Ford’s new F-150 pickup truck got four new engines this year, including a fabulous twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 that allows drivers to tow up to 11,300 pounds right past the gas station.
The new engine lineup includes a 3.7-liter V-6, a 5.0-liter V-8, a 6.2-liter V-8 and the 3.5-liter EcoBoost. It’s the most extensive powertrain overhaul ever for the venerable F-Series. All four engines are hooked up to 6-speed automatic transmissions, and all four deliver best-in-class towing and horsepower.
Our test truck this week was the F-150 4x4 Supercrew with the EcoBoost engine. Lest you think that a V-6 engine with some fancyschmancy gas-sipping technology can’t get the job done, consider this: this engine delivers 365 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque with 11,300 pounds of towing capacity and a payload of 3,060 pounds. And it will use only one gallon of regular unleaded gasoline to take you 15 miles on city streets and 21 miles on the highway. And it’s plenty of truck to haul a 3-horse trailer or a 30-foot boat.
With four new engines for 2011, you might also think Ford is taking a chance on unproved powertrains. Wrong again, grasshopper. Ford tortures these engines before it puts them into trucks. Ford officials say the EcoBoost engine received more than 1.5 million hours of analytical time, more than 13,000 hours of dynamometer testing and more than 100,000 hours of vehicle test time. More vetted than Republican candidates in the race for president, Ford engines are thoroughly tested before they’re bolted into a pickup truck.
The V-6 EcoBoost engine is even more powerful than the smaller V- 8 powerplant in the F-150, figures show. The 5.0-liter V-8 cranks out 360 horsepower and 380 lb.-ft. of torque, while the big 6.2-liter V-8 delivers 411 horses and 434 lb.-ft of torque.
We were easily able to ramp a Honda Four Trax up into the wide bed of the 157-inch wheelbase F-150 test truck and head to the Feliciana hills for some off-roading fun. Twist the 2WD knob on the dash to the 4HI or 4LO positions and the truck is good to go. My guess is that, space permitting, the F-150 could have gone just about anywhere the 4- wheeler went.
Getting to the end of the pavement is a blast with the EcoBoost engine. Some big powerful trucks seem to have to wind up to get going, but the F-150 with EcoBoost produces its peak torque starting at just 1,700 rpm, so the truck can accelerate like a sedan. Electric power assisted steering provides just the right amount of road feedback, and helps to save on fuel because it isn’t continuously dragging on the engine.
The 2011 F-150 is offered in a seemingly infinite variety of trims, including XL, STX, XLT, FX2/FX4, King Ranch, Platinum, SVT Raptor and the special Harley-Davidson package. Returning to the lineup this year is the Lariat Limited, with a limited release of just 3,500 units in the United States. Our test King Ranch had an interior fit for a cowboy king, complete with leather heated and cooled seats and as much luxury as you want.
When it comes to safety, the F- 150 Crew Cab gets the top “Good” rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, thanks to four-wheel anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, and a full complement of airbags with a safety canopy. The base price for the 2011 F-150 4x4 Supercrew in the King Ranch trim is $45,235. Add in the EcoBoost engine, a power moon roof, an off-road package with rear locking axle and skid plates, Sony navigation, a trailer/tow package, and the incredibly handy box side steps, and the price climbs to just over $50-grand.
But this is one heck of a truck that can get you past the gas stations to the woods, take you down the trails and then safely back home in style.