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2011 Ford F150
Power play: This is a story about four new engines
By Malcolm Gunn
The 2011 F-150 might look the same on the outside, but between the front fenders it's a whole new truck game.
In one lightning-strike move, Ford's top-selling hauler unleashes a drastically different powertrain lineup that, depending on your selection, allows you to travel further on a tank of gas, tote a heavier payload and pull a heavier travel trailer. There are also more safety and convenience features.
It's common for automakers to refresh their more popular models after a two- or three-year period, but for Ford to bring out a quartet of new V6 and V8 engines is nothing short of astonishing. It will also likely send the competition back to their respective drawing boards to devise some sort of response.
Reducing fuel consumption is important to everyone, but it's of particular importance to truck owners. Whether they use them as mobile offices or for personal/recreational use, these normally thirsty rigs tend to consume more than their fair share of petroleum products. Obviously any move to reel in consumption is money ahead for truckers.
On this front, Ford appears to have all the bases covered, although there are no hybrid or diesel powertrains in the mix.
For light-duty use, the F-150 is offered with a base 3.7-litre V6 that makes 302 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. The 3.7 is the first V6 available in a full-size Ford pickup since the 2008 model year when a 202-horsepower 4.2-litre unit was offered.
Next up is a 5.0-litre V8 that generates 360 horsepower and 380 pound-feet torque rating. Sharing architecture with the 412-horsepower Ford Mustang engine, the 5.0 replaces the duo of 4.6-litre V8s, the best of which developed 292 horsepower.
For heavy lifting and for off-roading duties, the most muscular engine in the F-150 garage is a 6.2-litre V8 that puts out 411 horsepower and a road-ripping 434 pound-feet of torque. The new 6.2 is standard in the F-150-based SVT Raptor, a specially equipped, uniquely styled, off-road-capable truck that was launched for the 2010 model year. For 2011, the Raptor comes in a four-door model in addition to the two-door extended-cab version.
Wait, we're not quite done yet. Later in the model year, Ford will offer its 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged "Ecoboost" V6 with 365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. Ford claims that the regular-gas-burning EcoBoost will achieve a 20 per cent fuel-economy improvement compared to the outgoing 5.4-litre V8 with its 310 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque, however actual fuel consumption figures for all F-150 engines have yet to be announced.
Six-speed automatic transmissions with manual shift control will link all powerplants to either rear-, or optional four-wheel drivetrains. You'll also be able to limit the transmission to its lower gear range, which is useful when towing heavy loads and/or when climbing a steep grade.
For 2011, the model and trim availability list is as long as several arms. The existing XL, STX, XLT, FX2/FX4 and Lariat are joined by the XLT Custom and Lariat Limited (the latter featuring the beefy 6.2-litre V8 as standard).
Regardless of trim, cab size, box length or drive system, the F-150s engine-upgrade program was long overdue, if rather sudden. Ford's full-size pickup peers have literally been gaining strength of late and it was clearly high time for Ford to respond in kind.
With plenty of powertrain choices to suit a multitude of work and play applications, the F-150 stands to gain considerable ground - and credibility - in the pickup segment.
What you should know: 2011 Ford F-150
Type: Two- /four-door full-size pickup truck
Engines (hp): 3.7-litre DOHC V6 (302); 5.0-litre DOHC V8 (360); 6.2-litre SOHC V8 (411); 3.5-litre DOHC V6, twin-turbocharged (365)
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Market position: Ford has been the traditional sales leader in the pickup segment, but its powertrains have not kept up with those from GM, Chrysler and Toyota. With four new engines for 2011, it's a whole new truck game.
Points: Long-overdue engine updates; Amazing power output from both base and optional V6; Hybrid choice understandably absent, but V6 or V8 turbo-diesel would make a great option; Models and available special trim packages boggle the mind; Off-road-capable SVT Raptor displays Ford's imaginative side in constructing niche products.
Safety: Front airbags; side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction control; stability control.
l/100 km (city/hwy): 13.7/9.3 (3.7, est.)
Base price (incl. destination): $21,600
Base price: $27,700
Powerful V8 engines; optional Denali package adds luxury.
Base price: $27,900
Base V6 upgrade expected soon. Everyone loves the "Hemi" V8.
Base price: $27,850
Solidly built, with loads of standard content in an appealing package.
Malcolm Gunn is an automotive writer based in Moncton, NB, and a regular contributor to CarTest!
Posted February 2, 2011. © CarTest.ca TM