DETROIT -- The 2.7-liter V-6 that Ford unveiled along with the redesigned 2015 F-150 has a lightweight two-piece cylinder block unique among pickup engines.
The upper section, which houses the cylinder bores, is made of compacted graphite iron for strength. The lower section is die-cast aluminum to save weight. The two sections are bolted together.
All other pickup engines use a one-piece cast block of either aluminum or iron.
"We used iron only where we need the strength, which is in the main bulkhead," said Bob Fascetti, vice president of powertrain engineering, at the Detroit auto show this month.
The engine's block is about 18 inches from front to rear, including the front cover and flywheel. It is the smallest gasoline engine available in a full-sized pickup.
Dean Tomazic, chief technical officer for FEV Inc., an engine development company, said compacted graphite iron in small-displacement turbocharged engines is an excellent replacement for aluminum.
He said the iron, often used in diesel engines, helps reduce noise, vibration and harshness as temperatures and pressures increase. Tomazic said he is not aware of a light-duty engine block with the same construction as Ford's 2.7-liter V-6.
Another innovative part of the engine is the bearing caps, which support the crankshaft's bearings. The caps are typically machined flat and bolted to the block. But Ford casts the caps with the block and then breaks them off in a process called fracture-splitting.
After the crankshaft is installed, the caps rejoin perfectly to the block from which they were split. Fascetti said the 2.7-liter V-6 is the first engine to have main-bearing caps that are fracture-split.
The engine also has variable valve timing and water-cooled exhaust manifolds. Like other Ford EcoBoost engines, it has turbocharging and direct injection of gasoline.
Ford officials would not give horsepower numbers.
But Ed Waszczenko, Ford's engine systems supervisor for the 2.7-liter engine, said the output is roughly equal to most other automakers' "mid-level" V-8s, which would put the 2.7's output at 350 to 400 hp.
Ford introduced the engine at the auto show with the 2015 F-150, which has a body and cargo bed made of aluminum instead of steel. The company says it will release more information about the new engine before the redesigned pickup goes on sale in the fall.
The new V-6 is part a new engine lineup for the redesigned pickup. For 2015, Ford plans to drop the current 3.7-liter V-6 entry-level engine and the limited-production 6.2-liter V-8.
Here's the revised lineup.
• 5.0-liter V-8 with variable valve timing. Horsepower should be north of the 365 available in 2014 models thanks to improvements in the aluminum cylinder heads.
• 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 with two turbos, variable valve timing and direct fuel injection. The top-selling F-150 engine for the last three years is likely to get a power increase.
• 3.5-liter V-6 with variable valve timing. Horsepower should be around 300. The F-150's base engine has an aluminum block and heads. Formerly it had only been available with a turbocharging.
• The new 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6. The engine could be the most fuel efficient of the bunch because of its compact construction and a new electronic control system that constantly adjusts engine performance.
The 2.7-liter engine is the second compact lightweight engine Ford has introduced recently. A 1-liter three-cylinder is so small that the block can fit in an airplane carry-on bag.