Interest in maximizing fuel economy is at an all-time high, but full-size truck buyers have traditionally faced a double-edged sword. In the past, a smaller engine might offer a few extra miles per gallon, but the penalty was dramatically reduced by towing capacity and payload. With an EcoBoost-equipped F-150, you’ll achieve not only better fuel economy, but actually have the ability to outhaul many V8s. It’s a bargain you can’t ignore.
Two technologies working together are what allow the EcoBoost 3.5-liter V6 available in the F-150 to deliver the kind of power truck buyers demand and the fuel economy they desire: Turbocharging and direct injection. Both technologies have achieved great success in diesel vehicles, but the EcoBoost six- and four-cylinder engines utilize these technologies in gas engines.
A turbocharger is a gas compressor that is utilized to increase the pressure of air entering the engine. The compressor is powered by a turbine driven by exhaust gases. A turbocharger increases an engine’s volumetric efficiency by forcing a greater mass of air into the combustion chamber in each cylinder. More air and fuel mixed in the cylinder means that the explosion that occurs when the spark plug fires will provide more power and torque output from the engine.
Direct Injection is a type of fuel injection. Less sophisticated fuel injection systems mount individual fuel injectors on an intake runner. The fuel injector sprays fuel into the runner, and fuel and air are atomized in the intake port. Direct injection instead takes a highly pressurized fuel mixture and directly injects it into the combustion chamber of each cylinder for incredibly precise fuel delivery that results in lower emissions and improved volumetric efficiency.
In years past, turbocharging had drawbacks that equaled the advantages it provided. However, all of the disadvantages – a Premium fuel requirement, especially – have been eliminated with the help of direct injection and a host of electronic advances that have revolutionized turbocharging in this engine.
For example, the EcoBoost engine in the F-150 has a compression ratio of 10:01. Compression ratio is a value that represents the relationship between the volume of an engine’s combustion chamber at its largest capacity (at the bottom of its stroke) and its smallest capacity (at the top of its stroke.) High compression is a great method of extracting as much energy as possible out of the fuel/air mixture. Historically, however, high compression engines were also prone to engine knocking, or detonation, with Regular gas. Thanks to direct injection and advanced engine management, though, the EcoBoost engine in the F-150 carries a Regular Unleaded fuel requirement, allowing a two-fold savings at the pump.
The EcoBoost 3.5-liter V6 also utilizes an arsenal of advanced engine technology to burn fuel as efficiently as possible. At the core is a lightweight, die-cast aluminum engine block with aluminum cylinder heads featuring four valves per cylinder and variable valve timing for optimized fuel economy, performance and emissions. The engine employs dual turbochargers (for improved torque response) with water cooling (for improved durability). Oil-cooled pistons and higher alloyed crankshaft and connecting rods provide greater overall strength for longer life.
In total, the EcoBoost engine pounds out 365 hp at 5,000 rpm, and an amazing 420 lb/ft of torque at just 2,500 rpm. That kind of power allows the F-150 a maximum tow rating of 11,300 pounds, out towing even the 5.0-liter V8 engine available on the same truck. Yet, because of its efficiency, it offers EPA estimates of up to 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. The 5.0-liter V8’s EPA estimate is 15 mpg city, 19 mpg highway, giving the EcoBoost an economy advantage of up to 20 percent while also enjoying up to 15 percent reduction in CO2 emissions.
The list of hardware employed in the EcoBoost 3.5-liter V6 reads like something you might find in a highly tuned European sports sedan, but Ford has also put the engine through incredible torture tests to determine its durability. During its development, the engine underwent 1.5 million hours of analytical time, more than 13,000 hours of dynamometer testing including 5,000 hours at full boost and 2,500 hours at more than 5,000 rpm. Engineers subjected the engine to more than 100,000 hours of vehicle test time encompassing every possible scenario an owner might run into. The thermal cycling test alone replicates conditions from the Arctic Circle to Death Valley, simulating 10 years of ownership in the most demanding conditions.
But the most demanding condition of all might be the test EcoBoost engine No. 448AA endured. The engine hauled 55 tons of timber, ran full throttle for 24 hours carrying the maximum towing capacity of 11,300 pounds, outperformed competitive V8 engines in an uphill towing contest and, finally, competed in the world’s toughest desert endurance race, the SCORE Tecate Baja 1000. And to prove its durability, Ford not only displayed the engine at the North American International Auto Show, they disassembled it and measured the wear on the block, pistons, turbochargers, valves and other internal components in front of a live audience. The components, which endured testing in the harshest conditions that simulated 10 years of severe duty and 160,000 miles, were all still within factory specification.
The EcoBoost V6 in the F-150 is truly revolutionizing the truck market. A recent story in Automotive News noted that the EcoBoost option is accounting for about 36 percent of all F-150 sales and 40 percent of the truck’s orders in May of 2011, which have been exceeding expectations thus far.
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