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.


@ bob what do you get for mileage with your 5.3 does it tow really well are you having any problems, just wondering since you love that motor so much. And if I remember correctly whenever gm is in a comparo they usually send the 6.2 tow max motor not the 5.3

@ Lou Bob and all his personas are well beyond what ctrl,alt, delete can fix. As far as my "whackamole" comment, feel free to use the screen name "The Hammer", it may be more effective when dealing with bob and his multiple personalities.

@Jordan L,


@ The Hammer Go get em!!

The price difference (at least right now) is more than $750. According to the forums, one can get the 5.0 at around invoice. The EB is selling mostly at sticker. So, roughly $3500+750 difference.

Selling for sticker? What about the 3-5K in encentives? X-plan, Z-plan, A-plan? I can't imagine many trucks are ever sold close to sticker with all the options out there.

Stand by in the next day or so for an update about the dyno run.

Is it worth it? Yeah, I would pay better money of 750 bucks for the boosted 6. A few months ago, nah. But with current gas prices, oh yeah. The V8 sound won't be missed by me, I went down from a * to a six and could care less. Bet there are more people like me out there, especially if the trade off is more power and fuel economy. Ford did great on their drive train engineering, better than competitors at the time.

On the body engineering, I place them one step above the Tundra, which I consider the ugliest truck on the market, with looks being subjective and all. F150 today is ugly IMHO, I couldn't see myself driving one simply because it has Ford on the grill (I have owned mainly Ford trucks, until I bought my current vehicle).
I went into a Ford dealer here in Texas unbiased and looking forward to test driving, but could not imagine that ugly grill parked in front of my house when I go out to start it up and go to work to pay for it, nope. That sealed the deal until that ugly front end is rehashed, I turned away and now only own a 1992 F150 that is a gas hog and lethargic compared to the miser, powerful ecoboost :)

But cannot knock them on the drive train, they have the best out there right now in a half ton, and only diehard fanboi's would say different.

I personally like the looks of the F-150 (and Super Duty for that matter). It is not soft looking like the Sierra, Silverado, or Ram. The F-150 has a look that says: "I am made for work and not for a beauty pageant." It looks like a Santa Fe locomotive is coming at you and going to run you down if you do not step aside.

@Mike Levine, Thanks for getting more info on the Dyno. I've read several theories on other boards reagrding your dyno chart. Those that run dyno's think it is due to the way the test is run WOT for peak results and it doesn't show the low end potential of an engine like this. they claim this is normal and is "by design" as far as how you run a dyno with a turbo engine, but admit it doesn't give us the full picture. I'm anxious to see if that is the reason or if there is something else to it. One thing for sure, your one chart is really causing the 3.5 a lot of grief from all the anti-ecoboost guys saying "I told you so, it has no low end TQ". Obviously it has some TQ below 2000 otherwise it wouldn't move.

@ford850: I'm not worried about the dyno stuff. The GTDI still shows superior power to the 5.0. Wait until you see the results of the real world testing.

@ Mike L.

When you drove the ecoboosts at Texas Motor Speedway, you didn't see to be too impressed. I remember you making a comment about it downshifting from 6th to 5th while towing the 6500 lb cargo trailer. So you have changed your mind about the ecoboost?

From what I see, it gets better mpg towing (the same load) than the 6.0 and 6.4 Powerstrokes and good hwy mileage unloaded. The engine is cheaper to build than a diesel and fuel is cheaper. Ford has a winner here!

@Carl: Stay tuned. We've got tons of performance data to share about EcoBoost.

Anything new on the hydraulic hybrid system?

I'm not really one for V8 roar being my deciding factor, but has anyone started up one of the new super duty 6.2's? Jesus, what an engine tone. Of course all that engine tone doesn't do much to drown out the sound of my future crying at the gas pump, haha. This test is incredible and I can't wait for the write up! I can honestly say that barring a huge swing on my upcoming test drives (5.0 L Vs. Eco) that this story plus the one on the 5L might very well swing my purchase. Keep up the awesome work Mike, it makes a difference to a lot of us truck guys!

Just got off the phone with Ford and K&N.

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).

LOL, I like it! This is probably the most significant new engine in any full size pickup. The last game changer was probably the Dodge 8.0L V10.

Please tell the conspiracy theorists out there that there is no conspiracy. I'm just looking to tell the whole picture about these new engines.

@Mike Levine, That's great news. It is nice to see how you really try to get us the best info possible, while keeping things fair and consistent. And as you said before, the real test results will tell the whole story and should matter most.

Mike, I recall you saying in the XLT 5.0 test that you would pick the 5.0 as your preference if ordering a brand new F150 on that day. I'd be interested to know if you would change that or not, after this week's review of the EcoBoost.

Really looking forward to the complete write-up Mike, I'm betting that you smiled all the time having the EcoBoost while pulling up thru the Rockies. Like I said above, the EcoBoost in the Flex blew my mind, and that was detuned by 20%.

Why Ford doesn't offer the 3.5 EB in the new Explorer is a mystery to me. BTW, this new Explorer is insane in its sales; try to find one with good options on a lot or on order... Fortunately we were able to get a Limited on a great deal last week. Ford has really got it going on; its wonderful to see an American company, with American production as kicking everyone's ass on the world stage!

Could you please tell us, what is the reason to run new test?
Dyno? Blowed turbo?

@zviera Read through the comments, many of the regulars have asked about some differing results and Mike has responded to what is going on.

@ zach
I red them all many times. My comment is roughly 5th on the 1st page and it says, I don't like that torque curve. I still didn't see any straight answer from Mike, why is that and what is the reason to run second new test. So I am curios and think it's legal question to get straight answer for.
Does it mean all the tests at this dyno needs to be redone ? This silence will brings even more questions in the future, which is not good for ford at all. So it's in Ford and Mikes best interest, to give us answer quickly. I was considering this engine, but I will be more careful from now on.

@zviera: The truck was tested in 3rd gear and it wouldn't hold that gear below 2,000 rpm without wanting to dowshift. That's why the chart shows GTDI power starting at 2,000 rpm.

Obviously, as many have pointed out, the GTDI engine produces torque below 2,000 rpm. Ford asked us the same question - why weren't we showing power below 2,000 rpm?

Nobody is questioning peak power ratings, which are spot on for both the 5.0 and GTDI.

We setup a phone call with Ford and K&N, so Ford could describe how they dynoed the engine for SAE certified hp / torque and K&N summarized their test on the dynojet - a different approach.

We tried to figure out a middle ground to measure the trucks "apples to apples." K&N has a Superflow chassis dyno that can be loaded to simulate pulling a trailer. Ford agreed using that dyno would be a better test and it can measure power from below 2,000 rpm.

The net result - so Ford, K&N, readers and myself feel like we made every effort to measure power output fairly - is to retest the trucks at K&N on the Superflow with a Ford engineer present using 5.0 and GTDI with equivalent 4x2 or 4x4 drivetrains.

Is that not good enough to put these questions to rest?

Mike Levine-

Thank you for putting up with many of these critics. Your (and your crew's) services are greatly appreciated!

Thank you for your answer. Is this Torque curve in your article still valid ? If so, it looks 3.5 EB has just 100 lbs-ft torque at 2100 RPM, which is horrible and doesn't looks like diesel low RPM torque curve to me. Is 5L engine transmission holding 3rd gear under 2000 RPM ? By looking at this diagram yes. Do I have to hold EB at 3000 RPM to get useful torque, otherwise it's going to downshift ? Like I said, this is going to bring just more questions and credibility of the Ford 3.5 EB claims.
You don't have to answer me now, just in your new article, but I will certainly need all the answers before I even look at EB in the future.

@Buy American or say Bye to America! / @zviera: I don't disagree with the points brought up by readers. I want you to know that we listen and so do the OEs. I applaud Ford and K&N for wanting to re-test here.

@zviera: EcoBoost certainly makes power below 2,000 rpm, as you'll see in our real world tests. Again, dyno data can be collected several ways. Next time we run the dyno, we'll capture it down low.

I am not talking about Torque under 2000 RPM
I am just asking if EB has 100 lbs-ft torque at 2100 RPM, like this article claims.

@zviera: According to Ford, as measured on an engine dyno with calibration and back pressure data derived from chassis roll 2nd gear acceleration, it's producing 200 lbs-ft around 1,300 rpm and it skyrockets from there.

No offense, but I don't care what Ford says I want to know, what you measured at 2100 RPM.

@Zviera, Mike has clearly said that data was not there for under 2,000 rpm. That is why the graph is not showing it. If the truck did not hold the correct gear on the dyno to measure it, then it is like the data is just not there. Ignore the graph under 2,000 rpm. The EcoBoost is torquey under 2,000 rpm. That is why they will be retesting it.
Mike, I can see your job brings the frustrations with the fun! Looking forward to reading more.

I am sorry, but 2100RPM is higher than 2000RPM and it didn't change since my last post.
I have never mentioned anything under 2000 RPM.
Which part of my comment don't you understand.
I will try to explain one more time and slowly.
Did you even look at the EB torque curve please ?
It shows 100 lbs-ft at 2100RPM clearly.

Just let Mike retest it.

They don't have a choice. They have to.


Well since they start the test at 2000rpm, they were probably coasting at that rpm (ie 'basically' the engine was running naturally aspirated), at this time the turbos were not making much if not anything in boost, Once the pedal was mashed, the turbos spooled up to max boost which that will bring on the full torque. Look at the 5.0, and it was tested nice and low, look at the EB, if they were able to start the test earlier (while maintaining 3rd gear) that whole chart will move left. I am sure that once Mike,K&N and Ford redo this, you will see that shift.

Are you kidding me ? You can't be serious, man.
I will wait for their new results done by Ford guy assistance.

@ Mike Levine - this thread is the first time I've seen the EB 3.5 officially refered to as a 3.5L GTDI.
I've read in several places that 3.5L GTDI was its official "internal" name. (The name the engineers called it).

Is Ford trying to slowly shift away from the EB or EcoBoost name?
That is the vibe I am getting.

@ Bob - looks like not all of you hardcore GM fans harbor hate towards Ford's new engine.

@zviera your posts seem more and more like you run this website, not Mike Levine. Also, use a straightedge when you're going to be so rash about people 'clearly reading the chart'. I'm seeing more like 120; now I'm not normally a stickler for being so precise as to reading a graph on my little computer screen with a straightedge to prove someone wrong, but I think this conversation (from almost all the posters thus far) has been respectful and has some interesting, smart points. Mike listens to us! I feel like your posts take advantage of that fact and have gotten beyond the point of adding to the conversation. Final answer: They're working on a new dyno now, but from the chart data, yeah, in 3rd gear the ecoboost shows around 120 torque. Satisfied? Anyone else want to back me up on this?

@Lou: I think I've had too many conversations recently using GTDI. I can type that faster than EcoBoost. :-)

I would like to thank Mike Levine for his professional, unbiased, complete reviews of trucks here on his site. I think peoples personal opinions clouds there abilities to accept independant facts, observations, and opinions. I am looking forward to this Ecoboost review, but it will not tell me much more than I already have discovered. I now have a new F150 Ecoboost and my first ever Ford because of all the research and testing myself and others did before I bought a brand I swore never to buy. The Ecoboost is everything Ford has promised, and will have a huge influence on the future of light trucks, regarless of what engine or fuel types used, a new aproach to power is arriving.

Now to enter the fuel economy part. Consumer Reports has ratings on the 2010 models that they buy from a dealer just like you or I. Their average combined fuel ratings for equivalent 4x4 models:
Chev Avalanche 5.3-14mpg
Sierra/Silverado 1500 5.3-14mpg
Tundra 5.7- 15mpg
Ford F150 5.4- 14mpg
Ram 1500 5.7- 14mpg
Titan V8- 13mpg
Say what you will but denying CR results like these without facts from independant sources with huge resourses will mean little.

Consumer Reports now has an Ecoboost F150 they are puting break in miles on and will be seeing if the F150 moves up in the ratings, as the only thing really holding it back from a near top position was the 5.4 motor.

@Mike Levine - thanks. GTDI does sound better than Ecoboost.

Yes, you are absolutely right. It shows 120.
But 120 hp @ 2100RPM for 5L engine.
But we are talking about EB in here. And diagram shows clearly 100lbs-ft @ 2100 RPM my friend.
It's not my fault, they have to redone this test and many people doesn't know to read diagrams.
I am trying to be as polite as I can, so don't push me please.

zviera, your comments are out of line. from the begining it has been established that the ecoboost dyno graph is flawed and needs to be redone. It will be and head to head with the equivalent model 5.0 very soon. Let it go and wait for the update instead of jumping all over it to run down the Ecoboost. What's your beef with it anyways that you are taking one bad piece of data and making a issue of it?
There is no conspiracy or attempt to hoodwink you into buying one. If you don't like it, don't buy it. Stop trying to slam it for whatever reasons you have, do YOU own one and feel lied to?
I am certain Ford did not overstate it's performance. That's why it ended up in my driveway, instead of all the others including my favorite, GM.

I didn't slam anything. Testing guys did. I just complained about that and it's going to be redone. So what now. Is this kind of ford guys web site or what ? Get a life kids. It's just a car.

people come here to discuss cars, I presume that's what you are doing here. So telling people to get a life because they are doing the exact same thing you are doing? What was the pot calling the kettle again?

Did you see me doing anything else than discussing this issue ? Did I ever said anything bad about ford, toyota , dodge or gm ? I had a 2 toyotas, 1 chevy, 3 dodges and few European cars. If somebody will tell me, that diagram shows different numbers, I will correct him. If somebody will tell me, that there is no torque diagram below 2000 RPM, I don't loose my patience and I will tell him 3 times, that I am talking about 2100RPM. If somebody will after all of this telling me my comments are out of line,
I will tell him use your fking brain, read diagrams properly and lets discuss what the real problem is. If this engine will proof ford claimed torque, MPG and reliability, I will buy it. If not, I won't even look at that thing. I don't care of some people childish games, which brand and model is better, I have to read sometimes at this web site about and I will tell him get a life.

@zviera are we looking at the same graph? If i'm not mistaken, the 3.5L torque is the faint red line? 2100 RPM = 120 lbs-ft. my colorblind self did not pick up on the changes from right to left. i had to have someone point out the the labels next to the lines. I'll call myself out on this one. Also, the kind of talk where you say 'don't push me' is the exact kind of tone we don't welcome here on the PUT.C boards. Thats why people are giving you a hard time

Yes, you find the right line. I zoomed in and made print outs to be more precise.
100lbs-ft @ 2091RPM and 120 lbs-ft @ 2127 RPM. Still horrible, but I will wait for a new test, because this one is not done right.
Hard time ? You don't know , what hard time is. I am having fun.

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