Quick Drive: 2011 Ford F-150 EcoBoost Lariat 4x4

By Winding Road Staff

July 01, 2011

It’s a big truck for big jobs, which comes with some obvious drawbacks (turning circle, visibility, etc.—but I begin to sound like a broken record when it comes to trucks). That also means it needs big power. But can a 3.5-liter V-6 cut the mustard in a class where V-8 engines are the standard? The simple is answer is yes.

The motor pulls just fine, and I felt like it was plenty of power for this big truck. It accelerates quickly and smoothly. I did slightly miss the burble of a V-8 under the hood, but this still has a nice sound, and the fuel mileage is an easy consolation. I didn’t tow with it, so I don’t know how that feels, but it is rated to tow over 11,000 pounds, so I imagine that base is covered.

On top of that, the F-150 has some of the best driving dynamics in the class (the best, in my opinion). The suspension does a good job of providing stability and a decent amount of rigidity without feeling too jostling. The steering feel is natural, and even feels good at highway speeds.

Now, if they could just fit all these things into a smaller package for me (here’s looking at you, Future Ranger).

—John Beltz Snyder, Production Editor

This is not your granddaddy’s pick-up truck. It’s powered by a biturbocharged 3.5-liter V-6. It has an interior that wouldn’t look out of place at your local IKEA. The gear selector sits on the floor. It has air-conditioned seats for crying out loud! And navigation! Blasphemy?

Not really. Despite the luxuries and the exotic (relative to the market) powerplant, this is still the capable truck that Ford’s been pushing for over 50 years, it’s just been improved dramatically.

The biturbocharged V-6 feels strong all the way up the rev range, and the turbos emit a nice whistle that rises in concert with the engine speed. The EcoBoost doesn’t have the deep growl of the 5.0 liter, but it does sound quite good in its own right. Speaking of the 5.0, I’m not really sure why anyone would even consider one after a trip in the 3.5 turbo. The performance feels as good, if not better, and the bump in fuel economy (15 in the city, 21 on the highway compared to 15 city and 19 highway for the 5.0) is a nice perk as well.

The interior also looks exceptional. The materials look and feel good throughout the cabin especially the pale, matte wood trim and piped leather thrones. I do worry about how the wood and leather will age though, especially under the harsh treatment of a work environment.

I’ve been impressed with Ford products for a while, specifically the Focus, Fiesta, and Mustang. The F-150 though, takes what’s good and elevates it to a whole new level.

—Brandon Turkus, Fleet Manager

I drove the F-150 EcoBoost over a weekend when I had let a serious mass of landscaping and gardening chores build up around the house. Too often, we just don’t have the means to test the actual functionality of the trucks we drive (a problem I’m working on, rest ye minds), but this time out I’d get to haul around a few hundred pounds of dirt and mulch, a really massive rototiller, and various other implements of destruction that pass for hobby fodder within the evil confines of the Home Depot. (I’m not usually much of a “yard guy” if you couldn’t tell.)

Of course, the standard bed of our Ford took all of the BS I could throw in it, with plenty of room for more. I probably would have run out of money to buy home improvement paraphernalia before I ran out of room in the F-150.

Certainly there was no issue, when fully loaded up, with the power on offer here from the EcoBoost—the truck chugged home with the same giddy-up it had offered on the way to the store. And the ride was nicer with the bed weighted up, too. That extra poundage over the ably designed rear axle quelled what little boundiness had been evident when driving unloaded.

I’m sure I’ll appreciate the prowess of the F-150 even more next year around this time, when I’m watching my newly hired landscaping crew drive away in it after doing all this hard work for me. Nuts to you, yard work!

—Seyth Miersma, Gardener-In-Chief


Admirable 16/22 mpg fuel economy
Upscale cabin is available with a ton of luxury items
Amazing driving character while still being and honestly good truck


Hard to navigate in the city
Can get pricey quickly
Competition from the other domestics, especially on the pricing front, is fierce

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