Road Test: 2018 Ford F-150 Diesel

Road Test: 2018 Ford F-150 Diesel

Story by Benjamin Yong

Remember all the “military-grade aluminum” advertisements flooding various forms of media when the 13th generation Ford F-150 initially launched? That was only four years ago, and now Canada’s favourite truck is making the news again by introducing the long awaited diesel variant.

Here are the main points: the pickup is packing an all-new Power Stroke turbocharged diesel rated at 7.84 L/100 km fuel consumption; peak torque is delivered at a low 1,750 rpm; maximum towing and payload capacities are 11,400 and 2,020 pounds, respectively.

“For every truck owner who wants strong fuel economy while they tow and haul, we offer a new 3.0-litre Power Stroke V6 engine that dreams are made of,” says Dave Filipe, Ford global powertrain engineering vice-president, in a news release. “The more you tow and the longer you haul, the more you’ll appreciate its class-leading towing and payload capacity and how efficient it is at the pump.”

Sharing powertrain technology with the capable F-Series Super Duty, the mill generates 250 horsepower and, more importantly, the 440 lb-ft of torque I hinted at is right there on tap almost immediately when you put your foot on the throttle. An example of innovative tech is how engineers provided a solution to extreme heat and high altitude environments.

This F-150 utilizes a mechanical motor-driven fan — as opposed to electric units competing models tend to favour — and dual radiator shutters to move air quickly and in large quantities to cool the radiator and feed the intercooler. That means even in harsh conditions, neither passing nor hauling is compromised.

When driving and towing around town, the computer dials back fan output via a viscous coupler and shuts down the shutters to improve aerodynamics and performance. I should mention the latter activity has been made much easier thanks to an available 360-degree birds-eye-view camera system aiding in hooking up a hitch and parking.

The diesel gets the same 10-speed automatic transmission gracing the rest of the lineup since 2017, which shifts smoothly and unobtrusively rather than hunting for the correct gear all the time, as one might suspect. In fact, the tranny is capable of choosing the ideal gear for whatever the job requires in a non-sequential manner. Auto start-stop is also standard. What I discovered after spending some time with the truck, in 4X4 SuperCrew Lariat trim, is that it pleasantly functions nicely as a daily driver and not just as a pure workhorse.

This provides a perfect segue into talking about the interior and on-board driver assistance features. Infotainment is handled by Ford’s optional intuitive SYNC 3 hardware and software, offering easy-to-read menus and smartphone-like swipe and pinch-to-zoom inputs — Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both supported. Alternatively, activate voice control to perform most commands so the gloves can stay on. I find the built-in navigation one of the simpler ones to use in the industry, from setting custom route preferences to punching an entire address into a single field rather than having to jump from “street” to “city” etc.

Download the FordPass app on your mobile device and the ability to lock or unlock the vehicle, check fuel and oil levels as well as tire pressure readings is a few taps away. Fire up the truck remotely from inside the house on a cold winter’s day, or schedule it to start in the morning before heading out. To further help save time, connect directly to the dealership through the app and schedule an appointment, look up store hours and view maintenance schedules, service history and recalls.

There’s a whole slew of semi-autonomous wizardry customers may add on, a few of which are segment firsts. Adaptive cruise control makes highway runs a walk in the park, taking advantage of integrated radar and cameras to monitor traffic ahead allowing the F-150 to always maintain a set distance.

I thankfully didn’t encounter a situation for pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection to kick in, but if an accident was deemed imminent, the truck could apply the brakes on its own. Blind spot warning can take into account a trailer up to 33 feet to alert drivers to approaching objects out of viewing range. And should you accidentally drift between the road markers, lane-keep assist can temporarily take over the wheel to help things get re-centred.

My tester had the FX4 off-road package added, bundling an electronic-locking rear axle, hill descent control, beefier front shocks, undercarriage skid plates and special badging, perfect for taking on a purpose-built dirt course containing ruts, changing elevation and mud. Setting the 4WD to four-high, the F-150 ate up all obstacles without breaking stride.

The 2018 Ford F-150 Power Stroke diesel is available now, starting at $56,699.

Specifications:

Base price (MSRP): $57,249
Type: pickup truck
Layout: front engine, four-wheel drive
Engine: 3.0L turbocharged V6 diesel
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Power: 250 hp @ 3,250 rpm  
Torque: 440 lb-ft @ 1,750 rpm
Brakes: front/rear disc with ABS 
Fuel Consumption (L/100km, city/hwy): 11.8/9.3