2018 Ford F-150 with a 3.0-liter Power StrokeAE diesel engine.
but increasingly likely, that U.S. pickup buyers will be last stand
for diesel engines, outside of semi-trucks and maybe tugboats.
American drivers were unmoved by dieselís combination of power and
efficiency while tens of millions of European buyers snapped them up
for everything from VW Golfs to Mercedes S-class limos.
We are well
and truly through the looking glass.
In 2018, just
about every European automaker is phasing out diesels as countries
and cities across the continent prepare to ban them. At the same
time, the Detroit 3 are rolling out a new generation of diesels ó
priced at a hefty premium over sexy V-8s ó to power their most
popular and profitable vehicles.
The 2018 Ford
F-150ís 3.0L diesel is the latest to hit the road, and the best
for at least the moment. That last caveat is because archrival
Chevrolet has a brand new diesel coming in an all-new truck, and Ramís
slick new 2019 1500 pickup is slated to get Fiat Chryslerís
reliable diesel early next year.
F-150 King Ranch diesel 4WD
five-passenger full-size pickup
tested: $64,805 (excluding destination charge)
out of four stars
buy: Towing capacity; fuel economy; features
Engine idle-stop; cost, size.
Being first of
the new generation of diesel pickups on sale doesnít make the
F-150 diesel look like a bargain, because itís not. Diesel buyers
are a special breed, happy to pay extra for an engine that combines
good fuel economy with hefty towing capacity. Fordís 250-hp 3.0L
V6 diesel is a $4,995 option on the F-150 XLT thatís its base
model, an extra $4,000 on a midline Lariat and adds $3,000 to the
tab for luxurious pickups like the King Ranch I tested.
which Ford builds at a factory in England, is the sixth engine in
the current F-150 lineup. Itís paired with Fordís smooth and
precise 10-speed automatic transmission and available with rear- or
it to account for about 5 percent of F-150 sales. Thatís a small
share, but the numbers get meaningful when youíre talking about
Americaís best-selling vehicle. Ford will probably sell more
diesel F-150s than Chevy sells Corvettes.
At the moment,
the only other light-duty pickup with a diesel is the 2018 Ram 1500,
available in small numbers after being hung up while the EPA
scrutinized its engine controls, which were supplied by the same
company that made controls for the cheating Volkswagens that began
Next year, the
F-150 diesel gets more meaningful competition in an all-new diesel
in the all-new Chevy Silverado, and Ramís carryover diesel in its
brand-new Ď19 1500 pickup.
competitors ó but only sort of, since they lack diesels ó will
be the Nissan Titan and Toyota Tundra full-size pickups. A few
shoppers may also consider the bigger medium-duty Nissan Titan XDís
5.0L V-8 diesel.
I tested a
loaded King Ranch Super Crew 4x4 with four doors, seating for five,
ranch-style leather and badging and more. It stickered at $64,805,
excluding destination charges.
Itís hard to
compare that to other pickups until Ram and Chevy have equally
modern diesels available. Itís likely to be competitive, but at
the high end of the class, since the F-150 is the sales leader.
transmission, 4wd crew cab models)
King Ranch 4x4 crew cab: $55,355
Silverado High Country 4x4 crew cab: $55,300
Platinum Reserve 4x4 crew cab: $56,800
2018 Ram 1500
Longhorn 4x4 crew cab $53,595
1794 4x4 crew cab: $50,330
diesel doesnít have the biggest towing capacity among full-size
pickups, or even in the F-150 line, but its combination of an
11,400-pound max, strong torque for good towing and decent fuel
economy ó up to 30 mpg on the highway in EPA tests ó give it a
unique set of attributes that are like catnip to mostly well-heeled
buyers who tow horses, boats and campers. Ford also expects to sell
a handful of diesel F-150s as straight-up work trucks.
The diesel is
quiet and smooth, thanks to recent upgrades to the engine family,
which Ford has built in the U.K. for years, and which also included
diesels powering Land Rover luxury SUVs. Extra sound insulation
under the hood helps assure that occupants of the F-150ís roomy
cab probably wonít hear any more engine noise than they would from
a gasoline engine.
equipped King Ranch 4x4 crew cab I tested could tow 10,100 pounds.
Thatís 890 more than a 2018 Ram 1500 dieselís max towing
capacity, and a whopping 1,520 pounds more than a comparable loaded
The King Ranch
is a luxurious and comfortable vehicle, with the kind of passenger
space ó particularly rear leg room and head room ó generally
associated with limos.
available with the latest driver assistance features and has good,
easy-to-use controls and voice recognition for features like audio,
navigation and smartphones.
stop-start, which shuts the engine off when itís idling at a
stoplight or in traffic, is very noticeable. The vibration can be
felt by everybody in the cab when it restarts the engine to resume
The F-150 is
brilliantly engineered for maneuverability and drivability, but
thereís no disguising the fact that a 4x4 F-150 crew cab is a huge
vehicle. It fills up a residential street and turns the search for a
downtown parking spot into a quest worthy of the recent
"Amazing Race" episode shot in Detroit.
price for the diesel is competitive with what Ram charges for its
less powerful 3.0L V6 diesel, but still, $3,000-$4,995 is a big ask.
People who spend lots of time towing long distances may gravitate to
the F-150 diesel but itís not likely to convert many new owners to
turbocharged diesel V6.
Power: 250 @
3,250 horsepower rpm; 440 pound-feet of torque @ 1,750-2,250 rpm
assembled: Dearborn, Mich.
The 3.0L V6ís
250 hp is slightly more than the output of Ramís diesel. More
important, the Ford engine produces 440 pound-feet of torque from
just 1,750 rpm, the kind of immediate power that makes it easy to
pull a trailer out of a muddy corral. Fiat Chrysler V6 generates 420
pound-feet at 2,000 rpm, good performance but likely to be a
noticeable difference when you try to reach highway speed on an
entrance ramp while towing a fifth-wheel camper.
The EPA rates
the most efficient F-150 diesel at 22 mpg in town, 30 on the highway
and 25 combined. It scored 20/25/22 in the heavier, well-equipped
King Ranch 4x4 I tested.
equipped 2018 Ram 1500 diesel matched the F-150 at 22 mpg in
beat the fuel efficiency of V-8 gasoline pickups by several miles
EPA fuel economy ratings
transmission, 4wd crew cab models)
King Ranch 4x4 diesel crew cab: 20 city/ 25 highway/25 combined.
Silverado High Country 4x4 crew cab: 16/22/18. Regular gasoline.
Platinum Reserve 4x4 crew cab: 15/21/18. Regular gasoline.
2018 Ram 1500
Longhorn 4x4 diesel crew cab: 19/27/22. Diesel.
1794 4x4 crew cab: 13/17/14. Regular gasoline.
combination of fuel economy, power and towing capacity give the
F-150 diesel a significant advantage for buyers who do a lot of
towing. The engineís smooth and quiet operation remove two main
reasons Americans resisted diesels in the past.
Add that to a
pickup that has earned its spot as Americaís perennial bestseller
and you have a pricey but worthwhile addition to the F-series.
on vehicle tested
equipment: Antilock brakes; stability control; front seat side air
bags; curtain air bags; LED box lighting; auto start-stop; push
button start; backup camera; remote start; Sirius satellite radio
voice recognition; navigation; touch screen; reverse parking
sensors; trailer brake controller; USB ports; Bluetooth compatible;
power sliding rear window; LED headlights, taillights and fog
lights; power locks windows, seats; remote tailgate release; damped
tailgate; heated rear seats; 10-way power front seats; 60/40 fold up
rear seat; 110-volt outlet; heated/cooled front seats; leather
bucket front seats; memory for driver settings; power tilt and
telescope steering column;
Diesel engine; tailgate step; power running boards; inflatable rear
safety belts; blind spot and cross traffic alerts; King ranch chrome
package; 20-inch chrome wheels; spray-in bedliner; wheel well liner;