1st Generation Ford F-150 3.5L EcoBoost V6 Turbocharged Engine

In 2011, Ford made a dramatic change to the Ford F-150’s Powertrain. They added a new, smaller displacement V6 engine that featured twin turbochargers and direct fuel injection. This engine, the 1st Generation 3.5L EcoBoost engine, provided greater fuel economy, tow capacity, and even just overall drivability when compared to the big, bulky, naturally-aspirated v8 engines found in the same time period.

Since the 3.5L EcoBoost was added in 2011, it continues to dominate other half-ton powertrains by consistently offering the highest, or near the highest, tow capacity, fuel economy, and performance characteristics against its competitors. Today, the 3.5L EcoBoost Engine has even been modified to be a hybrid engine known as the 3.5L PowerBoost Engine. A high-output 3.5L EcoBoost engine is also present in the high-performance Ford Raptor.

While these newer 3.5L EcoBoost engine variants are very exciting, in this post, we’re going to focus on where it all started, the First Generation 3.5L EcoBoost. We’re going to cover 1st Gen 3.5L EcoBoost specs, engine design, and performance information. We’ll also go into detail about the common problems associated with 1st Gen 3.5L EcoBoost engines, and how to maintain these engines to limit the amounts of problems you have.

First Generation 3.5L EcoBoost V6 Turbocharged Engine
Photo taken from Ford Media. 3.5L EcoBoost V6 Engine

The EcoBoost Engine Meets the F-150

In the late 2000s and early 2010s, Truck manufacturers were beginning to feel the heat from EPA to produce more efficient and cleaner vehicles. Even diesel trucks were being mandated to be more efficient as we began to see the emergence of Diesel Exhaust Fluids, Diesel Particulate Filters, and EGR systems. Ford’s response was a smaller displacement V6 engine that incorporated twin turbochargers and direct fuel injection. The result was a powerful, fuel efficient, and capable engine that provides diesel-like performance. This was the 1st Generation 3.5L EcoBoost engine and it met the Ford F-150 in 2011. This first generation EcoBoost engine continued to be used in F-150 trucks until 2017, when the 2nd Generation 3.5L EcoBoost engine replaced it.

2011 Ford F-150 with the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 Engine
Photo taken from Ford Media

1st Generation 3.5L EcoBoost Specs

Engine Years2011-2016
ApplicationsFord F-150
Configuration60-Degree V6 DOHC
Displacement3.5 Liters (213 cubic inches)
Cylinder Bore3.64″
Cylinder Stroke3.41″
Compression Ratio10.0:1
Firing Order1-4-2-5-3-6
Engine Block MaterialAluminum
Cylinder Head MaterialAluminum
ValvetrainDirect acting mechanical bucket (Polished Buckets)
Ignition SystemCoil on Plug
Fuel System
2011-2016
See Below
High Pressure Direct Fuel Injection
Air Delivery/AspirationTwin turbocharged and intercooled.
Horsepower (Standard Output)365 Horsepower @ 5,000 rpm
Torque420 lb.-ft @ 2,500 rpm
Recommended FuelRegular Unleaded
Engine Oil Capacity6 Quarts (5.7 Liters)
Engine Oil Type/Recommended Engine OilMotorcraft SAE 5w-30 Synthetic Blend XO-5W30-Q1SP
Recommended Engine Oil FilterMotorcraft FL-500-S

1st Generation 3.5L EcoBoost V6 Engine Highlights

Ford’s First Gen 3.5L EcoBoost engine features a v6 configuration and DOHC, or Dual Overhead Camshaft, design. Twin Independent Variable Cam Timing (Ti-VCT) gives greater control over these dual Camshafts which improves fuel efficiency and performance. Other key engine design elements include a Direct-Acting Mechanical Bucket valve train that uses polished buckets, cast exhaust manifolds, durable manifold and cylinder heads, and pistons with optimized bowls to improve combustion efficiency.

The two greatest contributors to the EcoBoost’s impressive performance are the twin turbochargers and direct fuel injection. These two features contribute to the 3.5L EcoBoost engines diesel-like performance and make it the ideal gasoline-sipping towing machine. Up to 90% of peak torque is reached at only 1,700 rpm, with peak torque being reached at only 2,500 rpm. Torque is maintained all the way up to 5,000 rpm.

2011 Ford F-150 1st Generation 3.5L EcoBoost Torque Curve. Photo taken from the 2011 Ford F-150 Dealer Brochure.

Twin Turbochargers & Intercooler

A key characteristic of the EcoBoost engine is a set of Twin BorgWarner K03 turbochargers. These turbochargers recycle exhaust gases through their turbines which in turn pressurizes the air that mixes with fuel in the combustion chamber. The result is greater power and performance. Even after the EcoBoost engine is turned off, the turbo’s cooling system works to eliminate coking.

Direct Fuel Injection

The First Gen EcoBoost also uses direct fuel injection, which is often utilized in Diesel truck applications. Fuel is precisely sprayed in a pattern into the chamber during intake. Here, the fuel meets pressurized air before combustion occurs. This provides clean, fuel-efficient operation.

Key Characteristics of the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 Engine:

  • Cast Exhaust Manifolds
  • Partnered with the 6-Speed 6R80 Automatic Transmission
  • Direct-Acting Mechanical Bucket valve train with polished buckets (DAMB)
  • High-Pressure direct fuel injection fed by a common rail
  • Twin Turbochargers & Charge Air Cooler (Intercooler)
  • Pistons with optimized bowls to improve efficiency during combustion
  • Twin-independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT)
  • Improved manifold & Cylinder Heads
  • Intake and exhaust camshafts optimized for improved fuel economy and performance

1st Generation 3.5L EcoBoost Performance

Ford F-150s with the new EcoBoost engine came off the lot boasting an impressive 365 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft of torque. Those were some pretty staggering numbers, especially since the EcoBoost is a small V6 engine. Only the F-150’s 6.2L V8 Engine produced greater power at 411 horsepower and 434 lb.-ft of torque. It came at a much higher cost however, as it averaged much lower fuel economy.

Performance isn’t just about horsepower and torque though. In this section, we will look at the First Gen 3.5L EcoBoost’s towing capabilities and fuel economy too.

2015 Ford F-150 with the 1st Generation 3.5L EcoBoost Engine
2015 Ford F-150. Photo taken from Ford Media.

Tow Capacity

Model YearDrivetrainMax Conventional
Towing Capacity
20114×2
4×4
11,300 lbs
20124×2
4×4
11,300 lbs
20134×2
4×4
11,300 lbs
20144×2
4×4
11,300 lbs
20154×2
4×4
12,100 lbs
11,900 lbs
20164×2
4×4
12,200 lbs
12,000 lbs
Tow Capacity varies depending on Cab configuration and options selected. Check your owner’s manual or other resources from Ford to determine your actual max tow capacity. The numbers listed above are the max tow capacities with the high output towing models.

Fuel Economy (MPG)

Model YearDrivetrainCity MpgHighway MpgCombined Mpg
20114×2
4×4
16 mpg
15 mpg
22 mpg
21 mpg
18 mpg
17 mpg
20124×2
4×4
16 mpg
15 mpg
22 mpg
21 mpg
19 mpg
17 mpg
20134×2
4×4
16 mpg
15 mpg
22 mpg
21 mpg
18 mpg
17 mpg
20144×2
4×4
16 mpg
15 mpg
22 mpg
21 mpg
18 mpg
17 mpg
20154×2
4×4
17 mpg
17 mpg
24 mpg
23 mpg
20 mpg
19 mpg
20164×2
4×4
17 mpg
16 mpg
24 mpg
22 mpg
20 mpg
18 mpg
Tow Capacity varies depending on Cab configuration and options selected. Check your owner’s manual or other resources from Ford to determine your actual max tow capacity. The numbers listed above are the max tow capacities with the high output towing models.

Performance Upgrades

Thanks to direct fuel injection and turbocharging the 3.5L EcoBoost is one of the easiest gasoline engines to upgrade for greater performance. You can add horsepower or torque to your 1st Gen 3.5L EcoBoost relatively easily through a number of different products. We’ll list some of our favorites here.

#1 Tuning

Tuning provides the most efficient means off adding power to your First Generation 3.5L EcoBoost. 1st Generation 3.5L EcoBoost tuning is available in the form of box tunes or custom tuning. Box tunes like those found in the AutoMind 2 programmer give you moderate power gains while also focusing on maintaining reliability. Custom tuning allows you to get custom made tunes that factor in all of the other modifications your vehicle has too. They provide higher gains and can be rebuilt after you’ve added other mods too.

Just keep in mind, by tuning your vehicle you may be voiding your warranty. We recommend waiting until your manufacturer warranty is expired to modify your truck.

Banks AutoMind 2 Programmer

Banks Power AutoMind 2 Programmer/Tuner

The Banks Power AutoMind 2 Programmer provides moderate gains, maintains reliability, and has an incredible amount of research and engineering behind it. Banks Power released their own Dyno results showing this tuner can increase power in your First Gen EcoBoost by up to 50 horsepower and 50 lb.-ft of torque.

Bully Dog BDX Tuner

Bully Dog’s BDX Tuner comes with preloaded tunes on the device but also offers custom tuning capabilities. The BDX/SCT platform is widely preferred amongst performance tuning companies who specialize in 3.5L EcoBoost Tuning. Tunes can be delivered over the cloud when connected to Wi-Fi, removing the need for a computer to upload tunes. This 3.5L EcoBoost Tuner also comes with data parameter monitoring capabilities.

#2 Cold Air Intakes

Cold Air Intakes are another First Gen 3.5L EcoBoost Upgrade that is relatively inexpensive but offers decent gains. They provide your engine with colder, denser air that results in greater horsepower, torque, and even fuel economy.

Banks Ram Air Intake

Banks Ram Air Intake System

Banks Power also makes a dyno-proven Cold Air Intake system known as the Banks Ram Air Intake System. It helps provide Cooler, Denser air to your engine. This is opposite of many intake systems that take in hot, power-robbing engine air that can actually negatively impact performance. This CAI system is up to 64.6% less restrictive than the stock system.

First Generation 3.5L EcoBoost S&B Cold Air Intake

S&B Cold Air Intake

The S&B Cold Air Intake also provides better performance than the stock system and makes filter maintenance easy. A clear sight glass is visible from the top, making it easy to know when it’s time for service.

#3 Intercoolers

Intercoolers are a great upgrade for First Gen 3.5L EcoBoost engines. Not only do they help solve the intercooler moisture problem in these engines, but they can also provide better performance.

2011-2014 Mishimoto 3.5L EcoBoost Intercooler Kit

Mishimoto Intercooler Kit for the 2011-2014 Ford F-150 3.5L EcoBoost

Mishimoto’s Performance Intercooler Kit is a direct fit for 2011-2014 EcoBoost-equipped Ford F-150s. It helps solve the Condensation problem found in these trucks while also reducing Air Intake Temperatures and reducing restrictions.

Visit our 7 Best 3.5L EcoBoost Performance Upgrades post for more information on how to increase performance and torque on these specific trucks!

1st Generation 3.5L EcoBoost Problems (2011-2016 Ford F-150)

Carbon Accumulation

One of the more nominal problems found in the First Gen 3.5L EcoBoost is Carbon Accumulation. The Direct fuel injection system inserts fuel directly into the cylinder, but because no fuel is washing over the intake valves, it can lead to carbon accumulation. When carbon accumulation is bad enough it can cause poor engine performance and power loss. This issue was largely corrected in 2nd Generation EcoBoost Engines because a Twin-Port fuel system was added.

How to Fix It

While carbon accumulation will occur, every truck is different and you may not suffer from any negative performance during the ownership of your vehicle. That being said, there are methods developed by the aftermarket industry to reduce carbon accumulation. You do this by utilizing a catch can. Catch Cans route blow-by away from your intake and valves and accumulate it in a catch can. After a base line is established, you can empty the catch at certain intervals. This will help keep your intake system clean.

Mishimoto Baffled Oil Catch Can Kit

Mishimoto’s Baffled Oil Catch Can Kit is built specifically for your truck and includes a mounting kit for DIY installation.

If you have an older EcoBoost engine and it’s too late, a professional shop can walnut blast carbon away. This should be done by a shop however, as it is important to do it right. Stay away from DIY induction system cleaners. They can which can cause more harm than good and lead to expensive repairs.

In 2nd Generation EcoBoost Engines a Twin-Port fuel system was added that corrected this issue.

PCV Hose Valve Cover Adaptor

The PCV Hose Valve Cover Adaptor is a First Gen 3.5L EcoBoost problem that occurs mainly in 2013-2015 Ford F-150s. The factory design is faulty and when this problem occurs, you will often experience blue or white smoke from the exhaust. These signs are especially visible after extended periods of idling.

How to Fix It

Simply Replace the stock PCV Hose Valve Cover Adaptor with the redesigned one. The part number is Ford HL2Z-6762-A.

Intercooler Condensation

If you don’t live in a humid environment you may never experience this problem. Intercooler condensation is a 3.5L EcoBoost problem that is experienced in 2011-2012 model year Ford F-150s. Basically, moisture may be trapped in the intercooler in humid operating conditions. Symptoms of intercooler condensation include engine misfiring, intermittent stumbling, or even trouble codes appearing. Symptoms usually occur after high engine load due to heavy towing or acceleration and extended highway driving. If you don’t live in a humid environment, you might never experience this issue in your 2011-2012 Ford F-150.

How to Fix It

This design flaw was fixed in later model F-150s due to a redesigned charge air cooler, or intercooler, being used. To fix 2011-2012 EcoBoost-powered F-150s however you can either follow Ford’s TSB and install a redesigned deflector on the bottom of the intercooler, or you can purchase a new aftermarket intercooler.

If you opt to use the OEM fix, take your truck to a dealer so they can isolate the problem to the intercooler specifically. This is explained in the TSB and should be done to make sure your truck is not suffering from other problems.

If you decide to replace your intercooler, there are several options that provide an improved design and greater durability than the OEM unit. They actually can increase performance and provide you with cooler, denser air too!

2011-2014 Ford F-150 Aftermarket Intercoolers

2011-2014 Mishimoto 3.5L EcoBoost Intercooler Kit

Mishimoto Performance Intercooler Kit

Mishimoto’s Performance Intercooler Kit fixes the Intercooler Condensation problem found in Early 3.5L EcoBoost engines while simultaneously reducing IAT temperatures and improving performance.

Calibration Problems

All new engines require tweaks and kinks to be worked out after release. The 3.5L EcoBoost is no different. Numerous calibrations were required after release to work out bugs and different engines with these engines. If you are experiencing issues with your truck a good place to start is making sure your truck is equipped with the latest software.

1st Gen Ford F-150 3.5L EcoBoost Changes By Model Year

2011 Ford F-150 3.5L EcoBoost

2011 Ford F-150 3.5L EcoBoost

In 2011, the Ford F-150 is introduced, sporting the First Generation 3.5L EcoBoost Engine.

2012 Ford F-150 3.5L EcoBoost

2012 Ford F-150 3.5L EcoBoost

36 Gallon tank is made standard for 4×4 3.5L EcoBoost-Equipped F-150s. Drivetrain upgrades are made for upper trim levels. 4×4 models can now be flat-towed. Updates are also made to the Ford Sync system.

2013 Ford F-150 Limited

2013 Ford F-150 3.5L EcoBoost

Harley Davidson Trim is removed and the Limited Trim is added. Unlike the Harley Davidson that was exclusively available with the 6.2L V8 engine, the 2013 Ford F-150 Limited is available with the 3.5L EcoBoost engine.

2014 Ford F-150 Tremor Edition

2014 Ford F-150 3.5L EcoBoost

Last Year of the Ford F-150 featuring steel exterior panels and this body style. New 2014 Ford F-150 Tremor edition featuring the 3.5L EcoBoost engine is introduced.

2015 Ford F-150 3.5L EcoBoost

2015 Ford F-150 3.5L EcoBoost

The 2015 Ford F-150 received an overhaul. An all new aluminum exterior was introduced, making these trucks up to 700 lbs lighter than 2014 Ford F-150s. This helps fuel economy and acceleration. A new fully-boxed frame is also introduced. Ford also introduces the 2.7L EcoBoost engine, also called “Pocket Hercules”.

2016 Ford F-150 3.5L EcoBoost

2016 Ford F-150 3.5L EcoBoost

3.5L EcoBoost Engine was used in the Ford F-150. 2016 Ford F-150s with the 3.5L EcoBoost engine gained towing technology in the form of Ford’s Pro Trailer Backup Assist. Ford’s entertainment system is upgraded to a new Ford Sync3 system. New interior and exterior styling options are also added.

1st Generation Ford F-150 Maintenance Basics

Maintaining Ford F-150s with the First Generation 3.5L EcoBoost engine isn’t difficult. You can easily complete most of the tasks at home. If you are the owner of a First Gen 3.5L EcoBoost engine, it would be wise to stock up on some of the filters and fluids you will need to complete maintenance on your truck. Here are some of the service intervals you will need to follow, in addition to the basic parts and fluids you will need.

Maintenance Intervals (Normal Operating Conditions)

TasksMilesKilometers
Change Engine Oil/Filter5,000-10,000 miles8,000-16,000 kilometers
Change Cabin Air Filter20,000 miles32,000 kilometers
Replace Engine Air Filter30,000 miles48,000 kilometers

Common 3.5L EcoBoost Parts, Filters and Fluids

Part TypePart #/Affiliate Links
Engine Oil FilterMotorcraft FL-500-S
Engine OilMotorcraft SAE 5w-30 Synthetic Blend Motor Oil
XO-5W30-5Q3SP
Engine Air FilterMotorcraft FA-1883
Cabin Air Filter
(2015-2016)
Motorcraft FP-92
Transmission Filter (6R80)Motorcraft FT-188
Transmission Inlet Filter (6R80)Motorcraft FT-138
Transmission Fluid (6R80)Motorcraft Mercon LV Automatic Transmission Fluid
XT-10-QLVC

Find out more maintenance information in our Comprehensive 3.5L EcoBoost Maintenance Guide.

1st Generation Ford F-150 3.5L EcoBoost FAQs

What Model Years of the F-150 use the First Generation 3.5L EcoBoost?

2011-2016 Ford F-150s have the First Gen 3.5L EcoBoost Engine.

How much horsepower and torque does the First Generation 3.5L EcoBoost have?

First Generation 3.5L EcoBoost engines in the Ford F-150 produce 360 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft of torque.

What Fuel Economy do 2011-2016 Ford F-150s with the First Gen 3.5L EcoBoost get?

2011-2014 Ford F-150s with this engine could get as much as 16 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway, for a combined average of 19 mpg. 2015-2016 model years with the aluminum body can get as much as 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway, for a combined average of 20 mpg.

Which engine is better, the first generation 3.5L EcoBoost or the second generation 3.5L EcoBoost?

While both EcoBoost engines have been wildly successful and popular, we prefer Second Generation 3.5L EcoBoost engines due to their greater power and reliability. They worked many of the kinks and minor issues out in the Second variation of this engine.

How many quarts of oil does the First Gen 3.5L EcoBoost engine take?

6 Quarts

How much could the First Generation 3.5L EcoBoost Tow?

Up to 12,200 lbs could be towed in 2016 Ford F-150s with the 3.5L EcoBoost engine when properly equipped.

Photo taken from Ford Media.

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