Home Travel Stories Gas Logs 2012 FORD Econoline E250 Super Duty 281 FI MPG= 12.8 City
2012 FORD Econoline E250 Super Duty 281 FI MPG= 12.8 City PDF Print E-mail
Written by Double Dragon
Monday, 25 June 2012 19:06

2012 FORD Econoline E250 Super Duty 281 FI- 12.8 MPG City


Writing and photography copyright D. S. Brown


Metric= 4.6 L engine- 18.4 L/100km City


Anyone who remembers the primitive old Ford Econoline vans from days past will be a bit surprised by the gargantuan size of the 2012 model. The Super Duty E250 just barely makes it through 6'9" height limit garages (the metal aerial bends a bit because it is marginally higher than the van's roof). In an unladen van with the springs at full height overhead pipe clamps look certain to gouge a groove through the roof. In fact they miss it by about 1/8th of an inch.

Older vans that were tall enough to make sweat start beading on your forehead every time you negotiated a parkade didn't have the same width or the massive protruding mirrors that the new model has. The front nose area also seems to be deeper from windshield to driver seat, probably due to airbags, crumple zones and other modern standards vehicles must adhere to.

Even fairly modern vans seem tighter and smaller compared to the 2012. After driving a 1999 F150 work van over a period of a few years, the instant contrasting impression of the interior of the E250 is that it seems much broader across and more spacious in general.

By today's standards the interior is Spartan and utilitarian in keeping with the Econoline name. Flat grey plastic finish and rubber floor mats combine with black plastic control knobs to remind you this is a low price work truck. The gas cap door and inside cap have no lock at all. The hood uses a prop rod, not springs or gas struts. The central doghouse with the three snap off catches reminds you that the engine is right beside you just like it's always been on these vans. The van however has come a long way. It does a whole lot more than an older Econoline from the past.

If you examine the content included in the 2012 Ford E250, it is equipped comparably to a loaded Cadillac from the 1970s. It has power disc brakes, power steering, automatic overdrive transmission, inside remote hood release, cigarette lighter, interior remote side mirror control, power windows and door locks, tilt steering, multiple speed intermittent wipers, cruise control mounted in the steering wheel spokes, air conditioning, AM/FM stereo radio, courtesy lights on a timer, cup holders, and grab bars. The van provides a 160 KPH/ 100 MPH speedometer with trip odometer, 6 grand tachometer (on an automatic!), fuel, temp, battery and oil pressure gauges and a digital clock.

The E250 incorporates modern sophistication into the simple package with daytime running lights, fuel injection, active handling, an overdrive on/off button in the end of the column shifter knob, even a lock on the dash activated by the ignition key that allows you to disable/ enable the passenger airbag. These modern advances still can't make pushing a giant heavy steel box through the air into a frugal affair. High pressure (80 PSI in rear!) modern low rolling resistance rubber radial tires, overdrive transmission, fuel injection, super thin 5W20 oils, computer spark control, aerodynamic tricks applied to corners and edges will all improve economy somewhat. When all is said and done, weight and frontal area are the master of MPG factors and this is still a big, heavy box.



The EPA revised system was in effect when the figures were compiled for the 2012 vehicles. The Econoline E250 Super Duty with the gasoline V8 4.6 (281 c.i.) was rated at 13 MPG City and 17 MPG Highway when run on regular 87 octane gasoline. The City figure is almost precisely the same as what the real world user of the E250 saw. The 33 gallon tank gives decent range using gasoline: 446 miles based on the 'combined figure' of 15 MPG.

The van is a flex fuel vehicle so the EPA ran a test on its abilities when using E85 which has less energy per gallon. The results on E85 were 9 MPG City and 12 MPG Highway. Using the gas cost at the time of testing, it cost $6.25 to drive 25 miles using 87 octane gas versus $7.85 to cover the same distance using E85.



Driving the 2012 E250 van in light traffic with air conditioning off and lightly loaded half the time (700 pounds) and unladen the other half yielded an unspectacular 12.8 MPG. The weather was dry and warm around 70 degrees F. The majority of the driving was done cruising at 40 MPH in overdrive fourth gear at 1,400 or 1,500 RPM. Normal driving was spiced up with about one in five stop light accelerations involving wide open throttle action to get ahead of other cars. Full throttle provides decent punch in an unloaded van. The little 281 engine has a nice yowl when up shifting crisply at 5,200 RPM.

A 1979 Ford F250 which is the pickup equivalent of the E250 van is profiled in the GAS LOGS section. The 1979 Ford only managed precisely half the MPG reading of the modern van, so Ford has accomplished results during the last 30 years of technological refinement. Granted, comparing that 460-4 barrel equipped old beast with a modern van packing a mere 281 engine isn't apples to apples. We also have to factor in the smaller modern engine and wind turbulence created from the open rear pickup bed which hurts MPG; but still: doubling the MPG is pretty impressive.

The door sticker below proves that the 'Super Duty' name means something: a load rating of 8,900 pounds is definitely super duty. The VIN code assigns a GVW between 6,001 and 10,000 pounds. No matter what the precise carrying weight, this van can haul a lot of stuff.


The VIN decodes as follows

1= Manufactured in the USA
F= Ford
T= Van Cargo
N= Standard brakes and a GVW of 6,001 to 10,000 pounds
E2E= E250 Truck
W= 4.6 Litre (281 c.i.) V8 gasoline engine
X= check digit.
C= 2012 model year.
D= Avon Lake, Ohio assembly plant

The OOCC van was built in February, 2012 and then shipped to Ontario, Canada. The second sticker on the door frame shown below details conversion work done on March 12, 2012.


The Farmbro company in Mississauga, Ontario modified the van for work use. Farmbro added screened bulkheads behind the seats and lined the cargo area with wood beams to provide tie off for interior items and prevent objects inside from gouging the outer metal shell. Most independent contractors build their own tool shelves and drawers in their vans, but bigger companies with fleets like locksmiths or delivery companies find it easier to hand over the conversion to Farmbro.

Once the van was readied for work it was registered April 10, 2012. By summertime it had 2,000 KM on it so the engine was definitely broken in by the time the MPG readings were taken for this story. The digital odometer reading was 2162 at last fill and 2226 when refilled.


Last Updated ( Monday, 01 May 2017 10:21 )