posted on April 05, 2017 05:01
Project F150 EcoBoost: Part One - Opening Things Up With a MagnaFlow Exhaust System
MotoIQ's latest project car is a (tow) truck! Let's get it introduced and find out what happens when we install a MagnaFlow four inch exhaust system.
When we first learned that Ford planned to reboot their venerable F150, we were interested — seems we were just talking about getting a new truck for towing duties. When word came that it would be a radical switch to aluminum body components, we were more than intrigued. "...making it up to 700 pounds lighter...", went the marketing tag line. Once firmly into production, the published savings numbers grew even higher on certain models. Whatever the actual difference, it is quite apparent every time you drive one of these new F150s!
Ford’s online order configuration tool let us spec a no-frills, lightweight aluminum-bodied, RWD, V8, and the allure was nearly too much to resist. We could order one hotrod of a truck, ready to go, without the need to modify anything. So we promptly special ordered a 2016 XLT Sport SE FX4 with a V6 3.5 EcoBoost instead! The draw of big power, courtesy of forced induction, was more our speed.
It’s easy to go crazy with the options, but we figured we had some headroom with the platform’s recent diet. Did we really need the self-amplified Kicker Subwoofer? The SYNC 3 factory info-tainment system is an enormous improvement over the previous generation powered by Sony and Microsoft. The biggest change comes courtesy of Blackberry QNX, and the short version of the story is that everything is faster and better! While Project Ford Fiesta ST only had its Sony head unit for a short few weeks, nobody misses it! 2015+ owners should be able to upgrade to Apple’s Car Play (or Android Auto) soon. Actual technical details from Ford remain murky.
Unique F150 badges (along with a new front grill and 20” wheels) are part of the Special Edition appearance package. This particular configuration can tow more than 12,000 pounds in stock form, and the “Pro Trailer Backup Assist” is no gimmick either. Most of us at MotoIQ have plenty of seat time driving trucks, but everyone seems to agree that this nifty new gadget makes the towing chore easier. Tight ingress and egress situations are far less dramatic now — especially for our typical late night returns from the track.
By now it’s no secret that Ford’s 3.5L EcoBoost power-plant is capable of producing some pretty big horsepower numbers. There’s no shortage of examples clipping off low 13 second quarter mile runs with basic bolt-ons! In the interest of completeness, we should mention the relatively new 2.7L EcoBoost engine. This is a gem of a motor, and features a set of slick twin scroll turbos. It’s a fine choice for general purpose needs, and we can see a future where it shines as a great tuner platform too. Its “compacted” graphite-iron block design comes straight from the big brother’s 6.7L PowerStroke diesel engine. Pair higher efficiency turbos, oil-spraying piston jets, intake and exhaust side variable cam timing, and you have the more modern engine. Still, we opted for the bigger displacement motor for our towing chores. We intend to find out just how easily we can make good on this vaunted claim of big horsepower!
In the few months it took Ford to build and deliver this truck, we learned the upcoming 2017 would feature some cool new tricks. That was early in the spring of 2016; we are seeing plenty of new 2017s on the road now. While the new 2017 tweaks hold a lot of promise, it’s too early to know the longterm impact of the various new driveline components.
Take that new 10-speed 10R80 transmission for instance. It was conceived in a climate of increasing consumer and government fuel efficiency mandates — but who knows whether it will prove to be as tough as the outgoing 6-speed in our 2016.
It’s true that the most recent iteration of the 3.5L EcoBoost, including the version in the mighty Raptor, is faster than the respective outgoing models. There are YouTube videos illustrating 0-60 runs in the mid 5 second range on these new trucks! But like any new model, there’s an expected bit of lag in the aftermarket. The historical trend of ubiquity with every F150 ensures the aftermarket will flourish yet again. In the meantime, why ignore a well developed aftermarket parts portfolio for our recently revised F150? Plus that fancy new transmission is a GM/Ford venture; what could go wrong on a first year design?
So far the buzz on the street supports the idea that Ford got it right. Durability concerns will linger, and the transmission will likely see a software update to address a bit of flat footedness in shifting edge cases. This new transmission supports at least 650 lb-ft of torque in its first incarnation. Stay tuned.
Now, let's get on with the modifications!
Eager to start modifying our new toy, we strap our new F150 to our SuperFlow dyno to get our baseline horsepower and torque numbers.