I’ve been dealing with Ford corporate a lot lately. My 2018 F-150, equipped with the revised direct-injection 5.0L Coyote V8, has an incurable rattle coming from the variable camshaft timing solenoids. While Ford keeps switching up their story, my red Lariat has been in and out of the dealership service department. When I was told that it’d have to spend some significant time away from home, I was given a F-150 XLT 3.5L EcoBoost as its substitute.
The racing season is in full swing now, and I spent the entire month of March towing my BMW to various events using this loaner truck.
Ford wanted me to drive their F-150 XLT 3.5L EcoBoost so badly that they built it and sent it to Battlefield Ford, who immediately pressed it into service as a loaner vehicle for truck owners. It came to me with a bag of dried concrete in the bed from the first borrower.
What Is It?
This is a 2019 Ford F-150 XLT SuperCab with a 6.5′ bed. Compared to the last F-150 I had, this XLT was well-equipped. Ignoring the cab/bed configuration, it was built how most “average” buyers would probably want their F-150, with many useful options that don’t stray into extravagance.
My XLT came with the upgraded 302A package, which notably includes heated and powered front (cloth) seats, heated mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals, remote start, and a ton of chrome on the nose. It also came with Sync 3, Ford’s large touchscreen infotainment, which supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Finally, this XLT had Ford’s optional 3.5L twin-turbo “EcoBoost” V6, paired to the new-last-year 10-speed automatic. The gearing was upgraded to 3.55:1 with an electronic rear locker (standard is an open 3.31 rear) and this truck was spec’d with 4×4. The 3.5L EcoBoost is a $2,600 option, but it’s worth every penny, if you have some to spare.
Let’s Talk Towing
I put 1,600 miles on this truck in 30 days, and 1,000 of those miles were with my trailer attached to the hitch.
My CargoPro aluminum enclosed trailer has a 20′ box, 4′ V-nose up front, and comes in around 27′ total length. With my BMW M3 and wheels, tools, parts inside, it weighs in around 6,500 pounds.
Ford has put a lot of effort into their towing technology with the current generation of F-150. The backup camera allows the driver to zoom in on the hitch as they get closer to the trailer tongue, for example. Their Pro Trailer Backup Assist sounds gimmicky, but does allow more inexperienced drivers to park a trailer with ease. That said, I left the assist disabled as my brain is wired for the “old school” method of parking a trailer by now.
The technology also delights while on the move. This F-150 XLT was equipped with the optional $590 blind spot monitoring, which Ford calls BLIS. It’s just like any other blind spot system, until you attach your trailer. The truck asks for a few bits of information, and then BLIS starts working to inform you of cars next to you – and your trailer. It works with a trailer up to 33′ total length.
On to the party piece – Ford’s 3.5L EcoBoost V6! Updated for 2018, the twin-turbo V6 makes less horsepower than my 5.0L (375 hp vs 400 hp) but another 70 ft-lb of torque (470 ft-lb vs 400 ft-lb). It is, for lack of a better term, really damn fast with a trailer attached. If you don’t care about rearranging your trailer’s contents, you can roll out to about 10 mph and apply full throttle away from a stoplight – you will beat the truck and trailer next to you, handily.
Not only does the EcoBoost make more torque, it makes peak torque far lower in the rev range compared to the naturally-aspirated V8. Hills required far less effort compared to my 5.0L, with the 10-speed dropping just a gear or two down to put the engine at its torque peak – that 470 ft-lb comes at just 2,500 rpm.
The downside of any turbocharged engine, of course, is that being in boost uses more fuel. Ford’s EcoBoost engines are a bit of a marketing misnomer, then, as you can have Eco or Boost, but not both at the same time. My loaner had the smaller 26 gallon fuel tank, and was happy to ask for a refill every 250 miles or so, if towing. My 5.0L V8, by comparison, can hold out a bit longer at the expense of so much power.
Is the Boost Worth the Squeeze?
As mentioned, the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 is a $2,600 upgrade from the XLT’s standard 3.3L (naturally-aspirated) V6. Ford also offers the 2.7L EcoBoost V6 and 5.0L V8 on XLTs.
While the other engine options would certainly work well, the hotshot 3.5L is absolutely worth having if towing often. It made hilly terrain a breeze, and the “go” part of stop-and-go that much more fun. Just be sure to leave a bit of cash set aside for the extra fuel bills.
9 thoughts on “2019 Ford F-150 XLT 3.5L EcoBoost Towing Test”
The BLIS is intriguing – fascinating to see how technology is making its way into everyday driving situations in an effort to “help” people – though sometimes it probably just makes them more careless. I like that this truck still seems like it has plenty of oomph to get moving even with a full load in tow. Also, congrats on being the recipient of a free bag of dried concrete. Haha
BLIS is my favorite feature about the current F-150s! Agreed on some new tech making people careless, but BLIS is one that helps immensely when towing. Changing lanes at night with a trailer? No big deal anymore. I’m looking forward to our Ram/Jeep media day next week, will get some seat time in the new Ram 2500, which has 1,000 ft-lb! Talk about plenty of oomph.
These cloth seats are way more comfortable than they should be, and in many ways, I prefer them to the leather. I was underwhelmed by the previous iterations of the ecoboost, so I’d be curious to take one of these for a spin.
The torque is pretty nuts, although the V6 is pretty quiet so it feels weird as there’s not much noise corresponding to your acceleration!
Jake looks cool and sounds great you won’t gas bills drive my 48 it has never seen a gas station that it didn’t love
I have a 2015 expedition 3.5 l and I’ve had a lot of problems with it, has no power most of the time I’ve had one of the turbos replaced spending $2,700 that did not repair what the Ford dealership said was part of the problem. When it’s right it has lots of power and torque but problem problem problem
I was wondering if there is a way to tell what has a 2.7L vs a 3.5L just by looking at a picture. I am looking for a newer used truck and the dealers either dont tell you whats under the hood online or they get it wrong. My other question is there a big difference between those two engines? Apples to apples, even though they are not, Im not planning on towing very much I see a lot more 2.7L for sale if the information is correct. So its leading me to believe people want more power and the 2.7L just doesnt have it. Does the 3.5L only come in King Ranch version? Again I just dont see them very often on line or they are not supplying the info.
Hey Cole. You can order the 3.5L EcoBoost in any trim of F-150 (maybe not XL). Definitely comes in a lot of XLTs and Lariats. I drove a 2.7L in a very base F-150 XLT and did like it, I think it’d tow just fine in most cases. Certainly okay with an open trailer, if you had an enclosed trailer I’d go for the 3.5.
I don’t believe there are any badges that specify which V6 is equipped in a particular truck. Popping the hood won’t reveal much that you’d see on the typical AutoTrader type of website, either. Best option is to call a Ford dealership and have them run the VIN, if they can. Or, try this site:
My 2017 F150 XLT with 3.5L V6 Eco boost has transmission heating problems. I was told by another F150 owner that the twin turbos came on F150 XLT post- 2020; true or false? I have been told (same other owner) that towing a travel trailer is easier with the twin turbos. Comment?