2018 Ford F-150 Diesel, Tougher than a Texas Thunderstorm
Ford Truck Enthusiasts heads to Dallas and gets caught up in the history and design of the F-150’s new Power Stroke V6.
As we make the trip from Austin to Dallas to test drive the new Power Stroke V6, the Dallas sky grows grayer and darker. The forecast calls for rain. We know what to expect; we just don’t know how much is coming. It doesn’t matter at this point. We have our rain gear and a determination to drive the 2018 Ford F-150 with the new 3.0-liter Power Stroke diesel V6.
We roll into the parking lot of a Dallas restaurant called The Rustic. Out front is an array of Blue Oval trucks in neutrals and shades of red. Ford’s representatives connect us with Ken Pumford, the engine design supervisor for the “Lion” 3.0-liter diesel. Pumford has been involved in its development from the start and was part of the original team at the Ford Research and Advanced Engineering Center in Germany that laid out the basic architecture of the engine in the early 2000s. At the time, Ford owned Jaguar and Land Rover, and needed the diesel to compete with other diesel offerings from rival brands in Europe.
“After a year there…we moved to England and spent three years in the U.K. finalizing the design, doing all of the development, the dynamometer testing, and then it went into production at Dagenham engine plant,” says Pumford.
When Ford decided it was going to put a small diesel in the F-150, Pumford and his colleagues kept the displacement of the JLR power plant, but approached the rest of the build as if it were a new design. Analysis of the existing parts revealed the need for certain changes, such as improving the crankshaft.
According to Pumford, “Our engine block is unique. Our exhaust system is completely unique — all-new exhaust manifolds. And the turbocharger, a very key component, is matched for F-150 for our duty cycle… where we expect a lot of towing. Our intake manifold, throttle body — that design was changed, as well. Our ladder frame, our oil pan — new for this engine.” The F-150’s Power Stroke engine also features new EGR and 29,000-PSI fuel systems.
Despite the wind and heavy downpour, the F-150 remains surefooted. It isn’t letting hard gusts and a thick, watery buffer over the concrete break its composure.
Adapting the 3.0-liter V6 to the F-150 wasn’t left to just any diesel engineers, though. Pumford said the crew responsible for the F-150’s diesel was under the same management as the people in charge of the “Scorpion” 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel in the Super Duty, adding that the same program manager and many of the same component engineers worked on both engines.
Like any father, Pumford was proud of his baby, particularly how quiet it is. He and his coworkers put a lot of effort into keeping the Power Stroke’s NVH levels as low as possible. However, as our interview with Pumford ends, we are more concerned with the sound coming from the clouds. The storm has arrived. Rain begins falling gently. Trucks quickly fill with drivers and passengers.
We are lucky to get a seat in the back of a $63,000 Lariat SuperCrew 4×4. It reminds us of the time we spent riding in the backseat of an F-350 dually during a road trip from Austin to Greeley, Colorado. The whole way there, the 7.3-liter Power Stroke V8 roared softly and hypnotically, encouraging sleep. Its smaller descendant’s near-silence is also soothing, although it makes it hard to tell there is a diesel under the hood of the 2018 F-150 at all. The people in the front row think the same. We joke about taking our test vehicle to Mexico to truly test its fuel economy and use up its 500-plus miles of range.
The two people up front swap seats and the new driver takes us back to the parking lot. We climb behind the wheel of a King Ranch model with four-wheel drive and head out to nowhere in particular. No matter where we might want to go, we won’t get there quickly anyway. Just as we are about to get on the highway, the clouds unleash a deluge on the Dallas area. If the Power Stroke does in fact make any noise, there is no way we are going to hear it over the thunder. Fat drops of rain smack the aluminum body work and splatter loudly against the windshield right before the automatic wipers clear them away. It is hard to hear anything but Mother Nature’s liquid rage. It is even more difficult to see 20 feet ahead. We keep our speed low and fingers crossed.
Despite the wind and heavy downpour, the F-150 remains surefooted. It isn’t letting hard gusts and a thick, watery buffer over the concrete break its composure. A gauge between the tachometer and speedometer lets us know we could go 511 miles before having to fill up–more than enough to get out of Texas and into Louisiana. Too bad we don’t have enough time to drive past the storm and open up the F-150’s new diesel.
Ford is beginning dealer deliveries of the diesel 2018 F-150 later this month. Check out more from our first drive in our photo gallery, below.