Twin-Turbo Truck?

I was never really a truck guy (except for my Tonka days) but news as of recent has my interest piqued. Trucks have traditionally been the realm of monster V8 engines, big on power and huge on low end torque for towing and hauling. Yet larger trucks depend on even larger engines, usually big block V8s/V10s and stump pulling diesels. Now it seems Ford is keen on turning the truck world upside down with twin-turbo V6 that’s supposed to provide the power of a V8 with the efficiency of a V6.

Ford’s so called ‘EcoBoost’ V6 has been steadily making its way through the model range after debuting in early 2010 as the top-line option in Lincoln’s MKS luxury sedan. By combining the efficiencies of turbocharging, direct injection and variable valve timing, Ford has effectively created an engine that provides enormous power potential without the fuel penalty at the pump. The 3.5 liter mill produces 350hp/350lb-ft of torque as the top line engines in both the Lincoln MKS, MKT and Ford Flex crossovers, but manages 15hp more in the new Taurus SHO full sized sedan. In car applications, this works extremely well but in trucks?

For truck duty (and its first RWD application) Ford has altered the cam timing to be on both the exhaust and intake sides, replaced the Honeywell turbochargers with Borg-Warner units and strengthened the engine block. Additional oil and transmission coolers were added, including a larger intercooler to handle engine temperature and the boost pressure has increased from 10 psi to 13 psi. All this amounts to a SHO-equaling 365hp but a more impressive 420lb-ft of torque, almost matching the top range 6.2 liter V8 at 434lb-ft. All of this torque is available right in the meat of the powerband, from 1500rpm up to redline at 5000rpm.

Now turbo engines in cars I can live with (the Mitsubishi Evolution being my favorite) so it’s a bit puzzling though not entirely surprising, that Ford would put one in its trucks (besides diesels). Yes, the overall reason would be for increased fuel economy but I still question the long term durability of highly tuned turbocharged engine like the EcoBoost V6 in a workhorse vehicle like the F-150. Apparently Ford has done exhaustive durability tests on prototype mills (somewhere in the region of 1.5 million miles of virtual and road tests) but to ultimately prove that the turbo motor is up to the task of hauling and towing, Ford has some pretty inventive (and downright tortuous) methods in store for one lucky, random unit.

Ford will pick a random motor from the assembly line and send it to a logging company in Oregon where it will haul lumber up steep hills. After that, it will be sent to the Miami-Homestead Speedway where it will two a pair of Ford Fusion Sprint Cup cars for 24 hours at full throttle (hopefully I’ll be there to witness this) around the 1.5 mile oval. Then this same engine will be installed in an F-150 Desert Racer and entered in the upcoming Baja 1000 offroad race, after which it will be torn down and shown to the public.

We shall see.

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