Destination: Wondervu in the 2019 Ford F-150 Diesel

By Author: Harvey Briggs, Date: May 29, 2018
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When it comes to towns that live up to their name, it would be hard to beat Wondervu, Colorado. I’ll even forgive its non-standard spelling because it’s so damn pretty up there, especially when the snow is falling unexpectedly in late April, trimming the new leaves and budding flowers in white.

My mission to Wondervu was to test Ford’s first-ever F-150 Diesel. I know. I can hear you saying, “Ford has had diesel engines in their pickups before.” Yes, they have, but only for the SuperDuty F-250, 350, and 450. So now for the first time since it made its debut in 1975, you can get a diesel engine in an F-150. After spending a day hauling, climbing, off-roading, and attempted hypermiling, I can say with confidence it was worth the wait.

But first, let’s take a step back and talk about the F-Series in general and why it’s the best-selling vehicle on the planet these days because as luck would have it, I had a new F-150 SuperCrew 4×4 Platinum Edition with a 5.0L V8 waiting for me when I got home.

Behind the Wheel: Ford F150

For those of us who grew up in the 1960s and ’70s, we still think of trucks as work vehicles. They are tools designed for a job, with frills and luxuries kept to a minimum. My first new car was actually a 1985 two-wheel-drive Ford Ranger pickup. It had an AM Radio, rubber floor mats, and vinyl seats. The only options were a bed liner and, as a concession to Michigan’s tendency to get hot and humid in July and August, a sliding rear window but no air conditioning. I bought the truck because I was renovating a 1920s craftsman bungalow and needed to get lumber, plumbing supplies, paint, and lots of cold beer to the job site. The price for this simple work truck was $5,900 and it served its purpose well.

Fast forward to 2018 and the F-150 Platinum in my driveway cost $63,800, more than I paid for the house I renovated in 1985. Obviously, there’s a lot that goes into that – inflation, increased technology, improved engineering, the fact that my first house needed a lot of work – but trucks are becoming more expensive these days and that’s mostly because people don’t want them to be basic anymore. Even though the base price of an F-150 is $27,700, the average transaction price is over $45,000. The Ford 150 I had was so expensive because, in addition to its incredibly capable 5.0L V8, 10-speed automatic transmission, and 4-Wheel Drive system, it was all tarted up with heated, cooled, and massaging front seats, heated rear seats, leather surfaces, wood trim, a dual-panel moonroof, pearlescent paint, 20-inch aluminum wheels, Bang & Olufsen Audio, and more.

The Ford F-150 Platinum is more than just a truck. It’s a luxury car that gives you the luxury of hauling up to 13,200 pounds.

Which brings me back to climbing from 5,400 feet in Bloomfield, Colorado up the Eastern slope to 8,888 feet in Wondervu with 1,000 pounds of lumber in the bed of an F-150 powered by their new 3.0L PowerStroke V6 Diesel engine. One of the best things about this engine is what it doesn’t do, and that’s sound like a diesel. Inside the cabin, you’d never know from either the noise or vibration that you’re driving a diesel. It’s quiet. It’s smooth. It’s refined. Even standing outside next to the truck that tell-tale diesel clatter is reduced to an absolute minimum. What you do get is all the torque you expect from a diesel, 440 load-hauling pound-feet of it to be exact. Thanks to its variable-vaned turbocharger, the F-150 diesel can easily haul big loads and tow large trailers at altitude without breathing hard and without burning nearly as much fuel as you would in a typical gas-engined pickup. With our payload, driving the speed limit and even passing a slower truck or two, I was able to average 19 miles per gallon as I climbed the 3,488 feet into the clouds.

Wondervu, Colorado is a speck of a town, nearly an hour northwest of Denver and a little more than a half hour southwest of Boulder. There’s not much to do there besides hiking, relaxing, and enjoying the view. It boasts a lovely little rustic inn, the Eldora Lodge. Just a little further up the road sits the Wondervu Cafe. It’s about what you’d expect to find as the only restaurant in a small Colorado town, a wide-ranging menu that leans toward Mexican serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a friendly waitstaff, and of course a spectacular view of the Coal Creek Canyon Area. Our stop was just for coffee and a pastry, but a quick look around the town led me to believe this would be a great place to serve as a base for a long weekend in the eastern Rocky Mountains. There are plenty of parks, ski areas, and other activities within an easy drive of the town and you don’t have to deal with the crowds you’ll find in Colorado’s higher profile tourism spots. Like the F-150, you can get a basic in Wondervu, but if you want there are plenty of options available.

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Harvey Briggs

Harvey Briggs is the Founder, Editor, and Publisher of Rides & Drives. He has also written for Car and Driver, Winding Road, and the luxury lifestyle blog, Pursuitist.com. His passions run from fast cars, small planes, boats and motorcycles to music, travel, and sports. When he's not on the road testing the latest cars, he been known to turn up on stage playing rock and blues guitar at clubs around his hometown of Madison, Wisconsin. Follow Harvey's adventures on Instagram and Twitter @harvey_drives and find him on Facebook. Though keeping up could be a problem. As Harvey says, "If I don't slow down, time can't catch me."

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