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2021 Ford F-150 3.5L PowerBoost Hybrid Reliability

How Ford is Testing the 3.5L PowerBoost Hybrid to Make Sure It's Built "Ford Tough"

How Ford is Testing the 3.5L PowerBoost Hybrid to Make Sure It’s Built “Ford Tough”

Ford is releasing the new 2021 F-150 3.5L PowerBoost Hybrid this fall. It’s been eagerly anticipated by many people because it’s Ford’s first full-size hybrid F-150 truck. A couple of weeks ago, the 3.5L PowerBoost’s performance specs were released and they definitely exceeded our expectations. At 430 horsepower and 570 lb-ft of torque, the Powerboost Hybrid definitely has enough power to get the job done, but what about durability? Truck owners often use trucks for work, offroad adventures, or heavy towing. For that reason, a truck needs to be heavy duty. While we haven’t tested the new Hybrid F-150 for ourselves yet, Ford just released some promising information on the steps they’re taking to assure its dependability. Here’s what we’ve learned about Ford’s process for testing the F-150 3.5L PowerBoost Hybrid’s reliability and dependability.

2021 Ford F-150 PowerBoost
Rolling Shot of the new 2021 PowerBoost F-150
Photo Courtesy of Ford Media

Torture Testing the 3.5L PowerBoost Hybrid

Craig Schmatz, Ford F-150 Chief Engineer, sums it up best by his statement, “Just because it’s a hybrid, doesn’t mean we treated the Powerboost with kid gloves”. True to his word, Craig, along with the other F-150 engineers, test the 3.5L PowerBoost Hybrid to the same standards as Ford’s other pickup trucks. No punches are pulled, because Ford want’s to make the F-150 a viable option for those looking for a hard working truck. In fact, to address concerns about the electric motor and the battery on the new hybrid F-150, an extra test was designed to make sure the hybrid powertrain is capable of withstanding significant “torture”. Here’s what Ford’s engineers put the new F-150 3.5L PowerBoost Hybrid through to test reliability.

Offroad Testing – Borrego Springs, California

Borrego Springs is Ford’s favorite testing site for offroad capability. Ford F-150 engineering manager, Dawn Piechocki, describes it as the “Worst Case Scenario”. Why does she call it this? Well, this environment subjects the F-150 PowerBoost to extreme high temperatures, mountainous terrain, deep caverns, sand, slippery rock, and high elevations. She further explains that the new 3.5L Powerboost Hybrid F-150 has to perform in the same conditions and meet the same standards other F-150 powertrains.

Offroad Testing 3.5L PowerBoost Hybrid
Photo Courtesy of Ford Media

Durability – Michigan Proving Grounds – Romeo, Michigan

In 3 months of testing, Ford’s engineers are able to simulate 10 years of real world driving. The Michigan Proving Grounds are the F-150’s “Hell Hole”. In order to test durability, the F-150 has to undergo a number of painful obstacles. These obstacles are so demanding and deadly, that often the tests have to be completed by robots instead of humans. One of Ford’s engineers described it as running over potholes and bumps continuously for three months. The Proving Grounds are the ideal test for the F-150 3.5L PowerBoost’s underbody, suspension, and overall durability.

Michigan-Proving-Grounds-F-150-Hybrid
Photo Courtesy of Ford Media

Battery Testing – Akron, New York

A special torture test was designed to test the battery’s durability. Described as a “mechanical bull on steroids”, the battery torture test uses a custom testing machine to simulate harsh driving conditions on the battery. This test puts the battery through 10 years of life in only 82 hours. If you’re going to make the F-150 a powerful, portable generator, it needs to be able to make it to and from the job site and still be able to power tools and devices. This test alleviates some of our worries about battery durability.

Battery Durability Testing 3.5L Powerboost Hybrid
Photo Courtesy of Ford Media

Towing – Davis Dam, Arizona

To test F-150 3.5L PowerBoost towing capabilities, Ford brought the Powerboost to Davis Dam in Arizona. The Davis Dam is one of the most difficult towing feats in the United States. This is because it’s an 11.4 mile slope that climbs 3,500 feet, with an average 6 percent grade and treacherous heat. What better way to test the 3.5L Powerboost’s 12,700 pounds of tow capacity? Ford’s engineers had the F-150 3.5L Powerboost continuously traveling up and down the dam to fully test the hybrid powertrain, cooling systems, and overall towing reliability.

3.5L PowerBoost Towing
Photo Courtesy of Ford Media

Watch Ford F-150 3.5L PowerBoost Testing

Ford on Torture Testing the New F-150 Equipped with the 3.5L Powerboost Engine

Our Take on F-150 3.5L PowerBoost Reliability

While we’re reserving final judgement until we test these vehicles out ourselves, the 3.5L PowerBoost Hybrid looks promising. It’s fantastic to see Ford testing these trucks like any other full-size truck. Just because this truck is a hybrid, it shouldn’t be given a pass. This is especially true if contractors and commercial users are the primary target market of the PowerBoost. All the cool gadgets and technology in the world won’t make this truck successful if it’s not durable. If the PowerBoost isn’t up to the tasks demanded of the standard pickup, it won’t be successful in the F-150 lineup.

The ultimate test won’t happen until these vehicles hit the road though. Stay tuned for our comprehensive 3.5L PowerBoost Review coming soon. You can also visit our 3.5L PowerBoost Specs Guide for more information about features and capabilities of these trucks.

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