How many times have you wondered, when you are filling up your Ford F150's fuel tank, whether it is better to run on 93 or 87 octane? The guys at Car & Driver wondered about it too and the results may amaze you. But, before we get to that particular reveal, let's talk about gasoline and octane. And, while we are at it let's also discuss a bit of the history of octane, as well.
Ford F150 EcoBoost Gassed Up
Let's begin with a chore that most of us do all the time, filling up the gas tank of our particular vehicle. Since we are discussing Ford F150s, we'll assume that we are filling the gas tank of a Super Crew Ford F150 Raptor. Though the Raptor can run on regular gasoline 93 octane premium is a better choice since the engine is the turbocharged EcoBoost 3.5-liter V6.
Though premium is better in the Raptor, you may have had some doubts because there is a significant price difference between regular and premium? Frankly, you may have wondered if continuing to put premium into the tank is worth it.
For some people, the answer is a definite no; gas is gas. Meanwhile, for others, the answer is a strong yes. Premium gas makes a difference in performance.
By now, you may be wondering where octane came from and what makes it so important? Octane had its beginnings around the time the auto industry began adding tetraethyl lead to gasoline. Though the vehicles at this time had fairly low compression ratios of maybe 6:1 or 7:1 when you pushed the vehicles their engines knocked. Tetraethyl lead served two purposes it was added to prevent knocking and to assure that if there was any knocking the upper cylinder areas would not be damaged as they were made of very soft metal. The tetraethylead acted as a lubricant.
Octane Is Introduced to Motoring Public
This introduced the concept of octane to the motoring public. At this point, most operators didn't know the meaning of octane. They knew it had something to do with the performance of their cars, but not much else. The public didn't know that octane was a measure of a fuel's resistance to knocking. Given the engines of the day, that were essentially cast iron, excessive, violent knocking which could have been catastrophic. You see, knocking created stronger in-cylinder explosions that could have caused lots of damage the motors of that day -- the mid-1920s. Octane had an added benefit as well. As the octane climbed and gasoline became purer -- a benefit of higher octane -- cars and trucks performed better. Octane was not only the measure of anti-knocking, but it also gained its alternate function, it was a predictor of performance.
All of this background is well and good, but, you may wonder what it has to do with the performance of your Ford F150. Car & Driver also wondered about this recently. The folks at C&D took four popular vehicles, including the Ford F150 Raptor, and set them up for testing. The Raptor uses Ford's top-end engine to drive the wheels, the turbocharged EcoBoost 3.5-liter V6.
The engine has a power rating of 450 horsepower with 510 pounds-feet of torque. C&D measured the power potential and determined that the engine cranks out 128.7 horsepower per liter. As an example of the Raptor's power, a Florida track group let a Raptor go over a with the big Blue Oval pickup powering through at 134 mph.
And, The Findings Are
Finally, we are at the point of the whole story, the result. Which gasoline octane performed better?
With the fuel tank filled with 93 octane gasoline, the Ford F150 turned in a 0 to 60 run in 5.3 seconds. It is quite an impressive achievement when you consider that the Ford F150 weighs nearly three tons (5,594-pounds). When the C&D crew switched over to 87 octane fuel performance dipped noticeably. The Ford F150 lost 20 horsepower and half-a-second on the track.
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Here is a list of the results:
- 87 octane 0 to 60 run: 5.9-seconds
- 93 octane 0 to 60 run: 5.3-seconds
- 87 octane quarter-mile time: 14.5 seconds
- 93 octane quarter-mile time: 14 seconds
- Speed trap findings: 4 mph difference
- 87 octane shows 1.9 psi dip in turbo response
So what do the findings mean? You don't have to be an engineer to see that 93 octane gasoline outperforms 87 gasoline. To show this more clearly C&D performed a real-world test that proved premium gasoline performs better. They took the vehicles used for testing to an interstate where they set the cruise control to 75 mph. Cruising at 75, the testers found that premium (93 octane) gasoline returned 17.6 mpg. When they changed the fuel to regular (87 octane), they found that the Ford F150 with the EcoBoost powerplant achieved 17 mpg, a difference of .6 mpg.
Ford F150 Owner Will Pay More For Performance
So what does this all mean? It means that if you opt for premium fuel, you will be spending more at the pump because the higher-quality gasoline is much more expensive than 87-octane regular. Think of it this way, though you may be spending more at the pump, you are gaining better performance from the higher octane gasoline.
Source: Car & Driver