Test drives of a variety of newly configured trucks in Las Vegas and at the Ford proving grounds in Romeo, Michigan, demonstrate the viability of the "more power with less noise" concept customers are demanding. This concept has indeed become reality. More noticeable than increased quietude, Ford's new powertrain provides additional speed, pulling power, and fuel economy than offered by the 7.3.

Perhaps the most noticeable reason for the awesome pulling power is the short-stepped TorqShift tranny, which works almost like the split gears used in Class 8 trucks, where 13- and 18-speed trannies give long-haul guys supreme power over gear selection to efficiently use horsepower on grades. The five-speed automatic overdrive has steps of 3.09:1 in first, 2.20:1 in second, 1.3:1 in third, 1.00:1 in fourth, and an overdrive of 0.71:1. Torqshift also has a new five-speed electronically controlled gearbox. The short-stepped gear changes are handled smoothly, and the package as a whole makes a driver feel in charge and happy to be there. And, despite new, cooled-exhaust-gas recirculation technology needed to meet EPA October 2002 emissions requirements for commercial diesels, the 6.0-liter provides approximately eight-percent-better fuel economy.

The heart of the EGR system, the turbo, is also one of the big reasons the 6.0-liter is more fuel efficient when pulling stronger. The high-speed turbo also provides surprisingly hefty sudden boost on the low end, an unexpected advantage of EGR, which requires the super turbos to drive the system. If you want to do six-ton drags, you'll get some extra off the line with an EGR diesel. The 6.0-liter has plenty to offer on its own, however.

Charlie Freese, chief diesel engineer at Ford, says, "The strategy we used allows us to size the turbocharger for fuel efficiency and altitude capability, while achieving better low-end response for better launch characteristics." The turbo, electronically controlled, propels the huge gobs of air needed for performance and to push recaptured exhaust gases back through the engine where it's relieved of more nitrous oxides, soot, and other pollutants. It also is a factor in the nearly immediate throttle response when launching. One caveat: If Class 8 experience with the new EGR technology holds true here, strict adherence to service intervals will keep your engine alive longer. Class 8 OEMs tell customers to stick closely to recommended service intervals. New oils (C-4), have been developed to carry more soot and acids, but changing oil on time will significantly increase engine life. A new, improved cooling package with a larger fan helps dissipate more heat put off by the EGR process.