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Open Roads Forum  >  Tow Vehicles

 > Ecoboost towing heavy (moderate) in Colorado Mountains

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skipnchar

Topeka or somewhere else

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Posted: 09/09/11 03:01pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Returned yesterday afternoon from a couple of weeks in Colorado with the new truck. One of the reasons I wanted to go there was to find out how good it would tow at high altitude and steep grades. I'll give it an A on both tests.

ON the last day, I had stopped overnight at "Timber Creek" NPS campground, on the west side of Rocky Mountain Park, near Grand Lake. It had been raining solidly all night on Monday and all day Tuesday. Still looked like it was going to open up again on Wednesday so I decided to head on for home a day early. Debate about whether to go over Berthoud Pass which would take me out of the mountains through Denver, or go through the park on Trail Ridge Road and come out in Loveland. It was a no brainer for me to go over Trail Ridge because I HATE driving in Denver traffic.

It was only drizzling a little rain as I turned north out of the campground and headed toward Milner pass. It was pretty easy driving up to the pass through the continental divide at Milner but that's only 10,700 feet and it was obviously pretty close to the ceiling there. I would find that the ceiling was quite a bit lower on the east side and was socked in solid all the way to the valley floor.

Within a mile after the pass I drove into the clouds. It was dense enough to make seeing the yellow line on the road difficult to see at times. At least that kept me at the 35 MPH speed limit on that part of the road (for the most part). It also kept traffic down. Fair amount of traffic coming from the East side but never saw another vehicle going from the West as I was.

The truck handled the grades easily in 4th gear, towing approximately 9,000 lb. On those occasions when I DID get up around 40 MPH it even locked up the torque converter in 4th gear and STILL would easily accelerate when I asked it to.

I know that Trail Ridge is not the toughest mountain pass in Colorado but it's no slouch either. Lots of 6% grade with some 7% thrown in and a number of 15 MPH curves scattered throughout the distance.

I had come with great expectations for towing with the Ecoboost but it actually even exceeded (by far) the ease of handling the grades, both up and down. The small 6 cylinder engine doesn't have QUITE as much engine braking as the larger V-8s I'm used to but it certainly was adequate to avoid the need for more than occasional braking on the downward side. I prefer using the select shift to handle grade braking rather than using tow/haul to do it. I've always thought tow/haul gives more help than is needed and still find that to be true with the new transmission but it IS better than it used to be. Still being able to select the gear you want to use WITHOUT it automatically downshifting every time I touch the brake is a better solution.

Under MOST driving conditions you don't every even hear the engine, with only a low pitched purr from the twin turbos but during the climb the turbo sound was more pronounced but still with about the same low pitch. Even at the highest elevations on Trail Ridge, over 12,000 feet high, I noticed no loss of power and 4th gear was all that was needed to climb and that's with around 1500 RPM on the tach.

I can now say that I would be confident to take the truck on any mountain grade I've ever climbed and know it will do the job as well as anything out there. I am AGAIN impressed with what Ford has done with that engine. Not much they can do about the rain I guess so at least they gave me an easy means of driving out of it. Rain was gone by the time I got to FT Morgan.

Over all it was a great trip with good weather. Little did I know that when the heat wave left it would usher in all that rain. that's about as long as I've seen it rain in the Rockies but I'm sure it happens often.

Guess I'll have to go LOOKING for something tougher to see if I can make it at least sweat a little bit [emoticon]

I didn't mention anything about fuel economy in this post because as I've often said before, I don't see much difference in fuel mileage when mountain towing over towing on flat land. Yes It did worse going up but it was balanced by doing better coming down and the net result was only about a .5 to 1 MPG loss in economy. Mileage didn't change much from driving on the previous trip and other than that 1 MPH loss for mountain towing, I still got right at 10 MPG for the towing part of the trip.

* This post was last edited 09/09/11 05:00pm by skipnchar *   View edit history


2011 F-150 HD Ecoboost 3.5 V6. 2550 payload, 17,100 GCVWR -
2004 F-150 HD (Traded after 80,000 towing miles)
2007 Rockwood 8314SS 34' travel trailer

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larry barnhart

wenatchee. wa usa

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Posted: 09/09/11 03:15pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Yes just think it is a 3.5 V6. that really is a small engine for that power.
chevman


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Kevin O.

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Posted: 09/09/11 04:28pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Glad to see the Ecoboost is living up to your expectations!!! I leave in 2 weeks for our last trip of the year and cant wait to see how my new Ecoboost tows compared to my old 07' 5.4!!


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ib516

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Posted: 09/09/11 05:15pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Nice report Skip. Glad you had a safe trip.


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fla-gypsy

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Posted: 09/10/11 06:36am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Nice detailed report Skip. Now if they will just make a 5.0 EB for the SuperDuty line I will be all over it


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tnance

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Posted: 09/10/11 06:42am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Since it was overcast when you made the trip, here is what it looked like at the top. A beautiful drive.

[image]


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skipnchar

Topeka or somewhere else

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Posted: 09/10/11 07:30am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for the photo. I've driven the road on many occasions during clear weather, rain and snow. This one was the worst visibility I've run into for at least quite a few years. Each pass DOES have it's own beauty but my preference is clear weather so those gorgeous views of the valley floor below can be enjoyed.

Hannibal

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Posted: 09/10/11 07:42am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great report! Glad you had a good safe trip. The Ecoboost sounds like the beginning of a whole new era of tow vehicles.


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MadMav

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Posted: 09/09/11 05:41pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Turbo's rule up here!

Good report.

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Larryect

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Posted: 09/09/11 05:49pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Sounds pretty amazing. Towing my 25ft Layton fth wheel with an 8300 pound Gvw (haven't weighd it) on something like a 2500 mile round trip from CA through New Mexico and back my F350 6.0 diesel averaged 9.9. Of course I was probabaly driving 65 - 70 as well.

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