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New engines help keep Ford F-150 on top

Most reviews single out the 2011 Ford F-150 (Base MSRP: $22,790 to $51,525) as being the best full-size pickup. Truck shoppers back up that notion:  the Ford F-150 has been the best-selling pickup truck for decades.

The current-generation F-150 is praised for its excellent ride quality, a good interior and big towing numbers. Its versatility also has broad appeal, since shoppers can mix and match a variety of cab and bed configurations, option packages and powertrains. While the latter used to be a point of contention with the experts, 2011 brought a completely revamped selection of engines and transmissions that testers find much more appealing.

In addition to a new 3.7-liter base V6 with class-leading power, a new 5-liter V8 and a new range-topping 6.2-liter V8 with 411 horsepower, the Ford F-150 also can now be optioned with Ford's EcoBoost 3.5-liter V6, which is a unique option among full-size pickups. The latter is a twin-turbocharged V6 engine that delivers V8 levels of power and torque while harnessing turbocharging technology to increase fuel efficiency over comparable larger engines. The turbocharged V6 is new to the full-size pickup world, but reviewers have had only good things to say about this engine option, praising its smoothness, perceived durability, impressive torque delivery and commendable fuel economy. The new engines give experts even more reason to like the Ford F-150 and all but guarantee the model's reign as the top-selling pickup (continuing a 34-year streak).

All engine options are new, including a base 3.7-liter V6 with 302 horsepower; a 360-horsepower, 5-liter V8; a 411-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8; and a twin-turbocharged, direct-injected, 360-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6. Critics love the turbocharged EcoBoost V6. Car and Driver says that even when towing heavy loads, it "felt noticeably strong and never seemed to run out of breath." Even the new base V6 leaves reviewers satisfied. TheTruthAboutCars.com's Sajeev Mehta proclaims that it makes the F-150 "far and away the most exciting truck I've experienced in years."

See our complete review of the 2011 Ford F-150 (Base MSRP: $22,790 to $51,525) to get more details.

While the F-150 is the best reviewed full-size pickup, the 2011 Ram 1500 (Base MSRP: $20,810 to $45,810) is a close runner-up. Experts say the Ram 1500 shares many desirable traits with the F-150, in addition to a few nifty features. The Ram has an independent rear suspension that contributes to an exceptionally smooth on-road ride and still allows for heavy hauling and towing. The Ram 1500's primary drawback is the base model's standard 3.7-liter base V6, which Edmunds says "is not only underpowered for the pickup's heft, but also offers no fuel economy advantage." Furthermore, the V6 is paired with a four-speed automatic -- archaic nowadays. The available V8 engines don't get the same criticism, though they have five-speed autos while the F-150 uses six-speeds with its entire engine range. The 2011 Chevrolet Silverado and 2011 GMC Sierra are both also seen as strong runners-up behind the Ford and Ram.

Finally, the 2011 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor (Base MSRP: $42,060 to $44,945) is a high-performance off-roader that Edmunds Inside Line says is "versatile enough straight from the factory to function both as a thrill machine on trails and a comfortable daily driver on the street."

Our full reviews on the 2011 Ram 1500 (Base MSRP: $20,810 to $45,810) , the 2011 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor (Base MSRP: $42,060 to $44,945) and other full-size pickups aggregate and analyze the experts' opinions, providing links to expert sources.

H1/Title: Midsize Pickups

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