Ford F-150 Getting Updated 3.5-liter EcoBoost, 10-Speed Auto for 2017
Heavy updates bring 30 pound-feet more torque from EcoBoost V-6by Mark McNabb, on
Ford has announced a major update to its 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine and the introduction of its 10-speed automatic transmission. Both powertrain components will be available in the 2017 Ford F-150 pickup truck.
The updated 3.5-liter EcoBoost features a slew of improvements that result in an additional 30 pound-feet of torque and an expected increase in horsepower. Though Ford has not released the horsepower spec, torque is now listed at 450 pound-feet. That bests all the F-150’s competitor’s torque outputs, save for the 6.2-liter V-8 found the full-size GM trucks. That EcoTec3 small block V-8 makes 460 pound-feet of torque.
“The Ford truck team lives to serve our hardworking truck customers,” said Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president, Product Development, and chief technical officer. “The powertrain is the heart of every F-150, and together our all-new 3.5-liter EcoBoost and 10-speed transmission will give our customers better power, efficiency and confidence.”
The EcoBoost moniker, which includes the 3.5-liter and 2.7-liter V-6 EcoBoost engines, has grown tremendously in popularity, and now power nearly 1 million F-150s. That works out to roughly 60 percent of F-150 sales since the 3.5-liter’s introduction.
Though the 3.5-liter EcoBoost is now more powerful, it’s likely the F-150 will be more fuel efficient thanks to the added Auto Start-Stop system and new 10-speed automatic. Ford says the transmission will improve acceleration and performance over the outgoing six-speed auto. It’s also Ford’s first transmission that doesn’t use cast-iron parts, resulting in a weight savings. The transmission includes sport and tow/haul modes for tailored shift patterns.
The 3.5-liter EcoBoost and 10-speed auto will be sold as the F-150’s premium powertrain. The pair will also power the upcoming 2017 F-150 Raptor, though Ford has not released horsepower and torque specs for the Raptor.
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EcoBoost Update Details
The twin-turbocharged, 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 is perhaps the most complex truck engine ever built, and now it produces more power than ever before. The engine now features a dual fuel injection system with two injectors per cylinder. One injector feeds fuel within the intake port while the other is mounted inside the combustion chamber. This port and direct injection is said to improve power output, efficiency, and emissions.
The EcoBoost now has all-new turbochargers that deliver more boost. The turbos feature a lighter turbine wheel made from a high-temperature super alloy called Mar-M-247 developed by the aerospace industry. The turbos also feature Ford’s first electronically activated wastegates.
To help reduce the engine’s mass, new hollow camshafts and all-new roller-finger followers. This pulls a total of four pounds from the engine’s top end. Also new to the EcoBoost is a Auto Start-Stop system. Coming as standard equipment, the Start-Stop system automatically turns the engine off when sitting stopped. Once the brake is released, the engine quickly fires up. Ford says the Start-Stop system will not operate when Tow/Haul mode or 4WD are engaged.
Mated to the EcoBoost is the new 10-speed automatic transmission co-developed between General Motors and Ford. We’ve already seen GM announced the 10-speed’s inclusion in the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and Ford’s 2017 F-150 Raptor. Though the gearbox was co-developed, Ford is building its version in-house and has programmed its software for truck use. The gearbox also uses lightweight alloys to save weight while retaining strength. Helping to shave weight is the new integrated torque converter/turbine clutch. It cuts two pounds and decreased the packaging footprint.
Ford’s software, or shift logic, will help the transmission select the right gear for each circumstance. Real-time adaptive shift-scheduling algorithms keep track of more than a dozen powertrain and driver-control signals to ensure the right gear is used.
The transmission features three overdrive gears to help with fuel efficiency. The added gears then allow for a higher rear-axle ratio, which further helps economy. The lower gears within the transmission are then numerically higher, allowing the F-150 to retain its towing and hauling abilities.
The 3.5-liter EcoBoost will continue to be built at Ford’s Cleveland Engine Plant in Ohio, while the 10-speed automatic will be built at Ford’s Livonia Transmission Plant in Michigan. Ford has invested $145 million in updating the Cleveland plant, while the Livonia plant received a whopping $1.4 billion investment in upgrades.
Why It Matters
The F-150 is Ford’s bread and butter, selling better than any other Ford product and any of its full-size truck competition from GM, Ram, Toyota, and Nissan. With so much on the line, Ford has to keep innovating with the F-150, constantly improving and making waves in the segment. This update to the EcoBoost and the addition of the 10-speed automatic should help boost the F-150’s appeal.
Read our full review on the Ford F-150 here.