New Equip­ment Test: Ford F150 truck V6 vs V8

Even Yank Tanks are be­ing af­fected by en­gine down­siz­ing. Matt Wood pits the alu­minium-bod­ied Ford F150 V8 truck against the sen­si­tive new-age EcoBoost V6 ver­sion

Earthmovers & Excavators - - Contents -

Ford’s ‘EcoBoost’ badge doesn’t ex­actly con­jure up flat­ter­ing commentary with a lot of Aussie pun­ters.

For some it was the abom­i­na­tion (yet ac­tu­ally quite ef­fec­tive) 4-cylin­der en­gine that was slot­ted be­tween the guards of the now de­funct Fal­con. For oth­ers it’s the povvo power plant option for the cur­rent-model Mus­tang.

I’m sure the name is meant to con­jure up im­ages of power and so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity; it’s meant to be the think­ing per­son’s donk.

SIX OF THE BEST

So when Ford de­cided to launch a range of EcoBoost en­gines for its US-mar­ket-dom­i­nat­ing F-150, you’d be for­given for think­ing that the com­pany was on a hid­ing to nothing.

For six decades, the Effie has had a tra­di­tion of bent-eight propul­sion and, on top of this, the F-150 has been the big­gest-sell­ing ve­hi­cle in the US for nearly four decades.

There was a lot at stake.

The premium EcoBoost en­gine for the Effie is a 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6. Af­ter its US launch it was very nearly a flop un­til Ford found a way of pip­ing a V8 bur­ble into the cab via the Bose sound sys­tem.

In­ter­est­ingly this worked, and the V6 en­gine has be­come the most pop­u­lar option for the al­la­lu­minium-bod­ied F-truck in the States.

So I grabbed the key fob to a cou­ple of the lat­est petrol-fu­elled ex­am­ples of the F-150 4x4, one pow­ered by the 5-litre Coy­ote V8, the other pow­ered by the 3.5-litre dual-over­head-cam twin-turbo EcoBoost V6.

The 2016 mod­els fea­tured here both use Ford’s 6R80 auto trans. From 2017, EcoBoost-pow­ered trucks will also get a 10-speed auto.

Both of these trucks came via Har­ri­son F-Trucks and sport right-hand drive con­ver­sions by Mel­bourne-based VDC. Har­risons and VDC only deal with Ford prod­ucts, and VDC has For­dap­proved mod­i­fi­ca­tion sta­tus.

8-IRON SOUND­TRACK

De­scend­ing into the posh leather of my ma­roon V8 King Ranch Effie did raise a smile to my dial. But nothing gets a grin as much as the rum­ble of the Coy­ote un­der the bon­net.

The nat­u­rally as­pi­rated bur­ble drift­ing from the

ex­haust pipe tips quickly builds to a sat­is­fy­ing crescendo when the hoof is buried. It’s an ad­dic­tive sound­track.

The premium King Ranch badge gets a whole cow herd of leather, mas­sive sun­roof, and a raft of driver-as­sist aids, in­clud­ing adap­tive cruise con­trol, lane de­par­ture warn­ing, trailer sway as­sist, hill-start as­sist, yada yada yada …

A 360-de­gree camera dis­plays a bird’s-eye view of the truck’s sur­round­ings while park­ing or squeez­ing into tight spa­ces.

If you’re at all para­noid about big brother watch­ing from the sky, this fea­ture may be a lit­tle un­nerv­ing, but no, the guv’mint ain’t watch­ing you park. The dis­play is made up of data picked by cam­eras dot­ted around the truck.

Given the di­men­sions of the F-Truck, it’s a handy fea­ture both in town and out in the bush.

CHEAT­ING IN RE­VERSE

For those who aren’t real flash at re­vers­ing a trailer, there’s also a neat Pro Trailer Backup As­sist func­tion that lets you pro­gram where your trailer needs to be slot­ted in. The pick-up will then au­to­mat­i­cally steer it into place, much like an auto-park func­tion – which, I might add, the King Ranch F-150 also has.

The 385hp 5-litre does its best work with the tacho above 3500 revs per minute. It not only sounds hi­lar­i­ous, it hauls. Peak power from the 8-iron is at 5750rpm and peak torque (525Nm) is at 3850rpm.

Kick the Go pedal un­der load and the 5-litre emits a howl that sounds like Chew­bacca be­ing kicked in the goolies.

Com­pared to its big­ger Su­per Duty sib­lings, the 150 is a whole lot more nim­ble on the open road; the IFS front end and leaf sprung rear are still quite civ­i­lized when the truck is empty.

PLUSH YET BALLSY

Con­sid­er­ing that this is also a $150,000-plus ve­hi­cle, it’s ev­ery bit as cos­set­ing as you ex­pect … for a truck.

Pay­load for this Effie is a fairly mod­est

850kg, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the not-so-slight pro­por­tions of the Ford. But braked tow­ing ca­pac­ity with a 70mm ball is 4000kg. And while these 4x4 pick-ups are pretty ca­pa­ble off-road, tow­ing is re­ally what these trucks are about.

FUEL DUEL

A com­bi­na­tion of on-road, off-road and tow­ing had us watch­ing the fuel econ­omy of both en­gines. The V8 still re­turned a very re­spectable 15.3L/100km, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing my heavy right foot. The V6, how­ever, re­turned an ex­cel­lent 13.4L/100km over ur­ban, high­way, tow­ing and beach us­age. It’s also worth not­ing that, ac­cord­ing to Ford’s per­for­mance fig­ures, the V6 is faster to 100km/h than the V8:

5.8 sec­onds ver­sus 6.3.

We hooked a pretty hefty tri-axle trailer and a load of wood be­hind the 150, and the re­sult was pre­dictable. With 2500kg on its back, the rear end barely no­ticed the load. (Again, the V8 still needs to be revving to get its boo­gie on.)

The 6-speed auto trans is an in­tu­itive unit and will down­shift un­der brakes. The Ford also comes with elec­tric trailer brakes as stan­dard.

Off road, the 150’s shift-on-the-fly 4x4 sys­tem is easy to use and in­tu­itive. There are few sur­prises here, with hill de­scent con­trol, trac­tion con­trol and a rear-diff lock as stan­dard kit.

As a bush basher, the Effie is a lit­tle wide if you want to keep the shiny bits un­scratched. But, in open coun­try and on the beach, the V8 Ford is quite a ca­pa­ble per­former, though I doubt the alu­minium body pan­els would take much pun­ish­ment from sticks, branches and rocks.

DOWN­SIZ­ING

Af­ter the petrol-headed hoonery of the V8, I was some­what du­bi­ous about the EcoBoost Effie. My green steed was al­most iden­ti­cal in spec to the ma­roon V8 ma­chine, save the smaller en­gine.

The au­to­matic side steps re­mained a nov­elty that dropped from the body of the truck when the doors were opened.

The big kid in me loves them.

The fake en­gine rum­ble in­side the V6 F-150 is nearly al­most con­vinc­ing. But the en­gine note out­side the Ford is more an­gry taxi than howl­ing mus­cle car.

Per­for­mance wise, though, there’s cer­tainly nothing to com­plain about.

The V6 makes slightly less power than the V8: 365hp ver­sus 385hp. But it makes more torque and de­liv­ers it much lower in the rev range. The 570Nm of twisty force is on tap from 2500rpm cour­tesy of its twin low-in­er­tia tur­bos. That’s more than 1000rpm lower than the eight-iron.

The re­sult is a much more flex­i­ble en­gine both off road and when tow­ing.

The V8 needs a boot full of revs to get crack­ing and can quickly bury it­self in sand and muck with its abrupt, peaky power delivery. The EcoBoost, how­ever, calmly un­furls power and torque with much more man­age­able fi­nesse. In fact, the only time I got stuck on the beach at Bri­bie was the pho­tog­ra­pher’s fault. But, then again, ev­ery­thing is al­ways the pho­tog­ra­pher’s fault!

A quick flick through the Ken­nards Hire web­site landed me a plant trailer and a gross tow load of just over 2500kg. Un­der load the tacho nee­dle rarely ex­ceeded 3000rpm. It was ef­fort­less where the V8 was en­ter­tain­ing. The Effie’s out­board rear shocks re­duce any squirm un­der load.

BIG FOOT­PRINT

The King Ranch’s 20-inch al­loy wheels aren’t the most prac­ti­cal items off road ei­ther, but romp­ing along the beach still proved a walk in the park for the 6-pack-equipped 150. Even in sum­mer’s soft sand con­di­tions, the flex­i­ble power delivery of the EcoBoost made it very easy to live with. The big foot­print helps it float over ruts with ease.

Ford’s com­peti­tors have had quite a bit of fun demon­strat­ing how easy it can be to bang up the ally tub back home. In Australian terms, how­ever, no­body is likely to be drop­ping buck­et­loads of bricks into the back of an ex­pen­sive truck like this. A tub liner wouldn’t go astray any­way.

It’s a tow ma­chine first and fore­most and, in a 150, the tub is more likely to be a big boot than a heavy load space.

Kick the Go pedal un­der load and the 5-litre emits a howl that sounds like Chew­bacca be­ing kicked in the goolies

The only steel parts of an F-150 these days are the chas­sis, fire­wall and driv­e­line com­po­nents. It may look like a heavy, blunt ob­ject but it’s de­cep­tively nim­ble in op­er­a­tion.

This year the Effie is also set to get a diesel option for the first time. And the alu­minium con­struc­tion is also now ex­tend­ing into the Su­per Duty range.

There’s no doubt smart money is on the V6 F-150 as a tow en­gine. Its torque out­put and power delivery makes it an ef­fort­less hauler. It’s easy to see why the EcoBoost power plant has be­come so pop­u­lar in the US. It’s also the eas­i­est en­gine to live with off road and it uses less juice.

THE SEN­SI­BLE DE­CI­SION

The trou­ble is I just can’t pass up the Coy­ote V8; it just makes the Ford so much fun on and off road. Which is prob­a­bly why I should never be al­lowed to make pur­chas­ing de­ci­sions like this.

The Rap­tor, Ford’s off-road 4x4 hot­tie, has also dropped the 5-litre in favour of the Ecoboost V6. And it’s the en­gine of choice for Ford’s car­bon­fi­bre GT Le-Mans car.

Buy­ing a new Effie may be a wal­let-melt­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, but these things will tow 3.5 tonnes all day on their ear.

Con­sider that in ute terms – there’s nothing else on the Aussie mar­ket aside from a 70 se­ries Cruiser or a light truck that has the GCM to tow and haul at the same time.

If you want to haul that sort of weight big dis­tances in lux­ury you’re lim­ited to the 200 Se­ries Land Cruiser or a Land Rover Dis­cov­ery, though Nis­san’s petrol-pow­ered Y62 Pa­trol should also rate a men­tion. A big yank pick-up gives you the best of both worlds.

Photos: Nathan Duff (tow pics Matt Wood)

The EcoBoost V6 is the tow en­gine of choice; it makes more torque at lower rpm than the V8

A pid­dly 2500kg load just made the V8 sound even bet­ter

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