Romeo — Ford Motor Co. is betting on an all-new transmission and EcoBoost V-6 engine to help tow it ahead of the competition.
The 2017 Ford F-150 will be available in dealerships in mid- to late-October with a 10-speed automatic transmission matted to a second-generation 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine starting at $30,630, including $1,195 destination charge.
“The end goal is performance for the customer and are we delivering what they are looking for,” said Doug Scott, Ford’s truck group marketing manager, during a media event Wednesday at Ford’s Michigan Proving Grounds in Romeo. Performance, towing and fuel economy, he added, “those are the things that are going to matter.”
The new engine and transmission will be standard on Limited and Raptor models, and available on all other trim levels for the 2017 F-150, Scott said.
Pricing for the new Powertrain combination is hundreds of dollars more than the first-generation 3.5-liter V6 Ecoboost engine and six-speed automatic transmission it’s replacing, however upgrade costs from the other engines offered in the F-150 are similar.
Based on the standard engine selected before any update, the new engine and transmission will cost between $1,000-$2,535 more. Other engine and transmissions for the 2017 F-150 include 2.7-liter V-6 EcoBoost with electronic 6-speed automatic transmission; 3.5-liter V-6 Ti-VCT with electronic 6-speed automatic transmission; and 5.0-liter V-8 with electronic 6-speed automatic transmission
Officials are promising the transmission and engine combination will boost performance and fuel economy compared with the previous generation, but haven’t announced fuel economy expectations.
“We talked about the capability and it’s a perfect F-150 transmission because it improves performance, improves torque availability, improves fuel efficiency and maintains best-in-class towing,” said Kevin Norris, manager of the 10-speed transmission systems. “It’s great for the application.”
The F-150 will be the first vehicle equipped with the 10-speed transmission, which was co-developed for the past several years with Ford’s crosstown rival General Motors Co. Ford and GM announced the joint project in 2013. The companies are jointly developing a 10-speed that will be used in trucks and other rear-wheel-drive vehicles, as well as a nine-speed that will be used mostly on front-wheel-drive vehicles.
The two companies are taking significantly different routes to implementing the transmission, which is expected to expand in both automakers’ portfolios.
GM will introduce the transmission on the 2017 Camaro ZL1 sports car, while Ford is introducing it on its best-selling product.
“I would argue that we should always do that because it’s the flagship vehicle,” Scott said. “I think when you look at the merit of the 10-speed ... it really enhances the performance of the truck when towing, and that’s important in a truck.”
Ford introduced its well-marketed turbocharged engine as a 3.5-liter V-6 on the 2009 Taurus SHO. Since then, its EcoBoost lineup has grown to include nine different engine sizes that can be found on every Ford light-duty passenger vehicle except for the C-Max hybrid. The automaker sold more than 1 million EcoBoost engines in a single year for the first time in 2015.
While higher speed transmissions can help fuel economy and performance, tuning can be extremely difficult — particularly with the amount of different driving modes featured on new vehicles. Some automakers such as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV have had trouble in recent years implementing high-speed transmissions.
Norris said Ford is confident in its 10-speed transmission’s in-house tuning and development.
“The focus is really on the right gear at the right time,” he said. “This transmission is smarter than we are, and it knows what gear to be in at the right time.”
The F-150’s 10-speed features a wide ratio span and optimized gear spacing for improved acceleration and towing. It will be the first Ford transmission made without cast-iron components. Instead it uses steel, aluminum and composite alloys that help it save a few pounds.
The second-generation EcoBoost engine is about the same as the previous generation, however with added technologies. Engineers kept the weight down with incremental enhancements, including hollowed camshafts that cut four pounds out of the engine. It produces 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet — 10 horsepower and 50 pound-feet of torque more than the first-generation engine.
Automatic stop-start will be standard on the 2017 F-150.