BROOMFIELD, CO – Towing a 6,500-lb. (2,948-kg) wakeboarding boat and trailer up and down long inclines here in the Colorado foothills forces Ford’s diesel-equipped F-150 light-duty pickup to strain a bit. But with a 10,100-lb. (4,581-kg) tow rating, there’s still a lot of pulling capacity available.

During another test, a 685-lb. (311-kg) pair of dirt bikes strapped into the bed is a barely perceptible load for a truck with a 1,269-lb. (576-kg) payload capacity.

Our test drives of the ’18 F-150 Power Stroke 3.0L V-6 reveal a highly capable option for truck buyers seeking ample towing and hauling capability combined with good fuel economy. The diesel engine adds a sixth option to the F-150 portfolio in North America (it won’t be sold globally), with the seventh coming as a hybrid in 2020.

The engine is a variant of the 3.0L turbodiesel sold in Jaguar and Land Rover models and is built at Ford’s Dagenham Engine Plant in the U.K. Significant changes, some related to using existing F-150 gas-engine plumbing, include relocating the turbocharger and intake and exhaust manifolds, says Pete Lyon, powertrain calibration manager.

Engineers also revised the compacted-graphite iron block, the Bosch-supplied common-rail fuel-injection system, the Honeywell turbo, the cooled exhaust-gas recirculation and the SCR system.

Unlike its Super Duty siblings equipped with louder and raspier 6.7L Power Stroke V-8 diesels, the F-150’s powertrain is smooth and silent most of the time thanks to engine calibration and extra insulation in the firewall and sound blockers in the A-pillars. From the driver’s seat, there’s little difference between the diesel and any of Ford’s gasoline-engine F-150s in terms of interior noise or vibration through the steering wheel, shifter, pedals or seat.

The engine’s standard stop/start function is slightly more noticeable than the whisper-quiet version in the 2.7L twin-turbo V-6 – a 2018 Wards 10 Best Engines winner – due to the extra effort needed to restart a compression-ignition engine, says Jerry Farrell, F-150 chief engineer. When stopped, steering input restarts the engine, a feature that will be added to all F-150s with stop/start, he says.

There’s a brief lag off the line as the stop/start engages and turbo boost builds, but the engine’s full 440 lb.-ft. (597 Nm) of torque comes on strong at 1,750 rpm. Most of the work is done between 3,000 rpm and 3,500 rpm as the 10-speed automatic transmission runs through the gears. Fuel cutoff comes at 4,000 rpm, short of the 4,600-rpm redline allowed for transmission braking.