OTTAWA TO HALIFAX ON ONE TANK OF FUEL?

2018 FORD F-150 DIESEL

Calgary Sun - Autonet - - FRONT PAGE - 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 km on the high­way. With a 136-L 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.

But guess what? On one very full ini­tial tank, the diesel en­gine was good enough for bet­ter than 900 km, 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 km over 9.5 hours, though we did have a slight tail­wind. But we also had cargo and three peo­ple on board.

That kind of mileage is one of the rea­sons 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 km, 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 a lot, be­cause the 10-speed au­to­matic is still only turn­ing the en­gine at 1,750 rpm when go­ing 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 km, 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 long-term av­er­age dis­played 10.2 L/100 km from a mix of city and high­way driv­ing.

Ford doesn’t cur­rently of­fer a 136-L tank as an op­tion, but it should. A full tank, there­fore, gen­er­ally costs $125 to fill from empty, given that diesel 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-km haul to­talled $450.43 — far cheaper than fly­ing and rent­ing a car for three peo­ple.

The story of this 3.0-L 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 pound-feet 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, be­cause $7,500 will take a long time to be off­set by fuel econ­omy alone. Es­pe­cially when the 2.7-L EcoBoost V6 can achieve 9.8 L/100 km on the 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 kilo­me­tres, with mul­ti­ple warn­ings that the truck would be lim­ited to 80 km/h should we go be­yond those 120 km.

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 east­coast ad­ven­ture with so few stops for fuel.

2018 Ford F-150 Diesel.

DEREK MCNAUGHTON

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