The Evolution of The Coyote Engine (Explained)

As you probably know, the ford Coyote is a powerhouse. There simply is no debating the fact that it’s an advanced engine that outputs a huge amount of power for its given displacement.

Since the announcement of the Coyote in 2010, the Ford performance world has obviously been happy to enjoy something better than the old 2v and 3v 4.6L motors. Over the years, the Coyote engine platform has had a lot of changes, improvements, upgrades, and special-edition versions. From the outside, the changes to the Coyote engine are largely not visible.

So today, we’re going to look at the different Coyote generations and variants to better understand how Ford has improved this engine over the years.

The Basics

In 2010, the Mustang was released with an all-new look, but it still had the same 4.6L that was found in earlier year models. While the outgoing 3V 4.6L did its job, it was pretty terrible compared to what GM was offering with their LS platform, so Ford knew they had to do something to up their game.

The return of the 5.0L engine really brought the Mustang back into contention with the top sports cars and pony cars of the time. The Coyote featured an all-new design that was quite a bit different than the 3V before it, but with some key features that kept it in the Ford Modular engine family.

The Coyote uses a cast aluminum block and cast aluminum cylinder head, with a composite intake manifold similar to that on the old 3V motor. Inside the engine, a few components remained the same, but many of them were changed or improved. Bore and stroke measure at 92.7mm and 92.2mm, with a total displacement of 302.1ci or 4,951cc.

What’s really interesting is that the bore spacing of 100mm and the deck height of 227mm are carried over from the 4.6L. The downside to this is that it limits bore size, but makes the engine easier to package and smaller overall. The compression ratio was set at 11.0:1, which at the time, upset some enthusiasts because boosting a high compression ratio is quite a more difficult to do safely than a low compression ratio engine. But ultimately, that high compression ratio is one of the keys that allows the Coyote to make so much power naturally aspirated.

The Gen 1 and Gen 2 Coyotes are nearly identical from the outside looking in, and the major differences between the Gen 1 and 2 Coyotes are improved airflow thanks to larger valves, increased camshaft lift¡, and cylinder head port revisions. Ford also added charge motion control valves to help with idle quality and low-speed torque for Gen 2 motors.

Cylinder Heads and Ti-VCT

When Ford designed the Coyote platform, it featured an entirely new cylinder head design. As I’ve mentioned in previous videos, one of the biggest factors to making power is how well your cylinder head flows. The outgoing 3V featured a single overhead cam design with 3-valves per cylinder as the name suggests. While the 3V had variable cam timing, the intake and exhaust lobes of the camshaft moved together, which means that valve overlap can’t really be adjusted on the fly.

The Coyote’s entirely new cylinder head is ultimately what gives it so much power and versatility. It features dual-overhead-cams, making it the first all-new 4-cam mod motor since the 4V 4.6L. By having separate intake and exhaust camshafts, valve overlap can be adjusted and optimized at any given RPM with the right hardware, which the Coyote has in the form of the Ti-VCT system. Although Ti-VCT was not new to Ford in 2011, it was new to the American market, and it truly is the secret weapon of the Coyote that makes it such a great engine.

This system works by basically allowing the intake and exhaust camshafts to retard or advance their timing independent of the crankshaft rotation. To put to simply, intake and exhaust camshaft timing both have 50-degree swing, allowing for a massive amount of adjustment.

The benefits of independent cam timing are increased fuel economy with lower emissions, but the real benefit comes in the form of dynamic lobe separation angle or valve overlap. On engines without adjustable cam timing, such as the GM LS platform, lobe separation angle is a fixed aspect of the camshafts. LSA can dictate where your engine makes power most efficiently.

Camshafts with a wide LSA have more low-end power and cams with a narrow LSA has more top-end power. This means you would have to sacrifice good low-end power or good-end power, plus narrow LSA cams typically sacrifice idle quality which is partially what can give an engine the choppy idle you’ll see on many overhead-valve V8 engines like the GM LS.

With the Coyote and Ford’s Ti-VCT, you get the best of both worlds, since the LSA changes as the RPM changes on the engine. As LSA changes, cylinder pressure also changes and that ultimately relates to power production. Add boost to the equation and you can see why the Coyote is such an efficient platform.

The changes between the blocks for Gen 1 and Gen 2 engines are really minor and really not even worth mentioning. The big changes came for the third generation Coyote, where Ford went to a semi-closed deck design. As we’ve talked about in previous videos, the semi-closed design adds strength for high-rpm and forced induction applications. Gen 3 also saw a new know sensor setup, and increased headbolt diameter to 12mm. There are also slight oil and cooling upgrades made to both systems.

The first generation of Coyote engines was in production from 2011-2014. You could find this engine in the Mustang GT and the F150, there are some differences between the truck and car Coyote which we covered in a recent video that I will link in the description below. The Gen 1 Coyotes were rated at 420 horsepower at 6,500 rpm, with 390 lb-ft of torque at 4,250 rpm.

Like we mentioned earlier, the Ti-VCT is a huge part of the technology that made the Coyote so much more advanced than other American V8 engines at the time of its released. Gen 1 Coyotes feature a fairly basic port fuel injection setup, similar to earlier Mod motors. The intake manifold was constructed from a composite material to keep the weight down, while minimizing heat absorption. The intake runner length and plenum volume offered a great balance of low-end torque and high rpm horsepower.

Gen 1 to Gen 2

When Ford released the all-new S550 Mustang chassis, they also released the second generation Coyote. There are a handful of different upgrades found on the 2nd gen Coyote, but they’re mostly focused around increasing airflow and improving high RPM operation.

The second generation cylinder heads feature larger intake and exhaust valves, as well as increased camshaft lobe lift on both the intake and exhaust sides. To help improve cold start emissions output, the VCT system was revised to limit camshaft movement compared to the Gen 1.

  • Valve Size –
  • Gen 1: 37mm IN, 31mm EX
  • Gen 2: 37.3mm IN, 31.8mm EX
  • Lobe Lift –
  • Gen 1: 12mm IN/EX
  • Gen 2: 13mm IN/EX

Since the Gen 2 uses large valves, the pistons received larger valve reliefs. Ford also added stiffer valve springs to reduce the potential of valve float at high RPM. The intake ports on the heads were also revised to increase flow and really take advantage of the larger cams and valves.

The forged connecting rods used in the Gen 1 Boss 302 engines became the standard for all Gen 2 engines, which further improved strength and durability during high RPM operation.

A sustainable change you’ll find on the top-end is the addition of charge motion control valves (CMCV). These are pretty much flaps open and close to help control flow through the intake runners. The system partially closes at low rpm to increase the air tumble and swirl, ultimately helping to the air/fuel mixture and better fuel economy, idle stability, and reduced emissions output. These are similar to the CMCV from the earlier Four-Valve 4.6L engines, but a much more advanced system.

All the changes we just mentioned increased power output from from 420hp in the Gen 1 to 435hp in the Gen 2, both of which produce peak power 6,500 rpm. Torque output also saw an increase from 390 to 400 lb-ft, both at 4,250 rpm.

Gen 2 to Gen 3

In 2018, Ford released Gen 3 Coyote which was the biggest change to the platform since its released. One of the biggest and most impactful changes found on the Gen 3 was the addition of direct injection. Unlike most other direction injection engines out there, the Coyote combines high-pressure direct injection with low-pressure port injection from the previous generations. The dual fuel injection system also helped support the increase in compression from 11:1 to 12:1.

Another big change on the Gen 3 was an increased bore diameter from 92.7mm to 93mm. This slightly increased total displacement, but it’s a pretty minor increase. Ford also decided to ditch the steel cylinder sleeves in favor of Plasma Transferred Wire Arc (PTWA) cylinder walls which could be also found on the 5.2L GT350 engines.

The cylinder heads were also revised again for Gen 3 engine to further improve flow and the casting materials were made stronger. Interestingly, Ford brought back the 12mm headbolts for added strength. As to why they got rid of them in the first place in favor of 11mm headbolts, i’m not exactly sure.

The Gen 3 cylinder heads feature larger intake and exhaust valves, as well as increased lobe lift on both the intake and exhaust camshafts. The goal with these cylinder head changes was to make heads which flowed similar to the 5.2L GT350 heads. The last change in the cylinder head is that the cam phaser on the exhaust camshaft is different.

  • Valve Size –
  • Gen 2: 37.3mm IN, 31.8mm EX
  • Gen 3: 37.7mm IN, 32mm EX
  • Lobe Lift –
  • Gen 2: 13mm IN/EX
  • Gen 3: 14mm IN/EX

All the changes we just mentioned increased power output from from 435 in the Gen 2 to 460hp in the Gen 3, both of which produce peak power 6,500 rpm. Torque output also saw an increase from 400 to 420 lb-ft, both at 4,250 rpm.

Special Editions

Now we get into the special editions of the Coyote engine. The first special variant came in the Gen 1 era, and that’s the engine in the Boss 302 Mustangs; better known as the Roadrunner. The Roadrunner engine was basically a beefed up version of the Coyote that gave enthusiasts a taste of what a naturally aspirated road race engine is like.

The Roadrunner engine features forged connecting rods, CNC-ported cylinder heads, and a special short-runner intake manifold to help improve top-end power. This engine also features larger camshafts and stiffer valve springs, which also help increase top-end power. At the time the Roadrunner was released, it was the highest horsepower naturally aspirated engine Ford had ever offered, outputting an impressive 444 horsepower with a 7,500 rpm redline.

Moving to the Gen 2 Coyote, Ford developed an even more ridiculous variant of the Coyote, known as the Voodoo which was specifically designed for use in the Shelby GT350 and GT350R. Coming in at 5.2L, this variant of the Coyote was revolutionary and pretty insane by American V8 standards, and today that’s still true. The biggest thing that makes the Voodoo special is the flat-plane crank which I’m sure you’ve heard plenty about already.

To put it simply, the flat-plane crankshaft uses a 180-degree configuration where opposing rod journals are opposite of each other, instead 90-degrees from each other like they would be on a cross-plane crankshaft. When one piston is at top dead center, its opposing piston is at bottom dead center. This design usually results in a lighter rotating assembly, as less counterweight is needed to balance the crankshaft.

The Voodoo engine also got its own cylinder head design, and while it’s very similar to a Coyote head, the ports are larger to increase power, the camshafts are bigger, and the valves are bigger. This engine also got it’s own intake manifold which is similar to the Coyote intake manifold but with marginally longer runners and a larger intake plenum. The longer intake runners are put in place to help maintain a decent amount of low-end torque, which is something many flat-plane crank engines lack.

The Voodoo engine was a massive change from the Coyote engines Ford had produced up to that point. With more displacement, a flat-plane crank, ported cylinder heads, and tons of other Voodoo specific parts, this Coyote variant pumps out at insane 526 horsepower at 7,500 rpm, with 429 lb-ft of torque at 4,750.

The last Coyote variant we’re going to talk about in this video is the latest Predator engine, which Ford designed for use in the new 2020 GT500. This new engine is based on the Voodoo engine, but it’s been reverted back to a traditional cross-plane crankshaft and it’s got a big ole supercharger stuck to the top of it.

The compression ratio on the predator was lowered from 12:1 to a more boost-friendly 9.5:1, the heads are a CNC-ported version of the Voodoo heads, the valves are larger, and it’s got a bunch of other small changes to make it a properly reliable forced induction engine. Up top is a 2.65L Eaton TVS supercharger. All of this combined equals a ridiculous 760 horsepower at 7,300 rpm and 625 lb-ft of torque from 3,000 rpm to redline.

About Bryce Cleveland 390 Articles
Bryce founded Dust Runners Automotive Journal in 2014 as a way to write about the cars he found interesting. He currently owns a 2003 Honda CRF450R Supermoto, 2006 Nissan 350Z, and a 2018 Yamaha MT09. Follow him on Instagram for more @bryce.cleveland.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*