Once again, David Mullings provides a guest review on the 2011 F-150 EcoBoost pickup truck. Not only does this review spotlight the advanced design of Ford’s pickups, but just how far pickups have a come on a whole.
Pickup trucks have never been my thing because the few that I have driven have felt like trucks. I much prefer vehicles that handle better and take less effort to drive. Climbing into one of the new Ford F-150’s at the test drive event in Orlando has completely changed my opinion of pickup trucks. As usual, I decided to drive the competitor vehicle first, a Chevrolet Silverado. It was a short drive with some turns and then I lined up for a drag race against an F-150 with EcoBoost (twin-turbo). The Ford chaperone pointed out that if I have a better reaction time I would be able to beat the lady in the Silverado beside me but if we launched at the same time, she would win.
I reacted faster and won but that wasn’t important (it was fun though). The drive to the line and back to the staging area was the important part; How did the truck handle? How easy was it to turn the steering wheel? It definitely did not drive like a car and I wouldn’t want to deal with that extra effort on a daily basis but it seemed normal for SUVs and Pickups I have drive before.
Then I climbed into the F-150 EcoBoost.
The difference in the ease of driving was instantly obvious and I had to ask the Ford representative how comes it drove like that. He smiled and said that this model had an electric power-assist. This did not drive like a truck at all and I have to give Ford credit for that because it made me feel far more comfortable driving this vehicle.
The interior was extremely spacious and well appointed. Most importantly though was the performance. A twin-turbo F-150 is interesting and I did line up against a Silverado and beat it. The engine delivers 365hp at 5000rpm and 420 lb-ft. of torque at 2500rpm, quite impressive. Out of the three engines they showed me that were available, the EcoBoost engine was MORE fuel efficient than the smaller engine but could haul just as much tonnage as the larger engine.
I test drove other models and the Harley-Davidson really has some nice extras but without electric power-assist, too much like a truck for my tastes. The base model F-150 was good enough for what it needs to do but with no EcoBoost, it did not have the same pep that could come in handy when overtaking or hauling.
The last two things I did was check out a live dyno that compared the EcoBoost model to a number of competitors along with a video of uphill passing while towing (the F-150 did better than competitors each time of course) and then I went on the actual road while towing a trailer. I have never been trailering before and I was extremely concerned about taking corners too tight, switching lanes and also having the trailer roll over.
I was informed that the F-150 has a feature to reduce the likelihood of rollover of the trailer, the mirror designs made it extremely easy to see blind spots and especially see the curb when making a turn. It turned out to be so easy that I did not even feel like a trailer was attached, I had to keep looking back to check that it was still hitched!
The EcoBoost is clearly the winner and it is going to sell extremely well. Seeing American car companies finally learn from the Japanese that bigger is not always better and that turbochargers are just as good if matched properly with the engine is welcome. The extra touches like the available retracting running boards that pop down when you open the door and then go back into hiding under the truck when you get in are welcome as well.
Ford clearly has extended their lead in the pickup truck market. Trust me, you need to testdrive an F-150 EcoBoost even if you don’t plan to buy a pickup. It will change your impression of pickups.