Great engine. Smooth, well matched to the vehicle, at least here in Michigan. Really amazing fuel economy, considering that it's a big pickup. At 70 mph, it shows just under 19 mpg. NOT that you can really go by the in-dash indicator.
Magic-carpet ride; cut-down window gives an airier feeling. Ford interior could possibly edge out the GM -- rectangular, sharp features versus a softer car look in the GM pickups. Very beautifully executed.
All pickups with big tires (4x4 or not) are a bitch to get into, but you can order the bed steps, which would help.
Jean Jennings, Editor-In-Chief
I'm not one to keep up with the Joneses, but darned if my next-door-neighbors don't think I'm trying to copy their vehicular choices. Two months after they purchased a blue F-150 crew cab with the EcoBoost V-6, I bring home almost the exact same vehicle -- albeit only for one evening.
I can see why they think I'm copying: there's a lot to like about the F-150 in general, but it's even better when paired with this twin-turbocharged, 3.5-liter V-6, especially if you're forced to use a full-size truck as a daily commuter. I was amazed by the average fuel economy figures displayed during a jaunt back from the airport, which hovered in the 20-22 mpg range. I wish I had more time with it, to see how slogging through city traffic affected that figure; the EPA estimates that combined mileage for the two-wheel-drive version should come in at roughly 18 mpg. That's not bad for a 5200-lb full-size pickup.
I also wish I had more opportunity to see just how well this engine performs when put to work, seeing as on paper, it manages to match or beat the 5.0-liter V-8 in terms of torque, payload, and towing capacity. Apart from the traditional growl of the V-8 and an extra $750 (on FX2, Lariat, FX4, King Ranch, and Platinum models), it seems there's little that owners have to sacrifice in order to eke out a little extra fuel economy.
Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor
Time was, when driving a large vehicle with a turbocharged engine meant creeping away from traffic lights and waiting, waiting, waiting for the turbocharger to spool. The F-150 EcoBoost doesn't exhibit any such turbo lag. Sure, some delay would be noticeable if you drove the V-8 and the EcoBoost versions of the F-150 back-to-back, but most people will barely know this engine is turbocharged. The 3.5-liter V-6 is plenty torquey, and power builds almost instantly when you give it some throttle. Not once did I find myself praying for the boost to build -- it does so seamlessly and easily.
I was less taken with our F-150's instrument cluster. Fat needles and small gauge sweeps make for instruments that aren't terribly legible. There are four gauges above the speedometer for oil and transmission temperature, coolant temperature, and fuel level. Unfortunately they all look identical, and the tiny logo identifying each one is mostly obscured by the gauge's stubby needle. Am I out of fuel, or is the transmission just cold? I guess owners would quickly acclimate to the instruments, but I found them annoying.
Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor
Ford has done a good job with its 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine. It produces great power and can return very respectable fuel economy with an average driver. I'd much rather have this engine than Ford's 6.2-liter V-8.
Determining if I'd rather have the EcoBoost than a 5.0-liter V-8 or 3.7-liter V-6 is a bit more difficult. Looking at 4wd fuel economy ratings, the 3.7-liter V-6 gets 16/21 mpg; the 5.0-liter V-8 gets 14/19 mpg; the EcoBoost gets 15/21 mpg. Jumping from the 3.7-liter engine to the 5.0 is a $1000 increase and jumping from the 5.0-liter to the EcoBoost is another $750. Based on the EPA's calculator, the EcoBoost will use $201 less fuel each year than the 5.0 engine, so drivers doing a lot of highway miles will recoup the difference between 5.0 and EcoBoost rather quickly. Then again, the 3.7-liter truck matches the EcoBoost's 21 mpg highway rating for $1750 less on the sticker.
Of course all that goes out the window if we're talking about towing or hauling, which is why I'd be interested in a truck in the first place. Fuel economy is essentially equal between the EcoBoost and 5.0-liter engines during heavy towing, so if I were buying a truck to tow I'd probably save the $750 and get a 5.0. If I'm not towing or hauling very regularly, I'd skip the F-150 entirely and get a Ram 1500 to take advantage of the rear coil springs and their superior ride without a trailer or cargo.
If I lived near the mountains, the EcoBoost would make a lot of sense because the turbos really help produce power at elevation where a normally aspirated V-8 isn't making as much power as it would at sea level. But I live in the Midwest where the roads are flat and the EcoBoost doesn't really offer me an advantage during trailering. Now more than ever, truck buyers really need to understand how they will use their vehicle before they can decide on a manufacturer or engine since there is such a wide offering of products in the market.
Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor
It's no wonder that the F-150 is the bestselling vehicle in America, as it's capable of hauling both equipment and people with ease. I have to say that I didn't haul either cargo or people on the day I drove this F-150, but I did climb into the back seat of the SuperCrew cab and found 43.5 inches of legroom, which compares favorably with the space found in long-wheelbase versions of luxury sedans like the BMW 7-series and the Audi A8. No one would describe the cabin itself as luxurious, but it is well designed, with lots of useful storage space and simple, intuitive controls.
The instant fuel-economy readout on the dash hovered around the 21-mpg mark as I was driving the F-150, which isn't bad when you consider how much heft (upwards of 2.5 tons) the 3.5-liter turbo engine was being tasked with moving. A look at the spec sheet shows that vehicle can also tow 7100 pounds and has a payload capacity of a 1760 pounds, which compares well with the available 5.0-liter V-8.
Still, trucks have become as much about style as they are about their dynamic capabilities, and this Platinum trim EcoBoost V-6 is just one of the many available F-150 configurations. You can get King Ranch opulent, SVT Raptor off-road performance, Harley-Davidson cool, or plain-jane pickup, with a choice of four engines, three cab styles, and two- or four-wheel drive. There really is something for just about everyone in the F-150 lineup, not matter what your style or cargo-hauling needs.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor