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Ford EcoBoost: What Is It, and Do You Need It?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro June 2013

For the last few years, Ford has been touting its EcoBoost engine technology. If you're not quite sure exactly what it is -- or whether you should consider it -- you've come to the right place. We've provided an overview of the Ford EcoBoost system to help you better understand the complicated technology.

Overview

The simple explanation is that EcoBoost is a combination of turbocharging and direct fuel injection that improves fuel economy without sacrificing engine power. But that glossy overview hardly explains how the system really works.

Turbocharging

One hallmark of Ford EcoBoost is its engines are turbocharged. Turbocharged engines use a device that forces in more air than a normal engine would receive. More air -- and more fuel -- makes an engine more powerful.

The device that forces this air into an engine is a turbocharger -- and some use the word "boost" to describe the process of turbocharging. That's where Ford gets the boost in EcoBoost. More important, turbocharging adds power without substantially decreasing gas mileage. That's different from simply enlarging an engine, which requires more fuel and hurts mileage.

Direct Injection

The second part of Ford's EcoBoost engine is gasoline direct injection, or simply direct injection. Direct injection is one form of fuel injection, which is the process used to send fuel into an engine. While typical fuel injection uses an extra step known as the intake tract to inject fuel, direct injection cuts out that process entirely. The result is a less complicated fuel injection process, which improves efficiency.

Should You Consider It?

So, is EcoBoost worth considering? It depends on your situation. Nearly all Ford models now offer an EcoBoost variant, but some only offer the system at the very top end of their model line. The Ford F-150, for example, uses EcoBoost to replace its top-shelf V8 model, though standard V6 versions retain more traditional technology.

Regardless of whether EcoBoost is at the top or bottom of a model lineup, we think the technology is sound. It adds power and lifts acceleration without many disadvantages to gas mileage. And it brings shoppers the exciting power delivery of a turbocharged engine. Still, we recommend you try it out, like any new technology, to see if it's for you.

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Ford EcoBoost: What Is It, and Do You Need It? - Autotrader