Monday, October 4, 2010

Test drive of the 2011 Ford F150's new Engine Lineup

You guys know, I bleed blue. I'm a die hard Ford man.

Ford has been making bold moves in the past few years.

More frequent refreshes and new exciting product lines, and killing dead weight (note: Ranger, E-Series and Panthers are NOT dead weight. Refresh THEM PLEASE!)

On Saturday I went and drove the F-Series to try their new engine lineup.

My impressions is that the new Ecoboost F150 is a fast truck, the way the power ramps up is very deceptive, but if you look at the speedometer, you're going at a good clip.

They set up 1/8 mile tracks and let people race each other in all the powertrains, 3.7L V6, 3.5L Ecoboost, 5.0 V8, and a 6.2L Harley truck. Also a Hemi powered Ram Quad Cab and a 5.3L Z71 Silverado ext cab were there to drive/compare.

My best time was run in a Ecoboost 4x4 Supercrew launching in 4Hi (hehe). Ford has hit a home run with this setup. The Ecoboost trucks have lots of insulation along the hood edges and sides to attenuate sound to not give you the feeling that you're driving with a 'smaller' engine. The exhaust note at WOT sounds a little raspy, but you can tell Ford spent some money researching how to get the exhaust to sound decent. NVH is almost nil, and you really dont know its a V6 unless you have a trained ear.

The 5.0L V8 is a smooth engine, with its Modular roots but so much better, it is most definitely refined. I was impressed with the changes Ford made to set the engine up for Truck Duty. Feels different than when in the Mustang App. Still sounds like a mod motor starting up though. Slick 6 Speed Auto is across this whole range of trucks.

The 6.2L Harley truck was by far the best sounding and driving truck there. The 6.2L exhaust on the Harley truck sounds like a NASCAR exhaust at WOT. Ford has done an excellent job with this motor. The truck felt the fastest out of the group, but the Ecoboost was faster on paper (at least to my time slips)

Next they had the Tow area, which had a Loaded Mega Cab Hemi Ram and a Silverado hooked to trailers filled with 6000 lbs in the back, and a group of F150 Supercrew 4x2 and 4x4, all with Ecoboost engines.

Does anyone notice that Ford did not offer a 5.7L or 4.6L Tundra for us to try?

I drove the Ram first, found it to be decent on power but having to work it hard to get it to move at a good pace with the trailer.

Next I hopped into a Supercrew FX4 with the Ecoboost and a 3.73 rear end. This truck moves good with a load. Again, its deceptive because you look down at the speedometer and you're moving faster than you thought. With a load, the power delivery is still very smooth, and the braking and trailer sway control all work awesome. You do have to work that Ecoboost to get the truck to get on the freeways, but thats what it was designed to do, with the turbos, provide that V8 thrust, and it does that.

Overall, I'm pretty impressed with the new lineup of engines that Ford has come out with.

I just wish they hired more knowledgeable people to work these events. They hire 'pretty people'. I got tired of hearing the wrong information over and over again. Finally I just stopped asking. At the tow section, I made are remark about how disappointed I would be driving the Ram, he stated "I'm an independant contractor, and I will tell you, I like the Ram better than the Ford" I raise an eyebrow at that remark. More technical questions asked to "Product specialists" were replied with a total lie, misinformation and then later "Sir, we're not engineers." If you don't know, just say so. These guys lost their cool when you ask questions they don't know. Then they get offended when you try to correct them. I.e. the guy we did the drive challenge said that "the Ecoboost in the F-series had Honeywell GT12 turbochargers". I said "They're borg warner, and the Honeywell GT15 is what is in the SHO, Flex and MKS with Ecoboost. He just looked at me. Later someone else told me , all F150s have rear axle ratios of 3.73 and 4.10. Ugh. Come on Ford. Seriously? /Rant over.

I did run into two Product specialists that actually did work for Ford and not the event company. They even let me check out and start up the new 6.7L Powerstroke that happened to be there. That motor is crammed under the hood of that truck, however, its supposed to be much easier to service than the 6.0 and 6.4s of yore. Those 7.3L days are over, quit dreaming. HA!.

Ford, you've done a good job here. Lets hope you will keep the products fresh and not let things die on the vine.

Overall I'd say Ford has a good new lineup on their hands. Time will tell to see if people are apt to adopt the Ecoboost in the F Series.