I’m putting this together at the end of September after Ford announced their new Super Duty for 2023. Some interesting changes are coming to the engine lineup for next year. So far, Ford has been a little light on details, so I’m going to have some fun speculating.
I’m doing a separate review with a dive into new features of the Super Duty which will be linked here.
Right now, the focus is on engines.
I’ve replaced a distributor or two in my day. That doesn’t make me an engine expert. At least I know these engines don’t even have distributors anymore.
I’m making some wild guesses here, and I’m leaning more on market knowledge than my understanding of engine design. I have a YouTube channel, but that just means I know how turn on a camera. I’m going to bet some of the best insight will be in the comments.
We’ll know more in the coming weeks and months, but for now, let’s have some fun with it.
New 6.8L Gas replaces the Boss 6.2L
Ford announced a new 6.8L gas V8 engine that will be mated to a lighter-duty variant of the 10 speed transmission the Godzilla and Powerstroke use.
This new 6.8L pushrod gas engine appears to be a 7.3L with a shorter stroke. Hopefully, this will ease some supply issues by sharing some parts with 7.3, but I’m not an engine doctor. I don’t know how this stuff works.
Random sites tell me it takes 3 years to develop a new engine, which would put this engine on the drawing board before Covid hit. If its just a 7.3 with a shorter stroke, then maybe the development time would be shorter and it could be in response to Covid supply chain issues. This is just speculation. If it helps them ship more trucks, its a win.
Ford has not released any power specs yet, but we can take a guess. 6.8 is 93% of 7.3. If we over-simplify and just use the size difference to guess at the power output, what do we get?
6.2L: 385 hp - 430 lbs.-ft. of torque
6.8L?: 400 hp - 442 lbs.-ft. of torque
7.3L: 430 hp - 475 lbs.-ft. of torque
The 400 hp number has a nice ring to it. However, Ford execs kept saying they are aiming at being the best, not specifically about this engine, but they said it a few times. If they are looking to have the best-in-class standard gas engine, are these the numbers they would target? Let’s take a look at the competition.
Ram 6.4L Hemi V8 - 410 hp and 429 lbs-ft of torque.
GM 6.6L V8 - 401 hp and 464 lbs-ft of torque.
The torque numbers on GM’s gasser are just too close to the 7.3, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Ford reaches for the horsepower crown.
If we look closer at the information Ford has released, we see that the two engines share the same bore, aka the piston cylinder diameter, but the 6.8L has a shorter stroke. With the pistons traveling a shorter distance, we may be getting an engine that revs a little higher and prioritizes horsepower over torque.
Final guess on the 6.8L: 420 hp - 440 lbs.-ft. of torque
This would give Ford’s gas engines the highest standard horsepower in the class with the 6.8L and the highest available torque with the 7.3L
Ford’s 7.3L Godzilla has a relatively low power-to-displacement ratio, and my guesses for the 6.8L are based on the Godzilla number, so Ford engineers certainly should be able to get more power out of the new 6.8L if they want to.
The question becomes, why pay the $1,700 premium for the 7.3L if you only get a small power boost? At these numbers, a 6.8L with a 4.30 axle ratio would pull about the same as a 7.3L with a 3.73.
Godzilla gets a performance boost
If I’m right and the 6.8L prioritizes horsepower, it will provide a little more differentiation between the two engines, but the 7.3L is still going to need a torque boost to clearly differentiate it as the superior gas towing engine.
During the Ford presentation, they mentioned the 7.3L will get a spec bump. This engine has been in the field for a few years, and other than some early spark plug wiring issues, it has been reliable. They have enough data now to know how to push it further, while hopefully maintaining reliability. The size-per-power output ratio on this engine is relatively low, so bumping up the output shouldn’t be a problem.
So how much will the 7.3L power output increase, and will it be enough to justify the bump over the new 6.8L? Let’s look at the now retired Boss to make a guess. The $1,700 upgrade from the 6.2L Boss to the 7.3L Godzilla brought an 11.7% increase in horsepower and almost 10.5% increase in torque. Let’s look at what we get if we increase my 6.8L output guesses by the same amount, remember I’m guessing at the 6.8L numbers.
6.8L?: 420 hp - 430 lbs.-ft. of torque
7.3L?: 470 hp - 488 lbs.-ft. of torque
Pushing to 490 lbs.-ft. of torque is only a 3.1% increase. They might go big with a 5% increase to hit 500 lbs.-ft. of torque. It would give them a big talking point, but I don’t think they need it, and they can leave some room for improvement later.
Final guess on the 7.3L: 440 hp - 490 lbs.-ft. of torque
What about the diesel? Is the Powerstroke getting a boost?
Powerstroke 6.7L Turbo Diesel V8 - 475 HP - 1,050 lbs.-ft. of torque
The Powerstroke numbers will likely remain unchanged for this year, and I think that’s just fine. In the F-450, this engine can tow 37,000 pounds. For the RV crowd, that number is overkill in many instances. Even massive toy haulers are rarely much larger than 20k. You do probably want to go with this engine for anything over 16k pounds or if you live in high altitudes.
The Powerstroke is insanely capable, but Ford decided that wasn’t enough
Enter the Powerstroke High Output
New for 2023 is a high output version of the same 6.7L Powerstroke. For the RV crowd, you don’t need this. The regular Powerstroke is overkill for many of you, but I’m guessing there are quite a few in the transport industry that are excited about this one.
Ford has given no indication what the numbers will be on this one. Maybe we can guess by looking at the Ram numbers.
Cummins Turbo Diesel I6 - 360 HP - 800 lbs.-ft. of torque
Cummins High Output Turbo Diesel I6 - 420 HP - 1,075 lbs.-ft. of torque
The Cummins High Output beats the Powerstroke on torque by a small margin. Ford said they wanted to be the best, so we know the torque number is going to be higher than 1,075 lbs.-ft. of torque, but by how much?
Will the difference in the Powerstroke HO be 34% like with the Cummins variants? The would put the Powerstroke HO at over 1,400 lbs.-ft. of torque which is insane. I just can’t fathom them reaching that far especially when they are still using the same transmission.
If we look back at the gas engines, the 7.3L is sort of like a high output version of the new 6.8L. I made a rough guess at where the numbers would be at for these two gasser. My guess puts the torque increase between the gassers at about 14%. If we put a 14% bump on the Powerstroke 1,050 lbs.-ft. of torque we get just under 1,200 lbs.-ft. of torque. That number just sounds cool.
Final guess on the Powerstroke 6.7L High Output Turbo Diesel V8 - 520 HP - 1,200 lbs.-ft. of torque
The Ram charge to upgrade from the standard Cummins to the High Output variant is $2,800. I think the Ford charge will also be more in line with the gas variants. The current 6.2L to 7.3L upgrade cost is about $1,700, though that may change with the 6.8L. I think the Powerstroke HO variant upgrade will come in under $2k.
One of the interesting things about the High Output variant is that it will still be mated to the same 10 speed transmission. For fellow Godzilla gasser owners out there, this is the same transmission we have. It should be pretty unbreakable for us. How it holds up against an even more powerful diesel remains to be seen.
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