2011 F-150 EcoBoost: Raising the Bar…Again1
I need to give you full disclosure: I love engines with forced induction. Turbos and superchargers make me smile, well, most of the time. My father had a Lincoln MKT EcoBoost when they first came out and I appreciated the idea of a turbo V6 but wasn’t particularly impressed with the the package. The front-wheel biased all-wheel drive torque steer and transmission calibration never seemed to be as polished as I had hoped for in a vehicle of that price point. It could use a dose of that torque vectoring system from the Focus to balance out the massive amount of power. My opinion of the V6 EcoBoost from Ford was basically “meh”, as I never felt like the refinement was all there. A stint in a Taurus SHO confirmed this fact for me. Sure, it’s a stupid powerful powertrain but it was missing the harmony that made the engine mate up to the car like peanut butter and jelly.
Then Ford opted to drop the EcoBoost V6 in the F-150. Early on, pickup truck buyers blew this off as pickup blasphemy. How could a V6 tow more than a V8? How could Ford expect buyers to pay more for a V6 over a V8? Well, they are…and in large numbers, too. I can easily see why because the EcoBoost V6 is more at home in the F-150 than the Taurus SHO, in my opinion. The engine feels like it has been polished, refined and could have easily been lifted out of a German luxury crossover. The transmission has been perfectly calibrated to keep you happy if you have an empty bed or 11,000 pounds behind you. It never feels wheezy or underpowered. Yes, you do trade some of the V8 growl for the sound of a turbo spooling up but the engine is so quiet overall that it would be perfectly suited to something wearing a Lincoln emblem on the hood. So, it was never the shortcomings of the engine, but maybe the EcoBoost V6 us better suited to rear-wheel drive applications?
I’ve done some towing with the EcoBoost V6 in the F-150 right up against Toyota, Dodge, and Chevy. If you don’t need a heavy duty pickup, the EcoBoost F-150 is the best player in the game right now. The capability is unmatched in the segment. I took the F-150 to the Milan Dragstrip here in Michigan and I was able to watch a quarter mile fly by in 14.9 seconds. Not bad considering this was a SuperCrew 4×4. Another F-150 was also at at the strip. It was a regular cab 4×2 with the 5.0L V8. It had a significant weight advantage over the EcoBoost yet couldn’t get under 15 seconds. With the EcoBoost in the F-150 you get the low end torque that you’d get in a diesel, the fuel efficiency of a V6 at highway speeds, and the sweet sound of air being sucked through the turbo. If you raise the boost up and quickly let off the accelerator pedal you can hear the pressure be released with a nice “whoosh” if the windows are down.
The cabin is well appointed in the F-150 and leads the pack in terms of materials and engineering. The SuperCrew offers Audi A8 L-like legroom in the back seat. The flat floor and folding rear seat offer a lot of cargo carrying capability. The rear bench is wide enough to carry three adults in comfort, as well.
The SuperCrew wheelbase is so long that the ride is extremely smooth and compliant. It’s comfortable enough to easily be a daily driver. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention that Ford has mastered the art of electric power steering. It doesn’t matter which Ford you get in today, if it has electric powersteering they have the best calibrations in their segment versus other electric power steering systems. The F-150 is no exception. You never get that old U-Haul truck with a numb on-center feel. The steering basically feels like a car-based crossover. At 70 MPH or 7 MPH, the F-150 feels perfect. Let’s not forget the fact that the EcoBoost V6 uses 87 octane instead of pricier premium. That might not matter in a Nissan Juke with a ten gallon tank but imagine filling a 36 gallon tank! The interior is well thought out and the 4.3-inch display in the gauge cluster is informative and useful. Ford could not have made this truck anymore user friendly.
Give me a factory applied spray-on bed liner and Sync that actually reads all of the music on my iPhone and we’d be all set. Otherwise there isn’t much to fault on the F-150. It’s an easy truck to live with for business or pleasure. In all honesty, this truck is so sweet it should cause Dodge and Chevy fan boys to be second guessing their allegiances. With an even larger fuel tank for the 2012 EcoBoost model, the F-150 EcoBoost again schools the Ram, Silverado, and Tundra by raising the bar to a new level.