OTTAWA TO HALIFAX ON ONE TANK OF FUEL?
2018 FORD F-150 DIESEL
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.