If you’ve been watching any of my social media you may have seen some of this information about my towing tests with the Ford F-150 PowerBoost hybrid already. But if not, here it is…
After towing a few different trailers and driving solo for more than 2,500 miles, I now have some basic mpg numbers for my loaner F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid with the 3.5L gasoline engine and 35kW traction motor.
And, yes, my loaner truck had the built-in 7,200-watt inverter generator which is powered by the 1.5kWh traction battery that’s recharged by the gasoline engine via the 35 kW electric motor/generator. Seems confusing at first, but it’s all so well-integrated that you don’t have to worry about it at all. Just drive it and reap the rewards of a hybrid truck with a built-in generator.
About that mileage…
Click on the image or HERE to see the final leg of my drive back to Funkstown.
For my towing tests with the Rockwood Geo Pro and Safari Condo Alto trailers, I maintained 65 mph on the interstate. Yes, some of you will drive faster with a trailer, and some will drive slower. And for my EV towing tests I’ll be doing the same 80 mile run at 55, 60 and 65 mph to see how that affects battery range. But this first test was quick and dirty … just fill up the tank and GO!
Test #1: F-150 PowerBoost alone
The good news is that all by itself the PowerBoost truck uses a combination of the gasoline engine and 35kW electric traction motor to get 22 mpg over 1,200 miles. And I wasn’t treating it easy. Yup, this was a demo truck so I was doing the full “demo ride” by putting my foot into it for accelerating and blasting along (safely, of course). Since this truck has the 33-gallon gas tank, I could drive up to 600 miles on a tank, and then refill.
I could hardly tell any difference in the mpg with the 7,000-watt load bank in the back ON or OFF. I’m guessing it might cause you to lose 1/2 mpg on the highway, at most. However, when you’re in the city driving with the generator turned ON, and the computer should be shutting off the gasoline engine and letting you drive around on the electric traction motor alone, since the traction motor is now in generator mode it can’t drive you around.
So you lose hybrid mode when the generator is on. That makes sense when you think about it. I’m sure that 99% of the time nobody is going to be driving around with a big load bank in the back.
F-150 PowerBoost towing a Rockwood Geo Pro G-19FBTH trailer
Since this is an 8-ft. wide by 10.5-ft. high trailer that weighs perhaps 4,000 lbs., I did expect the gas mileage to drop a good bit compared to bareback driving. So I wasn’t surprised when the dashboard display dropped to 10.1 mpg at 65 mph. And over that 1,300-mile trip I was able to squeak out 10.3 mpg according to the gas pumps.
As I’ve always said, TANSTAAFL (There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch). So pulling a big air-dam trailer down the highway at interstate speeds is going to reduce your gas mileage by at least 50%. It would be interesting to add a fiberglass cap with a wing to see if that would increase highway mpg, but I only had the loaner truck for 2 weeks….
F-150 PowerBoost towing a Safari Condo Alto trailer
Yes, this is a much smaller and lighter trailer (1,800 lbs.) that clamshells down into a teardrop shape for towing. But the Alto trailer does open up to 6.5 feet of headroom for camping. That reduced wind drag on the highway from this unique trailer design really did the trick with keeping the gas mileage up.
More generator stuff
And the generator does indeed operate while driving down the highway at 70 mph under full load. Here’s a pic of the dashboard screen showing the generator power output on L1 and L2 of the L14-30 twist-lock receptacle in the bed of the truck. I was using my 10kW load bank for this test.
With the proper adapters it should be possible to fully power your RV’s electrical system – including the air conditioner(s) while towing it. But more on that in a future article.
Yes, it’s only an F-150, but…
However, while this F-150 with the trailer package is rated for towing a 12,000-lb. trailer, I’m not sure I would take it up to that limit. But I suspect that with the proper load-equalizing hitch you could comfortably tow an 8,000-lb. trailer up to a reasonable length, and be able to power its air conditioner (and a friend’s RV air conditioner as well) for a weekend of fishing or dirt biking in the wild. All without bringing an extra generator or cans of gasoline.
It offers a trifecta of uses
So this is a basic F-150 work truck you can use during the week to power the tools for your contracting business, take it out pulling your trailer on the weekend with the kids for some boondocking fun, and then use it to power your house for days if the local electricity goes out.
Yep, more on how to properly integrate this kind of truck (and any portable generator) into your home electrical system in a future article.
Let’s play safe out there….
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.
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