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Ford makes a power play with F-150

The 2011 F-150 might look the same on the outside, but between the front fenders it’s a whole new truck game.

The 2011 F-150 might look the same on the outside, but between the front fenders it’s a whole new truck game.

In one lightning-strike move, Ford’s top-selling hauler unleashes a drastically different powertrain lineup that, depending on your selection, allows you to travel further on a tank of gas, tote a heavier payload and pull a heavier travel trailer. There are also more safety and convenience features.

It’s common for automakers to refresh their more popular models after a two- or three-year period, but for Ford to bring out a quartet of new V6 and V8 engines is nothing short of astonishing. It will also likely send the competition back to their respective drawing boards to devise some sort of response.

Reducing fuel consumption is important to everyone, but it’s of particular importance to truck owners. These normally thirsty rigs tend to consume more than their fair share of petroleum products. Obviously any move to reel in consumption is money ahead for truckers.

On this front, Ford appears to have all the bases covered, although there are no hybrid or diesel powertrains in the mix.

For light-duty use, the F-150 is offered with a base 3.7-litre V6 that provides 302 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. The 3.7 is the first V6 available in a full-size Ford pickup since the 2008 model year.

Next up is a 5.0-litre V8 that generates 360 horsepower and a 380 pound-feet torque rating. For heavy lifting and off-roading duties, the most muscular engine in the F-150 garage is a 6.2-litre V8 that puts out 411 horsepower and a road-ripping 434 pound-feet of torque.

Later in the model year, Ford will offer its 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged Ecoboost V6 with 365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque.

For 2011, the model and trim availability list is as long as several arms. The existing XL, STX, XLT, FX2/FX4 and Lariat are joined by the XLT Custom and Lariat Limited.

Regardless of trim, cab size, box length or drive system, the F-150’s engine-upgrade program was long overdue, if rather sudden. Ford’s full-size pickup peers have literally been gaining strength of late and it was clearly high time for Ford to respond in kind.

With plenty of powertrain choices to suit a multitude of work and play applications, the F-150 stands to gain considerable ground — and credibility — in the pickup segment.

 
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