Denver, COLORADO. With Ford recently announcing that all but two cars will remain in their product portfolio within the next two years, there’s even less reason to wonder why they invest so heavily in their trucks.
Until I get to drive and review the new GM and RAM trucks, and even after I’ll have spent some time with them, I can safely say that the F-150 is an unfathomably good truck. What Ford’s done over the last three years, while not perfect, has further pushed the boundaries of what was and is possible to do with a truck. All that was lacking on top of the incredible levels of technology and capabilities was the addition of a diesel engine.
While the real world need for a Power Stroke diesel engine option with the new F-150 is somewhat questionable, the fact that RAM has one on offer and that some dealers and customers wanted one, was enough for Ford to deliver one.
And deliver they have. The specifications and ratings war among all trucks being what it is, there was no way Ford’s new Power Stroke V6 was going to be only good enough. In fact, at this very moment, no other powertrain fitted under the bonnet of any truck can deliver what this one can.
Diesel is synonymous with two very important aspects: Torque and fuel economy. On the latter point, the EPA estimated ratings of 30 mpg highway, 22 mpg city and 25 mpg combined (7,8/10.7/9.5L /100 km) demonstrate without a doubt that the competition doesn’t quite compete anymore.
On the former element, Ford’s out-tuned the competition as well. In the end however, it’s all about how well tuned the powertrain turns out to be.
Diesel power and refinement
Ford’s taken all the lessons learned from decades of Power Stroke engines in their Super Duty trucks, blended that with their EcoBoost high-output experience and blended it all into their new 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6.
The junior Power Stroke produces 440 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,750 rpm and 250 horsepower at 3,250 rpm. In order to achieve these numbers, Ford has called upon reliable and effective technologies such as a single variable-geometry turbocharger and a high-pressure (29,000 psi) common-rail fuel injection system. With it is a segment exclusive 10-speed automatic transmission that can non-sequentially select the right gear. In other words, the transmission can smartly select the right ratio based on need without cycling through gears thus negatively impacting performance.
This powertrain combination endows the 2018 Ford F-150 with a huge range of capabilities. As always, depending on trim, body configuration and options, the truck has the ability to haul 2,200 lbs. in the bed or towing up to 11,400 lbs. At the event, we were given the opportunity to experience first-hand how well it all works. Our truck was hooked up to a 5,500-lb horse trailer, minus the horses, and although it weighed on the truck slightly, the result was convincing. The transmission made the best of downhill slopes and sorted itself out appropriately on the uphill portions on our drive north-west of Denver.
The F-150’s rock-solid chassis, ideally tuned suspension, and incredibly quiet cabin perfectly masked the work it was performing. Refinement may not have been an important factor in truck buying some years ago but in 2018, it needs to be clear and present. Even as revs climbed, as the truck ascended an incline, with or without a trailer, my drive partner and I could converse at a very normal tone. Never was there any drama or doubt in the trucks abilities.
Mud and luxury
As we sat comfortably in the F-150’s vast and beautifully appointed cabin, we also went on a little off-roading excursion. The big Ford is ready for any and all eventualities including traversing some seriously difficult terrain.
The added torque delivered by the Power Stroke diesel V6 comes in handy when faced with climbing a steep incline. Otherwise, the F-150 4×4 settings, surround-view cameras, hill descent and climb modes are scarcely challenged by rocks, mud, large branches and the likes.
Is there a Power Stroke in your future?
Based solely on the on the very telling result of 33.7 mpg or 7L/100km a fuel economy challenge and the towing portion of the event, not opting for the Power Strokes makes no sense.
The tough part is the cost involved in obtaining the diesel engine. As in most cases, there’s a heck of a premium to pay, between $5,000 and $10,000, depending on the selected model and trim. To drive a Power Stroke F-150 is to want a Power Stroke F-150 however it is important to actually make good use of the technology. Otherwise, might I interest you in a lovely Coyote 5.0-litre V8?