Ford really, really, really wants us to believe that its 2011 Ford F-150 EcoBoost, equipped with a twin-turbocharged and directly injected V-6 engine, can do the work of, well, of a V-8.
So it will take one of those trucks to Oregon, where it will pinch-hit for a log skidder and drag thousands of pounds of logs up steep grades. Then Ford will take that same truck diagonally across the country to Homestead, Fla., where the truck will tow a pair of Ford Fusion NASCAR race cars around the 1.5-mile oval track for 24 hours – at full throttle and stopping only for fuel and fresh tires.
Ford says you can watch all of that log hauling and race car towing for yourself on the www.fordvehicles.com/2011F150 website, with narration by Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs.
And if you’re still not convinced, stay on the website and watch a video of that EcoBoost engine, the one from the truck that moved logs and race cars, being torn down to verify a lack of wear and tear.
Not that you’d substitute your pickup truck for a log skidder or run it around a racetrack pulling race cars at full throttle for 24 hours, but Ford wants you to be confident that a 2011 Ford F-150 EcoBoost will be capable of such an undertaking.
O.K., still not convinced? Well, how about this: Ford will take that same engine, the one that hauled logs and pulled full speed for 24 hours, and will race it in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 off-road race in November. And while the truck will get beefed-up-to-Baja demands suspension, wheels and tires, as well as special racing safety equipment, the engine will remain box stock.
In fact, Ford promises that to prove the durability and reliability of all F-150 EcoBoost powerplants, the engine being used in the Baja truck was pulled at random off the line at the Cleveland Engine Plant.
“No special [engine] blocks or structural upgrades,” said Eric Kuehn, chief engineer for the 2011 F-150. “The engines going into our race trucks for the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 are the same engines going into the 2011 Ford F-150 that customers can purchase starting next year.
“We are fully confident that because of the strict testing the 3.5-liter EcoBoost truck engines underwent before we started manufacturing, it will take anything the desert can dish out,” he added.
By the way, that development included 1.5-million hours of analytical (computer) time, more than 13,000 hours of dyno testing – with more than 5000 of those hours at full turbo boost and more than 2500 hours at or above 5000 rpm, and more than 100,000 hours of vehicle testing “encompassing the full range of potential customer operating conditions.”
Ford F-150 marketing manager Mark Grueber said pickup truck buyers aren’t necessarily skeptical about the EcoBoost V-6. “They give us the benefit of the doubt. They know Ford trucks are built Ford tough,” he said.
“But it is a big change,” Grueber said, underscoring the scope of that change by noting that, “for 2011, one of our premier engines is a V-6 engine.”
Grueber says that because they are used in big diesels, pickup buyers are comfortable with such technologies as twin turbochargers and direct injection.
“The EcoBoost represents the future,” Grueber said, “and we’re the only ones in the market with anything like this.”
And for those who might take a wait-and-see approach, “we have V8s that are fantastic,” he said, adding that Ford is confident the early-adapters will gravitate to the EcoBoost” because of its combination of power, capability and fuel economy.
“But they want to know it’s going to be durable and tough,” he said, “so we’re going above and beyond in torture testing to erase any shadow of a doubt.”
In addition to the 2011 F-150 EcoBoost that already has hauled logs and pulled racecars, Ford will a second 2011 F-150 EcoBoost at Baja, where those trucks will race not on power-enhancing high-octane racing fuel but on standard pump gasoline.
This, however, is not really a handicap, Ford admits, because engineers figure that the fuel efficiency of the EcoBoost V6 will allow it to make one or two fewer fuel stops than its V8 competitors.
The EcoBoost V6 is rated at 365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, with 90 percent of that torque available from 1700 – 5000 rpm.