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.


Can we block Bob's IP address?


That would be lovely.

@Keith, and Frank
i agree

Keith, Frank, and Dan the Man-

Why? The last few posts from "Bob" have been professional and quite reasonable. Unless I missed something? Maybe Bob is trying a different approach by not attacking Ford or Ram anymore? I am interested in reading more comments from the "New", sensible Bob.

What's a matter Keith, Frank and Dan I wish I was a woman, can't you handle dissenting opinions. Are you pansies a bunch of liberals??? Can you not handle Ford losing to GM???
Can you not handle the truth???

Either way, I don't give a darn rooting tootin what you think your entitled to and suggest you call 1-800 girly men if you don't like my posts. Have a nice day now.

GM'S Heavy Duty Silverado is the "Motor Trend Truck of The Year" so let it be written, so let it be done!

Pickuptrucks.com shootout winner? GM, Rumble in the Rockies winner? GM, Car and Driver winner? GM all the tests between Fords super dud and GM'S Heavy Duty Silverado the GM truck took first place. So every fricken test between these two trucks GM won and ford lost.

Don't you just love it when facts back up my statement.

@Buy American or say Bye to America!

Need we say more. I get good laughs out of he/she.

"I wish I was a woman" - Bob

Do you have facts to back your Vagina?

@ Luke
Marketing is what it is. It is the responsibility of the consumer to do the research and see clear of the marketing slant. No company is going to point elements of their goods that don't set them apart from competition in a positive way. Marketing is too expensive to spend time/money 'keeping it real'. And if they do, then you should fire your marketing staff.

I ran the numbers and if the Ecoboost can provide 18mpg versus 17mpg for the 5.0 at a fuel cost of $4/gal it would save $130 every 10k miles. If you paid $750 for it (no rebate) you would break even at 57,000 miles. So while maybe only marginally, it very well may be "worth it" depending on how long you plan to have the vehicle. And of course assuming only 1 mpg better and gas is $4/gal. If either of those goes up the benefit increases. For argument sakes then, if we call the cost a non-factor, the only deciding fact would be if you want the power/torque of the EB or the v8 "sound" of the 5.0?

I hope in the real world the mileage benefit is better than 1 mpg and my decision was the no-brainer that I believed it to be. I certainly hope either engine will do better than the 14mpg I get with my 5.4 today. I like the sound of a V8, but not that much. I'm already over it and I don't even have my truck yet. If you're in a race do you want to be the loudest or fastest? Not too many noise competitions that I've seen around the country.

Regarding the GM 5.3 comments... it IS nice to see Ford catch up to the GM mileage standards and hopefully retain performance benefit on top of the equivalent fuel mileage.

Posted by: Dood |

Bob, just as Buy American says, your posts are getting better - but that last one wasn't. Come on, Ford isn't losing to GM in any way. I agree with you on the 5.3 being very good on fuel. I also agree with you on the 2011 Duramax being the best HD pickup. But give Ford credit where it is due. The 5.3 doesn't have anything on the EcoBoost as far as power or torque, and the EB at least equals the 5.3 in fuel economy come on, we can be fair, right? I am all for enthusiasts to speak enthusiastically on here. But don't be a troll, don't even sound like one.


I bet you a six-pack that Bob does not even own a truck. I will buy you an 18-pack at that.

The 5.0 could get a couple miles more per gallon, but Ford doesn't want it to get the same or better then the EB.

This is a typical Bob post...you can tell he didnt even read the whole article. Where did you get "3.73" from? everything you said in this comment might be about 20% related to what this article is about. Not surprised one bit about this post.

(Bob)"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."


Maybe I stand corrected?

Anyway, back to the 3.5L V6 EcoBoost.

The first Dodge with a Cummins diesel (1989-1993) had 160 h.p. and 400 lb.-ft of torque. The first Ford Super Duty with a Power Stroke diesel (1994-1997) had 235 h.p. and 425 lb.-ft. of torque. The first Chevrolet/G.M.C. with a turbocharged diesel (1992-1999 with the 6.5L) had 180 h.p. and 360 lb.-ft. of torque.

How is it that people are still worrying about the F-150 with a 3.5L V6 EcoBoost having only a mile per gallon or two better than the competitive V8s in it's class? Especially when this little 3.5L V6 kills the horsepower of the above mentioned 5.9L, 6.5L, and 7.3L diesels and beats all but one of them (Power Stroke) in torque. These were 3/4 and 1-ton diesels. Stop focusing on the slight improvement in fuel economy over a V8 (improvement none the less), of the EcoBoost, and consider the power and torque that you get! Give Ford some credit here, people!

Alex, didn't say one negative comment about fords new ecoboost engine. With class leading hp and torque. I didn't even compare it to GM'S 5.3 liter other than the fuel economy ratings. The 5.4 liter engine was 14 city and 18 highway and isn't near the engine the new ecoboost is.

Ford now has segment or class leading engines for half ton trucks but again, these engines are all new for 2011 model year and you couldn't get these engines in a 2010 model.

Now it is time for GM to come out with new powertrains for their half ton models and I am very interested on the next generation Silverado's. I only wish we didn't have to wait.

So buy a ford if you like, my preference is obviously GM.


Good post. All of this one upmanship by Ford, General Motors, and Ram is great for whatever our preferred is (Chrysler and Ford, being mine). With all of the companies striving to have the best; fuel economy, power, torque, or whatever-we all win as they all keep getting better!

Bob, I am not criticizing your preference for GM. I am also looking forward to see what they will do with engines. I remember Bob Lutz talking about GM producing engines with smaller displacement that have direct injection and turbocharging. So no doubt we will see a competitor to EcoBoost, and obviously the Gen V V8s, hopefully complemented by the 4.5 diesel.

you have to add to your equation the better mileage that the ecoboost will get while towing. The flat torque curve will keep it in 6th gear more resulting in higher mpg than the 5.0

The guys that have the Ecoboost now, say it stays in 6th gear and just pulls and pulls. Hills or not, it hangs in 6th gear. It sounds like a real Mighty Mouse.

There is no replacement for displacement.
I've always liked more power but not from over stressing the engine. That's not to say EcoBoost is being over stressed but all things considered the same, I'd bet money that it's engine life will be shorter than the non turbo charged 5.0L. They should both be hot sellers for Ford.

I have a F150 EB 4X4 with the 3.73 rear end. One the way home from the dealership (~65 miles hwy) the dash said I averaged 17.2mpg. I have ~160 miles on it now and the dash says 16.1mpg. I went from a Honda Ridgline 3.5L to the F150 3.5L EB, the power difference is night and day. I upgraded to get more camper towing capability.

FYI: my Ridgline averaged 17mpg and 20.? mpg hwy.
The Ridgline was an awsome truck for what it was.

"There is no replacement for displacement." -S&W

The "smallish" 5.9L Cummins has fared quite well against the larger; 6.5L Detroit Diesel, 6.0L/6.4L/6.7L/ & 7.3L Power Strokes, and 6.6L Duramax motors. Size is not everything...as I keep trying to convince my wife. ;-)

That "no replacement for displacement" adage is stupid. Or implying that a bigger engine is always stronger than a smaller one, regardless of consideration for anything else. So if you bore or stroke an engine, it has an automatic increase in structural integrity. Mechanical Engineering 101?

@Buy American or say Bye to America
Size is not everything, it's the only thing!
Just kidding....only trying to make a point about more power from a smaller engine. Similar to people taking steroids, it pumps up your body but takes years off your life.
By the way I like your post name.

I'm no mechanical engineer but have several friends that are it's a no brainier that more from less IS more stress. And if you check my post you will notice that I didn't use the word always (or stupid for that mater). Believe what you want, it doesn't matter to me but facts is facts.

I didn't say that you said "stupid," S&W, I was calling the old adage stupid. If you have a 2.0L with a thick titanium crankshaft, and titanium pistons, titanium connecting rods etc, vs a 6.0L V8 with aluminum pistons and thin aluminum crankshaft? Obviously, I am giving a totally bogus example here, but can you see my point? Piston size does not = structural integrity or strength of an engine.


Thanks! Rock-on my fellow American!

What's the matter Alex? Alex's problem is he is nothing but a liberal. It is like I always say, you need to supercharge, turbo charge any ford engine to make them run. A naturally asperated engine by Ford is just not competitive against GM. So supercharge or turo charge away ford fans.

FORD, engineered to make you wish you drove a truck from GM.

GM Man what the heck are you on about? You really want to play this game?

Ford 3.7: 302/278 GM 4.3 195/260
Ford 5.0: 360/380 GM 4.8 302/305
Ford 6.2: 411/434 GM 6.2 403/417
Ford 3.5 EB 365/420 GM (There isn't one)

Yes look at those awesome GM engines!

Something just doesn't seem right about that chart Mike. I agree with the previous blog...seems like its too far to the right. One of the strengths of the eco was its rapid onset low RPM onset and near square configuration.

@GM man

Yeah Alex pretty much summed it up.

I gotta admit your last few post's have been a vast improvement over your normal rants against Ford. If you keep making decent post's, like that maybe we can be friends after all.

@Jack - you mentioned something about the 5.0 being under rated and capable of more. Don't think so; not marketing or sandbaggin, rather engineering realities. As great as the 5.0 is, it is still a Mustang rev motor, like the 4.6 rev motor which I used for thousands of miles to tow a travel trailer with my Explorer. Root problem is WHERE the torque peak is: well over 4000 RPM. So while the 5.0 is an improvement over the 4.6 it cannot match the low end of the 5.4, or the EB. (There might also be other differences for mpg at expense of capability in the 5.0.) HP wins races, but torque moves weight.


Any word yet on what the power numbers are when running on premium? You made mention a few months ago and I'm awaiting an update...hoping you'd have dyno'd it.

@Marv - never base your MPG ratings based on the dash display. I find that it is a good tool to adjust one's driving habits to get better MPG.
@ Bob playing nice. WTF? Coming out of the closet must be a great stress reliever.

@ GM man For a GM man you sure don't know much about GM. Top dog Corvette ZR1: supercharged, topdog Cadillac CTS V: supercharged, topdog Cobalt SS: was supercharged, then it was turbo charged, top engine for Cadilac SRX crossover: turbocharged, top engine for the new Chevy Cruze: turbocharged, soon to be released Z28 Camaro: supercharged, Top engine for the HD trucks: 6.6L duramax with (drumroll please) a turbo. Politics and vehicles are not your strong suit. Not sure what you strong suit is but you may want to stick to it to adviod being embarrased. Think before you type.

@ Jordan L - true. There is a rumor out there that the new Cadillac twin turbo V6 will find its way into the Chev 1/2 tons. I read one story where they went as far as describing it as an EB engine.


Turbocharging increases cylinder pressure and specific power density. Those are facts. But I think you are drawing a false conclusion from those facts, namely that turbocharging necessarily increases the stresses in the block, head, and bolts, among other engine parts. This isn't true, because the engine isn't of fixed dimensions. If you specified thicker cylinder walls and cylinder head, and more cross-sectional area in the head bolts, and etc., you could have a turbocharged engine with lower internal stress than a different NA engine. Then the turbocharged engine will last longer than the NA engine before failing due to material fatigue.

In any case, the internal stress increase due to the cylinder pressure increase from turbocharging is almost always well within the safety factors against fatigue and burst strength designed into the engine, even if it was only ever designed to be NA.

But the EB engine was designed for turbocharging from the start, so I'm confident it will last as long as its NA competitors.

Ford has or had a video series on its website detailing this. They showed an EB running at WOT on an engine dynamometer for 30 hours continuously (if I have remembered correctly). They have also been showing off a disassembled EB that they claim has done the equivalent of 150k customer miles. I don't recall any reporters getting to physically examine any parts from that engine, but I don't believe that the engine was toast after that much operation.

The EB engine was designed from the start as a unit. It's not as if some guy with a welder and a tubing bender in his garage bought a turbo and started tinkering.

Great story: Very interesting power and torque curves.
Thank You. I'm been waiting a long time to see these.
Was wanting to see how much low end torque these engines have. I drive half ton GMC 5.3's and spend 95-98% of my time at 1500-2200 RPM. In this realm the 5.0 is the engine to have.
Had high hopes for the 3.5 EC; any engine that puts out 420 ftlbs on regular gas is a major home run. Keep up the good work Ford! We are waiting to see GM's answer in their 2013 smaller block. Maybe even resurrecting the Grand National engine with direct injection?

@ Lou Another chevy guy needing a slap down. Its like some kind of terrible wack a mole game. Chrysler has plans for a turbocharged pentastar 6cyl. Maybe it will find a home in the 1500 in a few years. I believe this is the future of engines. BMW, Mercedes, Audi/VW, Ford, and others are starting to change their engine line ups to DI TT. Everyone else will have to keep up or be left behind.

I am anxiously waiting to see the acceleration numbers on the EB 3.5L. What can one expect the range of acceleration to be for 0-60 & 1/4 mile? Given that there are so many combinations between super or crew cab, 2 or 4 wheel drive and gears ranging from 3.15 all the way up to 3.73 (and possibly 4.10....is this right?) the spread could be considerable.


The 5.4L might make peak torque sooner, but the 5.0L makes more torque overall. (365 vs 380) Therefore, when you look at a dyno chart of the 5.0L, you'll notice that it isn't really the high rpm screamer you think it is. At 3,500rpms, the 5.0L is making 343 ft-lbs tq vs. the 5.4L's peak torque of 365ft-lbs. So, the 5.0L at 3,500rpms is only down 22ft-lbs tq vs the 5.4L 3v at 3500rpms.

This isn't really a big deal when you take into consideration that the 5.0L is a significantly lighter engine than the 5.4L (so there is less weight to move) and all one needs to do to beat the 5.4L in torque is to run the 5.0L at 3600rpms rather than 3500rpms (at which point the 5.4L has already run out of steam).

A lot of people think the 5.0L will drive like GM's 5.3L as a truck engine, and that's not the case at all. Gm's 5.3L makes less torque than Ford's 5.4L overall, and peak torque doesn't come on until higher in the rpm band (~4000rpm). This is what makes it feel like such a dog vs. the 5.4L. However, since the 5.0L is making more torque overall than either of them, it can stand to make peak torque higher in the rpm band and not be hugely disadvantaged at the low end.

It's also worth keeping in mind that the 5.0L is in it's initial production. The engine has a lot more untapped potential, when it comes to hp and tq, that we should see in the coming years.

Correct me if I am wrong but the 5.0 must make more power. 4x4 components rob quite a bit of extra power so a 2 wheel drive 5.0 would put down more power than the 4 wheel drive version. I would bet money a member would let you stick their 2 wheel drive 5.0 on the dyno so we can get an apples to apples comparison.
Thanks! I love your work!

@ Joey

The 5.0L 4x4 was dyno'ed in 2Hi (i.e. only the rear wheels). Because of this, there isn't going to be much of a difference in parasitic loss vs. a dedicated 2WD truck. Now, if the 5.0L was dyno'ed on a 4WD dyno in 4Hi, while the Ecoboost was dyno'ed on a 2WD dyno, then it would be a different story.

Now you might be wondering why a dedicated 2wd truck is faster than an identical 4wd truck in 2Hi? The reason to that is simply weight; not drivetrain loss. Without the front driveline components the dedicated 2wd truck weighs less.

Yes Ford can derate engines as to what it looks at the big picture! Cafe Standards!!!!!!

They had much rather see more buying the better fuel milieage engine as to not pay penalties due to CAFE Standards!

They have a history of demoted engine power ratings remember 1968 428 in LTD rated 360 horsepower, the 1968 428 Cobra Jet engine 335 horsepower!

On the other side of it, Ford 302 pickups in early ninties rated 220 horsepower as were Mustang GT.s

So we know the 5.0 is rated at 412 in Mustang and it is capable of that in pickup!!!!!!

@ Mike Levine
Hey Mike,
Is the Air intake located up high in the motor on the Ecoboost? Could you wade a stream etc with this engine set up? I know the Ecoboost is great for torque and mileage but am curious how it could handle the mud and water with the turbos etc...I just read an article on the new Ford Ranger crossing about 4 feet of water and it did well. (I can't tell from the pic where the intake is on the Ecoboost.)

For all the folks who are crowing about the mpg of the GM 5.3, you need a reality check!! We rented a 2011 CC 1/2 ton with the supposedly fuel efficient 5.3 for a trip from KCMO to Savannah, GA. We averaged 15 - 16 mpg on the trip because the 5.3 is so gutless that it had to down shift to maintain speed every time we went up ANY incline. Now granted I'm used to a diesel. I own a 92 Dodge D250 with a first gen Cummins & an auto tt. The Cummins has 160 hp & 400 fp of torque & NEVER downshifts to climb a hill, even with 2000 lbs in the bed. That gutless POS Chevy would be at 1800 rpm at the base of the hill & halfway up it would downshift & I'd be turning 4k just to maintain 65 mph empty.

Bring that 3.7 liter V6 over Alex, the 5.3 liter will beat it. Then the new engines from GM will leave it in the dust and make it seem your only using 3 cyliders. I told you before and I will tell you again you ford fan boys, you have to turbo and supercharge them ford engines to make em run. Not only turbo charge em, but put TWO turbo charged engines on it to make it run.

FORD, engineered to make you wish you drove a truck from GM. Hay you ford fan boys, watch GM and Chevy win another shootout. When was the last time Ford won? 2008 was a LONG TIME AGO!

Chevy, "the car more champions trust" Chevy will win the half ton shootout in 2013.

So let it be written, so let it be done!

The $750 option price of the ecoboost is somewhat misleading. On the XL trucks, it is a $3650 option over the 5.0.

Nice try Ford but if you're playing games like that, you lost a potential customer. I don't want to have to buy a much more expensive truck with crap I don't want to get a particular engine.

My last truck was a 2000 siverado with the 5.3 and any incline at all and it would down shift you couldnt hold 60 MPH on any hill, but once you put that pedal to the floor you were haulin as. I averaged about 13 daily driving back roads and some small town driving. but even on long hauls id be lucky to see 16.

First, the 5.3L V8 puts up lower numbers than the EB 3.5V6.
Second, The mileage is practically a crap shoot.
Third, The 5.3L V8 equipped model GM touts for their mileage claims is not running 3.55 or 3.73 gears. It is running something closer to 3.05-3.15 gears. Doubt me? Look at the fine print in their ads. Then spec out the towing and hauling ratings for that model. No check the 3.55 equipped EB with the same drivetrain and cab configuration. 5.3L gets smoked. The 3.5L EB is made to compete with the 5.6, 5.7 and up V8's in the 1/2 ton class. Not the 5.3L.

BTW, Chevyman? The motor GM has to compete with the 3.7L V6 in th e F150 is the 4.3L V6. LMAO Go look up those numbers for a laugher.

With big changes in transmission ratios the old rule of thumb on axle ratios doesn't apply anymore. The Ford with 3.55s is close to the Tundra with 4.30s in overall ratios in most any gear. Neither is a better way, just different.

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