The F-150 may soon come with an diesel engine option. Despite historically low fuel prices, fuel economy is still an important factor when it comes to buying a vehicle. Logically, it makes little sense to choose one pickup truck because it gets one or two miles a gallon better mileage on the highway, but people do anyway.
Ever since Dodge decided to slide a diesel engine into its Ram 1500, buyers have been flocking to the Mopar brand in record numbers. 15% of all Ram 1500s were equipped with the EcoDiesel engine in 2015. Most people think that’s because the Ram EcoDiesel is rated the highest of all full size pickup trucks at 29 mpg on the highway. The Ford F-150 equipped with a 2.7 liter V-6 is rated only 26 mpg.
Ford says, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” Soon, it too will offer an oil burner under the hood of its F-150 pickups in hopes of equaling or beating Dodge at its own game. According to Automotive News, F-150s with diesel engines have been spotted motoring around Ford’s product development center in Dearborn.
Ford is keeping mum about all this, but Dave Sullivan, an analyst for AutoPacific, says Ford’s is planning to introduce a diesel powered F-150 mated to the new 10 speed automatic transmission it developed in cooperation with General Motors. He thinks it will come to market as a 2017 model. “A diesel F-150, with its lightweight body and 10-speed automatic, would have all of the necessary hardware to win the fuel economy race,” Sullivan says.
The most likely diesel engine Ford would use in the F-150 is the 3.0 liter, twin turbo V-6 made at its Dagenham factory in England. That engine was developed jointly by Ford and Peugeot in 1999 and has been used Peugeots, Jaguars, Land Rovers and the Ford Territory, an off-road vehicle sold in Australia. It is presently used in the Range Rover Sport, where it makes 254 hp with 440 lb-ft of torque at 1,750 rpm. The Ram EcoDiesel is rated at 240 hp and 420 pounds-feet of torque at 2,000 rpm.
The Range Rover weighs 4,727-pounds and has an EPA rating of 22 city/29 highway. The 2016 F-150 Lariat Crew Cab weighs 4,942 pounds and has about the same aerodynamic characteristics as the Range Rover, which suggests its fuel economy numbers should be about the same.
All this fretting over fuel economy is somewhat silly. If people were that interested in fuel economy, they wouldn’t buy a pickup truck in the first place. The numbers on the Mulroney sticker we see at the dealership often have little relationship to the numbers people get in real world driving. Nevertheless, Chevrolet, GMC and Nissan now offer diesels in their entry level pickup trucks. Ford doesn’t want to be odd man out in the diesel fuel economy wars, even if the higher cost of diesel fuel wipes out any marginal gains having a diesel under the hood may offer.
There is an old expression that says, “People buy on emotion and justify their purchase decision later with facts.” Most people buy trucks for the way they make them feel. Fuel economy numbers are just the incidental facts that validate their choices.