With market share up, its stock trading closer to $15 than a buck-fifty, and beloved by both the Tea Party and ‘D’ Party for having not gone to the government well, Ford Motor Company is – by all accounts – running on all cylinders. And with the recent announcement that its venerable F-Series will receive new V6 and V8 power for the 2011 model year, running on all cylinders suddenly means both bigger (new 6.0 liter V8) and fewer (3.7 liter V6 and 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6) of them.
Perhaps the biggest news, especially in the context of a hesitant economy, is the return of a V6 to Ford’s full-size pickup lineup. When last offering fewer than eight cylinders in the F-Series, the chosen lump was a 4.2 liter V6 with less power and a bigger appetite for fuel than Ford’s standard V8 at the time. Dropping it from the base equipment package was effectively a no-brainer, with little in the way of efficiency to offset its pronounced deficiencies.
The new 3.7 liter V6, which is also seen in Ford’s 2011 Mustang and Edge, boasts a 60-degree cylinder bank (for packaging efficiency and a balanced firing order) and a reported 300+ horsepower. That, of course, remains respectable power for a mid-displacement V8. Of course, to the target demographic torque is more important than ultimate power, and 276 lb-ft of torque (at a modest 4,000 rpm) will get a bass boat out of the water or a stump out of the Back Forty with equal ease.
Ultimately, efficiency and affordability are the key components with any entry-level powerplant. As told to AutoTrader by Doug Scott, Ford’s Truck Group Marketing manager, at the Texas Truck Rodeo (a truck and SUV round-up hosted annually by automotive media in and around Texas), “seventy percent of F-150 customers said better fuel economy is what they’d like improved most in their truck. The 2011 F-150 does exactly that with best in class fuel economy, along with more powertrain choices to suit their different needs.” That economy pencils out to an estimated 23 mpg on the highway. Equipped, according to Ford’s spec sheet, with a 3.73:1 rear end ratio, the most modest of F-150s has a very immodest 6,000 lb. towing capability, combined with a payload of just over 1,700 pounds; you can bring both Bubba and Bubbette…
With an aging – or virtually comatose – Ranger continuing to anchor the lower end of Ford’s truck showroom, the need for an affordable and efficient F-Series is more pronounced than ever. And at a transaction price that will invariably dip below $20K, the F-Series should once again attract those that had temporarily abandoned – during the recession’s no job/no credit lull – the full-size pickup category.