Tow tons with F150 Power Stroke

Valley Journal Advertiser - - WHEELS - BY RICHARD RUS­SELL WHEELS

Volk­swa­gen may have tainted the water for diesel cars but there is no stop­ping the use of com­bus­tion ig­ni­tion en­gines in trucks.

GM, Ford and Ram have had diesels in their heavy-duty mod­els for years. More re­cently, GM made a diesel avail­able in its mid­size Colorado/Canyon twins and Ram put one in its en­try-level half-ton.

Ford is the lat­est to the party with what is per­haps the best of the light duty bri­gade.

The de­ci­sion to of­fer a lighter duty model was no doubt brought on by the suc­cess of the 3.0-litre Ram EcoDiesel and GM’s four-cylin­der Du­ra­max.

When it comes to pickups, the Big Three are con­stantly trad­ing “best” claims. Whether horse­power, torque, tow­ing or pay­load, GM, Ford and Ram are con­stantly try­ing to outdo the oth­ers. The most ob­vi­ous com­peti­tor for the new Ford diesel is the one avail­able in the Ram.

Ford says its new Power Stroke unit has 250 horse­power and 444 lb.-ft. of torque, 10 and 24 more, re­spec­tively, than the Ram. It also claims best-in-class tow­ing - up to 11,400 lbs.

The new 3.0- Power Stroke, paired with a 10ñspeed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, boasts high­way mileage num­bers the com­pe­ti­tion can only dream of.

Ford claims a record-set­ting 7.8 litres/100 km (36 mpg) on the high­way. I ac­tu­ally did bet­ter than that dur­ing a con­certed fuel-sip­ping ex­er­cise here, much bet­ter, so the claim has some credit.

Like the GM and Ram light duty diesels, the new Ford Pow­erStroke unit is based on a Euro­pean en­gine. The roots go back al­most a decade and a half to a joint ven­ture be­tween Ford and Peu­geot-Citroen.

That turbo diesel, dubbed Lion, dis­placed 2.7 litres, and was used in a va­ri­ety of Euro­pean prod­ucts, in­clud­ing Jaguar sedans. A more mod­ern ver­sion has been used by Land Rover since 2016.

While it is built in Ford’s Da­gen­ham plant near Lon­don, Eng­land, the Power Stroke has been heav­ily mod­i­fied for use on this side of the pond.

Sys­tems Engi­neer Anita Ber­sie told me she spent three years on the project, work­ing to en­sure the en­gine not only fit in the F150 phys­i­cally, but also with the use ex­pected on th­ese shores.

Ford ex­pects as many as 80 per cent of 3.0 Power Stroke buy­ers will use their truck for tow­ing, com­pared to 70 per cent for F150s with a gas en­gine.

Tow­ing places greater strain on a driv­e­train than any other type of use.

Par­don me for get­ting a bit tech­ni­cal here, but the mod­i­fi­ca­tions made for the tow-happy North Amer­i­can mar­ket in­clude: a Com­pacted Graphite Iron (CGI) en­gine block, die-cast struc­tural oil pan, forged crank­shaft, new main and rod bear­ings.

A new sin­gle high-pres­sure, cooled ex­haust gas re­cir­cu­la­tion (EGR) sys­tem, new ac­ces­sory drive cov­ers, a sculpted in­take plenum and a new fuel pump.

Ber­sie told me the com­mon­rail fuel in­jec­tors op­er­ate un­der 29,000 pounds pres­sure and are cov­ered with in­su­lat­ing “socks” to damp out noise, the most com­mon source of the typ­i­cal diesel sound.

She said the vari­able geom­e­try tur­bocharger had to be switched to the pas­sen­ger side of the en­gine, as we drive on the right and it would have in­ter­fered with the steer­ing sys­tem.

Tow­ing places a huge strain on the cool­ing sys­tem, so the Power Stroke gets a me­chan­i­cal fan and ra­di­a­tor shut­ters that open un­der high-tem­per­a­ture con­di­tions and close un­der light load.

The diesel, weighs about 75 ki­los more than Ford’s twin turbo 3.5 litre V6. It is mated only with a 10-speed au­to­matic, which has come in for spe­cific pro­gram­ming and of­fers five drive modes.

Ford says it will have a 225,000km service in­ter­val for the tim­ing belt and the diesel ex­haust af­tertreat­ment fluid sup­ply is good for 15,000 km.

Ford has sub­jected the new Power Stroke to the fa­mous Davis Dam test - climb­ing a 21-km route on a six per cent grade at tem­per­a­tures above crest­ing 38C with no loss of power.

We didn’t mimic that test but did try a va­ri­ety of loads and con­di­tions. From a base sta­tion at 5,600-foot al­ti­tude we drove a va­ri­ety of F150s over a num­ber of routes; all of them in­cluded steep in­clines and heavy loads, ei­ther in the bed or on a hitch.

I drove one with a pair of dirt bikes in the bed, an­other with a full load of gar­den sup­plies and one with a 6,500-pound ski boat on a trailer.

The first thing I no­ticed was how quiet this en­gine is - much qui­eter than the afore­men­tioned com­peti­tors and in a whole dif­fer­ent league than the heavy-duty diesels.

The stan­dard start/stop sys­tem works seam­lessly. With a full load in the bed, the truck pulls ef­fort­lessly from rest with im­pres­sive ac­cel­er­a­tion, as if there was noth­ing in back.

Even laden with 6,500 pounds of trailer the Power Stroke dis­played im­pres­sive power, even when climb­ing long grades.

Of course you are aware of the ex­tra load, but once boost ar­rives, and with a torque peak at only 1750 rpm, it works hard and well.

The 10- speed trans­mis­sion plays a big role, keep­ing the en­gine in its sweet power spot and down­shift­ing when de­scend­ing steep grades

Diesels are more ex­pen­sive to build and com­mand a pre­mium, up to $10,000 and more for the HD mod­els. The new Power Stroke adds $5,650-$8,200 to the F150 bot­tom line, de­pend­ing on trim level and equip­ment.

That is off­set by the fact that if you reg­u­larly tow, you will re­coup that ex­tra ex­pense more quickly than if it was a ga­so­line en­gine. Diesel fuel econ­omy does not drop as much when un­der load.

If you tow or haul loads reg­u­larly, but don’t need or want a heavy-duty pickup, the new F150 Power Stroke might be the per­fect so­lu­tion.

PHO­TOS BY RICHARD RUS­SELL/WHEELS

The 2018 Ford F150 Power Stroke diesel can tow up to 11,400 pounds.

The 2018 Ford F150 Power Stroke diesel is pow­ered by a tur­bocharged, 3.0litre, V6 diesel en­gine ca­pa­ble of 250 horse­power and 440 lb.-ft. of torque.

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