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2011 Ford F-150 Ecoboost 4X4 Supercrew. Photo by David Arnouts.
EXECUTIVE EDITOR--AUTOWEEK.COM BOB GRITZINGER: Though I wasn't carrying a load of dirt, a posse of passengers or towing a boat or camper, it is still remarkable how well this twin-turbocharged V6 hauls this nearly three-ton behemoth known as the 2011 Ford F-150 Lariat down the highway. It's strong off the line, good in the mid-range, steady at 70 mph, and kicks down to run even faster if the need arises. What's not so good are some of the driveline clunks and turbo and transmission lag that sometimes give the truck a tentativeness that you wouldn't ever feel in a V8-powered F-150. If you're partial to trucks that get up and go like an SVT Lightning, this isn't your rig.
But if your sensibilities run to stylish hauling, stunning interiors (love that light wood trim in this one), all the amenities--and reasonable fuel economy, you'll absolutely want to give this boosted V6 version a whirl. It's pricey, yes, probably as much in this fully outfitted SuperCrew trim as you'd spend for a V8 version, but with the V8 you're committed to years of payments and the possibility of parking it because of $5- or $6-per-gallon fuel. If the V6 posts even close to the EPA numbers, you'll eventually see the payback at the pump over the V8. Just basic math says you'll save $4,000 to $6,000 on fuel over 100,000 miles.
Damn nice truck.
EXECUTIVE EDITOR ROGER HART: Amen to Bobby's “damn nice truck.” I can't imagine anyone buying this will really miss the V8, unless they're using their $50,000 truck to pull heavy loads or push a lot of snow. But even then, this thing has a boat-load of torque, and man, I was able to pass cars on a two-lane road that I don't think I would have attempted in a V8-powered F-150.
The power application is not quite as smooth as it could be, and the throttle is a bit twitchier than I'd like it. But there is no denying the potent wallop this thing has under the hood, especially in the 45- to 70-mph range. It is very strong, and frankly, a bit surprising. I think it will take some time in the truck world to convince traditional truck buyers that they want a new-fangled, twin-turbocharged engine. But driving is believing, and this is a very nice driving truck.
Having heaped all this praise, I think I'd still rather have a nice six-cylinder turbocharged diesel cranking away for me.
COPY EDITOR CYNTHIA L. OROSCO-WRIGHT: I had this 2011 Ford F-150 Lariat SuperCrew over the weekend to get some moving boxes and, we thought, to pick up our lawn mower from a family member. But it poured all weekend, so we aborted the lawn mower retrieval and made a trip to a home-improvement store for the boxes and other packing supplies. Everything fit with lots of room to spare in the back seats. We also met up with friends and their kids, and all were enamored by the “monster truck” and all of its bells and whistles.
So, what was the F-150 like to drive? Big, but not imposingly so for someone (me) who is not a big fan of big trucks. There was loads of power underhood that came on pretty smoothly and generally stayed strong, despite some instances of having to put my foot into it a little more for some more oomph. But the truck was solid on drenched roadways, and the brakes provided good stopping power, though I did notice a bit more pedal travel than I would like. We did bounce around some over crumbling and bumpy roads, but not terribly so. And passing was a breeze--yes, in a vehicle of this size.
The cabin was comfy and well appointed. I liked the light wood trim, and the Sync system was fairly simple to use. We took advantage of the navigation several times and it didn't once lead us astray. And, we were pleasantly surprised by the fuel economy. No, it's not hybrid level, but it was decent for a truck of this size.
DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: Ford certainly knows what it has to do to market this truck. Turbocharged gasoline V6? That's what the specs say, but the engineers made the EcoBoost F-150 feel and sound like a diesel. The exhaust appears to have been carefully tuned to bellow at certain points just like a Powerstroke, and the torque curve is very much like a miniature version of what you'd find in a Super Duty oil-burner. There's no mistaking the difference between 420 lb-ft and 800 lb-ft of torque, though.
I agree with Bob: The smoothness isn't quite what I expected. There was noticeable driveline slop as though the engine and trans weren't quite communicating with each another, and it was most common during transitions when the transmission shift point and turbo lag (however minimal) overlapped.
Otherwise, this F-150 SuperCrew is a big, luxurious Texas ranch crawler complete with leather, the aforementioned woodlike trim and a comprehensive suite of infotainment technology. My kids sprawled out in back even from the confines of their car seats--my oldest calling out “Daddy, look at this!” I turned to find out what she was so excited about was the fact that, legs outstretched, she couldn't touch the front seat with her toes. A seemingly minor detail, but consider that this little girl has been in some big rides lately, including the Hyundai Genesis sedan, the Infiniti QX56 and the Jeep Grand Cherokee. While there's no covered cargo compartment, the F-150 SuperCrew dwarfs them all for sheer passenger space.
NEWS EDITOR GREG MIGLIORE: Dashing to and from work in this F-150 was enjoyable and eye-opening. I was fascinated by the EcoBoost V6, because it just seemed so alien to me. A turbo six in Ford's flagship pickup--it just took a lot of brain reconfiguration.
Once I got over my cylinder cynicism, I really enjoyed the 365 horses on tap. The power came on strong and stayed that way, no matter what I asked this big truck to accomplish. Revving to 3,000, 4,000 and even past 5,000 rpm was quick and energetic, and really, with this high of an output, who misses those two erstwhile cylinders. There was a good amount of torque and pull in this thing, and I was impressed with the feel of the power from launch and during passing maneuvers. Plus, check the numbers: This thing has way more power than Ford's old 4.6-liter and 5.4-liter V8s.
So, yes, I was fixated on the engine, but it's hard not to be. And this is an excellent execution of the F-150--no surprise since this is a stellar truck no matter the powerplant. The tuxedo black paint accented the blocks in the body styling, and the big wheels added confidence to the profile. Inside was plenty comfortable, with outstanding seats, easy-to-use controls and sharp gauges. The steering has a little more weight than that of the Ram, and this heft truck handles well. The chassis is very agreeable, not overly harsh even when rocketing over train tracks, and the brakes have immediate bite with a strong grabby feel.
Ford has a near-perfect execution with the F-150, and adding the EcoBoost mill is a smart move for 2011. I came away excited about the future of big trucks. I think there's always a place for a big V8, but this force-induced six-cylinder is a nice complement.
EDITOR WES RAYNAL: I noticed the driveline slop, too, but it only happened once to me and I can't even remember the situation so I couldn't repeat it on command.
I miss the V8 growl, but that's about it. In terms of performance, this gives up nothing to a V8. Having said that, coming in this morning, the average mpg was 14.5, according to the in-dash instrument. I expected better. But there is plenty of power and it's a refined, smooth truck on the road.
I love the big chrome grille, and the interior was very nice.
ART DIRECTOR CHERYL L. BLAHNIK: As others mentioned, Ford has once again done an outstanding job with this truck. The F-150 has been the truck to beat for a long time, and it's sometimes scary when you hear that Ford made some bold changes such as offering a turbocharged V6 engine in an attempt to improve fuel efficiency.
Logically, you would think there would be some tradeoffs. Maybe it will be slower than and not as capable as a V8? I wasn't towing a trailer or anything like that during my night, but for my commuting needs, this EcoBoost V6 is impressive. I had no problems getting up to speed to easily merge onto the expressway, and passing was done with equal ease.
The interior is roomy, with lots of comfort offered by the heated/cooled leather seats. I wasn't a big fan of the woodlike interior trim, but layout of the interior controls is intuitive.
2011 Ford F-150 Lariat SuperCrew
Base Price: $40,590
As-Tested Price: $48,115
Drivetrain: 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6; 4WD, six-speed automatic
Output: 365 hp @ 5,000 rpm, 420 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm
Curb Weight: 5,625 lb
Fuel Economy (EPA/AW): 17/17.6 mpg
Options: Sony navigation radio ($2,495); Lariat chrome package including angular step bar, 18-inch chrome clad wheels ($1,495); power moonroof ($995); leather-trimmed, heated and cooled bucket seats ($975); Lariat plus package including universal garage-door opener, remote-start system, rearview camera and reverse-sensing system ($950); EcoBoost 3.5-liter V6 engine, P275/65R-18 all-terrain tires ($750); max trailer tow package chrome including max trailer tow, power/heat/sig man tel/fold chr and trailer brake controller ($565); 3.73-ratio limited-slip axle, 7,650-pound GVWR package, select shift transmission and standard fuel tank ($300); Lariat premium discount (-$1,000)
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