First Drive 2018 Ford 3.0L Power Stroke Diesel
Quiet and as smooth as any similar gasoline powered trim 2018 F-150, the new Power Stroke V6 turbo diesel equipped Ford offers best-in-class fuel economy, payload and tow capacity in the full-size pickup segment. Sporting a bold ‘Power Stroke’ emblem on its side, the new Ford F-150 equipped with the diesel will deliver performance and economy for both retail and commercial customers.
Power Stroke V6 Turbo Diesel
For the record, the Ford designed and engineered Power Stroke V6 turbo diesel is built at the Ford Dagenham England engine plant. An adaptation of the Ford ‘Lions’ European V6 diesel engine, the new Power Stroke was developed specifically for the F-150 full-size pickup truck.
The 3.0L V6 turbo diesel produces 250 horsepower at 3,250 RPM with 440 lb.-ft. of torque peaking between just 1,750 and 2,250 RPM. The Power Stroke delivers an EPA estimated fuel economy of 30 mpg highway, a tow capacity of 11,400 pounds and payload of 2,020 pounds.
Media First Drive
We were part of a select group of media afforded an opportunity to test drive a group of Power Stroke turbo diesel equipped 2018 F-150 trucks at Denver Colorado recently. Test drives included local roads and highways, drives into the mountains and a challenging off-road course in a building materials pit. Test vehicles were unloaded, bed-loaded or hooked to various trailers to simulate normal usage by an F-150 owner.
Then, for a ‘real world’ touch, Denver weather contributed a good dose of cold, rain, snow plus some ice along the roads and highways for added measure and giving an extra level of ugly slip-and-slop to the off-road venue.
Selected First Drive Impressions
The Power Stroke V6 is remarkably quiet running due to its advanced design and materials engineering and other noise mitigation elements throughout the vehicle. Even listening for it we could not hear the diesel at start-up, idle, normal acceleration or highway speed. Only when putting the engine under heavy load at speed (such as to pass) did we hear a bit of diesel noise – but only because we knew what to listen for.
The 10-speed SelectShift automatic with manual mode is well tuned for this engine. Offering a wide range of gears – plus multiple drive modes (Normal, Sport, Eco, Tow/Haul and Off-Road) – we found shifting to be smooth and efficient in both acceleration and deceleration. Going downhill under load (hauling or towing) – shifting the 10-speed to manual allows the driver (if needed) to select a lower gear for engine braking and additional control.
Drive testing unloaded trucks, we were hard pressed to note any difference from a gasoline engine equipped F-150. In fact, had we been blind testing them, we might not have been able to single out the diesel from the others.
In driving the haul-loaded and tow-loaded trucks, we noted that the test ‘haul’ trucks were loaded at about 50 percent of capacity and the ‘tow’ trucks loaded at around 65 percent of capacity. We considered those to be appropriate test load factors for what we see as normal use by an F-150 owner.
Testing the ‘haul’ loaded trucks, we found their performance around town and on the highway to be very good – easy to handle, good braking and solid acceleration from stop and very acceptable when passing on the highway.
However, in testing the tow-loaded trucks we noted, that on the highway, acceleration from speed (such as passing) was not as responsive – even with the 10-speed automatic – as we would have wanted or would expect from a higher horsepower gasoline powered truck.
On the off-road course runs, the low end torque of the Power Stroke diesel was at its best. Coupled with the transfer case and locking rear end option, it enabled pretty easy mastery of the (very wet and sloppy) multiple hill climbs and descents, mud hole romps, off-camber slopes, rock pits and variable surface (railroad ties and telephone pole) trails.
Lastly, maintaining the required Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) is often a ‘put off’ for retail customers considering a diesel equipped vehicle. We noted that the reservoir capacity for DEF on the Power Stroke is approximately 10,000 miles or equal to a service interval meaning that filling the DEF becomes a task for the servicing dealer instead of the owner.
Price Premium and Availability
The Power Stroke diesel option – as with competing brands – has a price premium. A cursory review of the F-150 trim levels – where the diesel is available – compared to same trucks with standard gasoline engines shows the price premium for the Power Stroke diesel could run in the area of (+/-) $4,000.
For retail customers, the new Power Stroke diesel will only be available on the more expensive SuperCrew trims – Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum with 5.5 or 6.5-foot beds plus SuperCabs with 6.5-foot bed. Interestingly, Ford is also making the diesel available to commercial (but not retail) customers in the lower XL and XLT trim levels in those same cab and bed configurations.
Full-Size Diesel Competition for 2019
The Ford F-150 V6 Power Stroke turbodiesel and (possibly) the Chevrolet Silverado Duramax may be the only diesel full-size pickup offerings in the 2019 model year.
Ram brand is not offering their Italy-built VM Motori 3.0L EcoDiesel in the 2019 Ram 1500 lineup. Performance metrics for the current year EcoDiesel are 240 hp, 420 lb.-ft. of torque, 27 mpg highway, 1,600 pounds payload and 9,210 pounds towing.
The promised 3.0L inline-six Duramax diesel engine for the 2018 Chevrolet Silverado is yet to appear. Slated to be built at Flint, Michigan, it will be mated to their version of the (co-developed with Ford) 10-speed automatic transmission when it arrives. No information on performance or fuel economy is available yet.
We would expect the Duramax diesel, following its debut in Silverado, to be available in the GMC Sierra in some form – but not likely until the 2020 model year.
The other full-size pickup trucks, Nissan Titan and Toyota Tundra, are not currently offering a diesel engine for their trucks in 2019 at this time.