The Davis Dam grade in Nevada is where all of the major truck OEs come to make their trucks cry -- it's been where the majority of serious pickup truck trailer testing has been done for decades. Temperatures in this part of the desert just above Laughlin, Nevada, are usually in the triple digits. Add to that a nasty climb out of the valley for several miles and you can see how this might be a problem for an engine and transmission (not to mention a cooling system) pulling a heavy load. For many truck drivers, this is the kind situation to avoid at all costs. For Ford, in desperate need of proving the strength and durability of its new EcoBoost engine, this is where it needs to be to challenge the competition.
For those who haven't been following Ford's EcoBoost marketing plan, Ford pulled a random 3.5L V-6 EcoBoost engine off the line (#448AA), did some dyno testing (for an equivalent of 150,000 miles), then mounted it into a SuperCrew XLT for some towing (11,000 pounds for 24 hours around a NASCAR track) and hauling (26 tons of logs at an Oregon tree mill) and racing (the Baja 1000) situations. But none of those tests pitted the new engine against any of its competitors, like in this Davis Dam grade test. The testing was conducting by a third-party test crew, running a Ford F-150 SuperCrew EcoBoost against a Chevy Crew Cab Silverado 5.3L V-8 and a Ram 1500 Quad Cab 5.7L V-8. All three pulled identically equipped and weighted trailers in two different types of runs-0-60 mph from the start line, as well as a 3.5-mile full run up the course. At the same time, Ford pitchman Mike Rowe had some on-camera time with the lead F-150 engineer, Eric Keuhn, to talk about the F-150 and EcoBoost powertrains. Here's what we saw.