Ford’s best-selling pickup lineup kicks off 2018 with an all-new powertrain option in the form a first-ever-for-F-150 diesel engine.

Debuting at the North American International Auto Show, the F-150 Power Stroke 3.0L V-6 diesel arrives in dealership this spring as the sixth engine option for the light-duty truck. F-150 gas engines include the 2.7L, 3.5L and high-output 3.5L V-6 EcoBoost twin turbos, and two naturally aspirated options, the 3.3L V-6 and 5.0L V-8.

Ford says the combination of the 250-hp, 440-lb.-ft. (597-Nm) diesel and the standard 10-speed automatic transmission give the pickup a series of best-in-class capabilities: an EPA-estimated 30 mpg (7.8 L/100 km), an 11,400-lb. (5,171-kg) towing capacity and a 2,020-lb. (916-kg) payload limit. Peak torque arrives at just 1,750 rpm.

“The magic number is the 30-mpg target,” says Dave Filipe, vice president-global powertrain engineering. “The more you tow and the longer you haul, the more you’ll appreciate its class-leading towing and payload capacity and how efficient it is at the pump.”

To develop the light-duty diesel, Ford tapped the same team that engineered Ford’s 6.7L Power Stroke V-8 for the F-Series Super Duty lineup. The DOHC, four-valves-per-cylinder engine features a compacted-graphite iron block, a forged-steel crank, common-rail fuel injection and a high-efficiency, variable-geometry single-scroll Honeywell turbocharger. Stop/start is standard.

An engine-driven fan and dual mechanically actuated radiator shutters manage cooling while an upgraded torque converter handles the extra power. The unique cooling system helps keep the engine operating at maximum efficiency even in harsh conditions.

“We know that competing diesels with electric cooling fans have to dial back on power under extreme heat and altitude, so we decided on a viscous-controlled mechanical fan that has the capacity to move much more air across the radiator and intercooler in extreme conditions,” says David Ives, Ford diesel engine technical specialist.

Ford is a latecomer to the light-duty truck diesel segment – the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel has been on sale since the ’14 model year. The EcoDiesel produces 240 hp and 420 lb.-ft. (569 Nm) of torque and hits an EPA-estimated highway fuel economy of 29 mpg (8.1 L/100 km).

FCA’s light-duty truck’s 3.0L V-6 EcoDiesel was a considerable success, seeing a nearly 20% take rate, but suffered a black eye a year ago when the EPA cited the engine for emissions violations. FCA since has resolved the violation by making a software change the company said did not affect fuel economy or engine performance.

Since its introduction on the F-150 in 2011, Ford’s EcoBoost V-6s have become the engine of choice for most F-150 buyers, but now the diesel is “the next logical extension,” says Todd Eckert, truck marketing manager. The company expects about a 5% take rate for the diesel option, with an estimated 85% of those buyers towing on a regular basis.

The engine, a variant of the 3.0L turbodiesel sold in Jaguar and Land Rover models, is built at Ford’s Dagenham Engine Plant in the U.K. Ford expects the plant to be able to provide ample supply of the engines.

The diesel will add between $2,400 and $4,000 to the sticker price, depending on trim.

bgritzinger@wardsauto.com @bobgritzinger