Ford is really onto something with this new Power Stroke diesel engine.
If it’s efficiency and torque of diesel power that you crave in your light duty pickup, your options have been either the Ram EcoDiesel or the smaller GM Colorado/Canyon twins. Both are good options, but choice is king and after years of Ram drawing in buyers with their diesel, the folks at Ford have countered with the new 3.0L Power Stroke F-150. Knowing how competitive the pickup truck segment is and how important this engine is for Ford, I couldn’t wait to get some time with it. We were sent a gorgeous fully loaded 2018 Ford F-150 Platinum Power Stroke with the new motor to play with.
Before I get into the specifics of the engine though; our F-150 Platinum tester finished in Ruby Red metallic has to be one of the better looking full-size pickups on the market. Despite the fact that it rides on a platform older than its rivals, Ford has done an excellent job keeping the F-150 fresh without going overboard. 2018 models get a revised grille in addition to a handful of other updates. The new grille, paired with LED headlamps and color matched bumpers give the F-150 Platinum a tough look up front. It’s still boxy and looks menacing without being over the top. The Platinum comes with polished 20” wheels and a polished aluminum plate across the tailgate.
The basic mechanicals of the 3.0L Power Stroke V6 diesel are borrowed from Jaguar/Land Rover. The engine in this F-150 shares a lot of its DNA with the diesel in the Range Rover Td6 (reviewed here). Of course Ford has gone through the engine, revising just about everything including the block. They’ve branded it with the infamous Power Stoke nameplate proudly mounted to the front doors. The engine puts out 250 horsepower and 440 lb-ft of torque at an extremely low 1,750RPM, and thankfully it has retained the same refinement and positive power delivery that we like so much.
Forget everything you thought you knew about diesels, because this engine starts instantly, doesn’t put out a whisper of smoke, and clatter is non-existent inside the cabin. Thanks to the massive torque available at a low RPM, the Power Stroke F-150 gets out of its own way quickly, without any drama. If you really put your foot down, the 10-speed automatic immediately drops a gear or two and the F-150 hauls past slower traffic effortlessly. We didn’t have anything to tow or haul during the week with the truck, but if the way this powertrain delivers power is any indication, this F-150 is a superstar.
My only complaint from the powertrain stems from the 10-speed automatic; and it has nothing to do with the number of gears. The gears are managed very smoothly and the transmission will skip gears where necessary. What you will notice in slow moving traffic is that the transmission is very choppy at low speeds, creeping along in under 30km/h. This isn’t an issue isolated to the new Power Stroke setup; I’ve noticed it across all of the F-150 models attached to the 10-speed.
Where the 10-speed really helps though, especially when paired with the diesel V6 is at the pumps. After a week of commuting my average sat at 10.3L/100km. This is absolutely incredible for a full-size, 4×4 crew cab pickup truck running in heavy traffic. To put this in perspective, most crossovers come in around 11L/100km. The fact that this F-150 is turning in comparable numbers is staggering, not to mention when I went to fill the truck’s 98L fuel tank, diesel was about 8 cents cheaper than regular gasoline.
The new 3.0L Power Stroke is nearly impossible to ignore if you’re shopping for a light duty pickup truck. It really has all the capability and comfort of a full-size truck but without the fuel cost seems like a pretty good deal to me. Now you can have it without any real compromise in terms of refinement. Where you will have to compromise a little bit for the Power Stroke is that fact that it is attached to what is now the oldest platform of the big three pickup truck offerings; and it is starting to show its age, especially from the driver’s seat.
The steering is vague enough in the F-150 that I find myself correcting while in a straight line a lot more than I otherwise would be. The ride quality is also not up to the new standards that Ford’s competitors have set. While the F-150’s ride has absolutely improved over the years, driving it back-to-back with the new Ram 1500 (reviewed here) had the Ford feeling like an old farm truck driving down my familiar suburban streets.
The interior in the F-150 also lags behind competitors at little bit at this point as well. From a design perspective it looks great, and the technology like Ford’s SYNC 3 and the huge digital screen built into the gauge cluster are right up there with the best. Materials and overall fit and finish let the space down, however. Even in Platinum trim this interior feels like a really dressed up work-truck interior, whereas the newest Ram and Silverado feel like big dollar luxury SUVs. The F-150’s interior still nails the functional aspects, and amaze with the size of the rear seats and flat load floor.
If you want the Power Stroke, it currently pushes you into a Lariat or better trim level, so a 4×4 crew cab Lariat with the diesel will set you back $48,972. The Platinum trim starts at $57,168 with the 5.0L V8, and opting for the Power Stroke puts you at $64,140, so you’re paying about $5,650 for the diesel. The Platinum is a seriously well-equipped truck, but our tester came with a short list of optional packages including the FX4 Off-Road Package ($750), the Technology Package ($1,350), the dual-pane moonroof ($1,750), adaptive cruise control ($1,750) and a few more smaller adds to bring the total price to $72,446.
Ford is really onto something with this new Power Stroke diesel. Combined with Canada’s best selling truck and pricing that looks attractive enough to offset the few shortcomings the F-150 does have, means this is a package that’s pretty hard to ignore in the segment. Whether you’re an F-150 fan or not, if you’re a truck shopper, put brand loyalties aside and try this diesel – it’s worth it.