Pickup Re­view: 2018 Ford F-150 Diesel

The Standard (Elliot Lake) - - BLIND RIVER - By DEREK MCNAUGHTON DRIV­ING.CA

ac­cord­ing to Google maps, ot­tawa to hal­i­fax is a dis­tance of 1,443 kilo­me­tres on the trans Canada high­way. ac­cord­ing to Ford, its new diesel en­gine in the 2018 F-150 can achieve 9.3 l/100 kilo­me­tres on the high­way. With a 136-litre tank, the range of this diesel pickup should, there­fore, equal 1,462 kilo­me­tres — enough to drive all the way from the na­tion’s cap­i­tal to one of the pret­ti­est cities in the coun­try, on only one tank of diesel.

at least, that’s the way it looked on pa­per. and that was my goal, upon tak­ing pos­ses­sion of a four-wheeldrive F-150 lariat crew cab, equipped with a 5.5-foot box and the new, highly an­tic­i­pated diesel en­gine. only prob­lem was, the tank ca­pac­ity on our tester was 98 litres, good for about 900 kilo­me­tres. uh oh.

but guess what? on one very full ini­tial tank, the diesel was good enough for bet­ter than 900 kilo­me­tres, al­low­ing the truck to make it all the way from ot­tawa to Fred­er­ic­ton, n.b., on just a single tank of fuel — a dis­tance of 1,013 kilo­me­tres on the trans Canada, av­er­ag­ing 9.4 l/100 kilo­me­tres over 9.5 hours, though we did have a slight tail­wind, but also cargo and three people on board.

Still, that kind of mileage is one of the rea­sons why this “baby power Stroke” is an en­gine wor­thy of se­ri­ous af­fec­tion. over the course of our long, east coast re­turn odyssey to drop my son off at univer­sity, we av­er­aged 9.9 l/100 kilo­me­tres — most of it at 125 km/h be­cause new brunswick and nova Sco­tia have sen­si­ble, 110 km/h speed lim­its. had we trav­elled closer to 100 km/h, the range and econ­omy would have been slightly bet­ter — though not mas­sively, be­cause the 10-speed au­to­matic is still only turn­ing the en­gine at 1,750 rpm at 125 km/h.

by the time we parked in hal­i­fax af­ter 13 hours and seven min­utes of driv­ing and a to­tal dis­tance of 1,440 kilo­me­tres, our av­er­age had climbed to 9.6. not hav­ing to hunt for fuel stops, or take the time to stop, is the hid­den bonus of such fuel econ­omy in a full-size truck.

Even around town, no mat­ter how much we drove, we al­ways seemed to have lots of fuel. on the truck’s on­board com­puter, the longterm av­er­age dis­played 10.2 l/100 from a mix of city and high­way driv­ing.

Ford doesn’t cur­rently of­fer a 136-litre tank as an op­tion — the 98-litre tank is the only choice — but it should.

a full tank, there­fore, gen­er­ally costs $125 to fill from empty, given that diesel cur­rently ranges in price from $1.21 to $1.39 per litre in this part of the world. The cost of fuel over our 3,363-kilo­me­tre haul to­taled $450.43 — far cheaper than fly­ing and rent­ing a car for three people.

the story of this 3.0-litre V6, how­ever, is not just im­pres­sive fuel econ­omy. So quiet is this en­gine, it can be eas­ily mis­taken for a gaso­line Eco­boost. Sure, there’s the small­est bit of clat­ter, but it is so in­su­lated — es­pe­cially on the high­way — that it’s easy to for­get there’s a diesel up front. The low en­gine speeds also con­trib­ute to less vibration in the cabin, feel­ing smooth at all times. the deep pool of torque is a quick re­minder of the diesel’s power — 440 lb.-ft. can swiftly mo­ti­vate this F-150, and the 250 horse­power is de­cent, al­low­ing for a max­i­mum tow rat­ing of 11,400 pounds. Could this be the per­fect truck pow­er­train?

maybe. two is­sues come with the diesel. First is the cost for the op­tion — $7,500 will take a long time to off­set on fuel econ­omy alone, es­pe­cially when the 2.7l Eco­boost V6 can achieve 9.8 l/100 kilo­me­tres high­way, ac­cord­ing to Ford, though the best we could achieve was 10.3. While tow­ing, the diesel will still be the bet­ter op­tion and re­sult in less fuel burned. but that ini­tial price of en­try is steep, con­sid­er­ing the diesel is only avail­able to re­tail cus­tomers on lariat and higher trim models. our lariat test truck, with just about ev­ery op­tion in­cluded, rang in at $81,249 af­ter freight and de­liv­ery.

a smaller is­sue is the need to add diesel ex­haust fluid. our truck had only a half tank of DEF when we de­parted, and it’s easy to see the range of DEF with the F-150’s con­fig­urable in­stru­ment clus­ter. When we left, the DEF range showed 4,550 kilo­me­tres to empty. Com­pletely full, the 21-litre tank is sup­posed to yield a range of 16,000 kilo­me­tres be­fore need­ing a re­fill at about the same dis­tance as ev­ery oil change. but at just a lit­tle over 2,600 kilo­me­tres, the truck flashed a DEF warn­ing, and showed we were down to 1,000 kilo­me­tres.

it then dropped quickly to 950, then 900, then 850 be­fore lock­ing in at 800 and count­ing down per kilo­me­tre from then on. by the time we got back to ot­tawa, the DEF range was down to about 120 kilo­m­eres, with mul­ti­ple warn­ings that the truck would be lim­ited to 80 km/h should we go be­yond those 120. We didn’t, and a $25 jug of DEF brought the gauge back to just un­der half. Still, the emis­sions con­trol re­quires diesel own­ers to keep an eye on the fluid.

that, how­ever, is an in­signif­i­cant price to pay for fuel econ­omy that’s on par with a com­pact SUV that wouldn’t have near the ca­pa­bil­ity, or the room of a full-size, halfton pickup truck on such an east coast ad­ven­ture with so few stops for fuel.

PHOTO By DEREK MCNAUGHTON/DRIV­ING.CA

2018 Ford F-150 Diesel

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