DETROIT -- The “new” turbodiesel engine coming next year in the F-150 is already available in the U.S. in two vehicles, the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport.
One lingering tie between Ford and Land Rover is powertrain. When Ford sold Land Rover and Jaguar to Tata Motors in 2008, the new company, Jaguar Land Rover, relied on Ford for all its engines.
Many of those old connections are now broken since JLR opened its new engine plant in late 2015 and began producing its own Ingenium inline four-cylinder diesel and gasoline engines. But Ford still provides V-6 and V-8 gasoline and diesel engines, including the 3.0-liter Lion V-6 slated for the F-150.
So, here’s what we know about the upcoming F-150 diesel engine: In the Range Rover Sport, the 3.0-liter Lion V-6 develops 254 hp and 440 pounds-feet of torque. That places it slightly above the Ram 1500’s 3.0-liter EcoDiesel, which generates 240 hp and 420 pounds-feet of torque.
Ford will likely tune the engine differently for the F-150, and that might have a slight effect on power output. One of the chief gripes of Ford’s EcoBoost gasoline engines has been that fuel economy dips dramatically when the vehicle is used to tow heavy loads. The 3.0-liter diesel engine should address that concern.
F-150 vs. Ram
Ford is gunning for fuel economy leadership in the pickup segment and has a great shot of knocking off the diesel Ram’s industry best (for a full-size pickup) 29 mpg on the highway.
The Range Rover Sport, using an eight-speed automatic transmission that drives all four wheels, delivers 32 percent higher overall fuel economy than the gasoline engine also available, an EPA rated 28 mpg highway.
The F-150 diesel, I think, should easily beat the Ram’s 29 mpg.
Here’s why: Ford is mating the diesel engine to a 10-speed automatic, which could boost fuel economy by about 6 percent. The vehicle will have stop-start, which will help improve fuel economy slightly in city driving. And likely rear-wheel-drive only models of the F-150 will be available, further boosting fuel economy.
The Range Rover Sport weighs 4,709 pounds, while the F-150 checks in at between 4,049 pounds and 5,236 pounds, depending on models and options. Both F-150 and Range Rover are likely pretty close aerodynamically.
You might wonder why it took Ford so long to add a diesel to the F-150. First of all, it makes more sense now than ever -- despite the Volkswagen diesel scandal. For one thing, the 3.0-liter engine is made in England. After British voters decided in June to leave the European Union, the British pound has dropped from about $1.55 to $1.22 today. That makes importing the engine more affordable.
Also, since Land Rover already spent the money to federalize the engine for emissions compliance, Ford may well have access to that data, saving time and money. At the Detroit auto show this week, I hope to speak with Ford’s powertrain executives and learn more about how the decision was made to add the 3.0-liter engine to the F-150.
And then there is the competitive pressure. Ram upstaged Ford when it snatched the fuel economy crown by installing a diesel engine. Ford, instead, spent billions to convert from steel to aluminum bodies to save weight. And then GM launched a diesel in the hot selling Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize pickups and became the first pickups to earn an EPA rating of more than 30 mpg -- they both have a 31 mpg rating.
So it all adds up to this: With the F-150's diesel engine, lightweight aluminum body and 10-speed automatic, Ford looks poised to own the pickup fuel economy crown. But there is a downside in that the truck will likely be fairly expensive. Its emissions system, which uses SCR and other after-treatment devices, adds a lot of cost to the truck, perhaps $10,000 or more.
Still, Ford F-150 fans have been clamoring for a small diesel for more than a decade. Fourteen years ago, Ford was poised to use a 4.5-liter diesel in the F-150, but cancelled it, citing cost and changing emissions rules that would have required a quick re-engineering job.
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