Seat Time: 2014 Ford F-150 XLT 4X4 Super Cab, bi-fuel

April 1st, 2014 at 5:26pm

CNG F-150

Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

Manufacturer: Ford Motor Company
Make: Ford
Model: F-150 XLT 4X4 Super Cab, bi-fuel
Model Range: Regular, Super Cab Super Crew
Competitors: Silverado bi-fuel, Ram CNG
Trim Levels: XL, STX, XLT, FX2/FX4, Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum, Tremor, Limited, SVT Raptor
Price Range: Base bi-fuel $37,075; As tested $40,515
Made in: Kansas City, Missouri
Drivetrain: 3.7 L V-6
EPA Ratings: 16 city/21 highway/18 combined

Read on for John McElroy‘s final impressions of this vehicle

Notable Features:

  • CNGF150_06_HRBig box in bed looks like a tool box but actually houses the CNG tank. The top of the box opens for some storage, but not much. It looks like it would hold several large umbrellas.
  • There’s a big gauge mounted on top of the IP to the left of the instrument cluster. It almost looks like an aftermarket tachometer.

Final Impression:

The biggest challenge in owning a CNG vehicle is finding a place to re-fuel. Forget those “fuel finder” websites. They’re woefully out of date. You’ll likely find a non-working CNG pump at a gas station, or some pipes and wires sticking out of the ground where the CNG pumps used to be. Call ahead, if possible, before you travel miles out of your way to find there’s nothing there. Of course the benefit of a bi-fuel truck is that you can just run it on gasoline until you find a CNG station, and with its 36-gallon gasoline tank this F-150 can travel far and wide to find one.

When you do find a CNG station—yes they are out there—you’ll discover that there are at least two different types of nozzles. Make sure you check to see which nozzle fits the vehicle you’re driving before swiping a credit card to activate the pump, it will just save you the hassle of having to start the process all over again.

CNGF150_08_HR

It takes about the same time to fill the CNG tank as it does to fill a gasoline tank, but the CNG tanks hold fewer gallons. Strangely, on my test vehicle the large CNG gauge mounted on the top left hand side of the instrument panel would only register ¾ full.

I could not discern any difference driving the F-150 using CNG mode or then switching to gasoline. Not even starting the vehicle in cold weather or by flooring it at highway speeds. I even switched back and forth from one fuel to the other while cruising down the freeway and there was no perceptible difference. The engine did stall on me once, backing out of a parking spot, but fired right up again.

I paid $2.64/GGE for CNG at a time when regular gasoline in the area was selling for about $3.55/gallon. GGE stands for gasoline gallon equivalent, meaning the equivalent amount of energy that there is in a gallon of gasoline. I averaged 18.3 miles per gallon using CNG, and that’s exactly what the EPA label promised: 18 mpg combined, whether you use gasoline or CNG.

With a base price of $37,075 including destination charges the bi-fuel F-150 is considerably more expensive than a gasoline-only version. The more miles you drive, the greater the fuel savings will be. I figure if you drive 15,000 miles a year, you’ll save about $760 a year in fuel costs. So in time the extra cost of the conversion will pay for itself.

4 Comments to “Seat Time: 2014 Ford F-150 XLT 4X4 Super Cab, bi-fuel”

  1. Maverick Says:

    John:
    I calculate only a savings of about $760 per year (0.91 per gallon difference X 833 gallons per year) based on your figures. Not $2000. How did you do the calculations?

  2. John McElroy Says:

    @Maverick: You’re right! Thanks for catching that typo. I had the same $760 figure in my notes, but typed it wrong here. We’ve adjusted the savings to the correct value.

  3. MPGomatic Says:

    Great stuff, John!

    It’s worth noting that CNG prices can vary widely per gallon, depending on geographic location. If you’re in a state that’s awash in CNG (like OK), cost per gallon may be half (or even less!) of what you’re paying in MI. This will result in dramatically higher savings.

    Alternative fuel prices swing from region to region. The optimum technology depends on where you live …

  4. Mark Bouquet Says:

    Hello,
    I am in the market preferably for a Raptor. I already ordered a Transit Connect for my company. I would like to know if I can order a Raptor with a 3.6 V-6 with a CNG prep kit?
    Any help on this would be appreciated.
    Thanks for any help,
    Mark Bouquet Sr.
    Owner and resident of Creative Carpet and Flooring Inc.