2011 Ford F-150 – Same Face, Better Power

Have you ever thought “If I could only change one thing, I’d…”? If so, you’re not alone – Ford’s been thinking this way about it’s vehicles for a while.

Most car makers, including Ford, update their cars and trucks on a roughly six year cycle, with a “refresh” about halfway between major updates. In between these updates you generally won’t see big changes beyond updates to options and special editions.

Ford bucked this trend in the last decade with some important changes outside the normal update cycle, trying to fix “that one thing” that’s wrong.

In 2010 Ford gave the one-year-old Flex a telescoping steering wheel. The 2011 Mustang got new engines just one year into it’s product cycle. And then the 2011 F-150 , just two years removed from it’s last major update, got fitted with new engines as well.

The 4.6 and 5.4 liter V-8s from the 2010 trucks began life in the 90s and were probably the truck’s biggest weakness at that point. They had adequate power and OK fuel economy but did little beyond that. For 2011 Ford added a quartet of engines that really brought the line back to life and moved the F-150 among the class leaders in output and efficiency for the rest of the decade. Competition in the light truck market from Honda and others that were offering better MPG pushed Ford to modernize this iconic truck line.

The first of the new F-150 engines was a V-6, in this case a 3.7 liter shared with the Mustang! It has 302 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque, close to the old 3-valve 4.6 liter’s 292 and 320. This was really a decade in automotive history where ‘less was more’ and the internal combustion engine really pushed the envelope for what is possible with less displacement. V6 configurations were releases from 2010 onward that had more horsepower, and in some cases torque, than previous V8 builds.

and in some cases, the V8’s just got better…

Also from the Mustang is the 5.0L V-8, in this application making 360HP and 380 lb-ft. Despite the displacement disadvantage the new 5.0 easily beats the old 5.4L, which made 310 HP and 365 lb-ft. This additional power from a smaller engine demonstrates just how outdated the old engines were.

Upping the ante in high-trim versions of the F-150 was a massive 6.2L V-8 with 411 HP and 434 ft-lbs of torque.

The most intriguing F-150 motor, though, is the 3.5L EcoBoost, which used direct injection and turbocharging to achieve 365 HP and 420 lb-ft, slotting between the 5.0 and the 6.2. This engine was an early test of the concept of high-tech, smaller-displacement engines in truck categories traditionally dominated by big V-8s.

Besides the improved power, there were massive fuel economy improvements with these 2011 F-150 engines. The 3.7L V-6 earned a 17/23 city/highway in 4×2 duty, while the 5.0 V-8 got 15/21 (also 4×2), the same as the older, less-capable 4.6.

So Ford spent some of the last decade fixing “that one thing,” – the most glaring weakness of the 2010 F-150. What’s next for this iconic American truck brand? Will the electric version stack up against Elon’s Cybertruck? I for one, am excited to see what this new decade brings us from Ford!