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FIN Drives: 2011 Ford F-150 King Ranch EcoBoost
If the half-ton V-8 goes away...we're OK with that.
www.FordInsideNews.com
September 19, 2011
By: Nick Saporito


For decades the default power option for most half-ton truck buyers has been a V-8 engine. Regardless of whether the truck’s use is for legitimate truck duties or making runs to Costco, the V-8 has been intertwined in the DNA of the half-ton truck. Until now most truck buyers have had no reason to steer away from purchasing a V-8 in their half-ton. The fuel economy differences between V-6 offerings are minimal and power differences are vast. Now Ford has rewritten the book on the mainstream half-ton by interjecting a boosted V-6 into the mix.

Available on most F-150 models as a $750 standalone option is Ford’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6. The engine was first made famous as the engine that brought the Taurus SHO back and launched the now well-known EcoBoost nameplate at Ford. While the boosted mill was an obvious fit for car and crossover applications, the idea of tossing it into a full-size truck is, if anything, a novel idea.

Aside from a rather modest “EcoBoost” badge flanking the front doors, there is nothing to set the boosted F-150 apart from the V-8. That modesty likely serves as a bit of symbolism for the fact that the EcoBoost V-6 is just as capable as the coveted V-8.

As soon as the EcoBoost comes to life, however, the evidence that a V-8 is missing becomes more clear. It does not sound like a truck. Both at idle and operation, the engine unsurprisingly sounds like something that should be in a car. We suspect that will bother some truck purists, but beyond the lack of audible roar there is nothing else that should upset the purists.


Don’t let the silence fool you, though. When the right foot gets a little heavy and slams the pedal down, the driver is met with a surge of torque that is almost assured to cause a loss of traction from the rear wheels. At that point the lack of a V-8 has banished from one’s mind.

With the assistance of two parallel Honeywell turbochargers and direct fuel injection, the EcoBoost generates 365 horsepower and an impressive 420 foot-pounds of torque. The latter specification is the important point and the one that makes the EcoBoost so compelling.

No half-ton V-8 truck lacks power in today’s market, however the EcoBoost gives the F-150 a level of power that actually makes the two and half ton truck almost fun to drive. From about 2,000 rpm on up through the rev range, the F-150 never lacks enough torque to throw passengers into seatbacks or haul around a massive trailer.

From idle to 2,000 rpm the truck is quite civil and in all honesty, feels just like any other truck. That isn’t a bad thing for the fact that city cruising is not met with sudden surges of torque, something that tends to happen in the EcoBoost equipped cars.

All of that torque is managed by a six-speed automatic transmission that does a reasonably good job. At times the transmission in our tester seemed a bit confused as to whether or not it should downshift or remain unchanged. The good news is that the driver can shift the transmission through a manual mode or tell the transmission to avoid higher gears to aid in hauling. We did note that the transmission was slow to respond in manual mode, but this isn’t a performance vehicle.

We took the F-150 on a 200-mile all-highway trip during our testing. With the cruise set at 80 miles per-hour the majority of the trip, the EcoBoost managed to average 17.6 mpg. While the truck is EPA rated at 22-mpg highway, we feel like 17.6 is very good considering the speeds. The conditions were also not favorable for maximizing fuel economy as ambient temperatures were in excess of 100-degrees.

During the trip our only complaint with the truck was the tires. The Goodyear rubber on our King Ranch tester was intended more for off-road use than high speed cruising. This meant our trip consisted of a constantly vibration in the chassis anytime the truck was over 70 mph. Having spent time with a 2011 Lariat, we know this is not a normal F-150 trait.

Stopping the hefty F-150 is also not a problem. The brakes do a good job of putting a halt to the acceleration of the EcoBoost. Our one complaint with the brakes is that the pedal seems a bit lengthy, particularly when wanting to perform a rapid stop.


Inside, our loaded King Ranch tester was downright attractive. The truck’s saddle colored leather takes some getting used to for some people, but there is no denying that it is some of the highest quality leather available in the truck market. Coupled with real walnut wood trim and the King Ranch interior quickly becomes a place of luxury; despite being a rugged truck trim level. Rounding out the exclusiveness of the King Ranch interior is King Ranch branding on each seatback and the floor mats.

Aside from the aesthetical differences with the King Ranch, our tester featured Ford’s hard drive based navigation system, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, Ford SYNC and a Sony surround sound system. Absent is Ford’s MyFord Touch user interface, an omission we shed no tears over.

Unlike the newer MyFord Touch system, the legacy navigation and infotainment system in the F-150 works as expected with no bugs. The navigation system and SYNC are excellent complements to the stellar Sony sound system. It is quickly becoming obvious that Ford’s relationship with Sony is paying dividends in every new product.

Backseat passengers are met with gobs of legroom, their own HVAC vents and heated seats.

Overall we walked away very impressed with the F-150 EcoBoost. Having spent time with the 5.0-liter V-8, we can confidently say we would pick a boosted V-6 over a V-8 in this particular half-ton truck. Not only is it more capable than the V-8 when it comes to truck duties, it is also more fun to drive. As long as one can get over the fact that this truck will never sound like a truck, there is no reason not to consider the EcoBoost.


2011 Ford F-150 SuperCrew King Ranch with EcoBoost
Price As Tested: $49,300.00
EPA Ratings: 15 / 21 MPG
Observed Fuel Economy: 17.6 MPG (70% highway, 30% city)
 

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Good review, and it mirrored my observations as well. I see no compelling reason to buy an other truck. That is how impressive the EB is.

Someday.....
 

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Very weak review. Could have written it by digesting other reviews. Nothing new or original in the observations. The reviewer isn't noted for good reviews and really phoned this one in. At least in the winter he could whine because he couldn't get through a snow bank.
 

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80 MPH - Really? C'mon, we are test driving a truck with V8 power that basically is always touting 20+ mpg and you have to test drive at 80?

We have no doubt that it can cruise at 80, but I'm thinking 65-70 is likely where most of us drive...

That is IMO just rediculous... Most are buying this truck /engine combo due to the advertised 20+ mpg and it just makes no sense at all to do your test at that speed, which basically turned in a 4.5 mpg less average than what the truck is advertised..

Sorry, but I think that was just plain stupid!

Musclford
 

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80 MPH - Really? C'mon, we are test driving a truck with V8 power that basically is always touting 20+ mpg and you have to test drive at 80?

We have no doubt that it can cruise at 80, but I'm thinking 65-70 is likely where most of us drive...

That is IMO just rediculous... Most are buying this truck /engine combo due to the advertised 20+ mpg and it just makes no sense at all to do your test at that speed, which basically turned in a 4.5 mpg less average than what the truck is advertised..

Sorry, but I think that was just plain stupid!

Musclford
80 MPH was the legal speed limit where I was with the truck.

Why is it ridiculous? Even at those speeds 17.6 MPG is EXCELLENT for a truck that size. You missed the point of it.
 

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80 MPH was the legal speed limit where I was with the truck.

Why is it ridiculous? Even at those speeds 17.6 MPG is EXCELLENT for a truck that size. You missed the point of it.

Perhaps I did miss the point, I stand corrected
Phil
 
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