Ford’s new F-150 Power Stroke turbo diesel finally answers the cries from Ford loyalists for diesel towing power and fuel efficiency in a ½-ton pickup versus a more ungainly Super Duty ¾- or one-ton truck.
To be clear, this is not the first diesel ½-ton. Ram broached that threshold five years ago with 240 hp 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 option in the 1500 that delivers 420 lb./ft. of torque.
But Ford’s 3.0-liter Power Stroke diesel V-6 in the F-150 beats that with 250 hp and 440 lb. ft. of torque. Mated to Ford’s 10-speed transmission, it delivers 11,400 pounds of towing capacity, as well as outstanding fuel efficiency, whether towing or not. That should delight trailer boaters.
To get a feel for this model, we spent a long weekend with the diesel-powered F-150. We towed a 6,000-pound boat/trailer with 600 pounds of tongue weight, and to be blunt, we should have towed a heavier boat. In tow/haul, we barely knew there was a boat/trailer on our tail. Zero to 55 mph was a crisp 8 seconds (while chirping the tires a bit), and achieved an average mpg of 11.3 while towing. Compare that to a 22.7 mpg average in Eco mode while not towing.
With 10 transmission gears to choose from, the Power Stroke diesel was able to stay in its efficiency zone at any speed. The same holds true for staying in peak power zone while towing. The engine was also quiet, especially for a diesel. Gone are the days of the clackety-clack diesels, through there’s still enough rattle and whine to impress your motorhead buddies.
There was so much technology in our test truck – from the FX Off Road four-wheel drive package, active park assist and power deployable running boards to the power tailgate, lane-departure warning and heated steering wheel – we can’t even begin to cover it all. So let’s stick with the towing related features.
One of the most remarkable is the Pro Trailer Backup Assist that automatically steers your rig in reverse. It takes over steering, so you don’t need to touch the wheel while backing up.
Another cool feature is BLIS (blind spot information system) with trailer tow monitoring. When properly set up, it uses sensors in the truck’s taillights to warn you if a vehicle is beside your trailer. A light in the sideview mirror and a chime alerts you to the other vehicle’s presence. The truck automatically senses the trailer is hooked up.
Our tester was festooned with cameras – it included a 360-degree bird’s eye view of the truck and its surroundings – but the most helpful was the backup camera that simplified the hitch up process. It put the tow ball right under the coupler every time.
The extras come with a price. The turbo diesel represents a $4,000 addition to the $47,300 base MSRP. With all of the extras and technology, our test truck ended up at $70,320 MSRP. Given the enduring popularity of the Ford F-150 and the pent-up demand for diesel power in these ½-ton pickups (especially among trailer boaters), Ford should have no problem selling these trucks at that price.