Do people love their pickups? You bet your tailgate they do! Look around when you’re out and about, they’re everywhere. Not only on the road, but in the shows we watch and the music we listen to – country music and pickups go hand-in-hand. The light pickup segment has the hottest competition in the automotive world, and Ford has just raised the bar with the addition of a three-liter diesel engine option in their best-selling F-150. Anyone who wants to haul around their favorite boat or camping trailer will welcome the diesel F-150’s increased towing capability and modest fuel usage.
You can set my truck on fire and roll it down a hill
And I still wouldn’t trade for a Coupe de Ville – sung by Joe Diffie
Diesel power for the Ford F-150
The diesel engine in the 2018 F-150 is a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 rated at 250 horsepower with a maximum torque output of 440 lb-ft. at just 1,750 rpm. Although the engine, made in Ford’s Dagenham Engine Plane in the U.K., was jointly developed with PSA Peugeot Citroen and is currently also used in the Land Rover Discovery, it has been given significant upgrades by the same Ford engineering team that produced the F-Series 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel. Ford engineers adapted the V6 diesel for North American applications with a new forged crankshaft from the 2.7L Eco Boost gas engine with purpose-designed main and connecting rod bearings; a high-efficiency variable geometry turbocharger; and a common-rail fuel injection system with an increased pressure of 29,000 psi to provide smoother and quieter operation with reduced emissions.
The 3.0L Power Stroke also has a cast aluminum oil pan and a two-stage oil pump to reduce parasitic loss and improve fuel efficiency, and dual fuel filters to help clean the fuel before it’s injected into the engine. Aluminum cylinder heads on a compacted-graphite iron block help keep the weight down to about 620 pounds, not bad for a 3.0-liter diesel. The diesel F-150 has a class-leading maximum towing weight of 11,400 pounds and a maximum payload capacity of 2,020 pounds. Although EPA fuel mileage figures have not been officially released, Ford has targeted 30 miles per gallon for the diesel’s highway mileage. “For every truck owner who wants strong fuel economy while they tow and haul, we offer a new 3.0-liter Power Stroke® V6 engine that dreams are made of,” said Dave Filipe, vice president global powertrain engineering. “The more you tow and the longer you haul, the more you’ll appreciate its class-leading towing and payload capacity and how efficient it is at the pump.”
Wedding ring won’t cost me a buck
When I get married to my pickup truck – sung by Rodney Carrington
F-150 engineering advances for 2018
Ford scored advances in fuel economy, emissions, and chassis improvements for the new diesel F-150 pickup. The new chassis features stronger axles and a fully boxed, high-strength steel frame. The Ford team is pulling out all the stops to achieve the desired 30 mpg highway rating with dual grille shutters that can open or shut automatically to enhance aerodynamics for better fuel economy, or to optimize air flow for more power. A viscous engine cooling fan coupling controlled by the engine control system reduces parasitic engine losses under moderate driving conditions, and improves high temperature, high altitude performance. David Ives, Ford diesel engine technical specialist, says the viscous fan coupling “Gives the F-150 Power Stroke owners more power and more passing capability in harsh conditions.”
A ten-speed automatic transmission is standard on the diesel F-150. The transmission is calibrated specifically for the 3.0L Power Stroke diesel to maximize shift points and gear ratios to optimize power, low-rpm torque, and efficiency, and can non-sequentially select the right gear based on performance need. Also standard is an automatic engine stop/start system to reduce fuel consumption and emissions during city driving. Exhaust emissions are critical for diesel engines and we’ve all heard about other manufacturers unsuccessfully trying to cut corners on their diesel exhaust emission systems. Ford’s F-150 uses a system that subjects the exhaust to a urea-based treatment to reduce particulate emissions. A 5.4 gallon tank contains the diesel exhaust treatment fluid that should last for 10,000 miles before it needs to be replenished. A gauge on the F-150 dash will remind owners when fluid needs to be added.
I drive an old Ford pick-up truck
I do my drinkin’ from a Dixie cup – sung by Travis Tritt
F-150 diesel market and model availability
Studies by Ford show that 70% of F-150 owners tow with their pickups, and Ford estimates that 80% of diesel F-150 owners will do the same. Presently, Ford is banking on about 5% of F-150 buyers to opt for the diesel engine, but they expect the diesel market to grow as pickup truck demand increases. Expecting the pickup truck market to grow is a pretty safe bet in today’s market conditions – in 2017, automakers sold 2.4 million full-size pickups, up 5.6% over corresponding sales in 2016.
The 3.0L Power Stroke diesel will be available on the Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum trim levels of either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive F-150s. Only fleet buyers will be able to buy the three-liter diesel engine in the XL or XLT trim levels. Trucks with the SuperCrew cab can be ordered with either the 5.5-foot bed or the 6.5-foot bed, but only the 6.5-foot bed is available for SuperCab trucks. The price premium of the diesel over the gas-engined F-150s is estimated to be $4,000 over the 2.7L V6 Lariat; $2,400 over the 3.5L V6 Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum; and $3,000 over the V8 King Ranch and Platinum trim levels. Ford estimates that deliveries will begin this spring.
Hose me down and dress me up
Fire up that old pickup truck – sung by Garth Brooks
Diesel engines and light pickup trucks
Invented in 1893 by Rudolf Diesel, it was not until the 1930s that the diesel engine began to be used in automobiles. Its unique characteristics of high low-end torque, robust construction, and the ability to operate without a spark ignition system soon made the diesel the engine of choice in the long-haul trucking industry. The diesel engine has the highest thermal efficiency of any practical internal or external combustion engine. However, the diesel engine was heavy and considered to be noisy, smelly, and smoky and, thus, its popularity for cars and light trucks languished – until the gas crisis of the early ‘70s. Suddenly, the diesel was “discovered” in the light truck world thanks to its high fuel economy and low-cost fuel.
Chevrolet and Dodge first offered diesel engines in their light pickup trucks in 1978. Ford did not follow suit for the F-Series trucks, but partnered with International Harvester (name later changed to Navistar) and introduced its first diesel truck in 1983. The Ford/Navistar diesel was very heavy and was offered only in Ford’s larger trucks, the F-250 and F-350. Ford began building their own diesel, the 6.7-liter Power Stroke, in 2011. Today’s technology has tempered the diesel’s noise, smell, and smoky exhaust to the point where diesel engines are now socially acceptable. It’s now time for the biggest-selling light pickup, the Ford F-150, to join its bigger brothers at diesel pumps across North America.
I’ve got an eight-foot bed that never has to be made
You know if it weren’t for trucks we wouldn’t have tailgates – sung by Joe Diffie
Video credit: Ford Motor Company