It has become something of a given, these days, that the hybrid-electric vehicle is the only viable way to deliver significant improvements in fuel economy, at least in the U.S. market. While diesels dominate in Europe, Americans have largely ignored the tremendous mileage benefits offered by “oil burners.”
But there could be a third option, at least if Ford’s ongoing claims for its so-called Ecoboost engine lives up to its hype. The new powertrain liberally powers from the technology that has made the modern diesel so effective, but it uses conventional gasoline.
If all goes according to plan, variants of the Ecoboost could be offered in 90% of Ford products by the middle of the next decade. In V6 form, it will power the revival of the legendary Taurus SHO, as well as a version of both the Flex “people mover” and F-150 pickup. And while Ford officials continue to play coy, they have all but confirmed that an inline-4 version of the Ecoboost will appear in such products as the next-generation Focus, and perhaps even the eagerly-awaited Fiesta subcompact.
Another model that could desperately use the technology – originally shown in concept form as the TwinForce engine – is the Lincoln MKS. While the sedan has received numerous kudos since its recent launch, critics have faulted the lack of a V8 in a segment that expects a more performance-oriented option. A 355-horsepower version of the Ecoboost, which should yield something around 17 mpg City, 25 Highway, or 20% above a comparable V8, could surmount the skeptics’ concerns. (more…)