Ford diesel F-150 targets Ram, Nissan offerings

Ford diesel F-150 targets Ram, Nissan offerings

Ford's V-6 offers nearly the towing and payload of Nissan's V-8, offers higher mileage, lower sticker price.

January 9, 2018

Cleveland, Ohio – From power ratings to price, Ford is being very aggressive with the diesel-powered F-150 pickup due out later this year.

There are only two diesel light-duty trucks in the full-sized market – Nissan’s Titan XD with a 5L V-8 and FCA US LLC’s Ram 1500 Ecodiesel with a 3L V-6. As Ford enters that market, it’s clearly targeting the Ram, though the truck’s performance specs are competitive with Nissan in some spots.

At 250hp, it’s 4% more powerful than the Ram (240hp) and has 4% more torque (440 lb-ft for the F-150 vs. 420 lb-ft for the Ram). With two more cylinders, the Nissan’s Cummins engine beats both with 310hp and 555 lb-ft of torque.

Things get a bit closer when it comes to towing and payload, and it’s here where Ford’s big bets on lightweighting get more apparent. Starting with the 2015 model year, the F-150 has used aluminum for body panels, shaving 700 lb in vehicle weight.

Because it has less weight to move around, Ford engineers can dedicate more of the engine’s output into performance and fuel economy. So while the F-150 diesel is 19% less powerful than the Titan XD, its towing capacity is only 8.5% lower (11,400 lb for the F-150 vs. 12,460 lb for the Nissan).

Compared to the Ram, the F-150 is only 4% more powerful, but its payload capacity is 23% higher (2,020 lb for Ford vs. 1,640 lb for FCA).

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hasn’t tested the F-150 diesel’s fuel economy yet, but Ford officials expect a 30mpg highway figure, 11% better than the Ram’s 27mpg and 67% better than the Nissan’s 18mpg.

The most efficient gasoline-powered F-150 gets 26mpg highway. Diesel is more expensive than gasoline ($2.91 per gallon vs. $2.49, according to AAA on Jan. 8, 2017), so the annual fuel costs for an F-150 using Ford’s 2.7L EcoBoost V-6 gasoline engine should be about the same as the diesel. The towing capacity for that EcoBoost truck is 8.500 lb.

Finally, there’s pricing. The F-150 diesel engine is a $4,000 price premium on mainstream models ($3,000 on higher-end versions that use the 5L V-8 gas engine as the standard engine). Ram charges $4,270, although that truck has a lower starting price, putting the two diesel-powered trucks at about the same level. Nissan charged $5,550 for the Cummins diesel in the Titan.

Ford’s V-6 diesel uses a compacted-graphite iron (CGI) block and forged-steel crank. Dense and strong, CGI is common in diesels for its ability to handle high cylinder pressure with less weight than cast iron.

A variable geometry turbocharger reduces turbo lag, and engineers chose a common-rail fuel injection system capable of 29,000psi for smoother, quieter operation.

About the author: Robert Schoenberger is the editor of Today's Motor Vehicles and a contributor to Today's Medical Developments and Aerospace Manufacturing and Design. He has written about the automotive industry for more than 17 years at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio; The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky; and The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi.