Ford's EcoBoost V-6 sports V-8-like specs

Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News
In case you have any doubts as to whether most V-8s are headed toward extinction, take a look at these numbers.

Ford’s new EcoBoost 3.5-liter V-6, engineered for light-duty truck applications, delivers 365 horsepower and a whopping 420-pounds feet of torque. That’s V-8 terrority. The engine will be offered in the 2011 F-150 pickup early next year. Ford made the announcement Monday.

This decade all mainstream vehicle makers are downsizing engine displacement, reducing the number of cylinders. It’s all about improving fuel economy and reducing CO2 emissions in both cars and trucks. However, automakers know buyers want more power so turbocharging will be the norm.

Ford’s pickup truck application uses twin turbochargers in order to boost carrying and pulling capability. Payload capacity is rated at 3,060 pounds and towing at 11,300 pounds. The new engine should be more than adequate for towing a horse or boat trailer.

Additionally, Ford says 90 percent of peak torque is available in the 1,700 to 5,000 rpm range. Some pickups with V-8-powered gasoline engines reach peak torque at higher engine speeds, around 4,000 rpms, meaning those engines at times would be using more fuel than the new Ford V-6. Another fuel-saving feature: the engine runs on unleaded regular. Some turbos require premium.

One key element missing in Ford’s announcement is fuel economy. That will be announced as Ford gets closer to the launch date next year.

Today’s gasoline-powered V-8 pickups have an EPA rating of nearly 20 mpg.

If Ford can pull it off, a 15 percent improvement would be impressive.