Ford F-150: The Diesel Difference

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Ford’s first F-150 Power Stroke offers big truck propulsion in a half-ton pickup.

Diesel’s always been a mainstay in heavy-duty pickup trucks, but it’s now weaving its way into lighter-duty vehicles as well. For the first time, Ford is offering a 3.0-litre V6 Power Stroke in its F-150.

Ram was first with its EcoDiesel engine in its 1500, which will eventually return in its all-new version, while GM has an inline-six diesel planned for its new Sierra and Silverado models next year. Nissan puts a 5.0-litre Cummins V8 into its Titan XD, but that truck is considered a step up from a half-ton.

Ford’s engine makes 250 horsepower, along with 440 lb-ft of torque that peaks at 1,750 rpm, and is mated to a ten-speed automatic. It’s officially rated at 10.8 L/100 km in city driving and 8.0 on the highway. Like many gasoline engines it includes start/stop technology, which shuts off the engine at idle. Such systems can often be jarring on gas engines, never mind diesel, but on this engine it’s smooth and seamless. Should it not be to your liking, it can be disabled with a button on the dash.

As quiet as gasoline

The engine is quiet enough that it’s easy to mistake it for a gasoline powerplant, and not just inside the cabin but when standing beside the truck as well.

It’s based on the architecture of a 3.0-litre diesel that Ford designed and builds for Land Rover—a company it used to own—in the Range Rover Sport and Discovery. The F-150 versions are built alongside it at Ford’s plant in Dagenham, England.

The Land Rover engines are designed for higher-speed driving while the Ford version is intended for work, and it’s differentiated by its truck-specific turbocharger geometry, fuel injection system, exhaust manifold, crankshaft and bearings. It uses the same compact graphic iron (GCI) block composition as in the Super Duty’s 6.7-litre Power Stroke engine, and their fuel systems are almost identical. Ford says the main differences between the 3.0-litre and 6.7-litre are primarily in their displacement.

Economical trims for fleet buyers

These smaller diesels generally go into the pricier trim levels, and for consumers, the 3.0-litre Power Stroke will only be available in Lariat, Platinum, or King Ranch trims of the SuperCab and SuperCrew in 4×2 or 4×4. However, commercial fleet buyers will also be able to get it in lower-level XL and XLT trims.              Payload and towing capacity depend on a few factors, of course, but the diesel’s top numbers are 2,020 lbs (1,375 kg) payload and 11,400 lbs (5,170 kg) maximum towing.

With the new diesel, the F-150 now offers six engine options, ranging from 2.7-litre turbo to 5.0-litre V8.

Smooth and strong

The diesel doesn’t feel quick, but its power is delivered smoothly and with no lag, even when towing or hauling a heavy load. The ten-speed also shifts smoothly, and I only felt it hunt for a gear once or twice while towing 6,500 lbs on a couple of long, steep inclines. Engine braking in tow/haul mode helps to control the load when going back down again.

With the load removed and taken onto a twisty road, the F-150 showed off crisp and responsive steering, without any nose-heaviness from the engine bay. For those who want diesel but don’t need heavy-duty, this new Power Stroke offers a very decent proposition.

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