The third concern is durability. Ford has done extensive testing with this engine, and recently announced it's going to promote the EcoBoost's strength with webisodes showing the same engine undergoing the equivalent of 150,000 miles of testing, then getting installed in an F-150 on the production line and being driven up to Oregon, where it will do work at a logging company. After that, the same engine will be put in a race truck and run in the Baja 1000. Even with all of that, it's going to take time before truck buyers can accept a V-6 as being as capable or reliable as a V-8 doing the same amount of work, and we're not sure the engine will be received with open arms by hard-core truck people. Over time, though, they may warm to it. It'll be tough for Ford to change the V-8 versus V-6 perspective.
For EcoBoost skeptics, Ford's all-aluminum 5.0-liter V-8 with 360-horsepower and 380-pound-feet -- a version of which first made its debut in the 2011 Mustang -- should do nicely. The 5.0-liter has 40 more horses than the departing 5.4-liter V-8, and it also has Ti-VCT. Throttle response feels much quicker than the outgoing V-8s, and while not quite as fast as the EcoBoost or the 6.2, it has plenty of power for towing up to 10,000 pounds or hauling as much as 3060 pounds of payload. The 5.0-liter is available in the XL, STX, XLT, FX2/FX4, Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum.
The new base engine for the F-150 line, which comes standard under the hood of the XL, STX, and XLT, is Ford's normally aspirated 3.7-liter V-6 with Ti-VCT, which we've tried out in the 2011 Mustang and Ford Edge Sport, and expect to see expand into other products in the company's lineup over time. It has 302 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque in the F-150, which is better than the outgoing two-valve 4.6-liter V-8's 248 horses and 294 pound-feet, although peak horsepower comes at a significantly higher rpm (6500 as opposed to 4750).
The 3.7-liter isn't phenomenally fast, but it is a surprisingly good base engine. That it comes with a six-speed automatic helps. At Ford's event, we had the chance to drive the 3.7 back-to-back against the Chevrolet Silverado with GM's 4.3-liter V-6, an engine that has been around forever and is in more dire need of a replacement than anything that was in the F-150. Not surprisingly, the 3.7-equipped F-150 felt quicker, and the transmission's shifts were better timed to respond to changing conditions, whether on a grade, accelerating, or slowing down. It also did a fine job of holding gears going uphill. There was no significant hunting, which would've been a problem if this were a too-small engine in a too-big vehicle. But it can take some throttle-mashing to get the 3.7-liter to that magic 6500 rpm and 302 horsepower, and towing is limited to 6100 pounds.