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 have '05 F-150 it will be at a 100,000 miles in a few weeks and i must say it has been an absolute pleasure to own was never in the garage for anything other than regular maintenance, as far as fuel mileage i 15.5 city and 18 HWY, the first trip i took with it was about six hours north to NY with a lot of hills and so forth i never will forget i set the cruse at 78 MPH and i got 18.5 the whole trip it never downshifted for any of the hills and it still does the same today as far as Chevys 5.3 it is a good motor but my 5.4 will smoke them any day of the week (i have a few extra's on it)and it has been far more reliable than any of my freinds 5.3's have been

So we're all on the same page: The 5.0 and 3.5 were both tested in 2WD on the dyno at K&N. Same with the 6.2 when we dynoed it in the 2010 Raptor.

@Chevy Man, should I ask why you have to compare a GM 5.3L V8 to the power of the standard naturally aspirated V6 from Ford, which is 1.5L and 2 cylinders smaller? Despite that, the 3.7 still stacks up pretty well.
@Dan, I agree with you on the performance of the 5.4, but I haven't had the same luck as you with fuel economy. I think it needs a tune though, but I am only getting 12 city, 15 highway, and i am sitting on 90,000 miles. Engine is not throwing any codes. Have you got any tips?

Can't wait to hear about these bad boys pulling up out of Silverthorne ~7000 ft in the valley and climbing to Eisenhower at ~11,000 ft. The boost should be aweome and will undoutedly dust off any other normally aspirated truck in the market, including the 5.0 and 6.2.

Isn't the rule of thumb 3% power loss per 1000 ft of elevation above sea level? At the top of Eisenhower, the 5.0 would be down 1/3 of its normal power...

A month ago, I made the mistake of driving an EcoBoost Flex, which is detuned to 350 ft-lbs or so. Man was it impressive on how effortlessly it pulls up thru the powerband.

Well for you Chebby guys, you always needed a large v8 to beat Ford's small block v8's, even then the less powerful Ford still out towed the GM trucks.
Same goes for the Mustang. Yep 4.6L vs 7.0L hah. Power is power, so dont be mad that GM couldn't beat a 5.4 S/C Cobra motor. Now they need a supercharger on a 6.2L v8 to beat a 5.4 s/c and a 5.0 n/a. Oh how the tables have turned. I wonder what these nay-sayers will say win GM throws in a twin turbo 3.6L in a truck....

@Mike Levine,
Any update on why the chart looks soo strange with the 3.5 shifted to the right?

@ford850: I'm still investigating with Ford and K&N.

@ Alex
Here is what i did when i bought my truck i was getting around 14MPG's and i did the following Rousch coldair intake, throttle body spacer, smaller muffler, and a chip from Power Hungry Performance that was the biggest performance changer there. i am not saying that will do it but it worked for me in winter driving it will go down to 14.5 MPG city driving, and i also use a additive with every tank and use a 5w20 parasysthetic oil, with the chip it will require 93 octane but i think it is worth it because i have yet to come across and '05 that is getting that kinda of mileage

ok boys i'm not here to put down eny American Truck Chevy-GMC, Dodge, Ford. but in defence of the 5.3 Chevy motor, it is what 10 yr. old ? all the new Ford motors are just that new, but when you stack them up to the old Ford motors, they 5.3 do averything the Ford 5.4, 4.6 does, BUT gets better milege to boot. a lot like the new Ford motors, just down on power granted, but they run a long time. Oh if you are wondering I have a 2011 Chevy ext.cab 4X4 Z-71 5.3, i get 17 m.p.g. in town, and 21-22 on the hyw. and 12m.p.g towing my 20' Airstream, like its not even there. With 3.42 gears. Also a 2003 Dodge Dakota regcab 4X4 V-8 5sp. both are realy great trucks, but in my honest opinion all American truck are the best, it all depends on what you like and what you are willing to pay for. Buy American B-4 its too late!! MY COUNTRY TISS OF THEE SWEET LAND OF LIBERTY.......

Actually, the 5.3L V8 in the configuration that is rated at 15 city/21 highway can tow a maximum of 7,100lbs for 4wd. To get the 9,500lb rating you need the 3.42 rear, which is not tested for an EPA fuel economy rating.

Ford does the same thing. The F150 with the 5.0L is rated at 15city/21 highway in 2wd with the 3.31 rear. If you get the 4x4 model, you have to step up to the 3.55 rear (as the 3.31 rear is not offered), which nets a 14 city/19 highway EPA rating. If you order any axle ratio other than those two, there are no fuel economy numbers given.

Really, the EPA should change this, as there can be a significant fuel economy difference between a 3.08 ratio and a 3.42 ratio (GM) as well as between a 3.31/3.55 ratio and a 3.73 ratio (Ford).

People who are expecting to see the rated fuel economy numbers from a GM or Ford truck with the maximum towing setup (for that engine) aren't going to be happy when their fuel economy is noticeably worse thanks to the shorter gear ratio.

On a side note, if Ford offered the 5.0L in 4x4 with the 3.31 rear, it would likely get a 15 city/21 highway rating (just like Gm's 2wd and 4x4 trucks both do when equipped with the 3.08 rear). I don't know why they wouldn't do this? Unless they decided they didn't want the 5.0L 4x4 and the Ecoboost 4x4 to get the same fuel economy rating (and nearly the same tow rating)?

still not impressed, but maybe the towing figures will show something worth while.

Look, I like the new Ford engines and the GM 5.3 engine. Granted, the 5.3 held its own for 12 years, but it had its share of updates and transmission - starting with 285hp/325lb-ft to 315hp/338lb-ft and from 4-speed auto to 6-speed auto. But look at that 100-hp gap between the V6 and the 4.8L V8! That 3.6L V6 is badly needed to replace the two low-end engines IMHO. So the 5.3 is the best seller and should be a keeper for GM.

I cant believe you guys had to stir up the wrath of Bob. He was being complimentary for once prior to guy whose name starts with K. But anyway, moving on...

I like trucks in general...domestic, foreign, and non-US-spec. These vehicles are an endangered species and we all need to appreciate them for what they are worth. Because crossovers are for girls! Cant wait to here more about the Ecoboost...

Looking at Chevy's site the numbers are a bit laughable. No mention of gear ratios. The 2wd only SFE model 1500 with the 5.3L gets 22mpg versus 21mpg for the regular 1500 in both 2wd and 4wd models. Doesn't make much sense IMHO. Chevy managed to design a 4wd system with no weigh gain or frictional loss? Also not that they were comparing 2010 competition versus the 2011 Silverado. City mpg they were all within about 1mpg of each other. Highway is where the 5.3L made it's gain which points straight to highway gearing, not towing gearing.

3.5 EB doesn't looks like diesel torque curve to me.

@ sandman 4x4
my friends would like to talk to you to see what you are doing they say they are lucky to 18 on the highway with there 5.3's


Everybody has a story to tell without the facts to back it up.

I wouldn't bother.

I believe you guys are both mistaken. I may be wrong, did not find any proof yet, but in my 4x4 truck in 2 wheel drive it slows down a lot quicker than 2x4 loaner truck that would coast forever. I believe you always have more rotating mass on a 4 wheel drive truck even if it is not engaged. Now is it 1% or 10% I have no idea, but I would be shocked if it is 0%.

@ Joey

A multitude of other things could cause that. Different gear ratios, different wheels and tires, ect, ect.

If I add 300 pounds my mpgs do not go down by 10%, but 4x4 trucks all seem to get about that much worse. I know some can be attributed to the higher ride height, but something else has to be at work as well. I am not saying it is huge, but there has to be some difference.

paul810,,, with my gearing and tow package I can tow 9,600lbs. with the 5.3 and as far as getting 21mpg on the hyw. Dan, its called cruise control at 65 mph.

65mph? Every car should get decent fuel economy on cruise control sitting on 65. How about 75-80? Don't bother comparing fuel economy figures with me, because I have a heavy right foot, and I like to drive as fast as I can get away with. I don't have time for frugal drivers! LOL.

Just picked up my ecoboost crew cab 4x4 6.5 bed and 3.31 gear.Only have 500 miles on it but have been able to get 23.3 mpg on average on country 2 lane roads with little start and stop driving.

@ Alex
yea me to 65 is to slow i like 75


Mike sorry for posting this here but I'm not good with finding things on this site... When are you going to do a new Diesel Shootout now that the Super Duty and Ram have boosted to 800 ft-lbs? It would be nice to see a fair comparison between the 765 duramax, 800 power stroke, and 800 cummins... same axle ratios etc... If you take transmission gears into account the Ram should be tested with a 4.10 rear because it has high tranny gears in the 68RFE. The Ford has very low tranny gears so the 3.55 would be comparable to the ram's 4.10 and the chevy's 3.73. Looking forward to this SINGLE REAR wheel diesel test... duallies are a small portion of this market... there are more 250's and 2500's running around in diesel format.

@dave: Congrats. 23.3 mpg sounds reasonable with those driving conditions and a 3.31.

@Alex: There seems to be a significant improvement in EcoBoost fuel economy if you drive 65 mph vs. 75 mph.

@Jeremiah Soltis: This summer.

ok, another friend of mine has the 6.2 Max Package in his new Chevy, goes like hell but with the cruise set at 65 he gets 20mpg w/3.73's, but drive like a nut and he's lucky to get 15-17 on the hyw. and 10-12 in town, as far as 65 being slow, it is but in the N.E. with all the traffic we have here, and hyw ptrl (high fines, pionts on lisence) i can't let temptation get the better of me, no points on me!!.

@ sandman 4x4
yes you are right the it is not worth it and the fuel savings is worth it to drive slower it is a big difference from 65 to 75 and driving with cruse control can really help, but i do like to drive between 70 to 75 it seems anything more you just have less control and stopping power

The factory 4 cylinder turbo diesel in my 6 year old Jeep Liberty is putting out 370 lb./ft. © 1800 RPM. Ford can put all the technology they want into these trucks but with gasoline they'll always fail to impress.

OH... and I forgot to mention that it's averaging a real world 24-26 MPGs in mixed driving. And... it will pull a 7,000 lb. trailer up a 5% grade in fifth gear with the TC locked.

Yeah...Ford really should have gone ahead with their diesel plans instead of this EcoStuff. When Dodge brings the small diesel to the 1500s they will dust Ford like a coffee table. Diesel is where it's at for 4x4s.

@WXman They'll always fail to impress YOU, not the general public. A person speaking for 'everyone' when they are really only speaking from their single personal experience usually is the one who is failing to impress. Ecoboost sales will show whether or not the public is impressed. From the rate at which Ecoboosts sell around me, I'd say a few people are impressed.

Joey, You are forgetting that your 4X4 has a front axle, not just spindles like a 2wd truck. Add in that most 2wd trucks also run lower ride heights and get a slight aerodynamic advantage as well. Another factor that was mentioned was gearing. Most 4X4's will not come geared less than 3.55.

Actually the 2.8L VM Motori 4 cyl Common Rail diesel in the 2006 Jeep Liberty put out 160 HP and 295 lb-ft. So unless you have chipped it, WX Man, you have misstated the figures. It is hardly fair to compare a chipped vehicle's performance to a stock vehicle. That said, it's far from the 365HP/420 lb-ft of the EcoBoost anyway. Not to mention (but I will), the size and weight differences of both vehicles, as well as the capability differences. The F150 will tow 11,000 lbs, the Jeep will tow 5,000 lbs. Your 26mpg in diesel, with todays prices, equates to the cost of running a 22 mpg gas engine. It's still slightly better than the EcoBoost F150, but keep in mind the advantages that I mentioned. It's stupid to compare the two vehicles. The Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD was rated at 21mpg highway, which is capable of pulling 7,000 lbs.

@ Jordan L - wackamole.....funny.
Some of these posters are like a sluggish computer. You have to punch the correct instructions into them more than once and then the system crashes.

@ Joey - a 4x4 sits higher and usually has more agressive tires than a 4x2. That alone can increase drag and give you the sensation of slowing down more quickly. Is there drag in the 4x4 system when disengaged? I'm not sure. You add the weight of the 4x4 system and that alone can affect mpg.
GM trucks get better mpg but their bumper chins are over 2 inchs lower than that of a Ford.

@toyboxrv - you comment about transmissions and rear ends is valid.
An engineer had posted about the Rumble in the Rockies that he and his collegues had looked at the data and felt that the Ford SuperDuty would of done better with taller gears than the identical gears that the test was done with.
That is an interesting theory and would be counterintuitive to most truck guys.
Would a truck with the most down low torque fair better with taller gears?

One would have to look at all the ratios possible with a modern transmission and gear ratio combinations to see what the real world differences are.
A person than needs to pair that information to what they plan on using the truck for.
How many people are going to do that?
Are rear rend ratios becoming secondary to what the transmission can offer?

@Lou, a 4x4 in 4x2 mode still has to run through the transfer case, which causes efficiency loss over a 4x2 pickup, as extra parts are still turning. A good way to measure this difference would be to put a transfer case in the bed of a 4x2 pickup, and compare the mileage to a 4x4 pickup running in 4x2 mode. I bet the weight of the T/C doesn't make as much of a difference as the loss in efficiency.

@ Alex - thanks for the input. I know with the older 4x4 trucks with manual hubs there was less drag when you disengaged them. The newer auto-engaging systems I have yet to study in any great detail. I do know that is sure is nice to be able to turn a dial and get 4x4. I try to stay out of 4x4 and us it only when I absolutely need it. It keeps me more cautious. I can live with a slight loss in MPG by owning a 4x4.

@Alex .. I'm not comparing the two vehicles. I'm using the Jeep to illustrate the fact that liter for liter, diesel destroys gas. "The F-150 will tow 11,000 lbs." That's only because the F-150 is stamped with approval to tow that much. It's not because the Jeep won't. How much torque is that EcoBoost putting out at 1700 RPM? I bet my 4 cylinder will smoke it down there. The bottom line here is that Ford is spending millions to develop engines that are requiring twin-turbos and an engine bay packed with lines and hoses just to hit the 420 lb./ft. mark and who knows how long that engine will last or what the REAL MPGs will be in daily use with it....when all along a 4-cylinder diesel can make the same power, use less fuel doing it, and last much longer in daily use and that technology has been around forever. So they have found a way to coax power from a V6. Who cares? Do you know how much power a V6 turbo diesel could put out in the same truck? Wow just thinking about it. Again... when Dodge makes their move, nobody will care about the EcoBoost anymore.

@WXman How about the cost premium of stepping into a diesel? Honestly I bet an F-250 diesel would get better mpg (someone back me up or shoot me down here) than an F-150 ecoboost but i just can't afford to step into the diesel. Lately most diesel's I've seen carry a premium anywhere from $4K - $8K!!!! I would love a diesel but the ecoboost is a $750 option to improve power, performance, and fuel economy. Is it like getting 1/8 of the way to diesel from gasoline by getting the ecoboost? Maybe. I'd have to agree with Johnny5 on this one, you don't count as everybody, and I don't think the 'nobody' you're talking about will be true.

@Zach J if you can afford a truck that cost well into the 30s then you can afford a truck for another 8 grand. stop whining, people always complain about the cost of diesel, gimme a break. if you cant afford the extra money then dont by a truck at all, go by a prius!

@ WXman yes i agree a 4 cylinder diesel would be nice but you wait till Dodge comes out with it and see how today emission and all that BS will effect the Fe i just do not think it is going to be much better cost wise
@ Zach J i agree diesels are just not worth it for daily drivers back and forth to work, they have useage for work trucks towing and things like that

@ Alex,
Have you changed the fuel filter on your F150? Many 5.4 owners have seen increased fuel economy after changing the filter. Ford recommends 30k change intervals, many say 20k is better. Worst tank ever (non-towing) in my '07 was 15.5 MPG (first tank, off the dealer's lot). Usually 18 + highway, 12-13 towing 4500 lbs.

@john45 are you spending mommy and dadddys money or just plain rich. to the majority of the world 8 grand on a payment adds a little more than 5 bucks to your payment. Than add the extra cost for diesel price, oil changes, fuel filters when they gel up.
@ wxman you may be right by time ram puts a diesel in there half tons ford might be on a whole new motor.

I can get the advertised 14 - 18 mpg out of my 2010 5.4 SuperCrew 4x4 if I behave and use the fuel consumption display to prompt me to be light on the gas pedal. I'll have a better idea of optimum fuel economy when the weather gets better and all of the #@#@&#@ snow leaves the ground.


Any towing?

WXMan, you are actually preaching to the choir on small diesels, I am Australian (currently reside in the US), and my dad has a Jeep Grand Cherokee with 3.0 CRD, I have owned a small turbo diesel 4x4 also. They are not new to me, and yes I do wish they were more prevalent here. That said, your comparison wasn't accurate or fair. I wouldn't tow 11,000 lbs with your Liberty. It's not just the weight, but when you are towing a 35' camper, there is a lot of wind resistance, which is not just overcome by power and torque, but weight, low CofG, and longer wheelbase for stability. Speaking of power, I wouldn't expect your diesel to pull that camper up the I-80 to Park City, UT at any decent speed.
To add to that, your TURBO diesel also requires a TURBO to develop its 290 lb-ft of torque. No different from the EcoBoost there.

@Dan, I haven't tried that, but I think I will. Thanks.

I got to save up for a trailer. The wife needs a real bed and shower to enjoy the outdoors for some strange reason. LOL
At least I'll be able to take my kids camping and fishing one the ice leaves the lakes.

25 mpg going 65 on I70! That's pretty good for a full size truck!
Check out their facebook page.

"@Alex .. I'm not comparing the two vehicles. I'm using the Jeep to illustrate the fact that liter for liter, diesel destroys gas...." -WXman

A 2001 -2002 Dodge Ram with the 5.9L Cummins diesel has a horsepower rating of 235 h.p. (245 h.p. w/H.O.) and a torque rating of 460 lb-ft. torque (505 lb.-ft. torque w/H.O.)

A 2001-2003 Ford F-150 Lightning, with a smaller 5.4L (.5 liters less than the 5.9L Cummins), has a horsepower rating of 380 h.p. and 450 lb.-ft. torque.

Now I am no mathematician, but it looks to me that your statement is a little off. The gasoline 5.4L has 145 h.p more (135 h.p. more than the H.O.) and only 10 lb.-ft. torque less (55 lb.-ft. less than the H.O.) than the diesel 5.9L. I bet that if the 5.4L gas motor was pumped up to 5.9L it would "destroy" the 5.9L diesel motor?

Please do not discredit Ford's efforts to offer a twin-turbocharged gasoline 3.5L V6, in the name of cost savings to the customer, rather than a diesel that would cost a lot more at purchase time, cost more to fuel up, cost more to maintain AND not have a substantial benefit in fuel economy because all of the new strict emission/pollution control regulations.

"The XFE also uses an unusually tall 3.08 rear axle to hit its higher fuel economy numbers. "
"The 2009 Chevrolet Silverado XFE and GMC Sierra XFE promise fuel economy ratings of 15/21 mpg city/highway, versus 21/22 mpg city/highway for GM's 2009 two-mode hybrids and 14/20 mpg city/highway for comparable non-XFE half-ton pickups. That's an improvement of roughly 5 percent to 7 percent over the non-XFE trucks."
The epa tested both by rear axle ratios.

source: http://www.pickuptrucks.com/html/news/gm/fullsize/fuel-economy/general-motors-debuts-xfe-trucks-with-improved-fuel-economy.html

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