Review: 2012 Ford F150 EcoBoost surprises with performance and efficiency

Whenever anyone thinks about America and the automobile industry, one of the first things that should pop-up into mind is the pickup truck: an automobile that is synonymously iconic to our culture like the small roadster is to Great Britain or the executive saloon is to Germany. And when anyone thinks of a pickup truck, the ultimate buy word in the segment would arguably be the proverbial Ford F150. That should be a given considering that the Dearborn-based manufacturer invented the automobile when they produced the “Ford Model T Runabout with a Pickup Body” in 1925. Not to mention, the F150 is indubitably one of automotive history’s most iconic automobiles, racking up some astonishing accolades such as America’s best-selling vehicle for 24-years and best-selling truck for 34.

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That said, the Ford F150 can be considered the car that ‘built’ America, much like how Jeremy Clarkson showed the world that the Ford Transit had “built” Great Britain. No matter where you go, you’ll always find some generation and some sort of variant of the Ford F150 running about doing all things utilitarian. I can go on and on about the F150’s prominence, but that would be similar to me rambling on about how famous Mr. Henry Ford is himself—gee, thanks Captain Obvious.

But truth be told, I have very little personal experience with pickups for my short time on Earth. The first and last pickup truck that I had comprehensively driven in-depth was a 2002 Dodge Ram 2500 with the 5.9L Magnum V8. And even though the Ram was uncomfortable, brash and tiresome to drive—on top of abysmal fuel economy that never went north of 15 mpg—the Ram’s commanding view of the road made it interestingly fun to drive and its practicality was hard to trump, considering that the Ram helped me move back and forth between college and home. Afterwards, the last pickup I ever drove entirely prior to this review was a 2005 Ford F150 King Ranch SuperCrew, complete with the top-of-the-line 5.4L Triton V8 during my time working at a used car dealer. Other than that though, pickup trucks never really appealed to my taste for refined and fun-driving performance and luxury cars. And that was due to their sacrifice for utilitarianism in place of luxury and driving pleasure. In other words, I felt one would be socially awkward pulling up to a fancy function in a workhorse pickup truck rather than a stately executive saloon.

2012 Ford F150 EcoBoost Lariat 4×2 SuperCrew V6 Specifications:

  • Style: Full-size pickup truck.
  • Drive Type: RWD / 4WD.
  • Seating Capacity: 5.
  • Base Price: $39,475.
  • Price As Tested: $45,380.
  • Engine: 3.5 liter twin-turbocharged, direct-injected EcoBoost V6 – 365-hp / 420 lb-ft of torque.
  • Transmission: 6-speed automatic.
  • 0 to 60 mph: 6.1 seconds.
  • Top Speed: 100 mph (electronically limited).
  • Curb Weight: 5,699 lbs.
  • Fuel-economy (EPA city/highway – egmCarTech Observed): 16/22 – 17/19 mpg.

All Photos Copyright © Omar Rana – egmCarTech.

Social awkwardness aside though, over the years numerous others have proven to take Ford’s recipe for a pickup and have perfected it in their own ways, the Ram being one of them. And over those same years, manufacturers, including Ford themselves, have evolved the pickup to be not only a workhorse automobile, but one of the most versatile vehicles money can buy. In order to continue keeping up with the times of fuel economy-conscious buyers and strict CAFE regulations, Ford had decided to gamble with a new engine top-of-the-line option for the 2011 F150: a twin-turbocharged 3.5L EcoBoost V6. It’s a boosted mill that Ford hopes will help improve the brand’s CAFE rating and sway the traditionalists from the typical pickup powerplant, so that the gasoline-guzzling V8 can slowly fade away into the pages of history (Oh dear God please no), or at least be the second choice. So, how does it fare and does it have what it takes to meet Ford’s and the buyers’ expectations?

Review: 2012 Ford F150 EcoBoost


There’s really not much to discuss when talking about the aesthetic aspects of pickups. Their designs are pretty straightforward. Though what differs Ford’s F150 from the more chiseled-down looks of GM’s GMT900 pickups and the sleek, refined muscle of the Dodge Ram is the F150’s Tonka Truck Toy-like looks. But it’s not outrageously childish or terribly offensive. In fact, I like the way the F150 looks. It comes off as thoroughly American, rugged and masculine—as if it could take on anything you can throw at it. It has every visual trait a real pickup should have. And who’s to argue? And what makes me appreciate the F150 even more is that its looks are also civil enough that once you were done with your dirty work, you could just take a hose and some suds to it and drive it through town like a boss. In other words, I wouldn’t feel ashamed to pull up in a clean, modern F150—like the one we had—at a fancy function. I couldn’t exactly say the same thing with the Ford F150 from several decades ago and earlier. And I definitely couldn’t say that about the 2002 Dodge Ram I drove several years ago.

Review: 2012 Ford F150 EcoBoost


The same Tonka-like characteristics can be found inside the F150 as well. Where as the F150s of yesteryear often had flat, boring and monotone insides, the F150 of today (and ever since the 11th generation F150 from 2004 such as that 2005 King Ranch I aforementioned) dropped the straight-workhorse looks for some style, without any sacrifice or deviation from the F150’s tough, rugged utilitarian roots. And this latest F150 just takes it even a step further. So if you were like me, with the little experience I have with pickups, you’d be surprised to find a very comforting ambiance when compared to the F150s of the 1990s and prior. The responses elicited from me when I first stepped into the F150 were: “wow, this is pretty darn nice,” and “I’m really impressed.” Ford’s use of different colored materials is extraordinarily well executed making you think that you’re in a more civilized Expedition rather than an F150—and it’s definitely an exponential upgrade from that brash Ram. I simply love it.

Our tester was of the Lariat spec, which is one of the most commonly optioned trimlines of the F150. It surely isn’t the most luxurious model, nor is it the cheapest as Ford pins the Lariat just in the middle of the lineup, below (and in order from least luxurious and expensive to most luxurious and expensive) FX4, SVT Raptor, King Ranch, Platinum and Harley-Davidson Editions and above the base XL, STX, XLT and FX2. Ours was fully optioned up the wazoo complete with Microsoft/Ford’s collaboration called SYNC, their tow package, leather-trimmed 10-way heated and cooled seats with memory function—which also means the transmission shifter changes from a column stalk to a center console-mounted selector. All of the ergonomics were simple and easy to use. Admittedly, a lot of the equipment bespoke to pickups that help its owners tow and haul stuff did throw me off a bit. But I’m sure that’s purely from my lack of experience. Either way, Ford offers a lot of kit and the seats were wonderfully supportive and comfortable. Additionally, our F150 was optioned out with the 6.5-foot bed and the SuperCrew layout, which means four full doors and a rear bench to haul not just your friends or family, but their junk as well.

Review: 2012 Ford F150 EcoBoost


Driving the F150 is where the real news is. For the first time ever, Ford’s iconic workhorse gets their latest twin-turbocharged, direct-injected 3.5L EcoBoost V6, which is the same engine that received some honorable mention and placement in cars like the current Taurus SHO and the Ford Flex EcoBoost. And even though the F150 EcoBoost V6 produces the same 365 horses as the Taurus SHO, the F150’s EcoBoost V6 produces 70 more lb-ft of twist for a whopping total of 420 lb-ft that’s best-in-class—and 90% of that is fully and readily available at 1700rpm, all the way through the rev range to 5000rpm. Mated to Ford’s SelectShift six-speed automatic, mashing the pedal from a standstill in the F150 EcoBoost would yield a 0-60 time of roughly 6.5 seconds, which is not shabby at all. In fact, during our week long test, Editor-In-Chief Omar Rana and I often found ourselves with our windows down in between quick stoplight drags with owners of older pickups and even some quick car drivers, all wondering what the hell just put them in the dust. And because that power is so readily available from the well-tuned and adjusted six-speed, highway cruising and overtaking is a breeze. Turbo lag was virtually nonexistent and traditional pickup purists would feel right at home with the EcoBoost V6. The only thing that would tell them that the F150 EcoBoost has two less cylinders would be the options list and the exhaust note, which was the sound of a muffled yet, meaty V6 with a slight hiss from the snails versus a throaty, rumbling V8. But for those who are truly committed to the seductive rumble of Ford’s V8 still have a choice to opt for their all-new 5.0L V8 mill—the same that debuted in the current Mustang 5.0—and 6.2L Boss V8, which is in the SVT Raptor. The only sacrifice with the V8s is for those seeking practicality in terms of tow capacity: the 3.5L V6 EcoBoost has the highest ratings out of all the other engine options.

Considering the F150 is no performance automobile, I completely relieved myself from any expectations of handling with the F150. But such a notion wasn’t exactly necessary because simply put, the F150 EcoBoost is truly wonderful to drive for being a full-size pickup. Sure, the handling is completely nonexistent when compared to something with a unibody and finely tuned suspension. But the F150, much like many other pickup trucks from the competitors, has thoroughly proven that utilitarian automobiles don’t have to be woeful to drive like they used to be. When compared to my 2002 Dodge Ram experience, the F150 felt like the Mercedes-Benz of pickup trucks. Refined, comfortable and composed describe the F150 EcoBoost’s ride and handling. The same could be said for the 2005 King Range Edition I drove too a while back. Highway speeds were quiet, relaxing and a complete dawdle making me think that it would be the perfect truck to take on a cross-country adventure. The steering for the entire F150 lineup except for the 6.2L Boss V8-equipped models was converted from the typical lifeless hydraulic setup to a more efficient electronically assisted power steering system. When comparing the two, the electronic system offered nothing in the way of feel next to the hydraulic setup I experienced in the 2005 King Ranch F150, but on the upside, the electric tiller was effortless with solid on-center feel, making any kind of maneuvering a breeze. Should you find yourself approaching a corner too fast, the F150 would respond with enough composure surprise to make you forget about the F150’s on-paper body-on-frame and solid-rear axle setup.

Unfortunately, for the time that we had the F150 EcoBoost V6, we weren’t able to put it in a situation to truly test the F150’s ability to haul or tow something. The closest we got though was a quick trip up into North Jersey to pickup a new couch for my apartment. And this trip led us to come up with a thing or two we could point out. Firstly, our fuel economy hovered around an average of 17-19 mpg, which is very respectable for a pickup truck and understandable when compared to the EPA’s rating of 16 mpg’s city and 22 highway. Though, we didn’t think it was much of an improvement over the alternative and more traditional engine, Ford’s new 5.0L V8, rated at 15 mpg’s city and 21 highway and even the 6.2L V8. That said, we were a little perplexed by the fact that Ford chose to opt for a traditional gasoline engine when diesel technologies are so readily available. Altogether, it raises a question for the brand itself too. Are they still betting on gasoline engines when 2/3rds of the world has been benefiting from the higher fuel efficiency of diesel-powered automobiles? Even on home turf, those who are well informed of the pickup market know that a Dodge Ram with a Cummins or a GM pickup with a Duramax, or even the Ford with a PowerStroke will yield far better fuel economy without a sacrifice in capability. Either way, I think “Big Oil” is still to blame. But that’s a whole ‘nother can o’worms.

Review: 2012 Ford F150 EcoBoost


Altogether, I walk away from the F150 EcoBoost in complete awe as to how pickups have evolved over time. Forgetting my lack of experience aside, as a car guy, stepping into an F150 wasn’t overwhelming or intimidating whatsoever. The F150 was a breeze to get used to, especially for someone with my background…or lack thereof. In all, I see the F150 as a Swiss army knife, but one with a snakeskin holster that’s stylish and practical and is sure to elicit some conversation from others and you can take it anywhere without being terribly uncivil. And for that, I can now appreciate the appeal of pickup trucks and I’m sure those venturing into the market for the first time will too. You can haul your friends/family plus their junk and nearly go anywhere all while in good comfort and style of the mighty Ford F150. In other words, where as enthusiasts come to appreciate cars for their sense of value rather than how superior their performance and drive is, enthusiasts can appreciate the F150 for its gung-ho and do-nearly-anything capabilities. And even for those who are looking to buy the F150 for its utility, they are definitely going to feel right at home. Sure, the fuel economy may not meet the promises of exponentially better fuel economy like Ford is pitching. But Ford has apparently tested the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 to extreme ends so the V6 is sure to be as durable and reliable as the V8 it hopes to replace. Not to mention, those who are considering or have experience with pickups are used to getting cruddy fuel economy anyway. Let’s just hope that Ford’s push for the EcoBoost engines in this F150 and its other cars isn’t a harbinger of things to come, like the potential death of the V8. But simply put, the F150 is A+ all the way.

All Photos Copyright © Omar Rana – egmCarTech.

– By: Chris Chin

39 thoughts on “Review: 2012 Ford F150 EcoBoost surprises with performance and efficiency

  • March 2, 2012 at 12:29 am

    These are pretty sweet. My friend traded in his car and it was not bad at all.

  • April 8, 2012 at 5:35 am

    It’s unfortunate that in the real world the V6 EcoBoost doesn’t live up to promise of better MPG’s than the 5.0. Especially given that you have to pay extra for the V6.

  • May 14, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    I’m a Ford F150 lover but DON”T buy this truck yet!!!!  I’m extremely upset that my 40k truck has a popping and clunking in my steering wheel.  Rattles continuously going over all types of surfaces.  The problem lies with the newly designed EPAS (Electronic Power Assist Steering).  I love everything about this truck except this issue.  I have called multiple times to customer service and had it in the dealership over a dozens times.  Ford refuses to acknowledge this issue.  Here is a forum with hundreds of people experiencing the same problem.

    My hope is that Ford will see this issue and fix it.  So don’t buy this truck until this problem has been addressed.

  • May 17, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Not the truck of the year in my opinion.  I love
    my F150 but it has a major flaw.  The EPAS gear box, rack and pinion,
    pops and clunks after about 1600 miles of wear.  My truck is only 3
    months old and I’m already on my second rack.  Ford needs to address
    this issue. DON’T BUY THIS TRUCK unless you like a popping and clunking
    in your steering. Go to f150forum dot com and you will see that many
    2011 and 2012 trucks are having this problem


  • June 18, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    4 months and 12k miles and ABSOLUTELY tickled pink.  Overall average 19mpg…I do a lot of highway…..max I saw under ideal condition was 23.8 over about 75 miles.  Premium seems to help about 1.5 mpg…I’ve tried a few tanks to see.   But maybe not worth the extra 30 cents per gal.

  • June 29, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    i have a 2012 f150 with ecoboost,2 wheel drive for 2 months,1,500 miles.verry disapointed in gas milage.17 highway at 70 m.perhour,around14 in town. traded in 2009 f150 with 5.4,and 4 wheel drive that got 21 mpg highway on same roads.other than that very nice truck,and fast.

  • July 10, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Mine was the same until about 5000 miles. you will see a big drop. Give it time

  • July 11, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    I traded my 2011 250 6.2 gas pu for 2011 f 150 3.6 ecobost for that wonder ful fuel mileage they advertised GUESS WHAT, Iget 16 to 17 on the hyway at 70 75 mph and 14 in city so its not a bit better tha the 6.2 f250. I have had this truck one year and have about 8500 miles on it and the dealer nor Ford motor co won’t do a thing about it so don’t fall for there false ADVERTISING.
                                                                   Frank R Rodman

  • July 28, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Are you kidding. I own both the 5.4 and the ecoboost. 5.4 get 12 -13 mpg  and the eco gets 20 to 21 both doing open rpoad driving. you are doing something wrong….

  • July 28, 2012 at 9:14 am

    From what I’ve been reading in various magazines dedicated to feedback from owners of the F150 Ecoboost and non Ecoboost engines the cost difference does not justify the 1-2 MPG gain.
    I’m not doing any wrong because I don’t own a F150. I’m merely relaying what owners and tester are reporting.

  • July 28, 2012 at 9:19 am

     My son was going to trade in his 2009 Nissan Titan 4×4 for a F150 but with the recent addition of a newborn that will be a no-go. The Titan is up for sale if anybody is interested 🙂

  • August 22, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    I have owned an 04 and 08 f-150 with a 5.4 and the best mileage that i get is 18 on the highway. ck your mileage at 60 and see. what fuel are you running. Put an egg under gas pedal, most people that have that mush power drive it like it has that much power.

  • October 23, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    Ecoboost is incredible. Got 24 mpg recently with FX4 screw on 360 mile trip when i slowed down to 55-60. Laws of physics dictate that mileage goes down exponentially with speed – slow the frig down if you want great mileage. Towed back 2 seadoos and quad in bed and still got 19 mpg. I’m impressed! Buy the Superchips and Airaid intake for the best ROI!!!!!

  • October 31, 2012 at 11:58 am

    I have a 2014 4×4 with echo boost and i am very disappointed. Turbo lag is terrible. Gas mileage is 14 in city and 17 on highway which drops to 8 miles per gallon if towing a trailer. The whole truck squaks a clunking noise in steering. I am trading it soon

  • November 6, 2012 at 12:29 am

    2014, huh? What’s the future like? Are there hover cars too?

  • November 21, 2012 at 8:43 am

    SO you have a truck you bought from the future? and your ability to spell is poor as well most likely using the spell check feature. so anyone taking advice from you is double digit IQ as well.

    I have seen these trucks get up to 31mpg on long hauls with custom exhaust and intake.Also heard people complain about the MPG, most likely its your driving calm down people its not a sports car . Altitude has alot of to do with fuel economy. Vehicles get tested in optimum condition.

  • November 21, 2012 at 8:47 am

    Do you have stock wheels and tires? If you lift your truck and put aggessive rims and tires on it that are larger your putting more strain on the rack. Dont do upgrades improperly this could help. I have worked on numerous vehicles and i have seen that rack problem on a vehicle that has stock rims and tires.

  • November 21, 2012 at 8:48 am


  • December 4, 2012 at 2:41 am

    When you look at power for towing it does, its still matching fuel mileage and has much more capacity.

  • December 12, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    I have a 2012 F150 Platinum with the Ecoboost engine. 3,000 miles and I am very disappointed. While being VERY gentle with the throttle I have yet to get a full fuel tank at better than 12 MPG. I typically get 10-11 MPG city and 14-15 MPG Hwy. Seeing the other reviews where folks get significantly better results is so frustrating. I have taken the truck back to the service dept three times, because maybe it is a problem with my specific truck – but they offer no help. They have told me I drive wrong, I should wait longer for the mythical break in period to be over, or quite simply that there is nothing they can do for me. Quite a disappointment.

  • December 19, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Same here and I see those complaining I bet are heavy footed or as I call them Hyperactive gas and breakers. With winter fuel and almost all city driving I am getting 17.8 average. Before winter fuel was here I was pushing 20 in the city. I actualy enjoy trying to keep the green bar high which is helping.

  • December 19, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    I have the 4X4 Super Crew and do well. I see those complaining & can bet they are heavy footed or as I call them Hyperactive gas and brakers. With winter fuel and almost all city driving I am getting 17.8 average. Before winter fuel was here I was pushing 20 in the city. I actually enjoy trying to keep the green bar high which is helping. Its ok if you are a bad driver. I cannot count the time I was in a car getting sick form the Rabbit humping foot on the gas pedal with folks Some folks just font know how to drive and think they are the best drivers. Film your foot and you may find why you gas mileage is bad. Your foot should barely move when you are driving . Try hanging a very heavy object from your rear view mirror. It shouldn’t move much if you are driving correctly.

  • December 19, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Stop hitting the gas like a jack Rabbit when you drive and you will see the proper mileage. I have driven with your type who hit the gas as you are spazzing out.

  • January 3, 2013 at 11:24 am

    I have a 2012 F150 ecoboost with 25000 kms. Its a 4×4 crew cab. City and short country driving I get around 24 mpg. On a highway trip @ 120 kmh, I can get 29 mpg. Have not done any towing.

  • February 6, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    I share your disappointment. I had an 09 super crew and averaged better than 15 mpg combined highway/local. The 2012 EcoBoost is at 14.2 mpg at 12,000 miles. I haven’t changed driving habits so it has to be the vehicle. After reading the other forum posts about failures , loos of powere etc. I guess I should consider Myself lucky.

  • April 9, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    I have a 2012 ecoboost and i have no problem getting 15-17 in the city and 19-23 on the highway. I just love this truck…. Awesome. To those people that have complain about there gas mileage, i just have one thing to say, you don’t know how to drive…. period

  • April 12, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    I am looking at getting a 2012 F150 ecobost or a new 2013 f150 5.0 what do you all think.

  • April 22, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    amen, i just laugh at these people that drive that way. They do not have a clue! whining cause they arent getting the fuel mileage as they are traveling 20 mph over the fuel rating speed :). Why do we have to
    put up with this in society?

  • April 22, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    re-set the mpg avg. Drive with no wind on a flat road and set your cruise. do not reset until you are at 55 mph.
    engine should warm up. check that your emerge. brake is not pushed.
    dont heavy foot it when taking off either. you will get 20 or more mpg.

  • April 30, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    I have a ’12 FX4 crewcab lifted 6″ with 35″ mudgrips, magnaflow exhaust, and cold air intake with 1,500 miles on it and I get 12.5 mpg in the city. I have no complaints. I had a stock ’07 frontier and I was getting 18 in the city so I will take the hit at the pump to drive this amazing truck.

  • June 24, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    I got a 2012 F150 Ecoboost 4X4 and I love it. About the gas millage, if I don’t reset the gauge the estimated MPG shows a low reading (16 to 17) around town and if I reset it. It can show anywhere from 20 to 32 around town. with a 36 Gal fuel tank I really feel it at the pumps.

  • June 24, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    you will love the truck I got a 2012 4×4 ecoboost and it’s awesome.

  • June 24, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    I have to reset the MPG avg to get a correct reading. and you could disable the trailer swaycontrol also. as long as your not towing.

  • July 18, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    Just found out so I have not had time to test it out but I am hearing that if you disable sway control your MPG will increase. The thing is you have to disable it whenever you restart your engine. Probably not recommended if towing.

  • August 3, 2013 at 9:03 am

    Not even a choice, I have a 2013 F150 3.5L twin turbo. I worked for Ford 29 years. My brother has a 2013 5.0L V-8>> It wont begin to keep up with my little V-6. Plus I get 4 mpg more than he does, I pull a 29 foot cab and cruiser boat with ease. It strains the V-8 motor to pull the same boat.Watch the Film on the hot to cold abuse test on the V-6.

  • December 15, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    This truck has the most problems! We bought one and we have problems with it hesitating when we go faster, it will start “growling” at me if I go faster than 50, it jumps into reverse all by itself, when i start it it has a high idle and then it will jump forward while driving slowly. The list can go on! FORD is NOT standing behind this and saying that there is nothing wrong! Very disappointed.

  • March 22, 2014 at 10:59 am

    Just had the TSB performed for the moisture buildup when temperature of air is near dewpoint. Dealer flashed new transmission software. Went from worst case mileage of 15.5 MPG on back roads and in traffic to 12.2. Truck no longer shifts into overdrive. going down hill at 40 MPH. Dealer does not know how to undo the change. I will not accept this result.

  • April 19, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    19 to 22 mpg at 70 mph flat hwy depending on wind. 15 to 17 in town. Over 25000 miles combined 19.3 mpg. 2012 F150 Ecoboost 3.55 rear

  • October 7, 2015 at 6:51 am

    I think you may have a 3.5L since Ford don’t make a 3.6. A lot of fuel mileage is all in the way you drive and what kind of grade of fuel your purchasing. I van tell you now cheap gas such as ” KROGERS ” fuel drops me four mile to the gallon. Best fuel mileage is Marathon ,, Shell and Speedway. I use 89 octane not 87. I know there is several processor upgrades for some of these problems

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