Ford 2.7L EcoBoost V-6 Inside Look
Pint-Sized Powerhouse: An Inside Look at the 2015 Ford 2.7L EcoBoost V-6
Traditionally, truck engines have always been about power and capability, and for decades, that typically meant large-displacement naturally-aspirated V-8 engines. Turbocharged diesel engines became popular in the ¾ and 1-ton class in the 1990s, but the half-ton class continued to be dominated by V-8s until 2011, when Ford introduced its then-revolutionary 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 in the F-150. With 365 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque, it stood toe-to-toe with the stoutest V-8s of the time, while delivering the EPA-rated fuel economy of a V-6.
Since its introduction, the 3.5L EcoBoost has gone on to account for more than 40 percent of F-150 sales, the most popular engine by percentage in the lineup, and combined with sales of the base 3.7L Duratec V-6, six-cylinders now account for nearly 60 percent of F-150 sales. The popularity of V-6s in the F-150 lineup is especially eye opening when you consider just four years ago, the F-150 only offered V-8 engines.
Shortly after the introduction of the 3.5L EcoBoost, rumors started circulating about an even smaller "Nano" V-6, rumored to be around 2.7 liters, and producing more than 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. Speculation as to which models this engine would go into ranged from the Taurus, to the Edge crossover, various Lincoln models, and yes, even the mighty F-150.
Same Name, Different Engine
Those rumors turned out to be true. Following on the trail blazed by the 3.5L EcoBoost, Ford is now introducing a second EcoBoost V-6 to the 2015 F-150 lineup with a 2.7L engine. Although it still wears the now immediately recognizable badge, the two engines share no parts, with the 2.7L employing multiple engineering firsts for Ford. The 3.5L was considered a radically small displacement engine for a fullsize truck when it was introduced. Now, Ram has the 3.0L EcoDiesel V-6 in the Ram 1500. Ford is now introducing the smallest engine yet in the fullsize truck class with the 2.7L EcoBoost.
Ford has not officially released power figures on the new engine, but we visited Dearborn in person to witness the new engine running on an engine dynamometer. While we were prohibited from taking any photos of the dyno display console, we can confidently tell you that it has a peak torque output of well above 300 lb-ft, which, combined with the claimed 700-pound weight loss in the 2015 F-150, should make for a plenty-responsive truck.
By its own admission, Ford is not positioning the 2.7L EcoBoost as the end-all, be-all powerhouse of the lineup, with the 3.5L EcoBoost engine remaining in the lineup as the flagship powerplant. Instead, the 2.7L is being positioned as a highly advanced, fuel-efficient engine that will serve the needs of many F-150 buyers who buy their trucks as a daily driver and occasionally use it to tow and haul but most of the time are looking to get maximum MPG and still have a fun-to-drive experience.
Ed Waszczenko, the 2.7L EcoBoost's lead engineer, shared some background about the development path this revolutionary engine took from conceptual inception to final production form. With efficiency being the primary development focus from the start, the 2.7L incorporates a variable-displacement oil pump, reverse-flow cooling system, and auto stop-start. However, the biggest difference from the 3.5L engine is the cylinder block design. Whereas the 3.5L has a traditional cast-aluminum block, the 2.7L features a two-piece compacted-graphite-iron (CGI) block and a die-cast aluminum ladder frame forming a stiff block assembly. The choice of CGI for the block material was selected for its strength and light weight, offering the durability of a traditional cast-iron block, with weight comparable to an aluminum block. CGI also has the added advantage of not needing cylinder liners, which are an extra production step necessary with aluminum blocks.
Hiding in Plain Sight
In terms of convincing the skeptics that the 2.7L has the moxie to haul the goods in a fullsize truck, Waszczenko points out that the Baja 1000 development truck, which in addition to having the new engine under the hood, also featured an prototype aluminum body. The drivers, who were used to the power of the 3.5L EcoBoost and large non-smog V-8s, didn't feel the truck was significantly down on power or that anything was amiss with the truck. In terms of the adequacy of the 2.7L's power output, Waszczenko said, "I feel that customers will be convinced as soon as they have a chance to drive one."
While the F-150 alone would certainly account for enough volume to justify development on the engine, we have a feeling the F-150 isn't the last place we're going to see it. Ford's official statement on the 2.7L is that it's going into the F-150 and "we don't discuss future products," but we could see a variety of potential applications, including the Lincoln MKZ sedan and MKX crossover, maybe a Fusion SHO, a mid-level engine for the Taurus, or a flagship engine for the Edge. It would also make for an intriguing option for the Mustang, although it's closeness in displacement and power with the already-announced 2.3L I-4 EcoBoost make it seem a more likely candidate for Ford's more mainstream crossover and sedan models.
We've seen and sat in the 2015 Ford F-150, and we've seen (and heard) the 2.7L EcoBoost on the dyno, but we haven't yet experienced them together in the same package from behind the wheel. We can't wait to drive the new F-150 with this revolutionary engine. We also see an "EcoBoost vs. EcoDiesel" showdown ahead, to see which one of these distinct approaches to balancing fuel economy and capability best meets truck buyers' needs. Stay tuned!