Ford F-150 V8 and EcoBoost V6 Trucks Take On the World’s Toughest Towing Test (Ike Gauntlet Video)

Which truck does better at towing? Is it the new Ford F-150 5.0L V8 or a Ford F-150 3.5L EcoBoost twin-turbo V6? Both trucks are crew cabs and feature a 10-speed automatic transmission. We hitch up a 8,900 lbs horse trailer and take them on the Ike Gauntlet – world’s toughest towing test.

Ike Gauntlet Towing Test

The Ike Gauntlet is an 8-mile stretch of the steepest interstate highway (7% grade) with a maximum elevation of 11,158 ft above sea level. It’s a grueling test of trailering capability because of the steep incline and reduced air density that robs engine of power.

We test the transmission and engine calibration of the trucks on the downhill by counting brake applications. We specifically do not manually shift gears. We let the truck and its grade shifting/engine braking features do the work.

On the way up, we test each truck’s power, ride, control, and refinement. We aim to maintain the 60 MPH speed limit on the way up and the way down. On the way up, the benchmark time is 8 minutes even.

Ford F-150 V8 vs V6

While we have tested many twin-turbo V6 trucks on this Rocky Mountain highway, this is the first time that we have an opportunity to test the 5.0L “Coyote” V8 combined with a 10-speed automatic.

Ford F-150 V8Ford F-150 V6 TT
Power395 hp @ 5,750 rpm375 hp @ 5,000 rpm
Torque400 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm470 lb-ft @ 3,500 rpm
Transmission10-speed auto10-speed auto
Max Towing9,200 lbs (2WD + 3.15 ratio)12,700 lbs (4×4 + 3.55 ratio)

Yes, the V8 2WD truck you see here has a weight advantage over the twin-turbo V6. The V8 2WD XLT truck is about 700 lbs lighter than the loaded Lariat V6. However, the EcoBoost has the advantage of two turbo that partially compensate for the massive power loss at high elevation between 9,000 – 11,158 feet above sea level.

While both trucks were stable and comfortable while towing a 8,900 lbs trailer, the difference between the two first became apparent on the downhill. The V8 truck performed better with 9 brake applications versus 11 with the V6 TT. The V8-powered truck was able to hold the speed down the mountain just a little better.

On the uphill, the EcoBoost V6 truck showed its power. This 3.5L engine has plenty of power in reserve to maintain speed, and provide passing power. The V8 was very close. The 5.0-liter is not shy for power. It was just a few seconds behind, although it kept higher rpm and sounded like it was working a bit harder. Although, the trip meter MPG did not show it. The V8 showed a better 4.0 MPG on the climb versus the 3.5 MPG for the EcoBoost.

Between Kent Mr. Truck Sundling, Stephen Elmer, and I – we voted 2 to 1 in the favor of the Coyote V8.

Let us know what you think in the comments below.