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Three trucks, three ways to squeeze more power from less fuel

Ford’s 2.7-litre V-6 EcoBoost engine is one of the available engines for its 2015 F-Series trucks.


For General Motors, the key to squeezing out fuel economy in its latest full-size pickups – GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado – has been cylinder deactivation and overall engine efficiencies. GM calls it "Active Fuel Management."

For Ford Motor, EcoBoost has become the centrepiece of a push to position the Dearborn, Mich. car company as a fuel economy leader for its F-Series rigs and all other models in its lineup.

For Chrysler, the Ram brand is the first to launch a light duty, full-size pickup with a diesel engine – a 3.0-litre diesel sourced from Fiat-owned VM Motori.

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Who's right?

GM says its approach is a simple, cost-effective way to get real-world fuel economy gains. Ford says its EcoBoost delivers big-engine power only when needed, while offering real-world fuel economy in careful everyday driving. And Chrysler's small-displacement diesel gives pickup buyers the reliability, power and fuel economy they want.

Interestingly, Detroit's auto makers each are unwavering in a committed to a particular approach.

Ford has focused on EcoBoost engines with four valves per cylinder, turbocharging, direct fuel injection and variable valve timing. These engines are complex, but Ford points out that almost all its EcoBoost engines are rated at 120 hp or more per litre.

GM says less complex overhead valve or pushrod engines are the best pickup choice for now, and that they are proven, inexpensive and low-tech compared to Ford's overhead valve approach.

But not entirely unsophisticated. Active Fuel Management shuts down two cylinders under light load conditions and at steady speeds. GM has been refining this technology for years. Better still, unlike EcoBoost, GM's approach does not add more than a $1,000 to the sticker price.

And the Ram diesel? Chrysler officials say it adds about $4,500 to the price of a Ram, but delivers the power, fuel economy and durability that is available only with a diesel.

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Three different takes on pickup fuel economy.

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