2015 Ford F-150

How times have changed. Even five years ago, who would have thought the mighty V8 would be just another engine choice for buyers of the 2015 Ford F-150?

Ford is projecting about 28 percent of the next-generation trucks will have the 5.0-liter V8. That's nothing to sneeze at, but consider this: Ford figures its two EcoBoost truck engines – the new 2.7-liter V6 and the existing 3.5-liter V6 – will also each account for about 28 percent of the F-150's sales (56 percent total). That leaves only 15 percent of the pie for the 3.5-liter (non-EcoBoost) V6. The new F-150 goes on sale late this year.

Ford figures its two EcoBoost truck engines will each account for about 28 percent of the F-150's sales.

"In the truck business, it's historically been about the most horsepower, the most towing power and the most torque," Ford trucks marketing manager Doug Scott said.

Obviously those still matter, but Ford has significantly diversified the F-150's engine lineup in a bid to attract new customers and hedge against spikes in fuel prices. The move away from V8s began in earnest in the 2011 F-150, which received the 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost with 365 hp and 420-lb-ft of torque to complement the traditional V8 model.

Adding the turbocharged EcoBoost three years ago was fraught with risks, as truck buyers are among the most loyal and resistant to change in the market. But it's paid off for Ford, and the EcoBoost model now makes up about 45 percent of the current F-150's sales.

With that in mind, Ford is adding another EcoBoost V6, the 2.7-liter engine, which will push out 325 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque, numbers that sound more akin to a traditional V8. With this engine, the truck can tow up to 8,500 pounds and will have a payload of 2,250 pounds. Ford envisions this model will be attractive to buyers who don't haul regularly, but still require some of the practical capabilities of a pickup.

"This is an engine that's really designed for that core customer," Scott said.

Ford's expansion of the F-150's lineup comes amid renewed competition from its traditional Detroit truck rivals. This year, Ram added an EcoDiesel model with 240 hp and 420 lb-ft, while General Motors will round out its 2015 truck portfolio with the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon, which are slightly smaller than their fullsize, Silverado and Sierra brethren. The moves come as federal fuel economy rules are set to tighten, and consumers continue to be wary of gas-guzzling vehicles.

Ford's new engine lineup will be enhanced by the use of aluminum for the F-150's body, which will reduce weight and improve fuel economy. Depending on the engine and cab size, the F-150 will be anywhere from 625 pounds to more than 732 pounds lighter, compared with 2014 models.