2017 F-150 Raptor: Beginning of the End for the V8?

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Auto Start-Stop technology will be standard across 100 percent of the EcoBoost®-equipped 2017 Ford F-150 lineup, including the all-new F-150 Raptor ultimate high-performance off-road truck. Auto Start-Stop shuts off the engine when the vehicle is at a stop – except when towing or in four-wheel-drive mode – to give drivers power on demand when they need it most.

The fact that the 2017 Raptor, the latest iteration of Ford’s factory built off road monster, is going to feature twin turbo V6 power is old news.  So while the shock and awe exhibited by truck fans everywhere has subsided a bit, this drastic change doesn’t quell the fears of V8 proponents.

Ford’s announcement that a souped up version of the 3.5 liter Ecoboost would take the place of the big ol’ 6.2 liter V8 in its performance halo didn’t exactly go over well, despite their insistence that the smaller motor would produce more power than the outgoing lump, with figures said to be “much higher” than the base 3.5 in lesser F-150 models.

But Ford’s bold move to downsize the number of cylinders in the forthcoming Raptor isn’t exactly without precedence.  Automakers everywhere are dropping displacement like last year’s fashion choices. Yes, it seems that big V8’s are going the way of the man bun.

Look no further than the new Ford GT, BMW M3, Mercedes C-Class AMG, and Audi RS4 for proof that the old adage “there’s no replacement for displacement” is going the way of the dinosaur.  Automakers are turning to smaller engines with forced induction in droves.


The reasoning is obvious – tightening CAFE fuel economy standards are pressuring automakers to squeeze better fuel economy out of their flagship performance models, but they can’t exactly go the 1970’s route and sacrifice power as well.

Technology has helped automakers extract much better fuel economy from the venerable V8 than we ever thought possible, but barring a miracle, it’s highly doubtful that we’ll ever see 40 mpg’s out of a V8 powered F-150.  So is every American’s favorite engine configuration bound to go the way of the manual transmission?

Ford has gone on record to say that it will not phase out the V8 altogether and that it will continue to be offered in both the F150 and Mustang.  We have no reason to doubt that – in the foreseeable future.

But with sales of V6 models on the rise and the company’s two performance icons making the once unthinkable switch, the days of a non-V8 musclecars/trucks getting laughed out of the design studio are gone forever.

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Brett Foote is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other sites.

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