Road Test:2011 F-150 EcoBoost
Sep 8, 11 | by: Bruce W. Smith
Ford’s twin-turbo, V6-powered F-150 delivers a lot more than hot air; twin-turbos put a hurt on V8s
by Bruce W. Smith
Last fall we lauded the arrival of Ford’s twin-turbo, direct-injected 3.5L V-6 offered in the 2011 F-150s.
The new engine is powerful, fuel-efficient and high-tech. All attributes that we long for in a pickup used for both work and play.
But our day in the sun with Ford engineers and their new baby didn’t answer all our questions. The biggest ones being real-world fuel economy and the daily driving experience.
Well, after six months patiently waiting, we finally received a well-appointed EcoBoost F-150 Crew Cab 4×4 Lariat for our own testing. We spent a week putting more than 500 miles on it.
Our truck, which lists for $43,475 as tested, is EPA rated at 16 city/21 highway, nearly identical numbers to the 15/21 fuel economy figures of the GM Flex-fuel (FFV) 5.3L’s and far better than Ford’s 5.0L 14/19.
The EcoBoost, which was equipped with the optional 3.73 axle ratio, averaged 19.4mpg on our 105-mile Interstate test and 15.4mpg in suburban and city driving. Good numbers.
And we expect the EcoBoost would consistently deliver 2-4mpg better fuel economy than any of the other similarly geared V-8 competitors because of its displacement and technology.
As for pure get-up-and-go, the EcoBoost’s best 0-60mph sprint at Holiday Raceway (holidayraceway.com) took 6.9 seconds and blew through the 1/8th-mile traps in 9.9sec @ 74.5mph – the fastest numbers for any pickup we’ve tested to date.
(In comparison, our GMC Sierra with 3.55 gears ambled through the 1/8th mile with an 11.1 sec @67.4mph.)
The Ford’s lower axle ratio contributes to some of its speed. But it’s the way the V-6’s twin turbos spool up and pour on the power that makes the biggest difference; the baby turbos spool up fast and stay at full boost from about 1,800 to 5,500rpm.
V-8s like Ford’s 360hp 5.0L and GM’s 315hp 5.3 don’t really start pulling until they roll into 4,000rpm range. By that time the little V-6, with its 420lb.-ft of torque, is long gone.
Towing muscle also takes a nod to the F-150 EcoBoost. The EcoBoost is limited like all 1/2-tons to towing a maximum of 5,000 pounds on the hitch ball.
Add a weight-distributing hitch and that trailered load climbs to 11,300 pounds with the optional max trailer tow package ($565) and 3.73 gears ($300), which came on our test truck. When the weight-distributing hitch is in play, the F-150 tows smooth and stable.
We’ve towed identical 24-foot, 6,700-pound box trailers behind Ford’s and competitor’s 5-liter pickups. The twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 walks away from them all because it’s delivering more torque faster for a longer time, almost like a diesel.
Such performance should get the attention of anyone who uses 1/2-ton pickups for work, be it a self-employed landscaper or contractor with one truck to those who buy them by the dozens for their fleets.
The EcoBoost F-150 Lariat 4×4 is nicely appointed, nimble and responsive. Bumper to bumper it’s well engineered and thought out for a workingman’s pickup.