Diesel vs. Gas. Which one is best?

Written by: E. Long
Discuss this article in this forum thread
Last updated January 8, 2005

3 Options, 1 Excursion. Where do I start?

The Ford Excursion is offered with the 5.4L V8, the V10, and the 7.3L V8 Powerstroke Diesel. Aside from trim packages and 4-wheel drive or 2-wheel drive, Excursions are identical...except for the engines, of course. Choosing the right engine option boils down to two things: What you will do with your Excursion and what your financial budget will allow.

5.4L V8 Excursion

First and foremost, it is generally accepted that the 5.4L V8 is a very small engine for the Ford Excursion. The Excursion weighs in at nearly 8,000 lbs. Compare this with lighter SuperDuty pickups, F150s, and Expeditions, and you begin to realize that the 5.4L V8 is a rather small powerplant to be hauling around the Excursion and all of your gear.

5.4L V8 Pros:

  • Most affordable engine option available on the Excursion
  • Same engine used in F150s, Expeditions, and other SuperDutys (in other words, no chance for parts shortages or inflated cost of service due to the volume of vehicles with the 5.4L)
  • Runs on 87-octane gasoline which at the time of writing this article, is giving diesel fuel a run for its money in the price-per-gallon game
  • Ideal for a smaller budget if purchasing the Excursion used
5.4L V8 Cons:
  • Smallest engine offered in the Excursion; least horsepower and torque (not the ideal scenario for a nearly 8,000-lb vehicle)
  • Lowest towing capcity
  • Lowest resale value
  • Worst fuel economy

The 5.4L V8 will be good for people who do not tow a lot, do not haul heavy loads, do not have a need for horsepower or torque, and for people without the need for performance or power. Not recommended for the performance enthusiast at all.

V10 Excursion

The V10 is the best option for the "don't want the diesel, but want the performance" people. Depending on the model year, the V10 offers acceptible horsepower and torque numbers. Not as much torque as the Powerstroke, but plenty more than the 5.4L V8.

V10 Pros:

  • Great alternative to the diesel if you don't like diesels but still want good power
  • Great horsepower and torque numbers from a gasoline engine
  • Runs on 87-octane gasoline which at the time of writing this article, is giving diesel fuel a run for its money in the price-per-gallon game
  • Plenty of aftermarket performance upgrades available
  • 2nd highest towing rating for the Excursion
V10 Cons:
  • Fuel economy doesn't compare to the diesel
  • Performance enthusiasts will spend several thousand dollars more on the V10 to get it to perform similarly to a diesel

Buy the V10 if you want the power but don't want a diesel.

7.3L V8 Powerstroke Diesel

Diesel-powered Excursions provide maximum performance, highest towing ratings, and the best fuel economy. It is truly the best of all worlds if you put a lot of miles on your vehicles, tow a lot, haul a lot, and in general, need an all-purpose vehicle capable of just about anything.

7.3L V8 Powerstroke Pros:

  • Better fuel economy than V10 or V8 gas-powered Excursions
  • Highest towing capacity Excursion
  • Highest torque rating for the Excursion
  • Affordable aftermarket performance modifications to make the Diesel peppy and outperform many gasoline-powered cars and trucks
  • Diesel fuel in some areas of the country is cheaper than 87-octane
  • 100,000-mile transferable warranty
  • Higher resale value than V0 or V8 gasoline-powered Excursions
  • Proven 7.3L engineering, many Powerstrokes last for several hundred thousand miles without rebuilds
7.3L V8 Powerstroke Cons:
  • Loudest of the 3 Excursions, typical diesel sound
  • Diesel fumes smell (bothers some folks)
  • High, up-front purchase price (new and used)
  • Repairs and maintenance are typically more expensive as they relate to engine servicing
  • Not recommended for daily driving consisting of short commutes
  • Slow to warm up in freezing temperatures when compared to gas-powered Excursions
  • Diesel fuel not as convenient to find as gasoline -- all gas stations carry gasoline, not all stations carry diesel

If you are on the fence on V10 vs. Diesel, you are strongly advised to drive both. The diesel offers many advantages for its increased up-front purchase price.

6.0L V8 Powerstroke Diesel

This diesel offers virtually the same pros and cons as the 7.3L, however it is new and improved. It is significantly quieter than the 7.3L, offers higher horsepower and torque numbers, and is mated to a new 5-speed automatic transmission. NOTE that the 6.0L Powerstroke Excursion was introduced in late 2003 and was very prone to problems. If you are looking at a 6.0L diesel, you are strongly advised to purchase a 2004 or newer 6.0L diesel-powered Excursion in order to avoid any of the earlier, error-prone 2003 6.0's.

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