More. More. Bigger. Stronger. Bigger. That's the way the truck business is. If you don't have the biggest, strongest truck capable of hauling industrial-sized grades on transcontinental trips, staying off-road the entire time, you shouldn't even bother.
And it's why we're so pleased to finally get our hands on the 2011 Ford F-150 EcoBoost. With the EcoBoost, Ford has flipped the truck maxim from working harder to working smarter. The F-150 EcoBoost uses a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 with direct injection and variable valve timing on the intake and exhaust valves. We're looking at 365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque from that setup. More than the 5.0-liter V8, which makes due with 360 hp/380 lb-ft. The F-150 EcoBoost is visually differentiated from other F-150s by the driver-side mounted license plate bracket -- gottta keep the mouth open to air-out the front-mount intercooler.
Ford intends this engine to be the volume top-level choice on the F-150, but to do that, it has to be a real replacement for a V8 in both towing/hauling capacities and on-road performance. And since we don't have a trailer at our track, we're focusing on the on-road stuff for now.
Is a twin-turbo V6 in a truck better than a V8....
Vehicle: 2011 Ford F-150 EcoBoost Super Cab
Date Tested: 7-12-2011
Driver: Mike Monticello
Base Price: $35,085
Price as tested: $41,865
Drive Type: Longitudinal, front-engine, rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Six-speed automatic
Displacement (cc): 3,490cc (213 cu-in)
Redline (rpm): 6,100
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 365 @ 5,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 420 @ 2,500
Steering System: Electric-assist, speed-proportional, rack-and-pinion power steering
Suspension Type (front): Independent double wishbones with high-mount upper arm, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Non-independent live axle, leaf springs
Tire Size (front): P265/60R18 (109T)
Tire Size (rear): P265/60R18 (109T)
Tire Brand: Michelin
Tire Model: LTX A/S
Tire Type: All-season
Wheel size: 18 inches front and rear
Brakes Front: 13.8-inch ventilated cast-iron discs with two-piston sliding calipers
Brakes Rear: 13.7-inch solid cast-iron discs with single-piston sliding calipers
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 5,412
0-30 (sec): 2.5 (2.6 with T/C on)
0-45 (sec): 4.2 (4.4 with T/C on)
0-60 (sec): 6.5 (6.6 with T/C on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 6.1 (6.3 with T/C on)
0-75 (sec): 9.2 (9.3 with T/C on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 14.6 @ 95.3 (14.7 @ 95.4 with T/C on)
30-0 (ft): 32
60-0 (ft): 129
Slalom (mph): 58.3 (57.8 with T/C on)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.71 (0.71 with T/C on)
Db @ Idle: 41.8
Db @ Full Throttle: 72.1
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 64.3
Acceleration: Pretty impressive that this turbo V6 can run consistent mid-6s to 60 mph. Not surprisingly, some initial lag off the line, but then a seriously healthy midrange punch. Quickest run came with ESC off and just a smidge of power braking -- power brake too much and it spins wildly. Manual shifting capable via silly rocker switch on shift lever. Will hold gears at 6,100 rpm limiter. No throttle blip on downshifts. Speed limiter comes on at 100 mph.
Braking: Decent stopping distances for a big, heavy pickup. Lots of nosedive with only an occasional rear tire lockup. Brake pedal has a nice, firm feel and it stayed that way throughout. Strong brake odor from second run and it just got stronger.
Handling: Skid pad: Not much to do here -- just turn and keep turning, as perpetual understeer is the name of the game. Not much feel from the steering as to what the front tires were up to, but apparently they weren't gripping. Stability system was not a factor, even with ESC on, hence identical numbers. Slalom: The steering has more heft to it than expected for an F-150, but it's still very slow. You have to turn for each cone early to plan for how slowly the steering reacts and how much the tires will slide and the body will roll. Still plenty composed, though. ESC off is not fully off, specifically adding brakes if you power-on oversteer through the final gate.