How We Dyno Tested Ford's 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 and 5.0-liter V-8 Engines

By G.R. Whale and Mike Levine, Photos by Greg Whale

In response to reader comments about observed low-end power output (or rather, the lack of measured output below 2,000 rpm) during our earlier dyno test of Ford’s all-new 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, we’ve rerun the test.

This time, we combined engineering resources from Ford and our friends at K&N Engineering. Ford graciously flew in an engineer from Dearborn, Mich., to participate in the testing at K&N’s headquarters in Riverside, Calif.

We also made sure we had two 2011 F-150s to compare on the same day on K&N’s SuperFlow chassis dyno – an EcoBoost V-6 and a 5.0-liter V-8. Both trucks were 145-inch-wheelbase models with four-wheel drive and 3.73 rear axles. The EcoBoost F-150 ($41,300) was a SuperCab FX4 with a 6.5-foot cargo box and 4,650 miles on its odometer. The 5.0 F-150 ($40,715) was a SuperCrew with a 5.5-foot cargo box and 3,130 miles. All the tires were identical: Wrangler SR-A P275/65R18 114T.

The SuperFlow eddy-current dyno is different from the Dynojet inertia-type dyno we’ve used in the past. Whereas an inertia dyno measures engine power at a vehicle’s rear wheels based on how fast it can spin heavy drums, an eddy-current dyno adds the ability to simulate a load on the trucks by using electro-magnets to add resistance to drum spin, as if they were pulling a trailer.

EcoBoost 3.5-liter V-6 F-150 on the Superflow dyno.

Both trucks were run in two-wheel drive, lashed down securely on the SuperFlow’s four spinning rollers.

Conditions were favorable the entire day. It was cloudy with a light drizzle. The temperature in the dyno cell was 68 degrees, barometric pressure was 29 inches and humidity was 45 percent. K&N used industry-standard SAE correction factors to determine the power ratings from both trucks, which account for environmental factors at the time of testing.

To keep both trucks cool, we used seven fans: three in the forward room wall, two squirrel-cage fans aimed at the radiator, one squirrel targeted at the EcoBoost’s turbo intercooler in the lower bumper and one directly under the right side exhaust.

EcoBoost on the Dyno

The EcoBoost gasoline twin-turbo direct-injection engine required more than six hours to test properly on the dyno because measuring its low-end power output was difficult.

At first, we encountered an issue accurately reading engine rpm on the dyno, even after the Ford engineer identified a specific wire for the dyno to "listen" to. Eventually, Ford and K&N decided to use vehicle speed to determine power output because the Ford engineer could receive the same data on his laptop that was plugged into the truck’s onboard diagnostic system as K&N measured with the dyno.

Both trucks were run in "2" gear on the dyno from a rolling start all the way to redline.

The GTDI truck was run with the F-150’s six-speed automatic transmission set in the "2" gear position. Ford’s engineer believed that 1st gear in the EcoBoost F-150 was too short to make low-end power, though there was lots of high-end power, 2nd was just fast enough to get the cams moving while 3rd tended to get the emissions catalyst too hot, which started to affect backpressure reducing power. K&N has also run a similar 2nd gear setup testing a 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost Ford Taurus with front-wheel drive.

Multiple combinations of throttle tip-in, inertia and time-per-pull and load tests were tried. Too much eddy-current dyno load to help the engine’s twin turbos build boost early started to smoke the tires. Tipping into the accelerator too quickly didn’t agree with the dyno, tripping a mode where the dyno reduced its load on the truck. Starting from a 9 mph rolling start at 1,400 to 1,600 rpm got around the dyno load reduction issue but didn’t allow time for the 3.5’s intake manifold air pressure to build to the desired level (48 inches, according to published output data compared with about 37 inches measured on the early rolling starts) until around 2,500 rpm.

Manifold pressure is measured like barometric pressure. It describes how much air will be mixed with fuel in the cylinders. The greater the air pressure, the more fuel and air can be mixed during combustion to provide extra power.

There was also the delicate balancing act of trying to keep the torque converter from slipping at low rpm under heavy load, so full power could be sent from the engine to the rear wheels, and keeping other engine power management variables, like cam and spark timing, in their sweet spots.

The torque converter in an automatic transmission takes the place of a clutch in manual transmission. It smoothly transitions gear shifts and disconnects the driveline from the engine at stops, so the engine doesn't stall. The TC has to be locked to push full power from the engine to the rear wheels.

EcoBoost’s advertised power runs are started from a rolling start with engine speeds as close to idle as possible, according to Ford.

Finally, after 10 setup runs circling the optimal dyno technique, we were able to reliably measure power output below 1,000 rpm all the way up to engine redline around 6,000 rpm.

The Superflow dyno data was exported "as is" or we would have plotted both engines on the same graph as we've previously done for easier comparison.

Peak horsepower was measured at 302.7 hp at 5,203 rpm, and peak torque was measured at 360 pounds-feet at 2,900 rpm. A steady-speed load test measured 400-plus pounds-feet of torque at the rear wheels.

After all the dyno finessing, our impression is that EcoBoost may not grunt out its full torque potential at low rpm in lower gears in full auto shift mode. It may do this so it doesn’t overwhelm a driveline component if a tire slips and then finds traction again. We might see full torque only at higher speeds, as we did in our original dyno runs on the Dynojet. However, we're not saying that EcoBoost doesn't make its published torque on the road in the real world because we've consistently seen EcoBoost F-150s outperform closely configured 5.0-liter F-150s when we've put both against the clock measuring zero to 60 mph times empty and pulling a heavy trailer (with identical and different rear axles). But in our tests, we've also repeatedly clocked the 5.0 with faster zero to 20 mph starts before EcoBoost really turns on the power from 20 mph to 60 mph. Slower zero to 20 mph times could also be caused by turbo lag, not torque management.

Ford's engineers say EcoBoost's torque is not limited at anytime.

We're also publishing Ford's engine dyno data (measured at the crankshaft instead of the rear wheels so you won't see parasitic losses from the drivetrain) for all of its 2011 engines, provided by the company. These are the same graphs Ford is using in its advertised power and torque figures. They were measured on an engine dyno according to the Society of Automotive Engineers International's J-1349 standard, which many vehicle manufacturers follow to rate engine numbers. SAE J-1349 requires the presence of an independent witness to be certified. It also uses simulated engine calibration and exhaust back pressure data from a chassis dyno to run the test, so the engine is tested as if it were in a vehicle.

2011 Ford F-150 engine dyno data, as reported by Ford following SAE's J-1349 standard.

5.0 on the Dyno

The 5.0 required significantly less time and effort to "hook up" on the dyno.

Three runs were conducted within an hour of completing EcoBoost testing. Peak horsepower was measured at 285.5 hp at 5,913 rpm, and peak torque was measured at 284.9 pounds-feet at 4,290 rpm. That’s about 10 to 12 percent less power and torque than we observed on the Dynojet.

Why the drop in power and torque from our original 5.0 dyno session a few weeks ago? It’s possibly due to several factors, including wholly different dynos were used, we didn’t run the 5.0 on the Dynojet with a load on its rollers and it took six hours to dial-in the GTDI truck for best power. The same setting was copied for the 5.0, which might not be ideal for a naturally aspirated engine.

Throughout the tests, the 5.0 demonstrated a healthy torque curve that looks broader and less peaky than the EcoBoost, though at a lower level of power. It also shows off the engine’s ability to steadily wind up power all the way up to redline.

We continue to be big fans of the 5.0 as an excellent all-around engine. We think this is supported by the on-road data we collected during our full drive test and earlier Dynojet session at K&N.


We look forward to seeing other magazines and enthusiasts test their EcoBoost V-6 and 5.0-liter V-8 F-150s on chassis dynos around the country. We think they may also encounter some of the same challenges we had trying to find the best way to test a rear-wheel-drive twin-turbo gasoline direct-injection engine. We have no doubt that the EcoBoost engine is delivering the power. It's measuring it accurately, especially at lower RPMs, that's tricky.

Regardless of where peak power output was measured on the dyno, both the 5.0-liter V-8 and EcoBoost V-6 are incredible performers on the highway. They are engines the F-150 has long deserved to have. To determine which is best for you, be sure to read our in-depth road tests of both engines. And if you think one engine has an advantage over the other, it’s good to know that F-150 buyers have this kind of choice in capable half-ton powertrains.

The 5.0-liter V-8 F-150 on the Superflow dyno.

Special thanks to K&N Engineering and Ford Motor Company for providing the trucks, facility and assisting with this test.


Before y'all comment on the story, I highly recommend you read it twice.

As usual, I'll answer questions and try to fill in any gaps.

Please be aware that I'm flying most of tomorrow and will be without Internet access for part of my travels. I'll respond to questions and comments as soon as I can.

Thanks everyone for pushing us so hard to test these trucks!! It's our job.

@ Mike
Great story, I appreciate all the time you put in doing all of these test to help us when we are in the market for a new truck. I have been following this because I will be buying a new truck this summer and this data has been very helpful, I have been on the wall on either to get the ecoboost of the 5.0. the 5.0 is the front runner and always has been. Thank you for for all your hard work and keep it coming.

@ Mike -

Is the 5.0L SuperCrew the same truck that was tested in the initial review? It looks awfully similar but I could be wrong. Ford does build a lot of these trucks. LOL.

I can't wait to have an EcoBoost F-150...someday...

Now let's see an EcoBoost 6.2l in the SuperDuty!

@Andrew: Good eye. Indeed, it's the same truck.

Excellent job Mike and crew on doing these dyno tests scientifically and great job Ford for thinking outside the box and raising the bar for consumer vehicle engines with EcoBoost.

One small thing, the Taurus SHO is, to my knowledge, only available with AWD, but all other current Tauruses have a NA 3.5L V6 and are front wheel drive.

Mike, thanks for the write up. I was wondering why the crank/chasis HP and torque numbers varied so much between trucks . The EB is showing 59.3 lbs difference TQ and the 5.0 is showing showing 95lbs difference. If the drivetrains are identical and the tests correct would not these losses be nearly identical ? Also concerning third gear pulls, was the high exhaust temps a issue for both motors or just the EB? Would this be a issue in real world towing, a power loss under load in higher gears due to high exhaust temps?

Great read Mike!

One small Typo: 5.0L graph it says max torque = 284.9 "hp"

Its really hard not to like the way a FX looks in that bright red!

@Tom: As we wrote in the story, it could be that finding the best method to measure low-end torque can't be applied identically to both GTDI 3.5 and the NA 5.0.

@The Common Man: Good catch! Fixed.

I get the impression that the 5.0 pulls better up to 20 MPH and seems to get the power to the ground better at lower speeds and RPM. I'd say that the 5.0 equiped truck would be a better pickup for offroading or driving in poor traction conditions.
I still prefer the 5.0.
I can't wait for more tests and information on these new engines.
Great job Mike Livine.

Excellent work once again!

Wonder what causes the EB's torque to drop off so fast at high RPMs. The peak tq looks good but it can't maintain it across the bandwidth. Not a very diesel-like characteristic. Maybe 2011 PSD issues filtered over to the EB design?

@ Mike: Could you please explain what the steady state testing of the ecoboost is all about? A simple real world example of when that would be kicking in would help.
Great article and thank you and all your friends for all the hard work.

@ Ken: If you notice all the engines drop torque sharply after peak numbers as they all have to cross the HP line at 5250 rpm because of the math formula used to calculated hp.

Torque = HP x 5252

T= (HP x 5252)/rpm

Sorry for the finger cramps...

Eddy current dynos tend to give more realistic numbers than Dynojets. The fact that you saw a 10-12% drop from a Dynojet tracks just about right.

Dynojets are good machines, and for those that want to wave a piece of paper bragging about how much power their vehicle makes, Dynojet usually offers the best results.

Could it be that the EB is capable of producing its claimed output only on an engine dyno and not in an actual vehicle? Either way it seems to get the job done but this has me wondering about the turbo diesel trucks now. Common Mike pull the engine and test it on an engine dyno now :) Thanks for the story and keep up the good work.

Folks, this article Mike prodcued here ought to put to bed any thoughts of how much better the EcoBoost puts power out, it is clearly the winner of the two, and in the lower RPM area....a definite winner.

Looks excellent, keep up the good work.

Sounds like a dynapack dyno would have been the way to go. Then you wouldn't have had to worry about the tires slipping on the rollers.

Either way, it's obvious that the Ecoboost is quite the beast. That torque number is simply spectacular. It beats what I've seen Gm's 6.2L trucks put down (~350ft-lbs) and it's pretty much even with what the 6.2L Raptor put down in testing (361ft-lbs). If they could just get the HP number up a bit it would run with (if not beat) both Gm and Ford's 6.2L, while simply destroying them in typical unladen fuel economy.

The 5.0L is no slouch either, but, based on the numbers, if I was spending my own money on a new truck, I would go with the ecoboost. It just seems to offer a lot more without much of a penalty.

I also doubt that the 5.0L would be able to hang with the high-volume engines from Dodge and Toyota either (their 5.7L's). They might be their respective companies top dog engines, but they're also the engines that one is most likely to encounter in the competition's trucks. I would find it a bit annoying to buy a new Ford truck and then have it fail to be as quick as just about every late model Ram and Tundra I come across....especially when you consider the Ram 5.7L and Ford 5.0L are rated for such similar fuel economy. (Ram: 13 city/19 highway, Ford: 14 city/19 highway)

EcoBoost wins again.

3.5 EB lost 17% Hp
14% Torque
5L lost 20% Hp
25% Torque on exactly same Dyno test with exactly same transmission ?
Nice setup Ford technicians, but I am not buying that and any ford ever. Not to mention EB torque peek moved from 2500 Rpm to 2900 Rpm. Doesn't looks like diesel torque curve to me. Liars.

@ paul810 look at the 0-60 times on the 2008 1/2 ton shootout , look at the 0-60 times MIKE got with the EB3.5,5.0,6.2 BETTER #'s MIKE got with these MOTORS , CORRECT ? MY NEW 5.0 CREWCAB 4X4 3.73 is Fin QUICK .... getting just under 19mpg ledfoot driving ...... Paul810 Tundra 5.7 0-60= 7.1 , Hemi 5.7 0-60 = 7.6 , 5.0 0-60 = 7.1 <---- not competitive?


There is two videos on youtube ''I'll post them here for you tommorw'' But the video is a crew cab 2011 F-150 5.0L racing (And Beating) a 2010 Dodge Ram Hemi.

The other video is the same 2011 F-150 5.0L this time racing a 2010 Tundra 5.7L The Tundra does win this race...But it was noted by the person who put the video up that the Tundra was also lightly modded, as to were the F-150 was factory stock.

Also on a side note.

Both the 5.0L and Ecoboost really put down some good numbers. I'm still pro 5.Oh though. Something about that sweet V8 sound is to alluring for me to give up.

Zveria: Ford does not claim a diesel torque curve, that is an analogy by people to describe the feeling of low end pull the ecoboost gives. The torque curve is also pretty flat from 2500 to 3200 and this was at the rear wheels.
Read the article twice as Mike said before making your obvious Ford hating, ecoboost bashing rants.
Your jealousy of an extremely good product is showing.

I don't think that EB is a good engine choice, yes it has a lot of torque and it's fast. But it's also a high maintenance engine, with higher ownership cost, the only advantage is that you can move a trailer with it faster. Acelerating with 9000 lb. trailer in my 5.3 Silverado has never been an issue, but at least I get 13 MPG (with 9k trailer, HWY) instead of 7.3 MPG (ecoboost).

I'd take a 5.0 over EB, and 5.3 over any gasser in a half ton.

@ cory & nate m.

I don't know, I can see the 5.0L maybe beating the Ram 5.7L V8 because current Ram 1500s are geared ridiculously tall, which could really off-set their performance.

However, the Tundra with the 5.7L V8 and 4.30 rear is geared very similarly to the 5.0L with 3.73 rear. It's also a typically lighter truck and puts down over ~305hp/310ft-lbs tq to the rear wheels. If the numbers Mike gives now are correct, than I just can't see the 5.0L running with the Tundra, especially if it doesn't have the optional 3.73's or 4.10's.

Now, if the old 311hp/325ft-lb tq number for the 5.0L is correct, then that makes a bit more sense. That would mean it's putting down more power than a typical tundra. Sure, it's a little heavier (~140lbs crew to crew), but the very slight HP and gearing advantage it has (with 3.73's) could/should make up for that.

I'm afraid I've towed WAY to many trailers to believe ANYONE ever was 13 MPG towing 9,000 lb. with a 5.3 engine (unless they were falling off a cliff). That is Lucius.

Mike, Great article!

Excellent work as usual Mike, very impressive engines to say the least, Ford has really got it going on. A good friend is an engineering manager at Borg, and they are buried with Ford contracts. It is good to see American engineering and production still being world class.

Notice that the EB is all over the 6.2L from 1500-3500 rpm, which is the range where the engines would operate about 90% of the time. Plus under normal conditions (light loads and empty), the EB would likely realize about 30% better fuel economy.

Like it or not, EB is the future and will likely be expanded to other engine sizes and platforms. Try one in a flex and compare it to the normally aspirated 3.5L; it is quite remarkable.

I realize you may get 13mpg while towing your 9K# trailer but you have to realize WHERE you are towing it before comparing to the 7.3mpg of the EcoBoost. I am going to assume that you were NOT towing the exact same route as that EcoBoost.
Please stop comparing apples to oranges.

I'm just curious as to why the HUGE discrepancy in theoretical driveline losses. As an engineer, I can accept that the losses will not be exact due to manufacturing tolerances but the difference here seems a bit extreme. Either Ford's numbers are wrong or something else is going on here that is not readily apparent.

Impressive that the eco puts down such good numbers.

The tq/hp equation plays a roll in the crossover points but not the slope of the upper rpm tq drop off. Ford initially advertised/marketed EB as a flat tq curve.

Also the EB corrected tq graph shows a narrowed low rpm response relative to the 5.0. And we have to remember they tweaked the tests to favor/highlight EB quirks.

Another observation is the EB results are less accurately repeatable. Look at the variance in the graph runs. Wonder was causes that. Were intake temps heat soaked even with all the fans on that ideally cool dyno day?


Here's a link to the videos I was talking about if you want to watch them.

(2011 F-150 vs 2010 Ram Hemi)

(2011 F-150 vs 2010 Toyota Tundra)

I don't know what is a typical manifold pressure for engines in vehicles, but 48 inches is a LOT of pressure. Turbo charged aircaft engines tyically run in the high 30's. Non-turbo aircraft engines that I have have experience with average 17-18 inches at 14,000 feet. Compare that to the 48 inches Eco-Boost gets, impressive. I'd be very curious to know how much of that 48 inches was retained on Eisenhower and Vail Passes.

Jealousy ? You must be kidding. My 2005 Durango with proven Hemi and 245 000 kms has been paid off in full 7 month ago and I have my money ready to buy any brand I want. And because it's not going to be a Ford, I am a jealous ? I feel sorry for you fan boys. You buy a cars based on the brand and doesn't know to read the numbers and most importantly between the numbers.
Any comments on torque loss discrepancy in EB and 5L drivelines ? Why EB lost just 14% and 5L 25% ? Even they are exactly the same drivelines? Somebody really wants to EB to shine over a 5L and I am not buying that. Nice try ford technicians.

Thanks for the tests. The ecoboost provided more more and more hp. It is the superior engine. Now test them in the real world towing actual trailers (as you have said you will) and provide us with some real world data. Dyno's are only for bragging rights and/or advertising purposes.
That means nothing to the RVer pulling a 10' tall trailer with a huge wind resistance or a carpenter pulling a large cargo trailer full of his tools and supplies.

@zviera, So you are saying Mike was just along for the ride and let them create bogus results? You've got to read the results, from all tests, and make your own decisions but leave the conspiracy theories out of it.
It's funny you suggest these are biased in favor of the 3.5, when you can read other forums and the 3.5 guys think it is biased in favor of the 5.0. Relax, they are both outstanding engines. We all win.
Thanks for the tests Mike!

With everyone wondering about the differing power figures from different dynos, remember that dynos are not an exact science... Different brands of dyno will read the same truck, same day, same conditions, at different power figures. The same dyno, same truck, different day, can even read different power figures.

Ford's engine dyno is probably the most accurate of them all - a chassis dyno can't be as accurate because of the driveline, tires, etc that must now be taken into account.

Really, the best you can hope for, is a pretty good relative comparison. Comparing the 5.0 and 3.5 back to back on the same day / same dyno speaks to their relative power, but does not necessarily compare well to previous runs on different days, or their "real" or absolute power number...

@ford 850
You didn't read Mikes article twice as he suggested. Did you ?
"EcoBoost’s advertised power runs are started from a rolling start with engine speeds as close to idle as possible, according to Ford.

Finally, after 10 setup runs circling the optimal dyno technique, we were able to reliably measure power output below 1,000 rpm.

The 5.0 required significantly less time and effort to "hook up" on the dyno.

Three runs were conducted within an hour of completing EcoBoost testing.

This test was setup by ford technicians to get best results from EB and disadvantage 5L.

Any comments on torque loss discrepancy in EB and 5L drivelines ? Why EB lost just 14% and 5L 25% ? Even they are exactly the same drivelines? Anybody please !

zviera, What's your point? That maybe if they would have spent more time with the 5.0 that it might have higher numbers? Who cares? The output of both engines was great as is. The 3.5 reacts different than the 5.0. The difficulties in running the tests show that. No dyno will give perfect results trying to compare the two. Read the road tests for real world results or the thousands of posts from people owning and towing with both. They are both great engines and each has it's own strengths. I'm not sure why you are so negative towards either one.

People that actually use their trucks for work- towing and hauling will be working them around 2000 rpm or less.

Look at the charts:

Ecoboost @2000rpm produces about 300 lb/ft

5.0 @2000rpm produces about 225 lb/ft

Which do you think is best? Which will downshift less on hills and therefore stay in a higher gear and get better mpg loaded or unloaded?

ECOBOOST WINS! Drive one, you might be suprised.

Ford has done a really smart thing. All of this buzz is fantastic marketing, because it doesn't matter which engine you go with, you're still buying an F-150. Ford has created a super brand in the F-150, complete with it's own sub-product competition. This is the great business leadership that the other guys lack.

@Carl: Please see the story again. We *have tested* the trucks in the real world towing trailers. Links to the road tests are embedded.

The best of these trucks truck off-road will be the FX4 EcoBoost with the 4.10 with the purpose being for performance in dirt, mud and sand conditions.

Thanks Mike for the outstanding tests. I appreciate your thoroughness in the testing. I'm a GM fan, but I'm also smart enough to say that the GM Gas engines have a long way to come before they can compete with the new line-up from Ford. It is awesome to see the competitiveness between the automakers, since in the end, we are the winners.

Great Stuff! Kudos PUTC!!!!!

@Mike Levine, if you gave any indication of what kind of mileage EB gets at 75-80 MPH unloaded I missed it. I think I saw somewhere on your Facebook page that mileage tanks at high speeds? Is this accurate? How bad is it? I don't drive 65 on the interstate that's for sure.

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