What Is the Difference Between the New Style Ford 5.4L Motor & the Old Style?by Rob Wagner
The Ford Motor Company’s 5.4-liter, or 330-cubic-inch, V-8 engine debuted in 1997 featuring two valves per cylinder for its truck line. The automaker launched second version for its truck line with four valves per cylinder in 1999. A third version of the 5.4-liter V-8 with three valves per cylinder arrived in 2002, first for passenger cars and later trucks, performance vehicles and the Lincoln Navigator. These engines were Ford’s first V-8s displacing 5.4 liters.
The 5.4-liter V-8 belongs to Ford’s modular engine family that also includes the 4.6-liter V-8 and the 6.8-liter V-10. The first modular engine used a single-overhead cam. “Modular” derives from the modular tooling system at Ford’s manufacturing plants to quickly accommodate different types of production and because of the three engines’ interchangeable components. The original version of the 5.4-liter V-8 earned a spot on Ward’s Auto World’s “10 Best” engines. An estimated 1.3 million modular V-8 engines were built just in 2001. The basic architecture of the three versions remains identical with the number of valves and other performance components changing to suit the needs of each model. Ford replaced the 5.4 V-8 in 2010 with the 411-horsepower 6.2-liter V-8, although the 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 still used the four-valve 5.4 V-8.
Ford installed its first 16-valve 5.4L V-8 into the 1997 Ford F-150 pickup and marketed it as a Triton V-8. It featured a 3.55-inch bore and 4.16-inch stroke. The longer stroke increased the deck height of the engine over the 4.6-liter version. It featured a cast-iron block, aluminum heads and a multi-port electronic fuel injection system. The valve lifters were a hydraulic lash adjuster design with roller follower. Other features included a forged steel crankshaft and fracture-split powder metal connecting rods. A 9-to-1 compression ratio helped it develop 255 horsepower and 350 foot-pounds of torque. Some versions developed up to 260 horsepower while the performance Ford SVT Lightning F-150 came with a supercharger and a rated horsepower of 380.
Ford sold the 32-valve 5.4-liter as an InTech V-8. It was a new version of the original two-valve 5.4 with a dual overhead cam. Ford favored the InTech in its trucks, performance cars, the Lincoln Navigator and the Ford Falcon in Australia. But the 32-valve 5.4L powering the SVT Cobra performance cars differed significantly from the truck versions. It came with high-flow cylinder heads, a higher lift cam and a 9.6-to-1 compression ratio to develop 385 horsepower and 385 foot-pounds of torque. The Shelby GT500’s 5.4 featured a Roots-type supercharger with an air-to-liquid intercooler to generate up to 550 horsepower and 500 foot-pounds of torque. In contrast, the Lincoln Navigator’s 5.4 generated 300 horsepower and 355 foot-pounds of torque.
Ford introduced the 24-valve version in 2002 to power sedans but two years later offered it in the F-Series trucks. It featured variable camshaft timing and more power and torque than the two-valve models. The 24-valve 5.4L provided lower friction than the two-valve versions and a single overhead cam with roller follower. The cylinder heads were aluminum alloy. It delivered 300 horsepower and 365 foot-pounds of torque partly due to a 9.8-to-1 compression ratio. Ultimately, output rose to 320 horsepower.
Rob Wagner is a journalist with over 35 years experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines. His experience ranges from legal affairs reporting to covering the Middle East. He served stints as a newspaper and magazine editor in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Wagner attended California State University, Los Angeles, and has a degree in journalism.