In their February 2015 issue, Car and Driver compared similarly-equipped Tundra, Ram, F-150, and Silverado models. Since the Tundra and Ram are both basically irrelevant for my purposes here, I want to focus on the Silverado vs. F-150 battle. Here's the deal.
The Silverado High Country, with its 6.2L Ecotec V8, makes 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. The F-150 Platinum's 3.5 EB V6 has 365 hp and 420 lb-ft of twist. The Chevy, as tested by C&D, weighs 5658 pounds. The Ford, despite its new aluminum body panels, is only 81 lbs lighter, at 5577 lbs. So the Silverado boasts 13.47 lbs/hp, and the Ford has a power to weight ratio of 15.28 lbs/hp. The Ford's advertised EPA gas mileage rating is 20 mpg. But guess what it got in C&D testing? 16 mpg. Yes, 4 mpg under its advertised rating. Meanwhile, the Chevy matched that number with two more cylinders, two less turbos, more weight, and 2.7 more liters of displacement.
I'm not trying to tell you that the Chevy is better than the Ford, both are great trucks and are pretty evenly matched. While personally I'd take the Silverado over the F-150 (I am a Chevy guy after all), I don't think you can go wrong with either one of them. My point here is that there is a way to get V8 power and V6 fuel economy, and it's the Ecotec, not the EcoBoost.
My question is this: why pour money into a TTV6 program when you can take your V8 and develop simpler and less costly ways to increase fuel efficiency such as cylinder deactivation, direct injection, and variable valve timing? It doesn't make sense to me. Unless it's a marketing thing.
Bear with me, as this might make me sound like a conspiracy theorist, but here goes. Think of all of the media buzz surrounding Ford's EcoBoost lineup. The press is fawning over this stuff. "It's new and exciting!" "It has turbos!" "Downsizing and boosting is better because better mileage and more power!" "It's the way of the future, just accept it." Meanwhile, GM is sitting in the corner with its ancient 16-valve pushrod V8s and getting ragged on by the media.
I mean, you've really got to hand it to Ford. Name one other company that has made a V6-powered truck desirable. Can't think of one? Neither can I. I live in Tennessee, and there are tons of trucks down here. I actually look for the EcoBoost badges on F-150s, and boy are they numerous. I'd say more than half of the F-150s I see are EB-powered. I see people bragging on truck pages on Instagram and on f150forum.com (of which I am a member) about their 3.5s. Used to, if you had a V6 truck, it meant that you couldn't afford a V8-powered one. Now, the people that would've gone for the V8 ten, even five years ago, are now going for the V6. And for this, we have Ford to thank.
This post is not to say that the EcoBoost is an actual piece of crap; it's very well-engineered. All I'm saying is that personally, I think it's a step in the wrong direction. I actually had the chance to test-drive both the 2.7 and the 3.5 at an F-150 drive event at Crown Ford in Nashville some months ago. I was actually fairly impressed, but not completely blown away, like a lot of autojournos are. I drove both with an open mind, and found both trucks to be very quick and enjoyable. The 2.7 felt every bit as fast as my 5.4, which really surprised me. The 3.5 even had some V8 engine noise piped through the speakers to make it sound less like a V6. Which brings me to my final point. I don't want to give up my V8.
As a car enthusiast, I tend to be irrational, even impractical when it comes to what I look for in an ideal car/truck. In my mind, a fullsize truck should have a V8. I can't wrap my mind around the fact that someone would willingly choose to buy a top-of-the-line F-150 with anything other than a V8. There's just something about that sound. The emotions you feel when you press that accelerator to the floor on an onramp or when you're passing somebody on a two-lane backroad. I experienced none of that when driving the 3.5 or 2.7. I think I might be rambling here, but I have a feeling you know what I'm talking about. I guess that what I'm trying to say here is that we shouldn't have to give up our V8s for V6s in the holy quest for saving the planet or whatever the EPA makes fuel mileage regulations up for. Instead, automakers should develop less costly technology to apply to existing engines to increase mileage and performance.
I want to end on a question. Is it really innovative to spend a ton of money to come up with a whole new engine architecture in order to increase mileage and performance and end up with results equal to or in some instances less than that of the competition, who spent far less money on tech to improve an existing engine architecture? This is just something I've been thinking about for a while and it feels good to actually write it down and get it out. So am I right or wrong or just an idiot? Let me know.