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Old 08-13-2013, 06:09 PM
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Looking at a new F150 - Need help on engine and gear combo

I'm coming to you guys from the 9th gen forum where I spend most of my time. I'm looking at a new '13 XLT or Lariat crew cab 4x4 F150. I think I have some of the options and wish list figured out but I'm having a hard time deciding on an engine and gear combo that I would like.

Edit: The post has ended up much longer than I originally intended; I've added section titles to help those skim through what may or may-not interest you.

Personal/background
Primarily, I will be using the truck as my DD. I will probably get rid of my '03 Focus if I purchase a new vehicle. Currently, I'm employed by a traveling electrical construction/instrumentation company and I will be traveling nationwide for work. At the moment, I'm fairly close to home and have access to my parent's garage space, shop, tools, etc so my '95 is easy to grab when I need a truck, but I use my car 99% of the time. My next jobsite (early 2014), I'll be 14+ hours from home and really only have room to bring one vehicle with me, hence the need for a (different) truck (my '95 is my baby and I'd rather make it a project than beat it up without garage storage or my own place to fix things). A newer crew cab will also have amenities and a ride characteristic that my wife finds much more desirable than my '95 as well as having room for a future family (car seats) that my '95 doesn't have. Her car (Chrysler 200) isn't well suited to job-sites with less than stellar roads and parking lots, nor the need to move my gang box of tools.

Intended Usage
Many discussions on engine choice and gearing come down to what and how often somebody will be towing. At the moment, I'd say that towing is going to be minimal. I will be stuffing the rear seat and back of the truck full of clothings and belongings any time my wife and I move from jobsite to jobsite. It may include towing a small enclosed trailer as well depending on living conditions and how much room we have to put stuff (how much crap I can bring), but many of the projects I work on are 6+ months to a year or longer, and I'll make multiple trips home in that time as well, which is just a few days worth of clothing and two warm bodies to transport so fuel mileage is of concern as it will probably be our only vehicle for a significant portion of next year.

I'll seldom be pulling any campers or large, heavy loads with an F150 as that is what my '95 is for, but it may be necessary based on availability of my '95 (distance/location or whether or not it's torn apart for some upgrade/project).

Test Drives
I have driven both a Lariat Ecoboost (unknown gears as the salesman couldn't tell me off hand), and an XLT 5.0 with the 3.55 gears. The test drives have been a bit lack-luster thus far as the sales rep drives out from the dealership a mile or two, and has a pre-set route back to the dealership for me to follow. One stop sign, a few stop lights, and some traffic to drive in. There aren't any hills, long stretches of open road, or curves for me to really evaluate the driving experience. When it comes time to actually order a truck, I'm sure I'll be a bit more forceful in suggesting a longer test drive (or possibly look at a different dealership).

Going by the numbers (and being a tech geek who loves the technology), I would love the Ecoboost. I followed all the torture test videos and the initial unveils of the motor when it first was released and I've always thought I would want an Ecoboost truck. Now that a new truck may be a possibility, I'm not so sure.

On my test drives (done two different days), the Ecoboost definitely impressed me with the low end torque and "snap" right off the throttle. It also seemed to hold the higher gears well when working into the throttle, utilizing boost to increase engine output rather than dropping a gear for the higher RPMS. The driving style seems more natural to me since I don't often downshift driving my '03 Focus ZX3 manual and my '95 doesn't downshift easily either at highway speeds.

The XLT 5.0 truck on the other hand seemed to downshift quite easily sometimes dropping 2 gears to make what I would consider spirited, short duration acceleration, but not heavy throttle passing type acceleration (much like I can do purposely in my '95 just to hear the exhaust more, but without forcing a downshift).

The 5.0 truck definitely has an advantage as far as acoustics go as the V8 sounds much better than the Ecoboost (almost no sound at all), but as this will just as much a car for myself and my wife, I don't intend to go crazy on exhaust, bigger tires, or a lift like I would do with my '95.

Priorities
Listed in no particular order are some of the priorities I have along with some of my thoughts and concerns.
  • Fuel mileage
    Fuel economy is important for long, non-towing situations as that's how most of my driving will be done. Fuel mileage while towing, while always nice to have better numbers, is not as much of a concern as it's not the intended application of the truck.
  • Drivability
    I want a vehicle that will be no worse to drive than my '95 is as far as acceleration and "ease" of driving through different terrain. I like the low end grunt of the 460 even while unloaded and have gotten spoiled by the ability to climb hilly roads in OD even at relatively low RPMS. This has only gotten easier with the addition of the Vortech supercharger this year. With the 3.55 gears in my '95, a 6 hour trip through the Dakotas on I-29 was nice as engine RPMs weren't much higher than 2k at 75-80 mph. With both the 5.0 and Ecoboost making better horsepower numbers and the Ecoboost also making better torque numbers than a factory 460 at low RPMs, I'm leaning towards the Ecoboost for a '13 truck.
  • Maintenance
    While turbos aren't inherently a turn-off as far as long term maintenance goes (I'd love to TT my 460), I am concerned that the long term durability of a 3.5L motor pushing over 100 hp / liter will incur higher maintenance cost 10 years from now. I'm not really scared of the higher complexity, it's more the headroom (for lack of a better term) in a 3.5L V6 compared to a 5.0 V8 making the power levels they do and what that means longterm.
  • Ride Quality/Comfort
    I'm not talking suspension and tires here. The 5.0 has a nice V8 rumble that I appreciate. My wife isn't a huge fan of my straight pipe exhaust on my '95 and I'm sure she'll love the nearly silent Ecoboost. The fact that the Ecoboost (in my test drives) did less shifting will also make the ride a bit smoother/more comfortable than a 5.0 that constantly is shifting (may only be a problem at the 45-55 mph "highway" speed I reached on my test drive).
  • Cost
    While it's not logically a huge difference on a $30-40k truck, there is a ~$1000 difference in the two motors, but that is a significant difference when I'm looking to balance all of the options I'd like, with the budget I have.

My Options
Since I'm looking at a crew cab, 4x4, I'm really debating between the Ecoboost with 3.31 or 3.55 gears, and the 5.0 with 3.55 or 3.73 gears. I don't think I have the need for the Max Tow option available with the Ecoboost and 3.73 gears. Since all my comparisons lead back to my '95, I think that the 5.0 would be perfectly acceptable with the 3.55 gears. The 6R80 gear ratios 4.17, 2.34, 1.52, 1.14, 0.87, 0.69 in the F150 vs my '95 E4OD ratios 2.71, 1.54, 1.00, 0.71 mean that I could start the F150 in 2nd and have almost the same take-off power as my '95 has in stock form.

460 dyno graph from here
Click the image to open in full size.

vs the new 5.0 and Ecoboost from here
Click the image to open in full size.

While the 460 definitely has a much fatter torque curve than the 5.0, peak torque is higher on the 5.0 and with the better transmission ratios to choose from, performance should be pretty equal or better when comparing both trucks with 3.55 gears. I've often wished I had 3.73 or 4.10 gears in my 460 when I get a load behind it because OD is useless but 3rd is higher RPMS than I'd like. With the better .87 to .69 gear change, the 3.55 equipped 5.0 probably won't have problems with the smaller loads I'll be towing with an F150, but the 3.73s, depending on how big of a hit I take on fuel mileage, wouldn't hurt my feelings at all.

Now, when looking at the Ecoboost, it probably has a torque and power advantage over my 460 even in supercharged form. Add a better transmission and an Ecoboost equipped truck is probably faster and more powerful than I currently have (but not as much as any guy wants ). With 3.55 gearing, I would get a towing advantage over 3.31 gears which are probably still going to impress me. How much of a hit in fuel mileage will I see if I choose a 3.55 Ecoboost over the 3.31?


Final Thoughts
I've owned few vehicles, driven mostly what my parents helped provide through school, and even few have been what most would consider quick. My wife's Chrysler 200 and my '95 are the two fastest vehicles I've driven on a consistent basis. Other vehicles include a 1988 460 F250 with overloaded service body, a $300 1988 3.8 V6 Thunderbird, a 1992 3.3L V6 Chrysler Grand Voyager, a 2001 3.1L Chevy Venture, and a 1998 3.1L Monte Carlo.

I'm know a '13 F150 is going to be nicer, better equipped, quieter, more comfortable ride than anything else I've owned before, and I'm probably putting too much thought into it, but it's a decision I'll probably be sticking with for the next 10 years. All out towing performance is not a major concern, though needing the truck to tow a load is always a possibility, and that's why I'm looking at an F150 and not an SUV/crossover.

The real question
Which engine and gear combo is going to maximize my fuel mileage (from 55 mph country roads to 80+ mph Interstate driving), but be no worse on acceleration or power characteristics than my now Vortech supercharged '95 460? It will need some towing ability, but anything more than a bumper pull enclosed trailer (5-8000 lbs??) will be left to my '95.

TL;DR: Compare a new 5.0 or Ecoboost F150 to my '95 460 truck.
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Old 08-13-2013, 09:57 PM
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Well, DI, man ye've done ye homework for sure! More than me even! I don't think you'd go wrong with either one you mentioned. Me? If I got 5.0 I'd probably go with 3.73 gears. Ecoboost, I'd go 3.55 I think. But that's me. I do tow a 4,500 pound trailer sometimes.
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Old 08-13-2013, 10:11 PM
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Short of towing heavy loads where the 460 might have some advantage, I would expect the 5.0, EB, or 6.2 with any gearing (maybe excluding the 3.15) to outperform your 460 in all respects and do it with half the gas, half the noise, and ten times the ride comfort.

You're used to forced induction, so the EB would be more along the lines of what you're used to. The wife wants quiet and luxury amenities - you should be aware by now that if she ain't happy, nobody's happy. And the EB will return equal or better mileage in almost any circumstance.

I'd go EB.
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Old 08-14-2013, 07:12 AM
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Food for thought on the 5.0 with 3.55 gears. With the stock 235mm wide tires you cant even fully utilize first gear (which IS nice and low) so I'm not sure how advantitious even steeper gears would be. Of course maybe with a limited slip and/or the larger tires this is less of an issue, although I suspect axle hop becomes the limiting factor then.
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Old 08-14-2013, 08:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GuyGene View Post
Well, DI, man ye've done ye homework for sure! More than me even! I don't think you'd go wrong with either one you mentioned. Me? If I got 5.0 I'd probably go with 3.73 gears. Ecoboost, I'd go 3.55 I think. But that's me. I do tow a 4,500 pound trailer sometimes.
Thanks for the reply, GuyGene. Like I said before, I may be overthinking all of this, but I look at the number of changes I've wanted to make to my '95 and I'd like to avoid having to do that to a truck with warranty on it. If I can, I'd like to buy a truck that I can drive off the lot and not feel I need to change a single thing (at least for a year or two before the bug gets real bad )

I've been thinking that either engine choice, I'd take the second (numerically) higher gear choice. Looking at the 2013 Towing guide, I think confirms that I'll want 3.73 gears with the 5.0, but it looks like either 3.31 or 3.55 with the Ecoboost will be fine. I'm looking at a Super Crew with 6.5' bed, so the 157" wheelbase

Information taken from here
Code:
Supercrew 4x4 157" Wb

Engine           -   Gears -   GCWR   -   Trailer Weight
5.0 V8.........  -   3.55  -   13,500 -    7,500
5.0 V8.........  -   3.73  -   15,100 -    9,100
Eco V6.........  -   3.31  -   15,100 -    9,100
Eco V6.........  -   3.55  -   15,500 -    9,500
Eco V6.........  -   3.73  -   15,500 -    9,500
Eco V6 (Max Tow) -   3.73  -   17,100 -   11,000
The surprising thing is that all of the options exceed the GCWR of my '95 except for the 3.55 with 5.0, and the 5.0 w/ 3.73 or either of the Ecoboost options I'm considering are within 900 lbs or less of the max trailer weights. My '95 is the 7.5L regular cab, long box 4x4, automatic and is rated at a GCWR of 15,000 lbs and trailer weight of 10,000 lbs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tvsjr View Post
Short of towing heavy loads where the 460 might have some advantage, I would expect the 5.0, EB, or 6.2 with any gearing (maybe excluding the 3.15) to outperform your 460 in all respects and do it with half the gas, half the noise, and ten times the ride comfort.
According to the tow ratings I just outlined above, it looks like you're right. It just boggles my mind that 1/2 ton trucks are now legally rated higher than what my '95 is. I'm beginning to think that either engine option really calls for the second gear option. With the 5.0 its towing gains are a huge step up with the 3.73, and with the Ecoboost, the tow ratings only minimally change but mileage should barely drop based on the Ecoboost mileage threads I've been reviewing, but the performance gains are probably worth it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tvsjr View Post
You're used to forced induction, so the EB would be more along the lines of what you're used to. The wife wants quiet and luxury amenities - you should be aware by now that if she ain't happy, nobody's happy. And the EB will return equal or better mileage in almost any circumstance.

I'd go EB.
I'm starting to lean that way again. The FI is just too tempting to pass up even if I have to miss out on the V8 sound. I was talking with my wife last night, and she actually says go for the 5.0 because it's a bit cheaper, but I think we need to both do a few more test drives to know what we want. I think overall the performance of the Ecoboost is probably a better fit, but I would miss having the opportunity to put exhaust on another V8. I know they have exhaust for the Ecoboost, but it just doesn't sound right (to me) to be coming from a truck.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Buck268 View Post
Food for thought on the 5.0 with 3.55 gears. With the stock 235mm wide tires you cant even fully utilize first gear (which IS nice and low) so I'm not sure how advantageous even steeper gears would be. Of course maybe with a limited slip and/or the larger tires this is less of an issue, although I suspect axle hop becomes the limiting factor then.
I'm definitely planning on the electronic locking rear axle. I can't stand the fact that my '95 is a one wheel wonder in the snow and now especially with the Vortech installed. I'm not planning on bigger tires really as this truck will mainly be my DD and fuel economy is a concern, but I think the Lariat (which is the direction I've been leaning lately due to the interior options) comes stock with 275mm tires which may aid in traction.
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Old 08-14-2013, 10:06 AM
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Well, DI, the chart changed my mind a bit. I'd still get 3.73 with the 5.0, but wow, Ecoboost, I'd probably get the 3.31 now that I see its towing capacity! That seems to be the best combination of power and fuel economy. I know, the initial cost of Ecoboost over the 5.0 is what, $1,500 more or so? To me, that kind of makes it a toss up for economy. But, from what everybody here is saying, you canno' beat the power of Ecoboost! Sound schmound of V8, I'm too old to worry about sound now, hehehe, but I'll admit to liking V8 sound! Hey, I ain't daid yet! See, there I go being as indecisive as anybody! Oh, just find the one you want and get it! I'd do it in a New York second, but right now I'm trying to pay for a big house remodel before me retirement...

By the way, man, I like ye '95!! Those were some great looking years!!
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Old 08-14-2013, 03:24 PM
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If you're going to be buying soon there are two things I'd recommend: One, go on the Ford.com website and go to the F-150 section and request a brochure be mailed to you. Nine times out of ten it will come with a $750 off coupon good for a few months or so. Secondly I'd try to round up an X-Plan PIN which is Ford's program for friends and family members and they can be issued by a Ford employee or retiree. There is a place on Blue Oval News (another website) where you can request one...I have no idea how successful you'll be though.

One thing my sons learned too late is that the PCM (Computer) in an Ecoboost can only be programmed by Ford for the few sizes of tires Ford installs at the factory, but the other engine's PCMs allow programming changes for larger than stock tires; so if you wanted to go w/bigger tires, then maybe the 5.0 would be a better pick because after re-programming, your speedometer and odometer would remain accurate. After riding in my sons' trucks, if I were buying a new F-150, I would go with the Ecoboost. Either of theirs makes my 5.4 feel anemic, but sadly they don't get much better mileage, probably because it is so much fun to use all that power. But this is my last truck, my next vehicle will be either a SHO Taurus or a 3.7 Lincoln MKZ
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Old 08-14-2013, 05:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Going_Going_Gone View Post
If you're going to be buying soon there are two things I'd recommend: One, go on the Ford.com website and go to the F-150 section and request a brochure be mailed to you. Nine times out of ten it will come with a $750 off coupon good for a few months or so. Secondly I'd try to round up an X-Plan PIN which is Ford's program for friends and family members and they can be issued by a Ford employee or retiree. There is a place on Blue Oval News (another website) where you can request one...I have no idea how successful you'll be though.
Thanks for the heads up on the coupon in the brochure! I just requested one. I've heard about the X-Plan PIN before, but don't know much about it. I'll definitely look into it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Going_Going_Gone View Post
One thing my sons learned too late is that the PCM (Computer) in an Ecoboost can only be programmed by Ford for the few sizes of tires Ford installs at the factory, but the other engine's PCMs allow programming changes for larger than stock tires; so if you wanted to go w/bigger tires, then maybe the 5.0 would be a better pick because after re-programming, your speedometer and odometer would remain accurate. After riding in my sons' trucks, if I were buying a new F-150, I would go with the Ecoboost. Either of theirs makes my 5.4 feel anemic, but sadly they don't get much better mileage, probably because it is so much fun to use all that power. But this is my last truck, my next vehicle will be either a SHO Taurus or a 3.7 Lincoln MKZ
That's interesting about the tire sizes on the Ecoboost. The good news is I have little need to change the tires as this will be a street vehicle, but it's odd that there is so little variability built into the system.

I have little to no experience with the 5.4 trucks, but from what I've heard, they're a lackluster engine between the classic 300, 302, 351, and 460 and the new 5.0, Ecoboost, and 6.2. It's one of the reasons I'm looking for a new truck rather than a ~5 year old truck.
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Old 08-14-2013, 07:25 PM
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The 3.7 may be the best truck ford has built to date, if UR after reliability for many years. Its power and fuel economy in the 4x2 version is best for the 2 lane black top road. I put 1 1/2 inch Bilstein shocks on it to level the truck with a Warn Transformer winch system. Tis awesome truck with my needs. I may sell the Ford OEM shocks soon. Very low mileage on them.
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Old 08-14-2013, 08:36 PM
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The 3.7 may be the best truck ford has built to date, if UR after reliability for many years. Its power and fuel economy in the 4x2 version is best for the 2 lane black top road. I put 1 1/2 inch Bilstein shocks on it to level the truck with a Warn Transformer winch system. Tis awesome truck with my needs. I may sell the Ford OEM shocks soon. Very low mileage on them.
If I was in the market for a 2wd truck, it may be an option, but as it's not available with 4wd, it's not an engine I can consider. I would love to try driving one just for the experience, but I haven't found any dealerships with one on the lot that isn't already sold as a fleet vehicle.
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Old 08-14-2013, 08:50 PM
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I'm thinking the 3.7 comes in 4WD. Actually, that engine is still on my short list. I've never read anything bad about it! Some are even saying it's more powerful than some of the older V8s. But, hue, I don't know much.
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Old 08-14-2013, 09:08 PM
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I'd go with the Ecoboost and 3.73's.
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Old 08-14-2013, 09:13 PM
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I haven't tried every combination, but I think the 3.7 is only available on the regular cab 4wd truck. Any other cab configuration I've tried needs to be 2wd.
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Old 08-15-2013, 06:08 AM
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I haven't tried every combination, but I think the 3.7 is only available on the regular cab 4wd truck. Any other cab configuration I've tried needs to be 2wd.
You've had some pretty involved and impressive posts and you've done some intense research.

The 5.0L truck is going to very similar MPG's as the ecoboost but you'll trade the low end torque for the V-8 rumble.

The Ecoboost 4x4 with the 3.31 axles (base gearing for 4x4) gets you the best of both. Decent tow ratings and great MPG's.

This is how my truck is equipped. It sat on the dealer's lot for 6 months till I came along. My truck is a base model XLT with the 3.31 axles. I think it sat for so long due to lack of equipment options and or the axle ratios.

I think that many folks don't associate the ecoboost as having diesel like attributes and the axle ratios scared them away. Not to fear, mine has tons of power and gets great mileage.
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Old 08-15-2013, 07:48 AM
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Papa Tiger has a good reputation on FTE.Papa Tiger has a good reputation on FTE.
I have the fortune of owning a 2003 4x4 for bad weather, off road, boat pulling. Believe 99% of the time I don't need it and the other 1% sudda not a dun it. LOL But I love my 4x4 so have kept it.
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Old 08-15-2013, 07:48 AM
 
 
 
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