When the 2009 FORD F 150
won Truck of the Year, the biggest shortcoming was its engines. It seemed like the 4.6-liter and 5.4-liter V-8s had been around forever, the only changes being the addition of a three-valve 4.6-liter. And, depending on the engine, the transmission was either a four- or six-speed automatic. After some major housecleaning for 2011, there are four new engines: a 3.7-liter V-6, 5.0-liter V-8, 6.2-liter V-8, and a 3.5-liter, 365-horsepower, 420-pound-foot twin-turbo EcoBoost, and all four are backed by the same six-speed automatic.
The twin-turbo isn't the largest displacement engine available -- those honors go to the 6.2-liter V-8 that's standard in the Raptor, Lariat Limited, and Harley-Davidson edition. It doesn't have the most horsepower or torque -- that would also be the 6.2 -- and it doesn't come standard in any F-150. Yet, despite what seems initially like shortcomings, Ford
has made this engine its franchise player, declaring a V-6 the top-of-the-line engine. (What!!!???)
But pricing is aggressive: The upgrade from the 5.0-liter can cost a mere $750, depending on trim level. For that money, you only add five horsepower (which peaks at a lower rpm). Big deal, right? The true benefit is with torque, where the gain is 40 lb-ft (420 versus the 5.0's 380), and peak torque is at 2500 rpm as opposed to the 5.0's 4250. In our tester, a rear-drive Lariat SuperCrew, it a $750 upgrade. That, plus the 3.55:1 limited-slip, Lariat Chrome and Lariat Plus packages, heated and cooled leather seats, trailer brake controller, and tailgate step, brought the as-tested price to $42,770.
The dark blue and beige paint combination looks good on this truck. So does the well-crafted interior, which combines black leather captain's chairs, light-hued wood on the dash, and an extremely roomy second row, which would seem to suggest this truck isn't ready for hard work. However, our EcoBoost tester can tow 11,300 pounds, has a GVWR of 7100 pounds, and an as-tested payload capacity of 1572 pounds.
The EcoBoost engine doesn't sound like a V-8, but it certainly pulls like one. The twin-turbo's power delivery was much smoother than expected, with no noticeable turbo lag, and much quieter, too. It is very quick off the line, and there is plenty of pull at higher rpm as well. At 17.2 mpg, our fuel economy was right within the EPA estimates at 16 mpg city/22 highway. Associate editor Mike Febbo feels "This is the perfect truck engine. A torque curve you can lay a ruler on and decent mileage -- why do we mess around with V-8s anymore?"