DETROIT – Truck shoppers will have to wait until spring 2018 to buy a diesel-engine-equipped Ford F-150, but the ’18-model pickup gets a number of significant powertrain updates in the meantime.
The powertrain improvements are part of a midcycle makeover of Ford’s best-selling vehicle introduced with an all-aluminum body as a ’15 model. The redesign includes exterior styling changes front and rear, six new wheels and a range of optional driver-assistance functions, including adaptive cruise control with full stop-and-go capability. F-150 also gets a Wi-Fi option and is the first Ford vehicle to offer uplevel B&O Play audio.
“This is our most extensive midcycle refresh, with full 360-degree differentiation,” says Brian Bell, F-150 marketing manager. “Between ’17 and ’18 (model years), the engines are all new or updated.”
New for ’18 are a 3.3L V-6 replacing the current 3.5L base engine and a 3.0L V-6 Power Stroke turbodiesel. Carryover engines include the 5.0L V-8 and the 3.5L and 2.7L EcoBoost V-6s. All of the engines now get the same dual port and direct fuel injection added last year to the 3.5L EcoBoost.
All are mated to Ford’s new 10-speed automatic transmission except the base engine, which comes with a carryover 6-speed automatic. All powertrains are equipped with stop/start technology including internal pumps to maintain fluid pressure at stop to assure smooth restarts.
Ford says the base 3.3L will achieve the same 282 hp and 253 lb.-ft. (343 Nm) of torque as the 3.5L it replaces. No specifications are available for the other powertrains, but improvements are expected across the board.
“Horsepower and torque will be better on everything except the 3.3L and fuel economy should be better as well,” says Jerry Farrell, chief program engineer.
The ’18 F-150 goes on sale this fall, with the diesel arriving in spring 2018 or by midyear at the latest. Bell isn’t speculating on a take rate for the diesel, but expects EcoBoost to maintain its 60% share of F-150 sales, total V-6s at about 70% (including turbos and the base engine), with the V-8 and the new diesel filling in the rest of the sales.
Buyers who value capability and fuel economy will appreciate the diesel once it arrives, he says. One of the knocks against the more-efficient EcoBoost engines is weak fuel economy when carrying heavy loads or towing.
“Customers who do a lot of towing will really value the diesel,” Bell says.
The ’18 F-150 will be built at the Dearborn (MI) Truck Plant and the Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, MO.
[email protected] @bobgritzinger