2016 Ford F150 Work-Off: 5.0L V8 -VS- 3.5L EcoBoost V6
Over the past few years, I have reviewed a variety of Ford F150 pickups and when readers write in to ask questions about my test trucks, the most common question regarding the Ford F150 is “which is better – the EcoBoost V6 or the 5.0L V8”? Prospective buyers can look at specifications all day and make assumptions, but with my relatively intensive testing, readers often ask which of the two premium F150 engines I think is best for someone who actually puts their truck to work.
In the past, I have never had a chance to compare the two engines back to back, but thanks to the folks at Ford Motor Company, I was able to spend a week with a pair of 2016 F150 pickups a week apart earlier this spring. Mind you, I didn’t have the trucks at the exact same time, but I did run both trucks through the same standardized tests that I use for all of my truck and SUV reviews, including towing my horse trailer and hauling a thousand pounds of bagged horse feed.
The Test Trucks
Before getting into my views on the working abilities of the 2016 Ford F150 with the two different engines, a look at the trucks themselves.
Truck #1 was a 2016 Ford F150 Lariat 4x4 SuperCrew with the 5.0L V8, the Trailer Tow Package with 3.55 gears and 18 inch wheels. This truck has 385 horsepower, 387lb-ft of torque, a towing capacity of 9,000lbs and a payload capacity of 2,100lbs.
Truck #2 was a 2016 Ford F150 Limited 4x4 SuperCrew with the 3.5L EcoBoost twin turbocharged V6, the Trailer Tow Package with 3.55 gears and 22 inch wheels. This truck has 365 horsepower, 420lb-ft of torque, a towing capacity of 10,700lbs and a payload capacity of 1,450lbs.
The two 2016 F150 pickups were physically similar in terms of bed and cab sizes, and according to their base weights on Ford.com, the EcoBoost drivetrain weighs about 40 pounds more than the V8 drivetrain in their most basic SuperCrew, 145” wheelbase form. Of course, the Multi-Contour seats and the huge 22 inch wheels of the EcoBoost’d F150 Limited likely add a little more to the curb weight, but for the sake of discussion, we know that the EcoBoost truck is a little heavier than the V8 truck that I tested.
As you can see from the specs above, the V8 has an advantage in horsepower and payload capacity while the EcoBoost F150 has an advantage in torque and towing capacity. When the cab/bed configurations are similar, those advantages for each engine are fairly uniform, so swapping to an F150 Lariat with the 3.5L EcoBoost engine with the same drivetrain and chassis features wouldn’t have any impact on the capacities.
Of course, if you plan to routinely haul more than 2,000lbs in your new Ford F150 pickup, you will want to opt for a truck with the 5.0L V8 and if you routinely plan to tow more than 10,000lbs, you will want to opt with the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 – as each of the two engines have unique advantages in terms of maximum capabilities. However, if you routinely tow something smaller and lighter, like my 2-horse test trailer and you rarely haul more than a half a ton, you have a tough choice to make when ordering your 2016 Ford F150 pickup.
The 2016 Ford F150 with the 5.0L V8 and the 2016 Ford F150 with the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 are both very quick trucks. When you stomp the gas pedal from the stop, both trucks get away from the line with some urgency, although the naturally aspirated V8 and the twin turbocharged V6 offer that low-end power very differently. I wouldn’t call the EcoBoost V6 “laggy” as twin turbo engines go, but the V8 does offer a little more of the crisp, snappy acceleration right from the stop. However, where the V8 has a slight advantage in how hard it pulls when you first leave the line, the EcoBoost engine pulls harder up into and through the midrange – once boost has reached its peak levels.
The different in daily driving performance between the 2016 F150 with the 5.0L V8 and the 2016 F150 with the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 is very minimal, but it is there. The V8 offers the quick pop right from the start, but the EcoBoost feels stronger as you move away from the line – making the EcoBoost the quicker of the two trucks thanks to the extra torque. However, an old school truck buyer who prefers to feel of the V8 may prefer the slightly less powerful engine with the more familiar torque curve over the high tech, twin turbo V6 – which has a distinctly different feel under hard acceleration.
When cruising along the highway at speeds ranging from 65-75 miles per hour, the added power needed to move around slow-moving traffic seems to come a little more easily from the EcoBoost so, while the gap is very narrow, the EcoBoost is the quicker-feeling truck in every situation outside of the initial launch.
Of course, there is also the fact that the EcoBoost engine is 1mpg better in every category based on EPA findings, but that difference is relatively negligible for this discussion.