I drove a Platinum edition with this engine (about $67,000 worth), and yes, it convincingly hauls some serious butt.
2011 Ford F-150 EcoBoost Platinum. Click image to enlarge
The big news underhood is the available 3.5-litre V6 EcoBoost, which is a game changer in the pickup world. For a $1,000 premium over the 5.0-litre V8, this twin-turbo, direct-injection, DOHC engine (technologies as foreign to traditional pickups as bicycles are to fish) is available across 90 per cent of the line-up. Fuel economy is impressive (12.9 city, 9.0 hwy), but Ford is also pitching this as the workhorse of the bunch.
While this engine has the same name, displacement and architecture as the V6 EcoBoost in the Ford Taurus SHO, Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT, not one part is shared. From the aluminum block to the turbos, this is a different animal.
Convincing die-hard truckies that a high-tech turbo V6 will out-do a V8 while also proving reliable will be Ford’s biggest challenge. By the numbers, at least, it’s really not such a tough sell.
The blown V6 makes 365 hp and 420 lb.-ft. of torque way down in the rev range, and it shares the highest tow and payload rating (11,300 lbs and 3,060 lbs respectively) with the 6.2-litre V8.
At a recent Ford event, we towed 6,500 lb trailers in an F-150 EcoBoost, a Dodge Ram 5.7-litre Hemi (390 hp, 407 lb.-ft.) and a Chevy Silverado 5.3-litre V8 (315 hp, 335 lb.-ft.). The Chevy got the job done but felt the weakest. The Dodge’s Hemi was strong and sounded fabulous but like the Chevy, it had to see about 4,000 r.p.m. before the real power came on. The EcoBoost drove more like a turbo-diesel engine, providing lots of low-end grunt with little apparent effort.
Driving the EcoBoost unladen over some country roads proved it to be a swift and very quiet pickup, although the observed 13.4 L/100 km was considerably off the claimed economy- best to use these figures only for comparison.
There was also a short drag strip set up, where the EcoBoost consistently beat all comers, even edging the F-150 Platinum with the honkin’ 411-hp 6.2-litre V8.
The only area where the EcoBoost falls short is in character. While the V8’s were howling out their lusty Detroit song, this turbo-techie went about its business with a bland exhaust note and bit of turbo whistle. Interestingly, without the V8 soundtrack the EcoBoost never felt as fast as the others.
The EcoBoost certainly makes the most sense on paper, however, delivering the most torque, maximum tow rating and fuel economy that is only one point off the entry-level V6. Ford claims buyers will recoup their $1,000 premium over the 5.0-litre V8 after three years of fuel savings. Will this be enough to pry pickup buyers away from their cherished V8s?