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They just keep on truckin’

Ten years have passed, but two pistons are missing and the belt-drivensupercharger has been traded in for two turbochargers and the fancyEcoBoost name.

Ten years have passed, but two pistons are missing and the belt-driven supercharger has been traded in for two turbochargers and the fancy EcoBoost name. This is progress, in someone’s book?

So, can a V6, turbos or not, be any match for a V8? It’s the question every person considering a new Ford F-150 is asking when the praises of the 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 roll off the salesman’s tongue. How can a paltry 213 cubic inches of displacement haul around a 2,500-kilogram truck and another 5,100 kilograms of trailer?

It’s the obvious question, so when a new four-door EcoBoost F-150 entered our press fleet, the comparisons between our shop truck — the raucous F-150 Lightning SVT, once considered the quickest and fastest pickup truck on the planet — were flying faster than political-campaign promises.

The 1999-’04 Lightning was based on the two-wheel-drive regular-cab Flareside/stepside pickup with the basic principle of keeping it simple to go fast. Still a little on the porky side at 2,100 kilograms, the Lightning sports big brakes, rumbling exhaust and a supercharged 5.4-litre V8 rated at 360 horsepower and uprated to 380 for the 2001 model year with a lower final drive ratio to further help acceleration. Peak torque was 440-450 pound-feet depending on year. Ours is the 360-horsepower version from 2000.

By contrast, the four-door, four-wheel-drive EcoBoost F-150 is like bringing a knife to a gun fight ... where the Lightning is the gun. The bright red pickup has one goal in mind — performance — while the EcoBoost is flooded with luxury, such as a plush interior with chocolate-coloured leather seats front and back, power running boards, “Platinum” trim and more safety and electronics than would ever fit inside the Lightning.

But, the Ecoboost makes a similar 365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque while giving away about 450 kilograms of weight to the Lightning.

Now what? We took the pair to the dragstrip for a little head-to-head battle.

In terms of pure acceleration, the Lightning clawed away from the bigger and heavier EcoBoost with little trouble, posting quarter-mile times of 13.9 seconds at 100 m.p.h. (160 km/h). The EcoBoost F-150 — which posted impressive times of 15.4 seconds at 92 m.p.h. (147 km/h) — is simply not designed for the same one-dimensional purpose.

Yes, the EcoBoost is a stout little engine. But really, the acceleration only tells a tiny sliver of the story.

The EcoBoost F-150 Platinum seats five people, or two with a lot of gear. The regular-cab Lightning has room for just two people and almost no gear. As well, the EcoBoost is a 4x4, which makes it an all-season machine where the rear-drive Lightning — without any form of traction/stability control to prevent skids and spins — is utterly useless with even a skiff of snow and sometimes a handful even on wet pavement.

In terms of towing capacity, the EcoBoost tows 5,100 kilograms to the Lightning’s 2,300.

Add in the fuel economy: About 14.7/10.7 l /100 km for the EcoBoost and just 18.0/13.8 l /100 km for the Lightning, and that’s quite an “Egoboost” for the new F-150.

 
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