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First Drive: 2018 Ford F-150 3.0L Power Stroke Turbodiesel

Posted in Features on June 11, 2018
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Photographers: Ford Motor Company

We recently jumped at the chance to get behind the wheel of the ’18 Ford F-150 with the new optional 3.0L V-6 Power Stroke turbodiesel engine. This is the first time the F-150 has ever been available with a diesel engine, and it’s one of six engines currently available under the F-150 hood. Of course, pickup truck enthusiasts have been begging the manufacturers to offer 1/2-ton diesel trucks for at least a decade, and understandably so. Diesels make more torque, which is better for towing and hauling heavy loads as well as offering an improved driving experience in off-road scenarios. Diesels also typically get about 30 percent better fuel economy than a comparable gas engine. So is the new Ford 1/2-ton Power Stroke everything we’ve all dreamed of? The answer may surprise you.

The ’18 F-150 3.0L Power Stroke diesel engine is of English descent. It’s manufactured in the Dagenham, England, engine plant and shipped to the U.S. where it’s installed in the F-150. The base version of this Euro 3.0L diesel is sold in Peugeots, Citroëns, Australian Fords, as well as in Jaguar and Land Rover models. Even though the Ford F-150 Power Stroke diesel engine shares many components with these other engines, there are some Ford-specific differences such as a Ford-spec’d crank and higher fuel pressure, which are said to make the engine more heavy-duty. The Ford Power Stroke 3.0L punches out 250 hp at 3,250 rpm, and 440 lb-ft of torque along a flat curve of 1,750-2,250 rpm. For comparison, the Ford’s 3.0L diesel cousin found in the Land Rover Range Sport HSE Td6 puts out 254 hp at 3,750 rpm and 443 lb-ft of torque at 1,500-1,750 rpm.

The Power Stroke 3.0L is a 60-degree V-6 DOHC turbodiesel with a single variable-geometry intercooled turbo. The block is made from compacted graphite iron, the crank is forged steel, and the heads and pistons are cast aluminum alloy. The 507-pound engine is incredibly compact. We’d love to see it make its way into the Ford Motorsports crate engine program.

Like many modern diesel engines, the F-150 Power Stroke diesel makes use of exhaust fluid (DEF) and a particulate filter in the exhaust system to meet stringent U.S. emissions standards. The viscous-controlled mechanical engine–driven fan and dual radiator shutters are said to provide improved high-temperature and high-altitude performance over the electric fans used by competitors. Ford says that other competing diesels in the segment with electric cooling fans have to dial back on power under extreme heat and altitude where more power and more passing capability might be needed. In less demanding driving conditions, the F-150 engine control system backs off the fan load through the viscous coupler, closing down the two radiator shutters for improved aerodynamic efficiency and reduced parasitic engine loss. Speaking of efficiency, the ’18 Ford F-150 with the 3.0L Power Stroke diesel has EPA-estimated ratings of 22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined, making it the highest EPA-estimated ratings available in a fullsize, light-duty, two-wheel-drive pickup truck. However, the 4x4 Power Stroke F-150 EPA fuel economy estimates are significantly lower at 20/25/22 mpg. Ford claims the variance is due to parasitic loss in the 4x4 drivetrain and the lower axle gear ratio in the 4x4 models. By comparison, the Ram EcoDiesel hits 20/27/23 mpg in a two-wheel-drive application and 19/27/22 mpg in the 4x4 category.

On-Road

The first thing you’ll notice about the Power Stroke in the Ford F-150 is that it’s not noticeable at all. The 3.0L diesel engine is incredibly quiet thanks in part to engine tweaking, a tuned elastomeric damper on the front of the engine, a die-cast structural oil pan, and significant insulation on and around the engine. The Power Stroke 3.0L could be easily mistaken for a gas engine from the inside or outside of the truck. However, there will be no mistaking the low-end torque of the diesel engine once you lay into the throttle. It accelerates with authority.

During the fuel economy segment of the Power Stroke F-150 launch, journalists were challenged to get the best fuel economy possible around an 8-mile loop that included city and highway driving. The F-150 fuel economy gauge was our measuring stick. With extremely cautious driving and an unreasonably light foot we only mustered 30.8 mpg due to being stopped at pretty much every traffic light on the route. One journalist somehow managed a 40.6 mpg run. Most cautious journalists were able to hit mid- to high-30 mpg numbers while throttling carefully along the route. We believe that the real-world mpg numbers will be significantly lower than what was achieved during this mpg economy exercise.

Towing

The ’18 Ford F-150 Power Stroke boasts a best-in-class max payload capacity of 2,020 pounds (4x2, regular cab, XL) and a best-in-class towing capacity of 11,400 pounds (4x2, regular cab, XL). To put this to the test, we pulled a 6,500-pound boat around a 23.5-mile combined city and highway loop. This is where the Power Stroke F-150 really shines. The torquey diesel combined with the ten-speed automatic transmission makes for a relaxing tow. The low rpm hum of the diesel 3.0L is far more soothing than the peaky high-rpm towing experience that most 1/2-ton gas engines provide. Our short tow resulted in just over 10 mpg. We’d expect heavy towing fuel economy to vary in range from 10-15 mpg depending on driving habits, weight towed, wind resistance, and the terrain.

Off-Road

Of course the low end grunt of the diesel was a huge advantage off-road, but don’t be fooled into thinking this diesel is a slouch. The Power Stroke F-150 was quite the ripper in the mud and on slippery hillclimbs. The F-150 transmission, transfer case, and chassis made great use of the available diesel power on our test course without annoying wheel hop or chatter. The air intake is at the front, just above the grille, so those that like to traverse excessively deep water crossings will have to proceed with caution.

Buy the Numbers

Many of us cringe at the thought of a $50,000 1/2-ton truck. Today, that dollar figure is easily surpassed with only a few select options. The Power Stroke 3.0L turbodiesel V-6 is only available with the SelecShift ten-speed automatic transmission and auto start-stop technology in the higher F-150 trim levels, which include the Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum-edition SuperCrew trucks with either a 5.5- or 6.5-foot bed configuration, and SuperCab trucks with a 6.5-foot bed configuration. Checking the 3.0L diesel powertrain box will set you back $4,000 more than the gas 2.7L EcoBoost V-6 base engine for the Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum trucks and $2,400 more than the 3.5L EcoBoost V-6 engine in those same trim levels.

Keep an eye out for a more long-term, in-depth review on real-world driving and fuel economy of the ’18 Ford Power Stroke F-150 at fourwheeler.com.

The 507-pound English-built 3.0L diesel features a compacted graphite iron block, forged steel crank, and cast aluminum alloy heads and pistons. The overhead cams are spun by a combination of a belt and chains on the front of the engine, and the high-pressure fuel pump is spun by another belt at the back of the engine. Ford reps say both belts are good for 150,000 miles.
With a tow rating of up to 11,400 pounds, the Power Stroke F-150 is rated to pull more than some 3/4-ton trucks. The ten-speed transmission combined with the 3.0L diesel make for a less peaky and calmer towing experience than some of the gas engines currently available in the 1/2-ton category.
The torquey Power Stroke diesel engine lends itself to slow-speed crawling over technical terrain. The compact size of the 3.0L engine doesn’t punish the truck chassis and driver off-road as much as a heavier traditional diesel engine would.
Don’t be fooled by the low-end grunt of the 3.0L diesel. It is no slouch in the mud and will quickly rip up to tire-spinning rpm.
The Power Stroke 3.0L is incredibly quiet. It could be easily mistaken for a gas engine thanks to the engine design and all of the soundproofing under the hood.
The 3.0L Power Stroke air intake is right at the top of the grille. Those that dip into excessively deep water crossings will need to take care when doing so to avoid flooding the engine.
The diesel exhaust fluid is added through a filler next to the fuel filler. The DEF tank holds 5.6 gallons and is said to only need refilling every 10,000 miles under normal use.
The Power Stroke F-150 exhaust tip looks different than the vented tips found on other Ford diesels with a regen mode. Instead of dissipating the regen heat at the tip, an air entrainer is utilized farther upstream in the exhaust system.

Crunching Digits

We did some basic number crunching using the national average fuel prices at time of print to find out if the 4x4 Power Stroke diesel was a cost-effective option. Considering that most people drive about 12,000 miles a year, it would take 71 years for the fuel economy savings to pay for the diesel engine option over the standard gas 2.7L EcoBoost V-6. In other words, it would never pay for itself. The comparison to the 3.5L EcoBoost V-6 is more encouraging. It would take about 7.5 years to pay for the diesel engine option over the gas twin-turbo 3.5L. Keep in mind that both scenarios are without taking into consideration the added cost of the required upper trim level to get the diesel option, cost of DEF fluid, or the increased cost of diesel oil changes and other maintenance. Of course, the diesel should theoretically have a higher resale value, but based on our numbers, we’d have to see at least a 12- to 15-mpg increase with the diesel engine over the standard gas engine for it to make sense at the pump. You either need to have a love of all things diesel, or perhaps just want the calm towing experience to justify the added cost of the Power Stroke 3.0L. It’s likely that Ford too has crunched these numbers, because the company only expects a 5 percent take rate on the 3.0L Power Stroke engine option in the F-150.

Quick Specs

Engine: '18 3.0L Ford Power Stroke
Type: 60-degree V-6 turbodiesel
Bore and stroke (in): 3.31x3.54
Compression ratio: 16.0:1
Block: Compacted graphite iron
Crank: Forged steel
Heads: Cast aluminum alloy
Pistons: Cast aluminum alloy
Aspiration: Variable-geometry intercooled turbo
Injection: 29,000-psi direct injection, piezoelectric injectors
Valvetrain: Dual overhead camshafts (DOHC), four valves per cylinder
Oil Capacity (quarts): 6.5 (with filter)
Fuel requirement: Ultra-low sulfur diesel
Emissions: Diesel exhaust fluid, diesel particulate filter

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