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3.5L EcoBoost 2011 F-150 bests Silverado and RAM trucks with 5+L V8s in performance test

The 2011 Ford F-150 EcoBoost won in a head-to-head powertrain performance exercise while towing a 9,000-pound (4,082 kg) trailer against the Chevy Silverado and Dodge RAM with much larger displacement V8 engines during a demonstration staged by Ford near Davis Dam in Arizona.

The head-to-head contest was the latest phase of the new V6 3.5-liter EcoBoost truck engine’s “Torture Test,” a multipart series of web-based documentaries that began when this randomly selected EcoBoost engine endured the equivalent of 150,000 miles or 10 years’ use on the dynamometer, replicating the duty cycle of the harshest-use customer.

The Davis Dam area has been used by Ford engineers for years to prove out maximum powertrain performance capability in a harsh environment. The combination of high temperatures and a steep grade of an average of 5 percent pushes the engine, transmission, driveline, cooling system, brake system and the truck itself to the extreme.

Each truck towed a 9,000-pound trailer using independent, professional drivers who alternated after each run; three runs were made, and trucks also switched lanes to eliminate any driver or lane variance. Each driver accelerated to full throttle. Trucks were tested in two ways: a 0-60 mph challenge and the 3.5-mile (5.6-km) full-course challenge. The 2011 F-150 EcoBoost has a best-in-class maximum trailer towing rating of 11,300 pounds. Ford said that the 9,000-pound mark was selected to allow a baseline that all competitors could meet.

A data acquisition tool was used to time the event when the vehicle started to move, not when the start signal was given. This eliminates a bias of driver reaction time in the data reported. Eric Kuehn, 2011 F-150 chief engineer, said that they took care to ensure the constancy, accuracy and integrity of the tests, and to have the results verified independently.

Each truck represents high-volume configurations—2011 4x4 crew cabs—with the 9,000-pound load. Basic specifications:

Truck configurations
BrandFord F-150 EcoBoostChevy Silverado 1500Ram 1500
Engine 3.5L EcoBoost 5.3L V8 5.7L V8
Axle ration 3.73 3.42 3.92

Results for the 0-60 mph test and the full-course test, both with 9,000-pound trailer. Three runs were made for each test:

Head-to-head test results
0-60 mph Ford 3.5L EcoBoost vs.
Chevrolet 5.3L V8
Ford faster by 12.6 seconds
0-60 mph Ford 3.5L EcoBoost vs.
Ram 5.7L V8
Ford faster by 11.9 seconds
Full course Ford 3.5L EcoBoost vs.
Chevrolet 5.3L V8
Ford faster by 42.9 seconds
Full course Ford 3.5L EcoBoost vs.
Ram 5.7L V8
Ford faster by 3.2 seconds

Key to EcoBoost’s performance is the large amount of low-end torque produced by the combination of twin turbochargers and direct fuel injection. Up to 90% of the EcoBoost truck engine’s peak, best-in-class torque of 420 lb-ft (569 N·m) is available from 1,700 rpm to 5,000 rpm, all on regular fuel.

EcoBoost engines deliver fuel economy gains of up to 20 percent and reduction of CO2 emissions of up to 15 percent, compared with larger, less-efficient engines. In addition to turbocharging with direct injection, Ford engineers have enhanced EcoBoost’s technology capabilities by adding variable valve timing and precisely controlling all aspects of the engine. Ford has at least 125 patents on its EcoBoost technology.



The Silverado, like all GM offerings, is dear to the hearts of the Admin.

Can we expect Mr. Gibbs to attack Ford like he did Fox news?

Freddy Torres

Now, my question is what is Ford waiting for to combine an Atkinson engine with the EcoBoost technology. It is a well documented fact that the Atkinson engine has a very high thermal efficiency (due to the high compression ratio, i.e. 13:1 in the Prius), but is has a very low torque and power density. It seems like adding EcoBoost technology to the Atkinson engine will greatly increase the thermal efficiency, the power density and the torque. All three for the price of one.


Today’s typical implementation of the Atkinson cycle can reduce the displacement during intake (by late or early intake valve closing) which reduces exhaust losses by retaining the original displacement and achieve over-expansion and extract more energy from the hot gasses that otherwise expand out the exhaust. The reduced intake displacement also reduces throttling losses BUT also lowers power so it is not useful when max power is desired.

The effective compression ratio is also lowered and, if the Atkinson cycle is to be used only for cruise (normal operation when full power is required) cannot easily be maintained during Atkinson operation nor can a much higher initial CR be readily used because of detonation etc during high power operation.

The so called Miller cycle is designed to employ the over-expansion (not high compression) of the Atkinson cycle but recoup the power by supercharging, which can, in turn, increase exhause losses.

The tradeoffs are complex and, I am sure have been beat to death by most of the world’s auto makers.

The EcoBoost may actually involve some mix of these concepts.


The Ecoboost incorporates variable valve timing, so I suspect that it can provide maximum volumetric efficiency when coming off idle at zero boost and reduce the intake air charge (yielding Atkinson-style asymmetric compression and expansion ratios) once the turbos are spooled up.

Kicking the tails of vehicles using engines 50% larger is a major coup. Let's hope it becomes not just smart, but stylish!

George Furey

One of the main reasons the ecoboost maintains such high efficiencies at partial load is that is utilizes an "Ultra lean burn" mode when not at max throttle.

Fuel is injected at the later stages of the compression stroke, rather than during the intake stroke, causing a locally rich region near the spark plug, inhibiting detonation, whilst having a globally lean mixture.

You can imagine it as a miniature explosion near the center of the piston rather than a flamehead that moves across the entire piston face.

A direct injection engine is not by itself going to get much better efficiency than other engines at maximum load, however, by combining DI with variable valve timing, turbocharging, and engine downsizing, ford has come up with an engine that is exceptionally efficient at any RPM and throttle position.


This is a good way to show that a smaller engine can compete with a larger one. I would say that Ford's marketing group realized that they were going to have to show proof and just ad spin would not do the job.

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