Putting the F150 EcoBoost Through the Ringer


Testing the capabilities of the Ford F150 EcoBoost
by Patrick Rall

The 3.5L EcoBoost V6 offered in the 2011 Ford F150 has become the most popular engine in the Ford half ton lineup and we had a week to spend behind the wheel of the twin turbocharged F150 to see just how capable the EcoBoost V6 really is.

The EcoBoost 3.5L V6 from the 2011 F150 makes 365 horsepower and 420lb-ft of torque, making it one of the most powerful engines in the lineup and with fuel economy ratings reaching 22 miles per gallon it is more fuel efficient than comparably powered V8s.

It is great that the new EcoBoost F150 offers so much power and such great fuel economy, but to real truck buyers, what the truck can do in the real world is far more important than the numbers assigned to the truck by the automaker. So we put the turbocharged F150 through the ringer to see if it can really do everything that a V8 pickup can do.



Hauling

My 2011 Ford F150 EcoBoost test vehicle was configured in the FX4 trim package with a SuperCab and 4WD, meaning that it is capable of hauling just under 2,000lbs. Few normal truck buyers are going to be throwing 2,000lbs into the bed of their new F150 so instead, we packed the bed full of 800lbs of vacuum packed wood chips.

These large packages filled the bed so that things wouldn’t slide around when we took to the open road to see how the F150 FX4 reacted to the addition of that weight to the back end. The EcoBoost V6 hardly seemed to notice the extra weight, and while the handling was affected when cruising around town, this added weight over the rear axle didn’t have any noticeable impact on the F150s ability to tickle the triple digits on the highway while also easily pulling away from traffic around town.

Towing

The big news with the EcoBoost’d 2011 Ford F150 FX4 is that this twin turbocharged V6 is capable of towing a whipping 11,300lbs. We didn’t have an 11,000lb trailer sitting around, but we were able to hook up a 5,000lb horse trailer ““ a set up that we have used to test other trucks in the past.

The main concern with hardcore truck drivers over the application of the EcoBoost V6 is that the time needed for the turbos to build boost pressure (known as turbo lag) would hurt the F150’s ability to comfortably accelerate with a heavy trailer load. But while dragging our 5,000lb test trailer around the Detroit area, the EcoBoost never missed a beat. The EcoBoost F150 effortlessly accelerated around town and on the open road. It was more than happy to cruise well above the speed limit without breaking a sweat. Also, it should be kept in mind that the EcoBoost F150 with the max towing package is capable of towing more than twice the weight that we had hooked to the hitch; with our pretty average trailer load, the EcoBoost V6 performed beautifully.

Many light truck owners may not ever tow a trailer or haul a heavy load, so the only concern may be that the EcoBoost can reach 22mpg. But for people who really NEED their F150 to do everything that a V8 truck can do, the EcoBoost is an engine that can truly do it all and come out shining.

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