NEWS

What We're Testing This Week: 2011 Ford F-150 EcoBoost 3.5-liter V-6

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Update 1: April 8, 2011, 12:00 p.m. Pacific

In short, we're going to re-run the dyno test with equivalent 5.0L and 3.5L GTDI F-150 trucks at K&N with a Ford engineer present.

Instead of a Dynojet, we're going to use a Superflow chassis dyno that uses an eddy current to simulate a load on the vehicle – like when you're pulling a trailer.

We're trying to figure out how quickly we can get both trucks together in California.

Very thankful to Ford and K&N for being such good sports about this and wanting to do the right thing. But that's how we roll (sorry, bad dyno pun).

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Is Ford's new 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 worth its $750 premium over the company's new 5.0-liter V-8 and does it perform as well as the brawny 6.2-liter V-8? That's what we plan to find out this week during a challenging 2,000 mile road test.

The innovative small displacement 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 is rated at 365 horsepower and 420 pounds-feet of torque. It's the first application of gasoline direct-injection twin-turbo technology in a half-ton pickup.

On paper, EcoBoost outperforms the 360 horsepower, 380 pounds-feet 5.0 in both gas mileage and power. It's rated to tow up to 11,300 pounds, the same as the 411 horsepower, 434 pounds-feet 6.2.

As we discovered in February, the 5.0 is no slouch. We loved its performance in the 2011 Ford F-150 XLT 4×4 we drove. The 6.2-liter V-8 is an off-road monster in the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor and it's a towing machine in the Platinum and Lariat F-150 models, as well as the .

Our EcoBoost test will push the V-6 harder than we've driven the 5.0-liter and 6.2-liter V-8s. Some might say twice as hard because we're not just testing a single EcoBoost V-6 truck. Ford has provided two identical 2011 F-150 SuperCrew FX2 two-wheel drive pickups with 3.55 rear axles.

Why are we testing duplicate EcoBoost F-150s? One pickup will be empty and the other will tow a 9,000 pound ballasted trailer. We're going to measure their individual performance and fuel economy trucking from Los Angeles to Denver in city and highway driving conditions at low and high altitudes as both trucks shadow each other.

Dyno Test

We've already completed our first test using a Dynojet Research chassis dyno, courtesy of our friends at K&N Engineering in Riverside. At the EcoBoost F-150's rear wheels, we measured 316 horsepower and 355 pounds-feet.

There are two interesting items to note about our EcoBoost's dyno results. First, peak torque occured further up the power band (4,150 rpm) than what Ford claims at the crankshaft (2,500 rpm). The turbos did an excellent job keeping torque above 300 pounds-feet from around 2,800 rpm to approximately 5,700 rpm, just ahead of fuel cutoff at 5,800 rpm. Second, horsepower showed an interesting downward blip around 5,000 rpm before hitting its peak at 5,125 rpm. Could this be for emissions reasons or to hit a higher horsepower number than the 5.0?

For comparison purposes, we've plotted the 3.5 dyno results against the 5.0 that was tested on the same dyno — corrected using SAE factors for humidity, temperature and barometric pressure. You can see where both horsepower curves cross above their torque plots at 5,252 rpm.

So far, EcoBoost appears worth its $750 premium.

On the Road

We head to Colorado Monday morning to start the real world evaluation. We'll be stopping along the way for fuel and food. If you catch us, we'll be happy to chat and buy you a cup of coffee or a meal. We shouldn't be too hard to spot with the trailer and two Race Red FX2 F-150s.

Follow along on Twitter and Facebook for updates.

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