Denver, COLORADO. We’ve got to hand it to Ford; they can come up with great catchphrases for their products. EcoBoost is a lovely example but Power Stroke is the one that strikes the deepest chord. These two simple words, Power and Stroke, are self-explanatory and have long been associated with towing, hauling and all things heavy-duty.
Until now, they’d been missing only one thing: The F-150 moniker. This now has changed and if there was ever any reason to go looking at the competition when shopping for a new full-size light-duty pickup, it no longer exists. The new 2018 Ford F-150 now truly has something for everyone, and for every need.
Let’s get Power Stroke
The new unit for the F-150 is a chip off the old block, with a few novelties. The turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 produces 440 lb.-ft. of torque as of 1,750 rpm, and 250 horsepower from 3,250 rpm. The engine is laced with techno-wizardry such as a variable-geometry turbocharger and a high-pressure (29,000 psi) common-rail fuel injection system.
While the engine’s power and performance are impressive, it’s Ford’s drive for refinement that gets me. The injection system’s calibration enables smoother, quieter operation for one, and the engine features tuned elastomeric dampers to reduce engine vibrations. That could be referred to as the “sissy stuff.” What’s equally important to note is that the 3.0-litre Power Stroke is just as tough as the 6.7-litre V8. In fact, its construction, such as the compacted-graphite iron block and forged-steel crank, is shared with the 2.7-litre EcoBoost V6. In other words, it’s designed and built with durability in mind.
On the road, the 2018 Ford F-150 Power Stroke, regardless of the trim, is just about as perfect as I’d hoped. There’s little throttle lag to speak of, followed by lovely linear and sustained torque. The adjoining 10-speed automatic transmission manages the available power at all times. No matter the rev range, the 3.0-litre remains powerfully docile, which is quite a feat.
While we performed a number of driving tests with various trucks, the towing exercise was the most pertinent. The actual drive was less than challenging for the driver but the hilly area north-west of Denver did provide ideal up-hill and down-hill work for the F-150. Again, the 3.0-litre and 10-speed kept the power in check. The 5,500-lb horse trailer, without horses, weighed in on the truck if only slightly. The confidence I felt at the wheel was a direct result of the truck’s solid chassis, sorted suspension, both masking the weight behind us.
We were strongly persuaded to participate in a fuel-economy challenge. I typically shy away from these types of activities as I myself am fuel-economy-challenged. With a minimal amount of effort, on a 15-km course, my driving partner and I managed a highly respectable 33.7 mpg, or 7L/100km. In the real world, that should translate to numbers not too far off from the EPA’s combined rating of 25 mpg, or 9.5L/100km. A colleague managed just over 40 mpg, but I suspect he cheated…
The new Ford F-150 is incredibly refined. I continue to be awestruck by this vehicle that can be as civilized as a modern mid-grade sedan all the while holding the ability to haul 2,200 lbs. in the bed or towing up to 11,400 lbs. And just for fun, you can get down and dirty with the best of them.
The off-road portion of the drive event only served to demonstrate that the F-150’s still got it. The Power Stroke aids in the sense that its extra low-end grunt comes in handy when launching up a steep hill but that about it.
The dynamic on-road portion of the day reminded us more that this latest F-150’s chassis and suspension tuning are equally at home handling switchbacks up a mountain road as it is conquering any other terrain or site-related work.
The cabin stays very quiet at speeds in excess of Colorado’s 75 mph posted speed limit. My partner and I comfortably chatted all day. The beauty with these trucks is, on top of everything else, the vastness of the passenger quarters.
Now, should you Power Stroke?
The major issue with ticking the Power Stroke option box is cost. Depending on where you start, the jump in price ranges from about $5,000 to $10,000. The Power Stroke can be added to Lariat trims and up with a base price, including the V6 Power Stroke, of just over $51,000.
The comparison with the 2018 RAM 1500 with the 3.0-litre EcoDiesel is a must. The most basic 1500 ST with EcoDiesel retails for about $47,500. You must remember that in both cases, the pricing is before incentives.
The Ford has torque and fuel economy advantages. The RAM, for the moment, the pricing upper hand. The F-150 is far more modern but that will become null and void when the 2019 RAM arrives.
The bottom line is the investment will be worthwhile if highway mileage and towing are common and regular occurrences. Although I’d probably opt for the Power Stroke because I love diesel, I’d have to stop and think for a moment if I really want to spend roughly $7,000 extra for my Lariat 4X4 truck with the fantastic 5.0-litre V8.