2018 Ford F-150 Diesel Review

Sweet, sweet torque

Apr. 26, 2018 By Stephen Elmer

The Ford F-150 has offered more engine options than it half-ton competitors for some time now, but the Blue Oval brand has never offered a diesel engine under the hood of its best seller. Until now.

The new 3.0-liter diesel option becomes the sixth engine option available in the F-150 and it is not brand new. In fact, a version of this 3.0-liter, called the Lion, is also used in Land Rover SUVs, as it was developed when the two companies were still tied up.

SEE ALSO: 2019 Ram 1500 Review

Off the top, here are the numbers you need to know. This engine makes 250 horsepower and 440 lb-ft of torque in the F-150 and is capable of towing a maximum of 11,400 pounds when outfitted as a 4x4 Regular cab XL model. Payload with the diesel is capped at 2,020 pounds, and power is sent through the brand's new 10-speed automatic transmission.

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The EPA has rated fuel economy for rear-wheel drive models at 30 mpg on the highway, 22 in the city for a combined rating of 25 mpg. This tops the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, which is rated at 27 mpg on the highway, and 23 combined.

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When equipped with four-wheel drive, the F-150 nets 22 mpg combined and 25 on the highway. The vast difference in economy is because of packaging according to Ford, as the 4x2 truck uses a taller rear end gear ratio and less aggressive tires. When compared to the Ram, the four-wheel drive trucks are more evenly matched, with the FCA truck getting 22 mpg combined as well, and a better 27 on the highway.

Price Breakdown

Pricing for diesel engine is key to whether or not the engine will be worth it in the long run, and, at least initially, Ford has decided that the oil burner will only be available with its luxury pickups.


The diesel will only be available in Lariat-trim or higher trucks. In the Lariat, the diesel will cost $4,000 more than the standard 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine and $2,400 more than the big 3.5-liter EcoBoost.

So that means that in basic form, an F-150 Lariat diesel will sell for about $46,500 as a two-wheel drive SuperCab. Add in the SuperCrew bodystyle and four-wheel drive and you're looking at a price tag north of $50,000.

At crosstown rival Ram, the EcoDiesel is about a $4000 option in that truck as well, but Ram allows you to get a basic Tradesman model with a diesel in the low $30,000 range. So for now, the cheapest diesel half-ton in town won't come from a Ford dealership.

Diesel Drive

Engine noise in diesel trucks is usually a hotly debated topic amongst the truck-enthralled, as many like to hear the rumble clearly pronounced, while there are those who don't want to be annoyed by a droning diesel engine.

This new F-150 is definitely not that. In fact, I'd say it is now the quietest diesel half-ton on the market, today, which basically just means it's quieter than the Ram EcoDiesel, especially from the exterior.

Starting off the line, there is a pronounced beat you must wait for the diesel to really deliver its power, but once it comes on, there is no denying the strong torque wave that washes over the truck. The 10-speed automatic fires off the gear changes nicely, though we found it was a little less smooth shifting as in its gasoline counterparts.

A reluctance to downshift too low was also apparent with the 10-speed when sticking the right-side pedal to the floor, as Ford surely wants to maximize fuel economy.

But don't worry, there's a solution for this too: Sport mode. In addition to normal, Rain/Snow and Eco, the F-150 diesel has Sport mode, which is more than happy to downshift quickly to find all the power you need.

Outside of the engine, there are really no other main differences in how this F-150 drives compared to its gas-powered brothers, and that's a good thing. The truck feels light on its feet and nimble, even with the added weight of the engine. With two-wheel drive in Lariat SuperCrew form, the diesel model has a curb weight of 5,077 pounds, roughly 350 pounds more than a comparable gasser.


The most capable diesel model off-road right now would be an FX4 package truck, which packs skid plate protection, revised shocks and some technology like hill-descent control.

The standard all-terrain tires (Goodyear Wranglers or Hankook Dynapros) did a nice job of chewing through the mud on an off-road course we ran though outside Denver, CO. The diesel's power nicely pulled it up slick hills and not once did it seem to be hunting for gears or hesitating when it wasn't supposed to.

Easily the best new features for off-roading on modern trucks are the cameras, and in the Ford, that includes a nose camera. You know when you're cresting a hill and staring at nothing but sky and hoping there is going to be ground to support you when you finally level off? Well that guessing game is over thanks to a nose-mounted camera that offers a view of everything directly in front of the truck.

The hill-descent control also worked quite well, taking control of the braking on steep grades the moment you lift your foot from the brake. This is confidence inspiring, as some systems will let the truck run away for a foot or two before catching up.

A nice lift and a set of mud-terrain would certainly make this diesel a real formidable force off-road, and surely the torque would handle those upgrades with ease.

The Verdict: 2018 Ford F-150 Diesel Review

With the advent of the modern half-ton diesel, truck customers have never been closer to getting it all in one package: fuel economy, toughness and civility all from the same ride. And rest assured, this new F-150 diesel delivers all three.

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