EcoBoost helps send Ford F-150 to top
By Mark Sherry
The 2012 Ford F-150

The more I test drive the Ford F-150 with its EcoBoost engine, the more I wish I were driving it all the time.

The 2012 version of this classic American truck provides as smooth and quiet of a ride as I’ve seen in a pickup, yet has all the power people have come to know in the F-150. The improved engine performance and fuel efficiency provided by the EcoBoost is just icing on the cake—but significant icing at that.

Stephanie Burkart of Mike Burkart Ford in Plymouth pointed out some of the highlights of the EcoBoost 3.5L V6 engine. Burkart pointed out that the engine also is available in Ford’s Edge, Taurus and Explorer, and is optional in the new Ford Escape coming in 2013 as well as the ‘13 Fusion.

First introduced in 2011, the Eco-Boost 3.5L V6 provides 365 hp. The F-150 is the first truck and rear-wheel drive vehicle which employed the Eco-Boost powertrain application. With a year under its belt, the EcoBoost is rapidly gaining popularity, Burkart said.

The proven diesel technologies of turbocharging and direct injection alone help EcoBoost produce more than 100 hp, providing the best combination of power, capability and fuel economy available.

Contributing to that fuel efficiency are such features as aggressive deceleration fuel shut-off, as well as the use of strong but lightweight die-cast aluminum for the engine block and lightweight aluminum cylinder heads with four valves per cylinder.

The EcoBoost has a direct injection fuel delivery system; parallel twin turbochargers which are water cooled; and piston cooling oil jets. Turbochargers use otherwise wasted energy from the engine’s exhaust to rotate a turbine wheel. The turbine wheel is coupled to a compressor which pressurizes air coming into the engine. This is called boost and allows the engine to breathe in air as if it were larger in displacement since more air is forced into the intake. The more air an engine breathes, the more power it generates.

The twin-turbo design of the engine provides low noise, vibration and harshness, and that was evident as the F-150 settled in at 62 mph southbound on STH 57. That design also creates less engine compartment heat, and heat is the enemy of most machinery. Dual turbos also allow the engine to reach peak power faster than a single turbo. To the driver, that means when you step on the accelerator you will get an immediate response.

It was mentioned earlier that the EcoBoost engine utilizes diesel technology. Direct injection fuel injectors are positioned on the side of the combustion chamber. But keep in mind the EcoBoost is a gasoline engine, providing that convenience with the torque needed for towing or hauling heavy objects.

The EcoBoost has helped the F-150 earn the 2012 Motor Trend Truck of the Year Award. With up to 23 mpg highway, the F-150 is the most fuel effi cient truck in its class. The F-150 also tows the most (up to 11,300 pounds) and hauls the most (up to 3,120 pounds). It also generates the most available power, up to 411 hp.

With all that power, a person might think the F-150 is exclusively a working truck. But Burkart said, “It’s more of a family vehicle. The seating is roomier.” That is an understatement if a person is talking about the XLT Su-per Crew model, which has a back seat even a basketball team would find spacious. The rear seats also fold up and down with great ease, providing inside storage for what cannot be placed in the spacious bed of the truck.

While the outside of the F-150 is built for working, the inside is built for high-tech comfort and convenience. FordSYNC recognizes the driver’s phone and automatically transfers their contacts to support voice calling. It also plays music from their phone, MP3, USB or iPod. Just touch a button on the steering wheel and say things like “call office” or “play playlist country.”

The navigation system includes a six-month trial subscription to satellite radio plus the ability to get continuous updated traffic information, plus check local fuel prices, weather reports, movie listings, sports scores and more. People also can play DVDs while the F-150 is in park, and it can store nearly 10GB of digital music. The eight-inch LCD screen features interactive maps which can zoom and scroll—including via voice commands.

An LCD “productivity screen” in the center of the gauge cluster helps the driver track fuel usage and even make towing decisions.

An available feature is a 110-volt power outlet and a 12-volt powerpoint for recharging portable devices.

The list could go on and on about standard and optional features in the F-150, but a person’s best bet is to drive one for themselves at Mike Burkart Ford.