Last year Ford introduced its small 3.0-liter V6 diesel engine for its F-150 truck. It continues for 2019 and is a good choice for someone who needs to tow heavy loads, but it doesn’t want to drive the giant F-250 model.

The horsepower is only 250, but it is torque that provides pulling ability, and this delivers with a healthy 440 pound/feet at a low 1,750 rpm. A modern 10-speed automatic transmission assists. Maximum payload is 1 ton, and towing is rated at 11,450 pounds.

One of the main advantages of a diesel over a gas motor is improved fuel economy. In two-wheel drive, this vehicle is listed at 22 mpg city, 30 highway, with 25 overall. This particular truck has four-wheel drive, so it drops to 20/25/22. We took this on a 340-mile trip from Phoenix to the northern Arizona border and averaged 23 mpg. After a week in all conditions, the total figure was 22 for 800 miles. This is far superior to the larger 6.7-liter diesel found in the F-250 truck we also drove that averaged 17. The 5.0-liter gas engine in another F-150 obtained 16 on average. I might mention this is the smoothest and quietest truck motor I have ever driven.

So how much does this fantastic diesel cost? The price on its window sticker says $3K extra. But that is misleading, because that is after you have paid another $3K for the 5.0-liter V8, so the real tab is about $6K. Plus Ford only offers this on top of the line trims, which explains the tab of $66,880. But for those who own a business and can get a Ford dealer fleet account, you can purchase this diesel option on the base XL work truck instead of having to buy the expensive trim version. I figured it will take about 60K miles of driving to save enough fuel to pay for this engine, so it’s a good reason to get one and start driving right away!

For someone who prefers a more traditional truck, the Toyota Tundra never fails. The base price starts about $31K, but this was loaded up with options. How can you live without Bilstein shocks, TRD sport equipment, spray-in bed liner, a 38-gallon fuel tank and more goodies? The total fee was $47K.

Under the hood you can get a small 310-horsepower V8 engine, but the larger 5.7 V8 has more hp at 381 and doesn’t use much more fuel in the real world, although 13/17 mpg empties that 38-gallon tank in a hurry. The transmission is seriously outdated with only six gears but lasts forever, so why complain?

The cabin is also in need of an update, but all controls are simple and easy to use, so again there is no reason to complain. We drove this vehicle over 600 miles in two days in all conditions. While not as smooth or economical as the competition, it is still a very rugged machine and has the best reliability record of any truck sold, and better resale value too. If you are not in the habit of trading your vehicle in every few years and keep it for the long haul, the Tundra is hard to beat.

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Chad Haire, of Phoenix, test-drives vehicles for this feature.

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