Traditionally, pickup trucks were sold with a combination of brand bravado and bragging rights. But paradigm seems to be shifting. According to Ford, 70 percent of full-size truck buyers wish for an improvement in fuel economy, and a whopping 32 percent are willing to abandon their loyalties and buy another brand.
The folks at Ford viewed that as a wake-up call. For 2011, the F-150's entire engine portfolio has been revised to not only offer additional power, but also deliver roughly 20-percent better fuel economy than the 2010 engine range.
Base Engine? Six Cylinders, Not Eight
To start, an eight-cylinder engine is no longer the base engine. While entry-level 2010 F-150s used the aging 4.6-liter, two-valve V-8, that engine is superseded by a 3.7-liter, DOHC V-6.
First launched in the 2011 Mustang, the aluminum-block six-cylinder features twin independent camshaft timing, and has been slightly re-tuned - notably in its intake and exhaust systems -- to be less rev-happy and more towing-friendly. The truck-tuned 3.7-liter is rated at 300 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 275 pound-feet of torque at 4500 rpm, a slight drop from its Mustang-spec form, which was rated at 305 horsepower and 280 pound-feet. It is, however, comparable to the old two-valve 4.6-liter V-8, which cranked out 248 ponies and 294 pound-feet of torque. In two-wheel-drive, regular cab trucks, the 3.7 reportedly is capable of towing as many as 6100 pounds.
Don't expect this engine choice to be limited to stripped-down work trucks. All two-wheel-drive XL, STX, and XLT models will carry this engine as standard equipment, regardless of cab choice or bed configuration.
Unsurprisingly, another Mustang engine worms its way into the new 2011 F-Series, albeit with a few tweaks. The vaulted 5.0-liter, DOHC V-8, launched in the 2011 Mustang GT, is available in virtually every F-150 trim between the XL and Platinum lines. For the most part, the engine is identical to that used in the pony car, but slight revisions -- including re-tuned intake camshafts, decreased compression, and an additional oil cooler -- shift its output in favor of delivering more low-end torque.
In F-150 form, the 5.0 churns out 360 horsepower at 5500 rpm, and 380 pound-feet of torque at 4250 rpm. That's a little less than the 412 horsepower and 390 pound-feet offered in the Mustang, but most truck drivers like will appreciate a broad, flat torque curve. Regardless, those figures are still a substantial upgrade compared to last year's mid-grade V-8 (the three-valve 4.6-liter was rated at 292 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque), but it also knocks on the door of 2010's premium engine, the 5.4-liter Triton V-8 (320 horsepower, 390 pound-feet of torque).