The 2018 Ford F-150 doesn’t look like much we haven’t seen recently from this hot-selling pickup.
For 2018, some updates have been applied to give it some tweaks, optimizations, new tech, and a mild cosmetic update, inside and out.
But my tester’s big news was under the hood, thanks to the recent arrival of the most fuel-efficient engine in the F-150 lineup.
Now available is the answer for shoppers after big-truck capability without big-truck fuel bills: a three-litre turbodiesel Powerstroke V6.
This makes six powerplant choices in total for F-150 shoppers to consider. The sole diesel engine on offer, this new Powerstroke mill serves up 250 horsepower, 440 lb.-ft. of torque, and bests the fuel economy and hauling figures of machines like the last-generation Ram 1500 EcoDiesel in the process.
It’s also F-150’s thriftiest engine by a landslide, and its second most potent, where torque output is concerned.
With a 10-speed automatic and towing capability surpassing 11,000 pounds, this little Powerstroke V6 may make lots of sense for the F-150 shopper after confident towing capability, with (dramatically) reduced fuel bills.
The 3.5 litre EcoBoost V6 has more horsepower and torque and costs less, but it uses more fuel, and will likely suffer a higher consumption penalty when towing or hauling.
The gist? The new-for-2018 F-150 Powerstroke is everything we’ve come to know about the latest F-150, but with a significant economy advantage.
Maintained in full are core F-150 attributes: the latest truck is enormous, comfortable, and high tech on board, though a little overwhelming with all the buttons and screens and the very busy instrument cluster.
Outward visibility is excellent by pickup standards, an around-view 360-degree camera system is on offer if you disagree, and the rear seating quarters in my SuperCrew tester were massive, comfy for two or three large adults without issue.
Up front, the central command system is one of the best and most responsive on the scene once learned.
On smooth surfaces, the ride feels dense, durable and comfortable, though the steering was too vague and uncommunicative for my taste at highway speed. It can, at times, feel laborious to keep this big wide hauler centred between the lines. Also, note that the suspension in this off-road oriented FX-4 tester can get busy and jarring on rougher roads, in exchange for how solid it feels over rougher terrain.
How’s the diesel? It’s a little hard to say, because this engine is the strong, silent type. Usually, you don’t even know the engine is there, let alone that it’s a diesel.
A year or so ago, I reported that the Land Rover Discovery Diesel had about the smoothest and quietest engine I’d ever encountered, and that engine shares plenty with Ford’s new Powerstroke.
This powerplant is born of a joint venture, and though Ford’s made some significant changes (including a truck-specific engine block), the two engines are remarkably similar. Here’s a pickup with a diesel engine that wouldn’t feel out place in a $90,000 luxury SUV.
Press the ignition, and it fires up immediately. No waiting for glow plugs. Then, just a little squirm through the body, a nearly-noiseless starter, and a quiet, lightly-rumbling idle with so little vibration that you hardly notice a thing. No smoke. No smell. If you haven’t driven a modern diesel, be sure to give this a try: things have come an awful long way in recent years.
Drive gently, and the 10-speed automatic enables early, frequent upshifting, keeping the revs noise and vibration to near-nil levels. Most remarkable is how little revs, noise and fuel are needed to just cruise around through regular city traffic.
Highway cruising sees the tachometer point toward about 1,500 revs. Push the engine harder, and you’re met with a robust surge of thrust in quick order, and little more than a muted roar from under the hood.
At virtually no time does the sound, vibration or smell of this powerplant give its fuel source away. It may even be the smoothest and quietest F-150 powerplant you can order today, a good thing, given it’s $5,700 price tag in my specific tester.
The gas-powered EcoBoost V6 makes more torque and horsepower, and costs less. With the Powerstroke, you’re saving about $5 every 100 kilometres you drive. And with my tester’s massive fuel tank, you can do a full day’s highway cruising without stopping to refuel, no problem.
By the numbers, this Powerstroke engine might start to put money back in your pocket somewhere around 115,000 kilometres, but do the math to see if it’s right for you.
On my test drive, with plenty of highway driving but no towing, I achieved 10.8 / 100km. That’s big-truck capability using less fuel than a Honda Ridgeline.
In fact, in my custody, the Toyota RAV4 used fuel at about the same rate.
If the Powerstroke is right for you, you’ll be happily at the controls of one of the industry’s best diesel engines yet, in one of the industry’s most sought-after pickups.
The specs: 2018 Ford F-150 Powerstroke
- Engine: 3-litre V6, turbodiesel, 250 horsepower
- Drivetrain: 4x4
- Transmission: 10-speed automatic
- Features: B&O Play Stereo, panoramic sunroof, climate-controlled seats, power side steps, remote tailgate release, 360-degree parking camera, power-folding mirrors, exterior LED work lighting, tailgate step system, memory massage seats, Ford Sync
- What’s hot: easy on fuel, immensely roomy, comfortable highway drive, tremendous highway cruising range, loaded with features
- What’s not: sometimes daunting central command interface, vague steering at speed
- Price as tested (F-150 Platinum 4x4 Powerstroke): $84,779