PREVIEW: The 2017 Ford F-150’s Improved Powertrain

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Ford engineers designed the new 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine to provide better low-end and peak engine performance, ideal for hauling heavy payloads and towing heavy trailers.

Ford’s engine and transmission revisions for the 2017 F-150 bring the promise of more speeds – 10 in total – and more torque.

Ford F-150 - 2017

Trucks were once the last bastions of bigger being better. Full-sized pickups were where the most traditional technologies were employed for maximum brawn and accompanying big profits.

Related – Sales: The Surge of Small Pickups

But the specter of ever-increasing fuel economy standards have truck makers more focused than ever on efficiency, even as they can never forget that strength and might are primary reasons to buy a truck in the first place.

And so just as the cast-iron lumps the trucks of yore had churning under their hoods have morphed into aluminum and turbocharged engines of today, so too are the transmissions changing from six speeds or fewer to 10, starting with the 2017 Ford F-150.

10 speed transmission

Twenty patents have been filed on this 10-speed automatic. It was developed in conjunction with General Motors, and it will also find its way into the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for 2017, in addition to the F-150. It will then spread further through both makers’ lineups.

Ford says that this tranny will improve acceleration with its wide-span gear spacing, which begs the question – how wide can the spaces be between 10 gears? We’ll find out when we finally drive one. Ford also says that performance is optimized by reductions in drag that might sap power, and all those gears help to create a wide gear ratio span that allows for a numerically lower rear axle ratio to keep highway mileage high, without diminishing towing ability.

10-speed transmission close-up

Significantly, this is the first Ford gearbox that uses not even one ounce of cast iron. Sure seems like the future is catching up to the materials carmakers are using.

The revised 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine works in concert with the 10-speeder to seal the performance deal that Ford is promising.

3.5-liter EcoBoost engine and 10-speed transmission

This is the second generation of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, and Ford is claiming a nice gain in torque, along with other innovations. The 30 lb-ft gain brings total torque to 450, which is best-in-class for any V6 in its class.


These complement the transmission’s advances to make 2017 a newsworthy year for the F-150.


Ford is investing $145 million in upgrades for its Cleveland Engine Plant and $1.4 billion in its Livonia transmission plant to produce this techie new powertrain. We look forward to driving an F-150 equipped as such to see if it feels as good as it sounds.

Looking for a new or used F-150 to tide you over until the 2017 arrives? Search’s listings here.