Auto Review: Ford boosts your Eco

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Feature Article - posted Thu., Oct. 6, 2011
- Contributed Photo

2011 is starting to wind to a close, and it’s been a very big year in terms of substantial changes for a lot of very popular models. And while you might not be able to tell from the exteriors alone, Ford’s best-selling F150 pickup line has received a huge update this year in terms of new engines across the board. This is a very big deal, in that Ford’s goal has been to improve the engines not just in terms of power, but fuel economy as well, and to make each mill a class leader to go along with their already revered chassis. All these new engines get a standard six-speed automatic transmission, too, which is welcome news indeed, and it makes them the first in this segment to have this fuel-saving gearbox in every model.

Earlier this year, we had the pleasure of reviewing what will likely be their most popular engine, which is the 5-liter V8. This week we get to sample their most interesting new powerplant, an ambitious creation that Ford touts for its power, hauling ability and fuel economy: the 3.5-liter Turbocharged EcoBoost V6.

This engine is designed by Ford to address the conundrum facing all pickups designed to pull and haul substantial loads, which is, how do you get the power you need without having to live with poor fuel economy? The solution is a V6 engine of modest displacement, enhanced by state-of-the-art turbocharging, which the company says delivers the power of a V8 with the fuel economy of a V6. The numbers are impressive: 365 horsepower and a whopping 420 lb-ft of torque. The acceleration of our 4X4 SuperCrew Platinum was brisk, with 60 mph arriving in about 7 seconds. Shifting is smooth and allocates power efficiently, and naturally there’s a tow mode that optimizes shift points for hauling heavy loads. And speaking of heavy hauling, our test mule with the towing package could tow a trailer weighing up to 9,700 pounds, and haul a 1,960-pound payload. The suspension on our tester handled rough terrain well, although on the road there is enough stiffness to remind you this is a substantial truck built to deal with very heavy chores.

In addition to the EcoBoost engine, we got to enjoy the opulent trim package known as Platinum.  It still amazes me how far automakers have come in created decidedly un-Spartan interiors in such tough, capable vehicles. Ford loaded our Platinum SuperCrew with some of their best amenities, including heated and cooled leather seating, a seriously powerful Sony sound system (with Ford Sync technology, of course) and even electric, retractable running boards. That last feature is something I reckon no hard-working cowboy ever even dreamed of. Room is excellent for all passengers, and the cavernous rear seat has lower cushions that fold up to increase interior cargo space.

Strong, comfortable and even frugal for a big truck, the 2011 Ford 4x4 SuperCrew is EPA-rated 15 MPG city/21 highway and has a base price of $46,745. With options including the $750 EcoBoost engine, our sticker came to $52,075.

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