We've all heard the phrase: There's no replacement for displacement. Some of the devotees of big-inch V-8s still live by it. The claim is that no amount of technical wizardry, manifold pressure or anything else can compare to the relaxed, plentiful power and torque produced by a naturally-aspirated V-8. Certainly, considering the peaky, unreliable performance of turbocharged engines from decades past, the skeptics are probably justified in their mistrust of small-displacement, highly-boosted engines filling in for where V-8s used to reside.
But Ford is looking to challenge that notion for the second time in less than a half-decade with its 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6. Dearborn already shattered the perception that a relatively small-displacement turbocharged V-6 couldn't do the job of a V-8 with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 that debuted for the 2011 model year, and quickly went on to become the single-most popular engine option in the F-150, comprising more than 40 percent of consumer sales. Yes, there have been some minor issues with condensation buildup in the intercooler system, and some transmission calibration issues, but by and large, there have been no major recalls or massive, widespread catastrophic failures of the engine, as some had predicted. The 3.5-liter EcoBoost has fallen slightly short of some customers' expectations of fuel economy, but almost nobody that we know of has complained about the amount of power.
Confident it has its bases covered on the higher-end of the 2015 F-150's powertrain range with the 3.5L EcoBoost and 5.0-liter V-8, Ford is looking to turn the segment on its ear once again, not only with the truck's revolutionary aluminum body, but with the segment's smallest-displacement engine in easily the last three decades, possibly ever. Ford has not yet released official output figures or fuel economy for its new pint-sized powerhouse, but we personally witnessed dyno readouts of more than 340 lb-ft of torque. Considering the engine's displacement of approximately 165 cubic inches, that's a mighty impressive number and roughly the same amount of torque produced by Ford's own two-valve Triton 5.4-liter V-8 from the 1997-2003 F-150, the biggest, most powerful engine offered in a mainstream F-150 at the time.
Horsepower figures for the 2.7-liter EcoBoost are still unknown, but count on close to, if not more than, 300 hp. That healthy level of power output, combined with what's likely to be class-leading gasoline fuel efficiency, and you've got a formidable package. Based on the social media feedback we've received from our readers on this engine, it seems evenly split between the traditionalists that are distrustful of Ford's high-tech approach to power production, and those that think Dearborn's got the right idea and that the rest of the industry is falling behind or playing catch-up. One thing's for sure: Ford isn't letting the grass grow between its toes with its truck development and continues to push the technological envelope. If nothing else, it's keeping the segment competitive and prompting both Chrysler and GM to stay on top of their games. Ultimately, that can only lead to better products from everyone.