Race tracks are interesting places. You’d think all the conversations would be about race cars, but that’s not usually the case. Normally, you’re only talking about the race cars when they’re in the paddock or the race is going on. Surprisingly, once the cars are out on track, the paddock conversation usually turns to things of a much more prosaic nature: where’s a good restaurant, so-and-so got a new RV, and the number one topic of conversation, tow vehicles.
You might think dyed-in-the-wool track rats wouldn’t care about trucks all that much, but they are vitally important. So when Ford says their new F-150 with the Power Stroke diesel can haul 2,020 lbs. of payload and drag 11,400 lbs. of trailer, race car, and spares up and over a mountain pass, I know a bunch of busted-knuckle, speed-addicted, unwashed gearheads are going to be very excited.
Ford is not even close to joking around with their new F-150, as both the above figures for payload and towing are best-in-class. And the new Power Stroke has best-in-class power figures at 250 horsepower and a stump-pulling 440 lb-ft. of torque. The F-150’s Power Stroke diesel has the same engine technology as the Super Duty’s larger 6.7-liter Power Stroke. All of that peak torque comes at a low-low 1,750 rpm, with a pretty much pool-table-flat torque curve on up through the rpm range.
The new V6 diesel has the same compacted-graphite iron block and forged-steel crank found in the 2.7-liter EcoBoost for added strength, durability, and weight reduction (Ford is on a big time weight loss kick these days). Engine response is up and turbo lag is down thanks to a high-efficiency, variable-geometry turbocharger. A common-rail fuel injection system further optimizes performance and overall efficiency, while the high-pressure (29,000 PSI!) injection system enables smoother, quieter operation with reduced emissions. Dual fuel filters were added for improved break-in, and a cast-aluminum oil pan and two-stage oil pump are utilized to reduce parasitic loss and further improve fuel efficiency.
Speaking of efficiency, EPA-estimates come in at 22/30 city/highway and 25 combined mpg.
Towing & Transmission
Now, about all that towing capacity. According to Ford, a lot of it flows from the high-strength, military-grade, aluminum-alloy body they introduced in 2015. Dropping 700 lbs. of overall weight allows the addition of cool tech that improves towing and payload capability, as well as giving you greater fuel economy. FoMoCo also tweaked such ancillary items, like adding a mechanical, engine-driven fan and dual radiator shutters for better high-temperature and high-altitude performance.
The F-150 engine control system backs off the fan load in more moderate driving and towing conditions through a viscous coupler, closing down the two radiator shutters for improved aerodynamic efficiency and reduced parasitic engine loss. Ford says owners will notice more power, even in harsh conditions, with this design.
“We know that competing diesels with electric cooling fans have to dial back on power under extreme heat and altitude, so we decided on a viscous-controlled mechanical fan that has the capacity to move much more air across the radiator and intercooler in extreme conditions,” explained David Ives, Ford Diesel Engine Technical Specialist.
Transmission-wise, the 3.0-liter Power Stroke diesel is mated to a standard SelectShift 10-speed automatic. Ford says it maximizes shift points and the gear ratios allow for optimal power, low-rpm torque, and greater overall efficiency. The transmission even allows you to non-sequentially select the right gear ratio too.
Availability & Configurations
Ford dealers are taking orders now with deliveries beginning this spring. Retail customers can choose the Power Stroke engine option on Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum edition SuperCrew trucks, with either a 5.5-foot or 6.5-foot bed, or in a SuperCab truck with a 6.5-foot bed. The engine is available in both 4×2 and 4×4 configurations as well.
So look at that, you can haul the entire team – crew, (long suffering) significant others, fans – and take your cars and all your spares to the track in one nice, comfy package.
Interested? Of course you’re interested. How else are you going to tow your Formula Vee from Schenectady to Heartland Park?
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format.