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Super-Efficient Ford

May 4, 2010

Ford has finally done it. The 2011 Super Duty arrives at the farm gate this spring with an all-new Ford-engineered, -designed and -built diesel engine that gets more than 20 miles per gallon (mpg)—and it comes without a price increase for the diesel option.

Farmers are the biggest users and abusers of pickups. Throughout my years of farming, I've chronically overloaded every pickup. So when Farm Journal asked me to join other journalists in Arizona to test the 2011 Ford Super Duty models, I wanted to be sure these trucks would pay their way on the farm just like a tractor or combine.

Arizona's 7% grades provided a good place to tow, and we had plenty of opportunity to make the trucks grunt.

The first thing I noticed about this new line of Ford heavies is smooth acceleration all the way to redline. Smooth shifting, no turbo lag, no jerk from the new exhaust brake, less jerk from grade shifting—it's as close to a car feel as I've ever experienced in a heavy-duty truck.

Ford has long relied on Navistar to supply its diesel engines, but it broke that relationship because of quality issues and differences of opinion about diesel technology. The new homegrown 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8 turbocharged diesel with 735 ft.-lb. of torque (at 1,600 rpm) and 390 hp (at 2,800 rpm) is B20-compatible. Your other heavy-duty option is a dual-spark-plug, 6.2-liter V-8 gasoline engine that delivers 405 ft.-lb. of torque (at 4,500 rpm) and 385 hp (at 5,500 rpm) with E85 compatibility. The 6.2-liter engine is an overhead-cam, large-bore/short-stroke design that delivers 90% capacity at 2,000 rpm.

Fuel mileage is the big news with this introduction. The outgoing 6.4-liter Power Stroke diesel was in last place in the miles-per-gallon race, but the 6.7-liter may prove to be the new leader with 18% mpg improvement (15% better on the gas model). After a drive of several hundred miles with a 1,000-lb. payload, the information screen displayed 20 mpg to 23 mpg readings.

The improvement comes by optimizing combustion and cooling in the new engine. The new diesel is reverse-flow, with an exhaust manifold in the valley below the dual-compressor-wheel turbo. There are two complete cooling systems and pumps on the diesel. Transmission, steering, intercooler and even engine cooling circulate through new separate radiators. It looks like a plumber's nightmare under the hood, but Ford claims that engine service is simpler, with less need to pull the cab for surgery.

The extra power allows higher axle ratios, similar to what semi trucks have done for better fuel mileage. The engine can even lug down to 900 rpm with the transmission torque converter still locked, thanks to a new damper.

Another part of the miles-per-gallon equation is that the torque converter will lock up sooner and stay locked up longer in tow mode, acting like a manual transmission. You can let the truck do the work in normal mode, shift yourself in manual mode or control what the highest gear will be

in progressive mode. In tow/haul mode, you can downshift by tapping on the brake as the revolutions per minute allow. The lower torque peak power of 1,600 rpm and double overdrive lets the diesel engine run slower.

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FEATURED IN: Farm Journal - Late Spring 2010

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