For EcoBoost skeptics, Ford's all-aluminum 5.0-liter V-8 with 360 horsepower and 380 pound-feet-a version of which made its debut in the 2011 Mustang-should do nicely. The 5.0-liter has 50 more horses than the departing 5.4-liter V-8, and it also has Ti-VCT. Throttle response feels much quicker than in 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 in the XL, STX, and XLT, is Ford's normally aspirated 3.7-liter V-6 with Ti-VCT. It makes 302 horses, 54 more than the outgoing two-valve 4.6-liter V-8, although its peak horsepower comes at a significantly higher rpm (6500 as opposed to 4750) and its 278 pound-feet of torque falls 16 pound-feet shy of the 4.6's output.
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's been around forever and is more in need of a replacement than anything that was in the F-150. 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, with 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.
One of Ford's main goals was to improve fuel economy across the 2011 F-150 line. Weight reduction measures, including a switch to electric power-assisted steering (with all engines except the 6.2) and all-aluminum engines, certainly don't hurt the mpg cause. Ford anticipates a 20-percent improvement in fuel economy overall. In addition, theupdated electric steering setup makes it easier to maneuver at low speeds, say, through a parking lot, and it's quick to respond on the highway without feeling twitchy.