For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction – and sometimes, more than that.
Ford recently began offering a new V8 in its heavy-duty pickup, the F250 – which I’m test driving this week and will be publishing a review of shortly.
It is a huge V8 – 7.3 liters – which amounts to 445 cubic inches, a gigantosaur of internal combustion the likes of which hasn’t been seen in years, chiefly because of the pressure coming from the Washington regulatory apparat to make them smaller and smaller for the sake of higher ad higher gas mileage . . . if they’re even made at all.
Ford’s lighter-duty pick-up, the F-150 (reviewed here) comes standard with a little 3.3 liter V6 and offers several small V6s (2.7, 3.5 liters) as options. There’s only one little V8 (5 liters) available, if you’re very persistent as many dealers don’t stock them. There is also a diesel V6, but it’s not especially economical – and its very expensive to buy, making the buying of it a harder sell.
Same issue with the diesel V8s in the heavy-duty stuff. They are tremendously capable – and also immensely powerful. The 6.7 liter turbodiesel V8 that’s optional in the F250 produces an almost surreal 1,050 ft.-lbs. of torque, enough to pull a house off its foundation.
But the thing is almost as surreally expensive and it is no longer what diesels used to be to compensate for this:
Mechanically simpler than gas engines – with fewer if any emissions controls.
That lasted longer than gas engines.
The new diesels have almost as many emissions controls as gas engines and different, more complex ones, too – including particulate traps and DEF – Diesel Exhaust Fluid – which means a special tank in addition to the fuel tank that must be periodically topped off with DEF, the fluid sprayed into the exhaust to alter the chemical composition of the resultant exhaust gasses. It is the diesel engine equivalent of a gas engine’s catalytic converter(s) with the difference being catalytic converters are maintenance-free and only cost you when they need to be replaced, usually many years down the road.
But DEF is a regular expense as well as a regular hassle. If you let the DEF tank run dry, the engine’s controlling software will eventually cause the engine to stop running altogether until you top off the tank.
There is also the roughly 50 cents extra per gallon you pya for diesel vs. gas, which adds up fast when you’re filling a 48 gallon tank, as is available in a big truck like the F250. To be precise, it adds about $20 to the cost of every fill-up and while it’s true the diesel goes farther on a gallon, it’s not as far as it used to go – and you pay through the nose for every mile, in addition to what you paid up front, which is in the range of $4,000 for a diesel in a light truck to an astounding $10,495 for the F250’s available 6.7 liter Powerstroke turbodiesel V8.
These factors have made diesel engines less attractive to buyers than they used to be – and prompted a resurgence in V8s as they used to be.
The Ford 7.3 liter V8 is not only gigantic – it is just shy of being as big as the biggest block V8s ever put in any classic-era muscle car (my 1976 Trans Am has a 7.5 liter, 455 cubic inch V8, the biggest V8 GM ever put in any muscle car) it is also very much like the big V8s American car companies used to regularly offer . . . and not just in trucks.
It is not overhead cammed, as almost all modern V8s are (with the notable exception of the Hemi series of V8s still sold by Chrysler, Dodge, Ram and Jeep). It is overhead valve. And just two valves (not four) per cylinder.
And powerful. While the 7.3 doesn’t make 1,050 ft.-lbs. of torque, it does make 475 ft.-lbs. (as well as 430 horsepower) and that’s comparable to what simpler-but-no-longer-made truck diesels used to make and for a lot less money up front – and down the road. The 7.3 liter option lists for $2,050 – and it doesn’t come with a DEF tank or cost you 50 cents extra at every fill-up, either.
It may even last longer, given that it is simpler than the almost-$11k diesel. Fewer parts, fewer things that might break. Including, for one, the turbo – which it doesn’t have. And as for more power, the $8k up front you didn’t spend could probably get you a lot closer to 1,050 horsepower (as by adding a turbo) without having to deal with DEF or pay the extra 50 cents per gallon, ongoing.
Now if only they offered this unit in a Mustang.
. . . .
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