Ford's new truck powertrain lineup speaks like a winner

By Al Vinikour

(October 2, 2010) Ford Motor Company is no stranger to being top dog when it comes to the pickup truck market…and with its 2011 lineup of new engines it is determined to stay there.

The four new powerplants for the 2011 F-150 include a 3.7-liter V-6, 5-liter V-8 and 6.2-liter V-8 and a twin-turbocharged EcoBoost 3.5-liter V-6. It’s the most extensive powertrain overhaul in the truck’s history.

The 3.7-liter will be the most powerful, capable and fuel-efficient base V-6 of any truck in its class, with 302 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. It's E85 flex fuel capable and offers best-in-class 6,100-pound maximum trailer tow. It has all the attributes of a larger V-8 but with a much-smaller operating cost. It’s available across every F-150 trim level. 

The next rung up is the 5-liter four-valve DOHC Ti-VCT V-8 — similar to the one that powers the 2011 Mustang GT but modified for the harsher duty cycle that truck customers want and need. It has a respectable — nay, make that awesome, 360 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. It also has a 10,000-pound maximum trailer tow (all figures quoted are best-in-class) and is E85 flex fuel capable.

Next up to bat is a 6.2-liter two-valve SOHC V-8 pumping out 411 horsepower and 434 pound-feet of torque. Besides being offered as a premium engine on the F-150 it has an expanded offering to the F-150 SVT Raptor and other specialty applications. It features a best-in-class 11,300 maximum trailer tow. Because of its large size it is has two spark plugs per cylinder that enables better fuel economy and increased engine torque. The twin plugs also help maintain a smooth, stable idle. The 6.2L V8 is standard on the 2011 F-Series Super Duty.

The fourth offering is the real jewel of the Nile. It’s Ford’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost premium engine that has the fuel economy of a smaller-displacement but has power comparable to a naturally aspirated V8. It has 365 horsepower (on regular fuel), 420 pound-feet of torque and best in class 11,300 pound trailer tow and best-in-class 3,060-pound payload.

Ford is the first and only manufacturer to equip its entire full-size pickup lineup with fuel-saving six-speed automatic transmissions as standard equipment. 

Although it seems redundant to continuously say “best-in-class,” it’s what Ford strived for with each engine vs. the offerings of their competition, which are not shrinking violets in their own right — Dodge Ram, Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. In testing each vehicle against one another during every contest — all things being equal — Ford easily outshone its competition by respectable margins.

The 2011 F-150 doesn’t want for trim levels, either. It can be ordered as an: XL, STX, XLT, FX2/FX4, Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum, Harley-Davidson/F150 Lariat Limited and SVT Raptor.

Not all engines are available in every series, however. Just like the old saying goes, “There always someone for somebody, “ so, too, is the variety of models Ford is offering for its 2011 F-150. The competition will always be there but what Ford is providing its 2011 models with, the objects in the rearview mirror will be farther away than they seem.