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2011 Ford F-150 First Drive

Side Burnout Shot
Ken Brubaker
| Senior Editor, Four Wheeler
Posted February 1, 2011
Photographers: Ford Motor Company

Four New Engines and a Whole Lot More

Hang on to your lug nuts because Ford has unveiled four new powerplants for the 2011 F-150. This is a pretty big deal because it's the most extensive powertrain makeover in the truck's 62-year history. In addition, Ford says that these new engines make the 2011 F-150 up to 20 percent more fuel-efficient than the 2010 F-150. So, say goodbye to the two- and three-valve 4.6L and 5.4L V-8s because they're sailing off into the sunset. Say hello to the new hotness; the 3.7L V-6, 5.0L V-8, 6.2L V-8, and 3.5L EcoBoost V-6. How hot are they? We had a chance to drive all of them in Texas recently, and here's the lowdown.

3.7L V-6
This is the base engine in the F-150. Ford says it's the latest application of the award-winning Duratec V-6, with upgrades for the light truck application. They tout that it's designed to be the most powerful, capable, and fuel-efficient base V-6 of any truck in its class. This Cleveland-built, four-valve, E85-capable engine is all-aluminum and has six-bolt bearing caps, a forged steel crankshaft, piston cooling jets, die-cast aluminum deep-sump oil pan, tuned composite upper and lower intake manifolds, and twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT). It punches out 302 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque and can to tow up to 6,100 pounds. It's rated at 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway in two-wheel drive configuration (four-wheel drive mpg numbers were not available at press time). We were surprised at the get-up-'n-go of this engine. As a point of reference, during testing on a timing light-equipped 640-foot track (which is 20 feet shy of 1/8-mile), we logged a best run of 9.7 seconds at 64.4 mph. The engine is light years ahead of V-6 and I-6 truck engines we've experienced in the past in terms of refinement and power. It's perfect for those who want good mpg and decent performance.

5.0L V-8
This all-aluminum, four-valve, dual overhead-cam engine is similar to the 5.0L powering the 2011 Mustang GT, but it has undergone a number of enhancements for light truck service. The camshafts were tuned to improve low-speed torque; the 10.5:1 compression was optimized to reduce knock tendency at lower engine speeds while towing; an oil cooler was added to increase the life of the oil; the fuel injectors are foam-covered to reduce NVH levels; and the exhaust manifolds are cast for improved durability. The Windsor, Ontario, Canada-built engine has Ti-VCT, unique intake camshafts, a forged-steel crankshaft, piston-cooling jets, a composite intake manifold, 8-quart oil capacity, and E85 fuel capability. Compared to the outgoing 5.4L V-8, the engine block is 70 pounds lighter. According to Ford, the engine has a number of best-in-class specs including 360 horsepower, 380 lb-ft of torque, and a 10,000-pound maximum towing capacity. In 4x2 configuration, the 5.0L engine is rated at 15 mpg city and 21 mpg highway. The engine emits a nice exhaust burble, and it willingly wound through the rpm's. We turned 75.3 mph in 8.8 seconds on the 640-foot track. We speculate that this is the engine that will power the majority of F-150s. Ford says that in models where it doesn't come standard, it'll cost $1,000 to upgrade to the 5.0L from the 3.7L V-6.

6.2L V-8
This is the largest-displacement engine available in the F-150, and Ford calls it the "premium engine offering." It's a version of the 6.2L base engine in the 2011 Super Duty and 2010 Raptor and it has been proven at the '08 Baja 1000 and the '09 Best In The Desert off-road racing series. This Romeo, Michigan-built, two-valve, single overhead-cam engine utilizes a large bore to allow for larger intake and exhaust valves. It has a shorter stroke to allow for higher engine speed, which translates to increased horsepower. Features include a high-strength deep skirt cast-iron block, aluminum heads, dual spark plugs, cast-iron crankshaft, deep sump stamped-steel oil pan, piston cooling jets, cast exhaust manifolds, six-bolt main bearing caps, cam torque-actuated dual equal variable cam timing, and a tuned, composite, single-plenum intake manifold. If you want bass rumble, this is your engine. The eight-cylinder choir produces a sweet big-bore sound at startup, and that harmony continues throughout the powerband. It produces 411 horsepower, 434 lb-ft of torque, and has an 11,300-pound maximum tow rating. In 4x2 versions, the truck is rated at 12 mpg city and 17 mpg highway. Max torque and horsepower roll on within 1,000 rpm of each other, so this engine produces versatile power whether you're looking for speed or grunt. On the 640-foot track, the 6.2L propelled us to 68.18 mph in 8.92 seconds. The 6.2L is standard on a few models, like the Harley Davidson and Raptor, but where it's not, it'll cost you $1,995 to play.

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