives that cylinder deactivation doesn't: under towing conditions. Brett Hinds points out that when you're towing cylinder deactivation kicks off where Ecoboost continues to work. One of the biggest attributes of diesel is the magnificent torque it brings. This could replace diesel vehicles in the torque advantage.
In order to get the horsepower Ford is claiming as "peak performance" you need to use premium gasoline. The Chevy Tahoe runs on regular gasoline. Also, the Ford Flex is a crossover, while the Chevy Tahoe is a truck based SUV.
Ford is not the first manufacturer to create what they are calling Ecoboost. They are the first manufacturer to say they will put Ecoboost in ninety percent of their vehicles. Ford says that by 2013 they will have Ecoboost in 1.3 million vehicles.