Already the leader in full-size pickup engine choices (five), Ford looks to tighten its grip on sales leadership in this profitable class with the addition of a diesel engine option for the F-150. A first for Ford in the half-ton truck category, the addition of a compression ignition engine is expected to add incremental sales to a truck that has been the country’s best-selling pickup for 41 straight years, and the best-selling vehicle of any kind for 36.

Developed in-house, the new diesel is a 3.0-liter V6, under the same Ford Power Stroke brand name, and engineering team as the potent 6.7-liter V8 available in F-Series Heavy Duty trucks. Design highlights include a graphite-iron block, forged steel crankshaft (shared with Ford’s turbocharged 2.7-liter EcoBoost gasoline V6), a two-stage oil pump, a variable geometry turbocharger, and a common rail injection system pressurized to 29,000 pounds per square inch.

Horsepower is rated at 250, but like other diesels its strong suit is torque—440 pound-feet, peaking at just 1700 rpm—and thrift: Ford anticipates an EPA highway fuel economy rating of 30 mpg. The diesel will be mated with Ford’s 10-speed automatic transmission, calibrated and geared for the new engine’s massive low-end torque.

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Best-in-class specs

The objective of diesel grunt is a serious work ethic, and Ford anticipates best-in-class ratings for the new F-150 option: 2,020-pound payload and 11,400 pounds towing. In contrast, the new Ford engine will hold a modest edge over its Ram 1500 V6 diesel rival, rated for 240 hp, 420 lb-ft, and a highway rating of 29 mpg. With 310 hp and 555 lb-ft of torque, the 5.0-liter turbodiesel V8 powering Nissan’s Titan XD is a different concept, straddling the border between half-ton and heavy-duty pickups.

When Ford’s diesel half-tonner arrives next spring, only General Motors and Toyota will be without a diesel option in their 1500 series trucks. (The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 will get a diesel option, but not until later in 2018.) For now, GM (Chevrolet and GMC) offers a diesel (the 6.6-liter Duramax V8) in its HD trucks, while the Toyota Tundra range is limited to gasoline engines, and does not include a heavy-duty model.

Diesels typically command premium prices, and while Ford won’t discuss MSRPs the new 3.0-liter Power Stroke V6 seems likely to be consistent with that trait. It will be offered only with the top three F-150 trims—Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum SuperCrew and SuperCab (extended cab) models.

The F-150 diesels will offer a choice of rear- or 4-wheel drive. SuperCrews will be available with a choice of a 5.5- or 6.5-foot cargo beds. SuperCab models will have the 6.5-foot bed. Ford refrained from a specific on-sale date for the new diesel, other than “spring.” However, the company will begin accepting dealer orders in mid-January.

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