• EcoBoost engines use technology to promote efficiency without sacrificing power.
  • Seven Ford models use the smallest engines in their respective segments.
  • Lighter weight of smaller motors translates to better all-around performance.

It's easy for automakers to get stuck in the cycle of "more is better." If they make a model a little bigger, it will be a bit more accommodating for passengers. But it will need a bigger engine, too. That adds weight, so bigger, heavier brakes and suspension parts are necessary. Now it's porkier still. As the cycle continues, good fuel economy becomes harder and harder to achieve.

One solution is to convince drivers to select smaller vehicles, but few want to sacrifice practicality for economy. With their EcoBoost engine lineup, Ford has another solution to breaking the cycle - small, highly efficient engines that deliver similar performance and better fuel economy while shaving off the pounds.

The EcoBoost formula includes technology like direct fuel injection, variable valve timing and turbocharging. The approach relies on technology to deliver an efficiency and weight benefit without sacrificing power.

Of the nine Ford models available this year with EcoBoost motors, seven models use the smallest engines in their respective segments. The 1.6-liter EcoBoost makes its first US appearance in the all-new 2013 Escape, and it will also be available in the 2013 Fusion, which is due later this year. A 2-liter EcoBoost motor will soon power the Taurus. It's already available in the Explorer and Edge. Finally, a 3.5-liter EcoBoost powerplant moves the Interceptor and F-150.

The larger, simpler motors that the EcoBoost lineup replaced - and those still used by some competitors - are often no more powerful, yet they're heavier and less efficient. So these lighter engines translate into not just better fuel economy, but improved vehicle dynamics, too. That's because lighter weight means swifter acceleration, better handling and shorter braking distance.

The 2-liter EcoBoost available in the Escape and Fusion, for instance, delivers the same 240 horsepower as the outgoing 3-liter V6. But the new engine weighs just 295 pounds, 45 less than the old motor. The 1.6-liter EcoBoost, also available in these two models, cuts another 70 lbs and still generates 178 hp, sufficient for either the compact Escape SUV or mid-size Fusion sedan.

A new 1-liter, three-cylinder EcoBoost, expected next year, delivers a whopping 125 hp, considerable output from such a tiny motor. Expect it to replace a four-cylinder in Ford's compact products.

The technology behind Ford's EcoBoost motors is certainly not proprietary, and Ford is not alone in offering direct injection and turbocharging to achieve better fuel economy. But the company continues to apply EcoBoost engines widely across their lineup, meaning more Ford models can deliver on both performance and efficiency.

What it means to you: If better fuel economy is among your new-car requirements, consider a Ford model with an available EcoBoost engine. Most offer a fuel economy benefit without sacrificing performance.

author photo

Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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