2011 Ford F-150 Platinum EcoBoost
2011 Ford F-150 Platinum EcoBoost. Click image to enlarge

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Review by Haney Louka; photos by Haney Louka and Chris Chase

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2011 Ford F-150

As Canada’s current automotive sales leader, Ford knows better than anyone what it takes to be competitive; and in the light truck market, variety is the name of the game.

While pricing for the venerable F-150 starts way down at $19,999 (and has been advertised locally for even less), we know that such a model is primarily there to get customers in the door to find out how much one that will actually meet their needs will cost them. And, in a manner that challenges even Porsche’s ability to option-up models to customer specifications, well-equipped F-Series versions can easily triple that price.

I won’t go through the hundreds of permutations and combinations of F-150s that are available, but I will note that the base model is equipped with a 3.7-litre V6 and has seating for three, 17-inch steel wheels, and rear-wheel drive. While that six can pump out a tick more than 300 horses, it simply won’t do for most truck buyers out there.

2011 Ford F-150 Platinum EcoBoost
2011 Ford F-150 Platinum EcoBoost
2011 Ford F-150 Platinum EcoBoost. Click image to enlarge

Let’s say you want or need a full four-door truck with four-wheel drive and eight cylinders under the hood. The SuperCrew starts at $41,159 but jumps to $46,759 with four-wheel drive. That XLT model gets Ford’s new 5.0-litre V-8 which generates 360 hp and 380 lb.-ft. of torque.

And while that 5.0 V8 is new, it’s Ford’s new EcoBoost V6 that makes tech geeks like me drool. For an additional $1,000, buyers can opt for a smaller engine with fewer cylinders. But get this: a pair of turbochargers force-feeds air into this 3.5-litre unit to the tune of 365 hp and 420 lb.-ft. of torque. And those higher power and torque numbers are accompanied by lower fuel consumption to boot: in Transport Canada-approved tests, the EcoBoost drinks Regular Unleaded to the tune of 14.0 L/100 km in the city and 9.5 on the highway, or a full litre less than the 5.0.

Our Platinum tester was a few notches up from the XLT: at $60,499, it includes heated and cooled leather front seats (rear seats are heated too), premium audio, a power sliding rear window, 20-inch alloys, model-specific instrument panel, power-deploying running boards, factory remote start, a power moonroof, and a navigation system with eight-inch touch screen. In addition to the EcoBoost option, our truck also came with red candy metallic paint, 3.73 gearing, a box extender, and a towing package for a total as-tested price of $63,269 before destination and taxes.

2011 Ford F-150 Platinum EcoBoost
2011 Ford F-150 Platinum EcoBoost. Click image to enlarge

But back to the EcoBoost: more power, lower fuel consumption. Is there a downside? Not that I saw during my week with the truck, but the idea of putting a turbocharged V6 in a truck that needs to do a truck’s work might be difficult for customers to warm up to. Says a colleague of mine of his new 5.0-equipped F-150, “It just doesn’t sound right without the V8.” To each their own.

My experience with the EcoBoost engine was all positive. While turbo lag (the time it takes for the turbochargers to spool up and deliver the power that the driver has requested) is all but foreign to this engine, it can be felt most obviously from a standstill. Take off aggressively from a stop and the initial acceleration is, while not sluggish, just adequate. At first, there’s not a hint of wheelspin on dry pavement. But just before the engine reaches its 2,500 rpm torque peak, the turbos start making their presence felt, and heard. Imagine being pushed back in your seat as the rear tires actually start to break loose as the boost kicks in. I must say it’s my favourite feature of the EcoBoost engine.

During my week of mostly city driving, the F-150 EcoBoost consumed a bit less than 17 L/100 km, which may seem a little high compared to the truck’s published figures, but in my driving routine it was perfectly acceptable.

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