It doesn’t seem that long ago that buying a pickup truck without a V-8 engine was like omitting the bed or the cab. Oh, how times have changed: The all-new 2021 Ford F-150’s engine lineup consists almost exclusively of V-6 engines, with only a single V-8 on offer. Last month we strapped our test gear to the top-of-the-line F-150 PowerBoost hybrid, and now we have a full instrumented test of the 5.0-liter V-8—possibly the last V-8 to ever be offered in the F-150.
Like the rest of the 2021 F-150, the V-8 appears at first glance to be a carbon copy of the previous generation, but there are changes, subtle though they may be. Its 5,038-cubic-centimeter displacement is unchanged (that’s 307 cubic inches, by the way, a figure that’s bound to amuse fans of classic Chevrolets), but horsepower rises by 5 to an even 400 at 6,000 rpm, while torque increases by 10 lb-ft to 410 at a lower 4,250 rpm. Oil and coolant capacities are down slightly (by 1.1 and 2.0 quarts respectively, if you must know), and the engine is once again backed by a ten-speed automatic transmission.
How does that translate to acceleration? Zero to 60 mph on our F-150 King Ranch 4×4 SuperCrew test truck came up in 6.2 seconds. That’s 0.9 second behind the twin-turbo hybrid PowerBoost V-6, but 0.1 second quicker than the last previous-generation F-150 V-8 (also a V-8 SuperCrew) we tested. The five-point-oh ran the quarter mile in 14.6 seconds at 96.3 mph, arriving 0.8 second later and 5.8 mph slower than the PowerBoost truck.
Of course, there’s more to a launch than numbers, and our test team liked the way the F-150 got away. “This truck knows what’s up,” associate road test editor Erick Ayapana said. “Consistent launches, great engine note, and smooth, quick gearshifts. How is a pickup truck more fun to launch than a Lexus IS F-Sport?”
It’s worth lingering on the engine note, which is one of the best reasons to opt for the 5.0 liter V-8. Everyone who drove the F-150 had something positive to say about the soundtrack, which has more than a hint of Mustang in its deep, throaty voice. It’s a welcome change from the EcoBoost twin-turbo V-6, which technical director Frank Markus says “manages to moan like a five-cylinder diesel UPS truck.” (Apparently Markus is back to moonlighting.)
Price is another reason to opt for the V-8, as it’ll save you $600 over the EcoBoost 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6, which should help pay for what extra fuel you use: The EPA rates the F-150 at 16/22/19 mpg city/highway/combined, while the 3.5-liter EcoBoost is rated only slightly higher at 18/23/20 (both with 4WD). The twin-turbo six, sans PowerBoost hybridization, delivers the same 400 hp, though it adds an extra 100 lb-ft of torque.
Handling? We don’t expect much from a pickup truck, and with our expectations set low, the F-150 was bound to surprise us. Our V-8-powered F-150 managed 0.78 g of grip on the skidpad and looped the figure eight in 27.5 seconds at an average of 0.62 g.
“This isn’t a good test for pickups,” road test editor Chris Walton said, “but I gotta say, it performed quite well. Not a lot of tire-torturing wallow in this truck, and it really puts the power down well in Sport mode. Tires looked pretty good afterward. Quick-ratio steering (for a truck) means my hands weren’t too busy. It sounds great, too.”
Walton also noted the 2021 Ford F-150’s strong brakes, though Ayapana, who ran the 60-0 braking test, wasn’t quite as impressed. “Lots of dive as expected,” he wrote. “Distances got longer after the first run. Strong brake smells. In order: 123, 125, 128 feet.” Still, the F-150’s best braking run bettered the last 2020 Chevrolet Silverado we tested (RST 2.7, 124 feet) by a little and the last 2020 Ram 1500 (Rebel EcoDiesel, 129 feet) by quite a bit.
Is the V-8 engine an endangered species? The 5.0 is the only V-8 among the six powertrains offered in the 2021 F-150, but Ford expects that one in four buyers will opt for it, so clearly the V-8 is far from dead. Still, we like that Ford has made the 5.0-powered F-150 something special—it may not be the fastest 2021 F-150 you can buy, but it sure sounds that way. If the era of V-8s in Ford pickup trucks is coming to a close, at least it’s going out not with a whimper but with a roar.
Two tons of concrete smoothed Guffman’s ride right out, though at every stop the dash info screen reminded me, “Air Suspension Adjustment Limited Due to Payload.” The tall load also demanded judicious slowing for turns, but Guffman never grumbled.
Well, he grumbled a bit when his diesel exhaust fluid tank neared empty en route to that golf outing, causing a momentary panic and some improvisation when a small-town fuel stop didn’t sell the handy DEF containers with built-in hoses. Subsequent DEF refills have gone way smoother, and to date our consumption seems to be averaging around 900 miles per $10 gallon of DEF. Next, our intrepid road warrior is scheduled for separate adventures to Florida and South Carolina.
|2021 Ford F-150 4×4 King Ranch Specs(Super Crew 5.0L 6.5′ Box)|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$72,890|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door truck|
|ENGINE||5.0L/400-hp/410-lb-ft DOHC 32-valve V-8|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||5,687 lb (57/43%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||243.5 x 79.9 x 77.6 in|
|0-60 MPH||6.2 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||14.6 sec @ 96.3 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||123 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.78 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||27.5 sec @ 0.62 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||16/22/19 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||211/153 kWh/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||1.06 lb/mile|