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2007 Ford Chevy Dodge Diesel Comparison - Big Boost Battlefield

Posted in How To: Engine on January 16, 2007
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Contributors: Courtesy the ManufacturersG. R. Whale
Photographers: Courtesy the Manufacturers

The least powerful 2007 pickup diesel engine delivers 610 lb-ft of torque at 1,400 rpm; if you could load it to full throttle in First gear low and had 4.10:1 gears, it sends better than 40,000 lb-ft to the axleshafts. And with diesel engines getting quieter, you'll have no trouble hearing exactly which U-joint broke first.

A senior GM diesel engineer likens emissions requirements to the tax code, and those emissions changes are what's driving all the upgrades to diesels and the new exhaust after-treatment methods designed for ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel (ULSD). Although these new standards represent a severe drop, the manufacturers learned long ago that making an engine smaller for any reason doesn't sit well with pickup drivers.

Consequently, none of the Big 3 have lost any power, two of them are larger, and in some areas the exhaust for these trucks will be cleaner than the vast quantities of air they suck in. The smoke is gone and the pipes won't be charred inside: While we appreciate a smokin' diesel as much as the next soot junkie, and fully expect the aftermarket is researching them as we speak, so-called "clean diesels" may help keep the environmentalists at bay and more trails open.

The new lineups are a series of Cummins ISB6.7s for Dodge, a 6.4L Power Stroke, and the Duramax 6.6 for GM. Every one of them uses common-rail fuel injection (maximum injection pressure a bit over 26,000 psi-think of a big pickup sitting on a dime), diesel oxidation catalyst and a diesel particulate filter (DPF-see sidebar), and roughly twice the computing power of last year's engines.

It's been noted on the Web that Cummins' new ISB6.7 shares 40 percent of its parts with the ISB5.9, but all the significant parts-not nuts and bolts but the cylinder head, pistons, crank, turbo, and so on-are new. This is the only '07 pickup diesel that's been bored (5 mm) and stroked (4 mm) for increased volume, but they did it without increasing the length of the engine by removing the water jacket between the cylinders. The extra displacement maintains the low-rpm torque before the turbo spools up, and the extra metal, variable geometry turbo (VGT), EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) cooler, and so forth have added roughly 100 pounds to the engine's weight.

With stroke now up to almost 4.9 inches, there wasn't a lot of room left in the block so the crankshaft counterweights are machined rather than just forged ends, just one of the processes that helps lower NVH levels. Compression ratio is up nearly half a point from that of the 5.9, and the pistons are oil-cooled as before. The basic architecture is much the same and as a result design life-to-overhaul remains 350,000 miles.

Because of different emissions requirements for "commercial" (chassis cab) and "private party" (pickup) use and different ratings, Cummins will supply four CPL (Cummins Parts List, all your Cummins shop needs to know) numbers to Dodge, one each for the chassis cab manual and automatic, and one for each pickup transmission; there are no 49- or 45-state engines. The Chassis Cab is rated lower than the pickup engine primarily because of operating economy, with secondary concerns of cooling, cost, and so on. It's not that a 6.7 can't take a lot of commercial abuse, more a case of how much cooling air can be forced through a Ram grille. Pickup ratings follow the horsepower war that no one will win but GM will lead this year, with automatics matching the Power Stroke and manuals derated to 610 lb-ft to keep the gearbox intact; peak torque on the manual pickup occurs at lower revs than any '07 diesel; and clutch engagement torque of better than 350 lb-ft is unmatched.

Like all the new engines the 6.7 looks more complicated. The first things you'll notice are a slightly lower turbocharger with wires feeding the variable geometry control, a throttle valve and MAP sensor on the intake side (primarily for controlling heat for the DPF regeneration function), and a cooler for the EGR. The Chassis Cab engine has a 14-vane VGT and the later pickup engine a 16-vane, a change related primarily to noise and likely to evolve across the board.

Although common rail systems with up to five injection events per cycle can do a lot for noise abatement, the 6.7 also gets a layered oil pan, a viscous vibration damper, block shields, a "stuffer" between the oil pan and transmission, and an overrunning alternator pulley to quench the shut-down squeaks. The engine is 50 percent quieter than the 5.9 (3 dB lower in the cabin) and you'll be able to hear the difference, especially when parked next to an earlier model.

Since VGT can close the vanes on the turbo, it can to some extent replicate the potato-in-a-pipe effect of an exhaust brake. Dodge is the first to offer a dedicated exhaust brake option from the factory ($300), which gives 190 braking horsepower of retarding effort and is totally integrated with the cruise control and automatic transmission control; a non-optioned truck will still produce retarding effort similar to some earlier-generation Ram diesels equipped with the Mopar Ram Brake exhaust brake. As of this writing, only Chassis Cab models have the options of PTO and 220-amp alternator; prices weren't out yet for the pickup but the Cummins option in a Chassis Cab lists at $5,555-very close to the latest pickup 5.9.

The 2008 Super Duty is first pickup to get sequential turbocharging, a concept already proven on the 4.5L V-6. This is the first Power Stroke with piezo injectors. Packed hardware under Ford hood is typical of V-engine installations. Note the massive cooler pack to support the F-450's commercial-number tow ratings.

As all Power Stroke's preceding it, the 6.4 is built by International Truck and Engine. A slightly larger bore generates the extra volume, meaning some old "390 V-8" badges would be entirely accurate. Although it is derived from the 6.0 Power Stroke, new induction and Siemens injection systems and a host of less significant upgrades make it more than just a 0.030-over punch.

The dual turbochargers are sequential, with the theory proven on the 4.5L V-6 engine that's been powering LCF light-commercial vehicles for more than a year. The turbos are straight oil-cooled units from Borg-Warner, with a small variable-geometry model for fast spool-up feeding the larger unit for peak boost pressures-33 psi at peak torque and up to 42 psi. Ford claims a 0-60 time drop of more than one second, which we assume is empty but is often a traction issue already.

Fuel is now delivered by common-rail injection, except the 6.4 uses piezo injectors. These inject fuel in less than 0.010 second, making it easier to fire precisely over multiple injection events in the same cycle and produce quieter operation, contributing to a claimed 10 dB reduction in noise. However, piezo injectors tend to cost more than conventional solenoid injectors. Like the others, the 6.4 runs up to five events per cycle, with the first post-injection for emissions reduction and the second generally used to light off the DPF regeneration process.

To keep the exhaust cooled, Ford uses louvers in three locations in the 4-inch pipe aft of the DPF to introduce outside air, and dual outlets. The DPF is shielded and does not hang below frame level, where it would limit ground clearance or breakover angle. Although the VGT can supply some engine retarding (estimated at 100 braking horsepower in conjunction with the automatic transmission), it is not referred to as an exhaust brake, and at least one engineer we spoke with said an exhaust brake may interfere with engine emissions performance.

The 6.4 power ratings are the same regardless of transmission, and with more than 95 percent of buyers opting for the automatic, there is the possibility the manual could be dropped for the 2010 model year when another round of emissions changes comes through. Most pickup axle ratios remain the same, but the F-450 brings 4.30:1 to start and up to 4.88:1 for HD hauling (24,000-pound trailer) where you might need a license endorsement. Ford had not announced option pricing at press time.

Once past 1,600, Duramax delivers 600 lb-ft or better and remains the power champ (at least for now). Note the steep curve where the turbo begins to come on boost.

Dubbed the LMM family, the new Duramax wins honors for most power right now. Since the "old" Duramax had an EGR cooler and size is unchanged, engine weight gain is negligible but figure on another 80-120 pounds for exhaust and cooling upgrades. Although the oversquare bore and stroke are the same, compression ratio has dropped to 16.8:1. That was the lowest achievable value with good cold-start characteristics; the LMM uses both intake air heaters and glow plugs.

The variable-geometry turbo is a new boreless unit from Honeywell, oil pressure-powered with electronic control, and has a water-cooled center housing (in the cooling circuit, not a stand-alone, run-after-shutdown setup). Common-rail handles injection chores, at up to five events per cycle.

A GM engineer referred to the muffler as a "tuner," but it's more like a resonator than a true muffler. The DPF is shielded and the exhaust uses a patented "venturi" outlet and air gap "cones" at the ends. There is a warning in the upfitter's manual that there are some constraints with the "active exhaust system."

GM noted that DPF regeneration is based on a host of inputs, including exhaust temperature and backpressure ahead of and behind it, hours, miles, duty cycles, all calculated by an ECU (hence the big software improvements) to determine when regeneration occurs. On average it will happen once per tank of fuel consumed.

Cooling systems have all been upgraded, though typical operating temperatures are the same as current models so you need not rethink your warning zones. Integration with the automatic transmission allows the VGT to close vanes and the intake throttle to close, generating some engine braking, especially in tow/haul mode.

GM has not announced pricing for the pickup version of the Duramax LMM, but Top Kick/Kodiak C4500 models in '06 had LRX/LPD Duramax option prices of $6,946/$7,127 and the '07 LRX and LYE "new" engines are listed at $9,259 and $9,639, respectively. We're guesstimating $6,000-$6,500 on Silverado and Sierra HDs.

Apart from lower compression ratio, Duramax long-block has changed least of the Big 3. Both glow plugs and intake heaters are employed for cold-start performance. Common rail systems work much like gasoline systems by metering fuel right at the injector rather than at a pump some distance from the injector. Typical injection pressures would erode most materials not designed for 25,000+ psi.

A DPF essentially traps leftover particulate matter in the exhaust system and automatically regenerates itself by burning off those particulates, all controlled by the air and fuel management in the engine and the catalyst immediately upstream of the DPF. The DPF does not require routine service though after time it may need to be cleaned of built-up ash, a process we expect won't be too pricey, nor inconvenient. Regeneration is transparent to the driver and requires no action on anyone's part, but when it happens, temperatures in the DPF may well exceed 600 degrees C, so before you go crawling around under there looking to see what you're stuck on, or decide to route the pipes through the bed for the "stack" look, be aware of what you're getting into.

Last fall GM announced they will have a diesel V-8 engine for use in vehicles under 8,600 GVW "after 2009." The four-cam, four-valve engine will use aluminum heads with integrated manifolds, an iron block, and the latest common-rail injection system and will take up no more space than a small-block gas engine. Said to be best-in-class against benchmarks that were the best of "everything GM could buy," expect this new diesel to be offered first in high-end pickups and fullsize SUVs.

'07 {{{Dodge}}} '07 1/2 Dodge Ram '07 1/2 Dodge Ram '08 {{{Ford}}} '07 1/2 GM Silverado/ '07 GM Top Kick/
Chassis Cab (all) Automatic Manual Super Duty Sierra HD Kodiak
Configuration I-6, OHV, 4v/cyl I-6, OHV, 4v/cyl I-6, OHV, 4v/cyl V-8, OHV, 4v/cyl V-8, OHV, 4 v/cyl V-8, OHV, 4 v/cyl
Block Material Iron Iron Iron Iron Iron Iron
Head Material Iron Iron Iron Iron Aluminum Aluminum
Displacement (liters/ci) 6.7/408 6.7/408 6.7/408 6.4/390 6.6/403 6.6/403
Bore (in) 4.21 4.21 4.21 3.86 4.06 4.06
Stroke (in) 4.88 4.88 4.88 4.13 3.{{{90}}} 3.90
Compression Ratio 17.3:1 17.3:1 17.3:1 17.2:1 16.8:1 16.8:1
Horsepower @ RPM 305 @ 3,000 350 @ 3,000 350 @ 3,000 350 @ 3,000 365 @ 3,{{{200}}} {{{300}}}/330 @ 3,000
Torque @ RPM (lb-ft) 610 @ 1,600-2,600 650 @ 1,500 610 @ 1,400 650 @ 2,000 650 @ 1,600 520/620 @ 1,600
Max rpm/fuel shut-off 3,500v 3,500 3,500 3,400 (est) 3,450 3,450
Transmissions 6M std, 6A opt 6A 6M 6M std, 5A opt 6M std, 6A opt 5A std, 6A opt

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