By Alex Kramer
- Smooth, powerful 5.0L V8 engine
- Surprisingly luxurious interior
- SuperCrew cab means plenty of room for passengers
- Decent fuel efficiency, especially for such a large truck
- Ride gets choppy over rough pavement
- Shorter bed length limits cargo capacity
The big news for Ford truck fans this year is an entirely new engine lineup for the best-selling F-150. Replacing the underperforming 4.6 and 5.4 liter V8 engines is a quartet of new motors, including two new V8s, a new base model V6, and even a turbocharged V6.
Although putting a turbo six in a full-size truck is a risky move for Ford, the 3.5L EcoBoost engine has the goods, producing 355 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque, and up to 22 mpg on the highway, a potent combination with gas still close to $4 a gallon. The base 3.7L V6 engine is also an overachiever, making 302 hp and earning 23 mpg on the highway. With numbers like these, even hard-core truck owners might be convinced to abandon their V8s.
We recently had the opportunity to test a 2011 F-150 Platinum, but unfortunately ours came with an uncontroversial 5.0 L V8 engine, the smaller of the two available V8s and the base engine for this trim level. This engine is essentially the same as the one you’ll find in a new Mustang GT, just tuned for truck duty.
Output is impressive, with 360 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque on tap, which is significantly more than last year’s 5.4L engine. For folks needing even more power, the optional 6.2L V8 makes 411 hp and 434 lb-ft of torque, but given how strong the 5.0L motor is, we’d be surprised if a lot of people opt for the larger V8.
Luckily our tester came equipped as a 4X4, since launching the truck with just the rear wheels simply leads to traction control intervention. With 4-wheel drive activated, standing on the throttle produces an almost alarming level of acceleration. A truck this big should just not be able to go this fast, and this is just the third most powerful engine in the line-up. Granted this was without any payload, but even loaded down this engine should provide more than enough power for all but the gnarliest conditions.
Although not quite as good as the two V6 engines, fuel economy is still quite respectable. We were able to squeeze out close to 19 mpg cruising on the highway, and 16 mpg around town, which falls nicely within the EPA rating of 14 city/19 hwy.
Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to take the F-150 off-road, but on asphalt the truck handles itself quite well. Ride quality is good for a large truck, although a fairly stiff suspension combined with wide and surprisingly low profile tires means that it does get a bit choppy when the pavement is rough. Steering is nice and light, but not excessively so, making for easy around town maneuvering.
The suspension and tires do pay you back when it comes time to tackle some turns. Although no truck this large will ever handle like a sports car, the F-150 is surprisingly confident hustling through high-speed sweepers. We took the truck on a trip to Lake Tahoe and never felt out of place on the twisty mountain roads.
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