It wasn't all that long ago that the all-new 2009 Ford F-150 took our Motor Trend Truck of the Year honors. When it won, the Ford received praise for its best-in-class towing capacity, rigid frame, and broad spectrum of models -- everything from the basic work truck to the upscale Platinum -- with three cabs to choose from. The engines were fine, but not spectacular. So it may seem surprising that just two model years later, the 2011 Ford F-150 lineup has undergone a significant update, with several key improvements to an already stout truck.
There are even more trim levels in the F-150 range than when it won Truck of the Year. It starts with the base XL, then moves up to STX, XLT, FX2 and FX4, Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum, Harley-Davidson Edition, and Lariat Limited. That doesn't even count the SVT Raptor, now with two cab choices. But as of the 2011 model year, those who loved the 4.6- and 5.4-liter V-8s will either have to consider an Expedition or adapt: in the F-150, they're gone. And given what's coming, they're no great loss. Prospective F-150 buyers will have the choice of four new engines, and for the first time since 2008, there are V-6 engines available, and two at that. Ford's six-speed TorqShift is the only transmission available in any F-150, and Ford is the only half-ton builder to make a six-speed automatic standard.
Of the four new engines, two fight for top-of-the line status in the F-150. The highest-horsepower engine, the 6.2-liter, 411-horse, 434-pound-foot V-8, was first introduced in the Super Duty, and then in the Raptor. It's now the only engine for the SVT truck, whether it's a SuperCab or SuperCrew. The V-8 has a terrific, deep rumble, and gets the truck moving in a hurry. Ford sees it as a small-volume seller, and will only make it available in the Harley-Davidson Edition and Raptor (standard) and optional in the Lariat and Platinum. Ford expects 10 percent of buyers will opt for this engine.
The real king here, at least as Ford sees it, is the F-150's EcoBoost engine, a version of Ford's twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 that puts out 365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet. The EcoBoost features a diesel-like 2,500 rpm peak torque number (2,000 rpm less than the 6.2-liter) and like the 6.2-liter can tow a mighty impressive 11,300 pounds. Oh, and it runs on regular unleaded. The EcoBoost six, which is spidering its way through the Ford and Lincoln lineups, also features direct injection and twin-independent variable cam timing (Ti-VCT).