2011 FORD F-150
By Larry Walton
You can’t just mash the throttle on the EcoBoost equipped F-150 because it will not hook up. It produces so much torque at low rpm that a heavy foot will have you buying new tires for the rear on a regular basis. Of course, we’re not complaining and Ford, after all, was paying for the tires.
Ford’s engine engineers have been in the spotlight since the new F-150s started rolling off the line.We found out why at the Texas Motor Speedway where we spent most of our time talking about four new engines developed for the Ford F-150, giving Ford the bragging rights for class-leading power and fuel economy.
Twin Turbo V-6
Headlining the most extensive engine makeover in Ford F-Series history is the all new 3.5 liter, twin turbo, EcoBoost V-6 engine. Equipped with matching turbochargers, one for each bank of three cylinders, the engine was designed with maximum torque in mind.Often we think of turbocharged gas engines being happy only at the top end.But Ford’s engine building team did several things to give this engine great torque output on the left side of the tach and keep it there as the needle climbs. In fact, up to 90 percent of the EcoBoost’s peak torque is available from 1,700 rpm to 5,000 rpm.
First of all, the turbochargers are just little guys, which means they spool up quickly to minimize turbo lag. These little air compressors quickly start doing their job of forcing more air into the engine where it joins directly injected fuel to produce 420 lb.-ft. of torque and 365 horsepower.
The engine was built from the start to be turbocharged with tough components and proper compression ratios. The cylinders are proportioned slightly over square, which creates more surface area at the top of the cylinder head for larger dual exhaust valves.
Because the exhaust valves are controlled by independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT), the computer can open them slightly early, which gets the turbos spinning early to produce more power at low rpm.
The result is a power curve that can be seen on the dyno graph and really felt off of the starting line.The EcoBoost starts pulling hard early and remains strong right through the gear set and it does it all on regular fuel with outstanding fuel economy.
Here are the highlights of the other three engines:
3.7-liter four-valve Ti-VCT V6
- · Best-in-class 302 horsepower at 6,500 rpm vs. V6 competitors
- · Unsurpassed 278 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm vs. V6 competitors
- · Projected best-in-class fuel economy
- · Best-in-class 6,100 pounds maximum trailer tow vs. V6 competitors
5.0-liter four-valve dual-overhead-camshaft Ti-VCT V8
- · Best-in-class 360 horsepower at 5,500 rpm vs. standard V8 competitors
- · Best-in-class 380 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,250 rpm vs. standard V8 competitors
- · Best-in-class 10,000 pounds maximum trailer tow vs. standard V8 competitors
6.2-liter two-valve single-overhead-camshaft V8
- · Best-in-class 411 horsepower at 5,500 rpm vs. all competitors
- · Best-in-class 434 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,500 rpm vs. all competitors
- · Best-in-class 11,300 pounds maximum trailer tow vs. all competitors
An upgraded version of the 6R80 six-speed automatic transmission is now standard for each of the four new engines for the 2011 Ford F-150. Changes have given the transmission smoother operation while contributing to improved fuel economy. Each of the new engines has a version of the transmission that is optimized for that engine.
The six-speed can be ordered with Ford’s SelectShift manual mode and progressive range select, which is a pretty cool feature. A toggle on the shift lever allows the driver to limit the use of upper gears when heavily loaded or while towing.
The progressive range select can also be useful for driving curvy roads with the smaller engines. For example, I noticed that the 3.7L V6 was much happier at higher rpm in terms of throttle response and acceleration. While driving a twisty stretch of road with frequent elevation changes I locked out gears above fourth, which provided better compression braking going into corners and improved throttle response when exiting corners.
The 6R80’s tow/haul mode has been recalibrated to provide better control when hauling a heavy load or towing a trailer, especially when going down grades. The improved system, now integrated into the powertrain control module, uses an array of sophisticated electronic sensors to better predict the driver’s need for a downshift to provide engine braking and enhanced control.
Electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) on the 3.7-liter V6, 5.0-liter V8 and 3.5-liter EcoBoost trucks replaces the conventional hydraulic steering system, which runs continuously off the engine. EPAS draws power only when needed. I found that the EPAS system provided adequate assist in low speed situations and plenty of road feel at higher speeds, without over assisting.
“The addition of EPAS is a huge step forward for the F-150,” said Eric Kuehn, chief engineer of the 2011 Ford F-150. “It allows for lighter parking lot efforts but will retain that on-road feel and steering precision truck customers expect.”
Turbo diesels and heavy duty pickups have long dominated the towing market and for big trailers they will continue to do so. But there are plenty of trailers that are under 10,000 lbs and recent changes to the Ford F-150 now make it a viable towing machine. Towing mirrors, anti-sway and integrated brake controllers are now joined with a powertrain and higher tow ratings that will make tow vehicle choices cross the ½-ton/HD dividing line.
All this improved capability comes with significant fuel savings over the life of the vehicle.
Ford’s engine builders have done the Ford Motor Company proud with new 2011 Ford F-150