Ford Motor Co. says its new 2011 F-150 pickup truck, available later this year with four new engines, is targeting best-in-class fuel economy with its basic model, popular among construction fleet owners.

Ford's F-150 Targets 23 Miles Per Gallon
Ford's base pickup, the 2011 F-150 XL series, will come standard with a 3.7L V-6 gasoline engine, 6-speed automatic transmission and 12-volt electric power steering that help the truck hit up to 23 mpg.

Though official testing is still in the works, Ford hopes to certify its new base V-6 engine soon at 23 mpg for highway driving, says Mark Grueber, F-150 marketing manager. Across the board, Ford is targeting a 20% fuel economy increase in the 2011 F-150.

The new base V-6 increases today's base V-8's 19-mpg by 4 mpg, or 21%, and represents a best-in-class upshift for any standard full-size pickup available on the market, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's fuel-economy Website,

Though it is a step down in terms of engine size, the new truck is more powerful, tows more and is projected to be less costly to service. As such, convincing contractors to switch from a V-8 to a V-6 won't be a problem, Grueber says.

"A lot of these customers actually preferred a V-6," Grueber told ENR at a Ford-sponsored roll-out Sept. 21 at the Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth. "There was a little bit of convincing for us when we went to a V-8."

F-150 currently comes standard with a two-valve, 4.6-liter V-8, which replaced an aging V-6 for the 2009 model year. The new 3.7 liter employs four valves, variable camshaft timing and other technologies to burn fuel more efficiently.

In terms of power, the new 3.7 liter cranks out 302 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque compared to the current base engine's 248 hp and 294 ft-lb. Torque reduces by 5% in the new engine, but towing capacity increases by 100 lb to 6,100 lb.

Helping the new V-6 conserve fuel are a six-speed automatic transmission and electric power steering system, both of which will also come standard on the 2011 F-150 truck. The 3.7 liter is standard on XL, XLT and STX models with two- and four-wheel drive.

The new V-6 base engine will also cost less to service, says Ford, which is increasing the oil-change interval to 10,000 mi under normal driving conditions.

In addition to the V-6, Ford will offer a premium engine lineup of a 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6; 5.0-liter V-8 and a 6.2-liter V-8. The 6.2 produces 411 hp and 434 lb-ft of torque and can tow up to 11,300 lb.

Because it is targeting a low cost of ownership in the base engine, Ford expects the 3.7 V-6 to be the most popular power plant for fleet owners, such as contractors, says Grueber. Those needing more capability may consider the boosted V-6 or a larger V-8, he adds. Like the 6.2-liter V-8, the 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost achieves up to 11,300 lb of trailer towing.

"The few people that we've had it in so far have just really been blown away and surprised about what a V-6 today can do," Grueber says. "They are used to a 200-hp V-6 from 10 years ago."

The 5.0 liter will cost $1,000 more than the base engine, Grueber notes. The 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost will cost $1,750 more than the 3.7, and the 6.2-liter V-8 will ring up for an extra $2,995. Truck pricing has not yet been announced.