What We're Testing This Week: 2011 Ford F-150 EcoBoost 3.5-liter V-6

What We're Testing This Week: 2011 Ford F-150 EcoBoost 3.5-liter V-6

Update 1: April 8, 2011, 12:00 p.m. Pacific

In short, we're going to re-run the dyno test with equivalent 5.0L and 3.5L GTDI F-150 trucks at K&N with a Ford engineer present.

Instead of a Dynojet, we're going to use a Superflow chassis dyno that uses an eddy current to simulate a load on the vehicle - like when you're pulling a trailer.

We're trying to figure out how quickly we can get both trucks together in California.

Very thankful to Ford and K&N for being such good sports about this and wanting to do the right thing. But that's how we roll (sorry, bad dyno pun).


Is Ford's new 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 worth its $750 premium over the company's new 5.0-liter V-8 and does it perform as well as the brawny 6.2-liter V-8? That's what we plan to find out this week during a challenging 2,000 mile road test.

The innovative small displacement 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 is rated at 365 horsepower and 420 pounds-feet of torque. It's the first application of gasoline direct-injection twin-turbo technology in a half-ton pickup.

On paper, EcoBoost outperforms the 360 horsepower, 380 pounds-feet 5.0 in both gas mileage and power. It's rated to tow up to 11,300 pounds, the same as the 411 horsepower, 434 pounds-feet 6.2.

As we discovered in February, the 5.0 is no slouch. We loved its performance in the 2011 Ford F-150 XLT 4x4 we drove. The 6.2-liter V-8 is an off-road monster in the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor and it's a towing machine in the Platinum and Lariat F-150 models, as well as the Ford Super Duty.

Our EcoBoost test will push the V-6 harder than we've driven the 5.0-liter and 6.2-liter V-8s. Some might say twice as hard because we're not just testing a single EcoBoost V-6 truck. Ford has provided two identical 2011 F-150 SuperCrew FX2 two-wheel drive pickups with 3.55 rear axles.


Why are we testing duplicate EcoBoost F-150s? One pickup will be empty and the other will tow a 9,000 pound ballasted trailer. We're going to measure their individual performance and fuel economy trucking from Los Angeles to Denver in city and highway driving conditions at low and high altitudes as both trucks shadow each other.

Dyno Test

We've already completed our first test using a Dynojet Research chassis dyno, courtesy of our friends at K&N Engineering in Riverside. At the EcoBoost F-150's rear wheels, we measured 316 horsepower and 355 pounds-feet.

There are two interesting items to note about our EcoBoost's dyno results. First, peak torque occured further up the power band (4,150 rpm) than what Ford claims at the crankshaft (2,500 rpm). The turbos did an excellent job keeping torque above 300 pounds-feet from around 2,800 rpm to approximately 5,700 rpm, just ahead of fuel cutoff at 5,800 rpm. Second, horsepower showed an interesting downward blip around 5,000 rpm before hitting its peak at 5,125 rpm. Could this be for emissions reasons or to hit a higher horsepower number than the 5.0?

For comparison purposes, we've plotted the 3.5 dyno results against the 5.0 that was tested on the same dyno -- corrected using SAE factors for humidity, temperature and barometric pressure. You can see where both horsepower curves cross above their torque plots at 5,252 rpm.

So far, EcoBoost appears worth its $750 premium.


On the Road

We head to Colorado Monday morning to start the real world evaluation. We'll be stopping along the way for fuel and food. If you catch us, we'll be happy to chat and buy you a cup of coffee or a meal. We shouldn't be too hard to spot with the trailer and two Race Red FX2 F-150s.

Follow along on Twitter and Facebook for updates.


I am impressed with the torque curve on the 5.0.
So far - I'd have a hard tme justifying buying a F150 with the 3.5 EB engine. I cannot wait to see a head to head shootout with all of the brands, but I'm more interested in seeing how Ford's 5.0, 2.5 EB, and 6.2 measure up to each other as they are the only new engines out there.

Seems unfair to compare the Eco-boost's fuel economy in 2wd form to the 5.0's fuel economy in 4wd form.

Would be nice to know if they spooled the turbos up on the dyno before starting the run, or just slamming the gas at the start of the run.

That would explain why the peak torque is a lot higher up in the rpms than what ford claims...

@Nicktenn: I don't disagree but I can only compare results against the trucks we've tested -- 4x4 5.0 and 4x2 EcoBoost.

There will be more details and analysis in the full review, including how 2WD EcoBoost MPG (16/18/22) stacks up against 2WD 5.0 MPG (15/17/21).

@Kbowman: K&N did the same sweep test they did with the 5.0.

Wow these gigantor things will be selling like crap when gas hits $5 a gallon this summer , way to kill off your small trucks Ford !

I was considering ecoboost V6, but I don't like that torque curve already. If there is not any significant advantage in fuel consumption, after your test, better then EPA estimated, I will go with 5L or HEMI again, but with 6 speed .

We just got a brand new ecoboost
we picked it up on thursday so the computer hasnt dialled in the milage yet.

It sure has no shortage of power, but well see how reliable it is.
So far its a great truck!!!!

I've planned to buy a 5.0L F-150 FX4 Extended Cab since I heard the news that Ford was going to make the 5.0L V8 avalible in the F-150's. And those plans have not changed at all. Don't get me wrong I've no doubt the Ecoboost will be a strong perfomer.

But part of me just doesn't want to give up that good ole V8 roar, EVEN if gas hits 5$ a gallon this summer, I don't forsee the Ecoboost getting such better gas mileage over the 5.0L to justify it strictly for fuel consuption reasons. If gas gets to outta hand 8$-9$-10$+ a gallon I'll get a cheap motorcycle and just use my F-150 every now and then.

But as Lou already pointed out, I too am very impressed with the 5.0L's torque curve and performance based on Mike Levines article and also based on what I am hearing on the Ford Truck Fourms and Blogs. I know the Ecoboost is the talk of the walk right now, but personally I think both the 5.0L and Ecoboost are both show stealers here. The 5.0L V8 shows that V8 engines can be realtivly economical and yet still be the big time powerhouse's they were always known for being. And the Ecoboost shows that a high tech gas engine can perform similer to a diesel engine.

In the end the 5.0L is the engine for me as it will be for many others. But the Ecoboost sure is shaping up nicely as well.

I think the output of the Ecoboost is impressive. But, I have to question why didn't Ford use this technology to get significantly better fuel economy rather than performance. Yes, the engine outperforms the 5.0L but only offers slightly better fuel economy. Wouldn't a more efficient option capable of near 30 m.p.g. appeal to more buyers?

This must be 76th ecoboost story, getting bored now.

I've been looking forward to the Ecoboost test, will be interesting to see the real world Fuel Economy numbers.

I would love to see the numbers of the EcoBoost going up I70 towards the Eisenhower tunnel......

Why not test a 4x4? Will you ever test a 4x4 ecoboost?

These curve's don't look right, looks like 20hp and 60tq at 2,000 rpm's ?? Looks as if the curves are shifted to the right on the chart. If these numbers are right how does the truck even move ?

@Mike L
Umm... aren't power values (in horsepower) always higher than torque values (in lb-ft) above 5252 rpm?

@Tony: Yes, you're correct. EcoBoost HP does cross the torque plot at 5,252. Sorry about that. Late night bonehead error! I've also labeled the curves on both sides of the chart to make it easier to read.

@Mike L

Did you dyno both ecoboosts? If so how close were the torque and hp curves


I understand that they have mounted the alternator down load where it is quite open to road debris, rain, mud etc.

What are your thoughts on that.

The Eco-Boost looks like a nightmare to work on !!

@Mike Levine I might be too n00by on dyno-data/TDI Engines, but why no values below 2K RPM? Is that the way the engine runs, or the way the dyno was done? I am just surprised and confused by the chart.

@Big Bob: I'm no expert but I believe that if Ford tuned the EcoBoost for higher fuel mileage, the truck wouldn't have any towing/hauling capabilities. It looks like Ford is toeing a fine line between fuel economy and capability.
The best fuel economy numbers for the EcoBoost V6 is in the Taurus SHO at 17/25, so the F150 numbers are incredibly impressive to me.

@Zach J: I suspect it's because of when the torque converter locked up to generate reliable power figures on the DynoJet. Waiting to hear back K&N's opinion.

@Chad: We provided Ford with a summary of our towing test and these are the two trucks they delivered. We weren't planning to tow in four-wheel drive and hopefully won't need it in Colorado. We'll test a 4WD EcoBoost at a later date.

@Carl: No. We only dynoed one truck. They are mechanically identical.

I have the Ecoboost and I will chip in a little here - it does not like Wide-Open-Throttle acceleration much at all. it will do it, and it will do it quickly, but it performs best at part-throttle applications.
Cruise set at 65 MPH on my F-150 Ecoboost with 3.73 gives RPM of about 1,700 - and it never downshifts, ever (It did drop into 5th gear with a 7,000 pound trailer on the worst hills, but empty I've never had it downshift at highway speed). I can hear the turbos spool up on hills, and it just PULLS.
This dyno chart looks similar to the WOT chart in the F-150 brochure, the torque curve is much broader and starts a lot lower on the steady-state chart.

I can't understand why Ford wouldn't sent a EB with 3.73s? Are they afraid of the MPG it will produce? Or better yet why not send a 3.55 & a 3.73?

They do the same thing when they spec a diesel for a test.

"So far, EcoBoost appears worth its $750 premium." - Mike Levine

I agree. And if you use the $750. brochure coupon from Ford, it's free.

I personally think that the manufacturer should allow you to go pick out which truck you want as opposed to sending you trucks to test. This would eliminate any "ringers or special tuning". I agree with the others that it would have been preferable to test the 4x4 with 3.73 gears as this will be the setup most who do tow fairly heavy will go with and also it will be a little easier to compare with other recents 4x4 tests of different makes. Mike .... what is the rated tow capacity of the trucks you are testing???

@Mike: not sure if are planning on doing the same I-70 climb that you did for the rumble in the Rockies test but if you are, I-70 is going to be closed in both directions on Tuesday and possibly Wednesday from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

see www.cotrip.org for more info

Most people will get 3.55 with their EcoBoost F-150. To get 3.73 you need a E-locker 4x4 or Max Trailer Tow Package with the big tow mirrors.

@Heath: 9,800 lbs

with all this high speed and fuel milage being writen about the 3.5 ecoboost engine, it looks to me that ford is trying very hard to justify the doing away with the ranger just to be able to say that the f 150 is the best selling truck 34 years in a row. why did they do away with the SMALL ranger anyway. if people wanted f 150's they would have bought them. not being forced into something they didn't need or want. shame on ford. my next truck(and i have 3 fords) won't be ford.

@Donald why wouldn't you want "the big tow mirrors"? I don't remember the last time I was towing and thought, "Man, I can just see everything way too easily" lol. I guess I can understand the argument for the 3.55 plus not needing the Max package, but I would say that a lot of buyers are looking to move weight and the Max package includes many of the tools to help you do exactly that.

So far I keep liking what I read...from professional journalists, not amateur critics. I can not wait to hear (read) more! Oh, and I can not wait until EcoBoost story #77, #78, and #79...

if ford had direct injection alone on the 5.0, it would definetly outperform the 3.5tt. i hope they eventually just have a 3.7di, 3.7ttdi, 5.0di, and 5.0ttdi. a 3.7 ecoboost would have a better torque curve. a 5.0 ecoboost would be a super motor that could replace the 6.2 in the trucks and the 5.4 in the gt500.

Is it correct that the fx2 sits 2.5 inches lower than a fx4. If so this will probably help mileage more than 4x4 vs 4x2.

Mike... I was just looking at the pickuptruck.com's facebook page and noticed that the window sticker says that the truck is not for sale. Did Ford send you preproduction trucks to test??? If so, why???

Ecoboost in a pickup is nothing more than a marketing gimmick. For the price difference, 1 mpg is not worth it. I realize that Ecoboost offers higher towing than the 5.0, but anyone who tows that much would probably buy a Super Duty. The only way I could see an Ecoboost really being worth it is if you tow at altitude frequently, turbos should give it an edge over every other gasser in that environment.

"anyone who tows that much would probably buy a Super Duty...."

Not necessarily...negatives for the SD include: shallower bed for hauling, smaller crewcab, not as nice exterior styling, not as nice interior, rougher ride, worse fuel economy, costs more, etc.

@Luke, I disagree. I like the convenience and comfort of a pickup, but I tow very rarely. When I do tow, I want my pickup to be capable, but I do not want the added expense of higher running costs and purchase price, to drive it around without towing or hauling, the 90% of the time I am not. Shouldn't the EcoBoost be perfect for me? Plus you are off with your 1mpg difference, it is actually 2mpg, which doesn't sound like much, but that's 50 more free mile per every tank than the 5.0. It's 4-5 mpg than the equally capable 6.2, which is at least 100 more miles per tank. If somebody could give me 50-100 more miles in my 2005 F150, I would gladly accept it, rather than trivialize it.
That said. If you are towing heavy loads very frequently, get a big diesel pickup.

@Heath: They aren't for sale because they belong to Ford's marketing team. They are production.

The only reason Ford sent the ecoboost with 3.73 gears is because that will be the quickest vehicle in the performance tests and also be the most capable towing vehicle. A 3.55 gear ratio will be slower in a drag race and won't tow as much.

Ford also sent two wheel drive models because they are lighter and quicker in any performance measure that pickuptrucks.com would run on them and they wanted the best figures to be published for the ignorant public who would read the test and not realize that theses are two wheel drive trucks and not the truck they were thinking of buying.

That's the exact same thing ford does when touting the fuel economy numbers on the ecoboost or the 5.0 liter. They don't say our ecoboost only matches GM'S tried and true 5.3 liter for fuel economy in 4wdr at 21mpg. NOPE, they brag about 22mpg but don't tell you it's two fricken wheel drive.

Ford uses slight of hand for their advertising benefit to be able to claim this or that figure and not telling the public the whole truth. I will say the Eco-boost is a great New engine with impressive horsepower and torque figures. Ford was behind in the engine department and there New engines are very impressive.

Competition is good for the consumer and makes manufactures keep up with technology or get left behind.


Does anybody know what the cost of Ford Maintenance Plan is for 5.0 vs. 3.5? I wonder what it will cost to keep both engines running after the warranty expires ...

Also, one can argue 5.0 would (and probably will) be capable motor in MAX tow; the option was offered with 5.4 and the hp/lbsf numbers were not dramatically different (5.4 did not seem to have much, if any, advantage over 5.0) ...

This makes one think that Ford is marketing 3.5 more aggressively than 5.0 ... Why?

I am torn between the two as well; some days I feel 3.5 is it, then I sleep on it and the next morning I fear high maintenance/repair costs and so on ...

Too much choice?

Mike is testing 3.55 axle trucks, not the 3.73.


You are correct, they are using 3.55 gear ratio instead of 3.73. I wonder if 3.73 is even available in two wheel drive with the ecoboost engine? Anyone know?

This test if you are doing a comparsion of the 5.0 4/4 will not be valid!!!

You should have insisted on a 4/4 version!!!!!!!!!

That way you have fair test and can tell us on a apples to apples test!

I still say the 5.0 gas v8 has more potential and Ford has derated it so it can showcase the Ecoboost!

I don't think Ford is trying to make the EcoBoost compete with another one of its own engines. It is not going to sabotage either of its products to make the other one look better. Bob, I know the 5.3 is "tired and true." You can't accuse Ford of having a tall gear ratio of 3.55 when the shortest gear ratio available on the 5.3, is a 3.42. If you want to compare 5.3 economy vs EcoBoost, then the 5.3 would have a 3.08 and the EB would have a 3.15. With the GM max tow package, you have to have the 6.2L V8 with 3.73 rear axle, and you are still 600 lbs under the towing capacity of the EcoBoost with 3.73 rear axle. I don't think you will get 20mpg highway with the GM 6.2. And you will always only have a 5.5' bed on a Chevy 1500 Crew. Not a configuration I would want.

Yes, the FX2 can be had with a 3.15, 3.31, 3.55, or 3.73 rear. Ford offers a 4.10 too, but that requires 4x4. I think the 3.55 will give a pretty good balance of economy and power. Someone interested in more towing power or better economy could choose one of the other axles to boost the performance in the direction they want.
There are too many varieties available to satisfy everyones wishes with one test. This should give us a very good example of wha tthe truck is capable of doing, and we can draw our own conclusions about how some of the other variables (cab size, bed length, axle ratio, tires, 4x4vs4x2, etc) would change things.

Mike Levine has the best job!!!

The comments to this entry are closed.