EcoBoost Battles V8 in Fast Lane Truck‘s Ike Gauntlet
Can Ford’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 out-haul the almighty 5.0-liter V8 in a grueling uphill and downhill towing contest?
Ever since Ford started putting its 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 in the F-150, people have been comparing it to Ford’s V8. Both of them have their respective strong suits in terms of output, efficiency, and sound. Andre Smirnov, Kent Sundling, and Stephen Elmer at The Fast Lane Truck wanted to find out which engine makes for a better tow rig so they pitted them against each other in the Ike Gauntlet.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Ike Gauntlet, it’s an eight-mile-long challenge over a seven percent grade at 11,158 feet above sea level. The most recent form of it involves hooking a horse trailer filled with water ballast that brings the total weight of the trailer up to 8,900 pounds to the back of a pickup. Then someone from the channel puts the truck’s transmission in tow/haul mode, drives down the grade, and counts how many brake applications are necessary to keep the truck going 60 mph or lower on the way down. Going uphill, they try to maintain a speed of 60 mph and measure how long the truck takes to make the journey (under eight minutes is usually a good time) as well as its fuel economy.
This EcoBoost vs. Coyote match is a little uneven. Both F-150s have the SuperCrew cab, but totally different gearing and drivetrains. The red EcoBoost F-150 Lariat has four-wheel drive and 3.55 gears, which, along with the V6’s 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque, give it a max towing capacity of 12,700 pounds.
The gray V8-powered XLT model has 395 horsepower, 400 lb-ft of torque, and a 3.15 rear end (which Sundling, aka Mr. Truck, calls “a very strange ratio”). It only has two-wheel drive, but that helps it weigh 700 pounds less than its competitor. Its towing abilities top out at 9,200 pounds.
Going downhill, the EcoBoost seems to prefer third gear and the 4,000 rpm spot on the tachometer. By the time the guys get to the bottom, the F-150 has racked up 11 brake applications. Smirnov says, “This is the same number as we got in previous years with an F-150 EcoBoost and it’s also the most brake applications we’ve recorded for the half-ton segment.” The less powerful V8 truck cruises in third gear and only requires nine jabs to the left pedal.
On the way up, the EcoBoost gets off to a wheel-spinning start. It finishes the run in 7:58.88 with an average fuel economy of 3.5 mpg. The V8 F-150 completes the journey with a time of 8:06.99, but gets a flat four mpg. That’s enough to make Sundling say, “We’re finding more reasons to buy this V8.”
The guys all agree on the final numbers. When it comes to picking the better engine, they’re divided two to one. Elmer chooses the EcoBoost for its power. Smirnov and Sundling give the nod to the 5.0 for its transmission and braking behavior, fuel economy, and, of course, sound – something the EcoBoost never seems to be able to beat.