Before electrification was taken seriously in the auto industry, diesel engines were the poster children of efficiency. And while Volkswagen may or may not have accidentally killed new diesel engine development for passenger cars, they haven’t disappeared entirely. Detroit’s automakers have all rolled out diesel-powered half-ton pickups in recent years, due to their fuel efficiency, smooth torque delivery and stalwart towing abilities. But today we’re seeing electrification creep in, with the Ram 1500 eTorque, the 2021 Ford F-150 PowerBoost hybrid, and soon-to-be F-150 Electric.
These electrified trucks aren’t just for CAFE tokens, either. The 2021 Ford F-150 PowerBoost hybrid, for example, can tow a full 12,700 pounds. That’s 600 pounds over the 12,100 pounds the mighty Power Stroke V6 is rated to pull, but a difference of just 5.7 percent.
So one has to wonder, is there a bit of redundancy between the similarly sounding PowerBoost hybrid and Power Stroke diesel in the 2021 Ford F-150? According to F-150 Chief Engineer Craig Schmatz, it all comes down to who will buy them.
“There’s a different customer there,” said Schmatz when asked about the potential redundancy in the powertrain lineup. “Power Stroke is good at what it does… really strong fuel economy, especially while towing. But PowerBoost gives you all around fuel economy from a metro/highway perspective, plus the ProPower Onboard benefit.”
The 3.0L Power Stroke V6 was designed by the same team who are responsible for the larger 6.7L V8 that is found in the Super Duty models. The engine was rated at 250 horsepower and 440 lb-ft of torque for the 2020 model year, though those figures may increase for the 14th-generation models. That fat torque figure aside, the baby Power Stroke also garnered a lot of attention for its EPA fuel economy ratings. In rear-wheel-drive SuperCab spec, the diesel-powered F-150 was able to reach 22 MPG city/30 MPG highway, for a combined rating of 25 MPG. The more popular SuperCrew configuration with 4×4 was rated at 20 MPG city/25 MPG highway, for a total combined rating of 22 MPG.
The EPA just released their figures for the gasoline-powered 2021 Ford F-150 lineup, including the PowerBoost Hybrid model. For those hoping the electrified EcoBoost would offer a higher highway rating than the diesel, you’re going to be surprised. According to the EPA, the hybrid V6 is able to return 24 MPG city/24 MPG highway, for a combined rating of 24 MPG combined. If fuel economy is still your number one priority as a Ford F-150 buyer, the Power Stroke is still your best bet. That said, the PowerBoost Hybrid offers 430 horsepower and 570 lb-ft of torque, which makes itself known out on the road. Add in the fact that all Hybrid F-150’s will come standard with 4×4, and that fuel economy appears even more impressive. This is something that Ford believes will help the Hybrid to outsell the recently added Power Stroke.
“We’ve got in a discussion earlier (in development), where do we think the hybrid becomes a substitute for the diesel because of its capability. It does have approximate towing/payload. The PowerBoost (towing) is 12,700 and the diesel I think is 12,100. A small difference. I think there’s still a need for the diesel. But we think Power Boost is going to be more than (Power Stroke) take rate and growing over time.”
Customer behavior is also what keeps the Coyote V8 engine in the 2021 Ford F-150 lineup, according to Schmatz.
While these two Ford F-150 powertrains are the most efficient on offer, they take very different approaches to get there. We know that with an electric F-150 coming in the near future, Ford clearly has its mind set on battery-powered models. The PowerBoost Hybrid V6 will be there for customers who want to experience a bit of that tech, while the Power Stroke diesel bucks it completely.