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  • Consumer Feature: Ford "Baby" Power Stroke

Consumer Feature: Ford "Baby" Power Stroke

A Baby Power Stroke? We Drive the Next Big Thing

G.R. WhaleMar 13, 2006
Ford may be able to keep secret the location of F-150 development mules that might be running around with the Baby Power Stroke 4.5-liter turbodiesel V-6 under the hood, but you can already buy one of these engines at many Ford dealers--in commercial-duty LCF (low cab forward) cargo haulers. And our pals at the Vista Ford Commercial Division in Oxnard, California (805/983-6511; www.vistaoxnard.com) kindly loaned us the keys to one.
The engine in the LCF is an International-built VT275, rated at 200 horsepower and 440 pound-feet of torque--basically a 6.0-liter Power Stroke V-8 with two cylinders lopped off. It's backed by a floor-shifted TorqShift five-speed automatic--the same one used in Super Duty pickups. The sequential twin turbochargers sit in the block valley and feed a forward-facing intake. All filters are up high and identical to 6.0-liter Power Stroke part numbers for easy serviceability. From our initial look and unofficial measurements, there's nothing here to suggest the 4.5-liter TD wouldn't comfortably fit under an F-150 hood.
Photo 2/4   |   International VT275 V-6 Turbodiesel

On our drive, it quickly fired cold and idled like a lumpy, noisy 6.0-liter, neither of which was a surprise. Fewer cylinders means more apparent pulses, something that could easily be reduced with different motor mounts, and, compared with a midlevel or luxury pickup, insulation on a commercial chassis is questionable. We'd expect a much quieter version in a pickup or SUV; besides, in the LCF, you're sitting right on top of the motor.
A short drive demonstrated quick spoolup, and we saw no smoke at various throttle positions, even cold. On boost, where the turbos mask exhaust pulses, it sounds much closer to the larger 6.0-liter in character, pulling strongly in the 10,000-pound empty cargo-box truck we test drove. Immediately, our minds, always thirsting for backcountry adventure, turned to putting this powerful version in something like the H3. Since commercial engines are often de-rated for durability, it wouldn't surprise us to see the VT275 rated at 240-255 horsepower in light-duty trim, with the torque limited to the same 440 pound-feet of torque to avoid scattering U-joints or ring-gear teeth.
As to fuel economy, we can only surmise the final ratings will be somewhere around 18-21 mpg in the city and 24-26 mpg on the highway, depending on application. Pricing will most likely follow existing diesel patterns, carrying a premium that we'd guess would be in the $1500 to $2500 range, again depending on the application. How soon this engine can make it into a vehicle remains to be seen, but a new Expedition is coming out in late 2007, so we probably won't have to wait too long. Maybe this will start some kind of diesel race for full-size SUVs and half-ton pickups. Can a baby Duramax or Cummins be far behind? We hope not.

Photo 3/4
Photo 4/4   |   TorqShift 5-speed automatic

Ford "Baby" Power Stroke
Final assembly Huntsville, Alabama
Engine model VT275
Engine type 90° V-6 turbodiesel
Bore x stroke, in 3.74 x 4.13
Displacement, ci/L 266/4.5
Compression ratio 18.5:1
Valve gear SOHC, 4 valves/cyl
Fuel induction Intercooled, direct injection
Air management Two-stage, variable fin turbo
Emission controls Electronically controlled cooled exhaust-gas recirculation, diesel oxidation catalyst
SAE horsepower, hp @ rpm 200 @ 3000
SAE torque, lb-ft @ rpm 440 @ 1850
Lube capacity, qt 13
Lube intervals, mi 7500
Transmission TorqShift 5-speed auto

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