We recently had the opportunity to drive several different trim levels and all four new engines offered in the 2011 Ford F-150. We can't talk about the new engines without mentioning the previous engines, so we'll get that out of the way. The 4.6L and 5.4L V-8s used in the '09 and '10 model trucks were capable, durable, and did a good job overall of hauling the typical F-150 around. But even the 5.4L, when saddled by a fully loaded crew cab body, felt merely adequate compared to the top engine offerings from Dodge and GM. That's all been changed.
The base engine on entry-level F-150s is the 3.7L V-6. Similar to the V-6 found in the Mustang, but with some truck-specific durability upgrades, the V-6 is good for 302 hp and 278 lb-ft of torque and fills in nicely for the 4.6L two-valve when it comes to horsepower. The DOHC four-valve V-6 offers improved fuel economy, with an estimated 23 mpg highway and is quite a bit different from the old V-8 in driving feel; it simply loves to rev. It's rated to tow 6,100 pounds and should serve fleet part-runners and light-duty use just fine, but if you're like us, you'll want to opt for more.
The 5.0L Is Back!
The DOHC 5.0L is related to the 4.6L and 5.4L modular motors, but with a larger bore and cylinder heads that flow massive amounts of air. It feels like a totally different animal. Based on the Mustang's 5.0L, but with unique intake cams and exhaust manifolds that build more low-end torque, the truck version belts out 360 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. It's down just slightly on torque compared to the 5.4L, which can be attributed to losing some displacement, but it feels much stronger to us. This should be the high-volume engine and it can be had in regular cab shortbed models. Just because Ford's not building a Lightning doesn't mean you can't.
With 434 lb-ft of torque and 414 hp, the 6.2L "Boss" V-8 is the most powerful engine you can get in a 1/2-ton. It's also got the coolest cam covers, but that's not the point. The 6.2L is the only engine available in both of the Raptor's cab configurations. You can also get the 6.2L in the Lariat, Platinum, and Harley Davidson edition, but only on SuperCrews. The 6.2L really shines when its torque and displacement are used to move the heavier trucks without breaking a sweat. If you like a big, bad V-8, this is the engine for you. We're just wondering if four-valve heads are on the horizon to take an already potent engine to the next level.
We had a chance to tow with Ford's twin-turbo 3.5L EcoBoost V-6 and can attest to its flat torque curve. Ford claims that 90 percent of its 420 lb-ft of torque is available from 1,700 to 5,000 rpm, and it feels like it, making for confident towing and acceleration that will get a heavy payload up and rolling or plant you in your seat when you're not hitched to a load. Before you ask, the answer is no, there will not be any regular cab shortbed F-150s with the EcoBoost. We asked.
Some hypermiling journalists at our event coaxed 30-plus mpg from unladen 3.15-geared EcoBoost models over a relatively short course that included country roads and highways, but our Senior Web Producer, Ed Sanchez, blew by them, using all of the V-6's 365 hp to put a grin on his face. Ed managed only 16.2 mpg, but obviously the potential is there for the 3.5L to be a fuel miser or a torque monster, depending on your needs. Extra sound proofing on EcoBoost models ensures that you'll have to pay close attention to notice any turbo spool-up. EcoBoost might not win over traditional truck buyers initially, as internet forums are filled with buyers that are skeptical of a V-6 slotted above a V-8, but get people behind the wheel and they might be converted.
Note: We've spoken only about the engines, but it's worth mentioning that max payload in the F-150 comes with seven-lug hubs once again. Not a problem for those that plan to have a fleet of work trucks, but a consideration if you plan to swap wheels.
An easy way to spot EcoBoost-equipped F-150s is from the license plate that is offset to t
Our Senior Web Producer, Ed Sanchez, was not easy on the gas pedal and still managed 16.2