2011 Ford F-150 King Ranch EcoBoost
2011 Ford F-150 King Ranch EcoBoost. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Paul Williams

Photo Gallery:
2011 Ford F-150

Dallas, Texas – Texas is truck country, with 20 per cent of Ford’s U.S. truck sales accounted for there. Success in the Lone Star State, therefore, implies success in every other truck market. No wonder that Ford typically goes to Texas to introduce its new trucks.

The recent introduction of the 2011 Ford F-150 pickup in Dallas was an opportunity to showcase a range of new F-150 technologies, including four powertrains — which Ford refers to as the most significant engine overhaul in the history of the F-150 — along with the new electronic power assisted steering (EPAS) and six-speed automatic transmissions.

The F-150 is available in literally dozens of configurations — different wheelbases, cab configurations, drivetrains and packages — ranging in price from $19,999 for the XL 4×2 regular cab, to $64,899 for the Lariat Limited Supercrew. Major model categories are XL, STX, XLT, FX2/FX4 and Lariat, with the King Ranch, Platinum, Lariat Limited, Harley-Davidson, and the extreme SVT Raptor (now including a Raptor Supercrew) offered as special editions. The Lariat Limited, returning for 2011 after a two-year absence, is limited to 1,500 units for Canada.

Externally, things haven’t changed much compared with the 2010 models, and likewise inside, the 2009 makeover carries over, although the 2011 F-150 features new gauge clusters. Most of the 20011 changes are under the hood, but they are significant.

2011 Ford F-150 engines
2011 Ford F-150 EcoBoost engine
2011 Ford F-150 engines (top); 2011 Ford F-150 EcoBoost engine. Click image to enlarge

The engines — two V6s and two V8s — represent a nod to the past and a look at the future, and combine for a projected fuel economy improvement of 20 per cent. The 6.2-litre V8, for instance, will appeal to those for whom power and reliability are synonymous with a V8 specification, and in the F-150 this single-overhead camshaft engine makes 411 horsepower, 434 pound-feet of torque, and can tow 11,300 pounds.

The 3.5-litre “EcoBoost” however, is a state-of-the-art V6 engine with technology common to diesel engines, like twin turbochargers and direct fuel injection. Doing duty in Ford’s trucks it generates 365 hp and 420 lb.-ft. of torque (90 per cent of which is available from 1,700 r.p.m.) and like the 6.2-litre V8, it will tow 11,300 lbs. Ford is planning to offer various engines using EcoBoost technology in 90 per cent of its vehicles by 2013. It will be available in the 2011 F-150 in the first quarter of 2011.

In the 2011 F-150, the EcoBoost engine is effectively the same Duratec V6 found in the Ford Mustang (with displacement reduced from 3.7 to 3.5 litres), but with added technologies and engineering to increase power and improve fuel economy. Ford is embarking upon a series of challenges to demonstrate the durability of the EcoBoost V6 that replicate over two-and-a-half million kilometres of service, and, in one engine, simulate 240,000 km of severe duty operation, after which the engine will be installed into a competition F-150 to run in the grueling Baja 1000 off-road race November 17-20, 2010. This vehicle was introduced at the Texas State Fair.

2011 Ford F-150 King Ranch EcoBoost
2011 Ford F-150 King Ranch EcoBoost. Click image to enlarge

The “base” F-150 3.7-litre V6 F-150 makes 302 hp, 278 lb.-ft. of torque and tows 6,200 lbs, and like the Ecoboost, it is fundamentally a Duratec V6, only re-tuned for truck duty. Likewise, the F-150 application of the all-aluminum, 5.0-litre Mustang V8, generates 360 hp, 380 lb-ft torque and tows 10,000 lbs.

All 2011 Ford F-150 trucks now feature a six-speed automatic transmission with standard tow-control, which increases control when hauling a heavy load or towing a trailer, especially when descending grades. Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS), now a standard feature, features “drift control,” which increases stability by compensating for lateral forces (road crowns, wind) and reduces fuel consumption by three per cent.

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