Truck buyers love diesels. Why not? Great torque plus great fuel economy—what’s not to love? Cost? True, when it comes to pickup trucks sold in America, diesel powerplants are a premium option over gasoline burners. For example, the awe-inspiring 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel V-8 is a hefty $9,120 bump over the F-250’s base 6.2-liter V-8. The same is true for Chevy and Ram heavy duty trucks, too. Although diesel HD trucks are pricey, if you’ve ever driven a gasoline-engined heavy-duty, you’ll understand why the extra torque is welcome: a 7,500-pound torqueless wonder is no bueno.
Speaking of Ram, Mopar’s truck division started giving customers an EcoDiesel option in its medium-duty truck in 2014. Ford recently followed suit with the release of its 2018 F-150 Diesel. My man Scott Evans recently drove a Platinum trim F-150 diesel from Colorado to the Motor Trend HQ here in Los Angeles, where I greedily grabbed the keys from him and had a go. You know what? The F-150 diesel felt like a Mini-Me version of our long-term F-250 King Ranch. But just how mini? That’s the question.
Read the F-150 diesel First Test here.
Inside, the F-150 really does feel like a miniature version of the Super Duty. Considering that this F-150 is over 17 feet long, 6 feet tall, and 6.5 feet wide, I know that’s a ridiculous statement. But it doesn’t stop it from being true. Had I never set backside in a Ford Heavy Duty, I guess I might very well think the F-150 is large. But after 18,000 miles in the XXL King Ranch, the other Ford is a baby truck. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
The most fabulous thing about driving the mighty F-250 daily is of course that $9,120 stump puller of an engine. Sure, 440 horsepower is great and all, but it’s the 925 lb-ft of torque that allows the 4-ton behemoth to effortlessly jump on freeways and keep up with fast-flowing traffic. The F-150’s 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 creates 250 hp and 440 lb-ft of torque. Yes, that’s nearly half the power and less than half the torque of our Super Duty. Moreover, for 2018 Ford has upped the big engine’s game: The 6.7-liter now creates 450 hp and 935 lb-ft of torque. However, the F-150 diesel weighs in at 5,647 pounds, 2,373 pounds lighter than the 8,020-pound F-250 King Ranch.
The F-150 doesn’t feel slow per se, but as torque-to-weight is what really matters when it comes to acceleration, the new diesel didn’t feel all that quick, either. The F-250 can hit 60 mph in 7.1 seconds, whereas the F-150 diesel does the same in 7.8 seconds. What a difference 0.7 seconds makes. Where the F-250 feels monstrous—albeit slightly ridiculous—when hard charging up an onramp, Ford’s new diesel feels merely adequate. The big dog logged a 15.5-second quarter mile at 89 mph. The F-150 diesel needs 16.1 seconds at 84.3 mph. Again, the F-250 feels like the Incredible Hulk doing sprints, whereas the F-150 feels like a pickup truck getting up to freeway speeds. I guess it’s just the sensation of all that mass in motion that’s tricking my brain.
Now is a good time to point out that the 3.0-liter turbodiesel is a $3,000 option, and it’s only available on Lariat and higher trim levels. That means your minimum price of entry is $46,510: not a bad deal compared to this King Ranch’s $78,335 as-tested price. However, the as-driven price of this particular F-150 Platinum diesel is $66,985. You could theoretically get a stripped F-250 with the Power Stroke for $43,765, but good luck finding one.
Since we’re talking money, let’s talk fuel economy. Every time I look down at the King Ranch’s instant fuel economy readout, it’s somewhere between 15.6 and 15.9 mpg. That’s of course city and highway combined. Remember that heavy-duty trucks are so gigantic, the EPA doesn’t require automakers to state mileage estimates. On sustained, cruise-controlled freeway slogs, the monster Ford will return over 20 mpg. And the medium-duty F-150 diesel is EPA rated at 30 mpg highway (rear-drive models are rated at 22/30 mpg and four-wheel drive at 20/25 mpg). That said, in the Platinum truck, Scott Evans saw 23.7 mpg on his trip back from Colorado. That’s not quite 4 mpg (anecdotally) better than the big King Ranch does on the freeway. So the F-150 diesel is better, but not a world better.
Then there’s towing. The F-250 with the 6.7-liter Power Stroke can tow 21,000 pounds on the hitch. The F-150 diesel can tow “just” 11,400 pounds. But forget about max towing; let’s just talk normal towing. As Scott experienced with the Platinum diesel and a 6,500-pound trailer, “Above 50 mph, the diesel has very little power in reserve for accelerating or overtaking. If you want to pass a big rig on the highway, you’ll need to take a run at it. Climbing even a small hill at freeway speeds, about the best you can hope for is maintaining your speed with your foot to the floor, and 6,500 pounds is less than two-thirds of the truck’s maximum 11,400-pound tow rating.” To contrast, I remember running up the Davis Dam in an F-250 with an 8,500-pound skip loader hanging off the back, and the truck hardly noticed it was there.
Here’s the really important part. If you play with Ford’s online configurator, you can get an F-250 Power Stroke King Ranch Crew Cab with the 160-inch wheelbase (just like mine, minus some options) for about $67,000. That’s around $1,000 more than the F-150 Platinum diesel we’ve been discussing. Although it’s not strictly a fair comparison, given the choice, I can happily tell you that those will be the best $1,020 you’ll ever spend. Think big, baby!
Read more about our 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty here:
- Update 1: America’s Gateway Drug
- Update 2: Dude, Where’s My Truck?
- Update 3: Size Matters, Part 1
- Update 3: Size Matters, Part 2
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