Farewell Long-Term 2011 Ford F-150
In an effort to show that their new EcoBoost engine was built Ford tough, Ford ran a series of “F-150 EcoBoost Torture Test” commercials in the fall of 2010. Ford aimed to convince truck buyers that the turbocharged 3.5-liter 6-cylinder engine was no ordinary V6. This EcoBoost engine, Ford declared, not only had good EPA numbers (16 mpg city/22 highway for rear-wheel-drive models), but it roared like a lion.
During the torture test, an EcoBoost-equipped F-150 with 150,000 miles moved 55 tons of timber in Oregon. After that, it towed an 11,300-pound trailer at high speeds for 24 straight hours. Next, the Ford mopped the floor with a Ram 1500 (5.7-liter V8 Hemi) and a Chevrolet Silverado (5.3-liter V8) in a towing contest, in which each of the three trucks hauled a 9,000-pound trailer uphill for 3.5 miles. The F-150 then completed the treacherous Baja 1000 (1,062 miles) in 38 hours and 20 minutes.
That was all fine and dandy, but could an EcoBoost truck pass muster with Consumer Guide editors? An F-150 with this Mighty Mouse engine was delivered to our office on October 27, 2011, for a three-month extended-use test drive. Our editors had driven multiple generations of F-150s, with a variety of engines, as well as all of the competing trucks in the large-pickup class. In terms of acceleration and fuel economy, they could determine if the EcoBoost F-150 was up to snuff.
Model: 4×4 SuperCrew
Engine: 365-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 Ecoboost
Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic
Total Miles Driven: 2,117 miles
CG Observed Fuel Economy: 15.7 mpg
Base Price: $ 39,615
Major Options: Preferred Equipment Package 508A (Lariat series), 3.5-liter V6 Ecoboost engine, limited-slip differential, standard fuel tank, Lariat Chrome Package (angular step bar, 18-inch chrome wheels), power moonroof, Sony navigation system, Max Trailer Tow Chrome Package (maximum trailer towing capacity, power heated/folding seats, trailer brake controller) Lariat Plus Package (universal garage door opener, remote engine start, rear view camera, rear obstacle detection), pickup-bed extender, leather upholstery, heated/cooled front seats
Price as Tested: $ 48,365
Problems During Test: None
Our 2011 F-150 was a 4-wheel-drive Lariat SuperCrew Styleside (crew cab, short bed), which started at $ 39,615–$ 17,200 above the price of the base model. The Lariat offered plenty of perks, including such convenience features as leather upholstery, heated 10-way power front seats, a memory system (driver seat, mirrors, pedals), satellite radio, and voice recognition. Ford threw in four packages, which included among other things a power moonroof, a rearview camera, and maximum trailer towing capacity. While a 5.0-liter V8 came standard with this trim level, ours was fitted with the EcoBoost engine–an $ 895 option on the Lariat and other models that come standard with the 5.0 V8. (It’s a $ 1,875 upgrade on 2012 models that come standard with the base 3.7-liter V6 engine.) The price of our heavily equipped F-150 was $ 48,365.
While F-150’s 5.0-liter V8 delivers 360 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque, the turbocharged V6 ups the ante with 365 horsepower and a torque rating of 420. Our editors were instantly impressed. “The 6 is the new 8!” exclaimed one editor after his first test drive. “The EcoBoost V6 is wonderfully smooth and extremely potent.” Added a fellow editor, “With the EcoBoost V6, it was a snap to enter expressways at highway speed or to pass in normal commuting. The engine is smooth, and its operation is enhanced by the 6-speed automatic transmission.” And if you want a third opinion, here it is: “The EcoBoost engine is ridiculously strong, feeling like a massive big block rather than some stingier V6.”
Ford’s towing-capacity numbers reveal that the EcoBoost engine is indeed mighty. It can haul up to 11,300 pounds, compared to 10,000 for F-150’s 5.0-liter V8 and 6,100 for the normally aspirated 3.7-liter V6.
Fuel economy was a different matter. The F-150 with the EcoBoost engine and 4WD is EPA rated at 15 mpg city, 21 highway, and 17 combined–barely better than the 14/19/16 numbers for the 5.0-liter V8. During our three months of driving in real-world conditions, we fell a little short of the EPA estimates. Over the course of 2,117 miles, we averaged a combined 15.7 mpg, with a nearly 50-50 split between city and highway driving. However, our mpg number was adversely affected by the cold weather of a Chicago winter and the added weight of the crew-cab body style and all the extra equipment.
As for pure highway driving, one editor averaged 18.1 mpg over a 360-mile road trip. In all-city driving, another editor complained that he got just 13.25 mpg. “I took it easy on the throttle the whole way, aching for a mileage ‘boost,’ but it never came,” he lamented.
In other categories, America’s most popular vehicle lived up to its sterling reputation. This 4WD beast was “absolutely flawless” in snow, raved one editor. The ride was decent for a full-size pickup, and the engine was remarkably quiet at idle and during highway driving. Seats were comfortable and supportive, and the SuperCrew offered oceans of cabin room, front and back.
Regarding interior details, the editors felt that the F-150 fell short of the Ram Laramie. Too much plastic, they complained, and “the woodgrain doesn’t look all that great.” Test drivers appreciated the comfort features and electronic gizmos, but, said one, “Sync still hates me.”
But the main purpose of our extended test drive was to evaluate the new engine, which we determined was light on the “Eco” but heavy on the “Boost.” Whether the engine is worth an extra $ 895/$ 1,875 depends on your needs and desires for hauling and performance. But the new engine has been a popular choice. In calendar year 2011, EcoBoost models accounted for 40 percent of all F-150 sales.
Featuring full-color photographs of cars, planes, trucks and more, TRANSPORTATION is ideal for children who love seeing things that go. Each page features a brilliantly photographed image along with a title so the next time your four year old is debating the merits of bulldozers versus diggers, you can join in the fun. For kids who love Cars, Bob the Builder, or Jay Jay the Jet Plane.
Like all the titles in the Discover Series, TRANSPORTATION i
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