Tow tons with F150 Power Stroke
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.
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.