First Look: 2018 Ford F-150

By Sue Mead, October 14th, 2017

When I saw the 2018 lineup of the new F-150, I realized Ford's wide array of pickups have all been primped and groomed to keep at the top of the truck world. The pickup trucks have new faces and trim elements that make them look snazzier from the front and the back; they have more zest to make them move faster, yet sip fuel more politely; and they have been re-dressed to look fancier and be smarter on the inside.

Manufacturer photo: The 2018 F-150 arrives with bold new front and rear styling, advanced technologies and improved engines
Manufacturer photo: The 2018 F-150 arrives with bold new front and rear styling, advanced technologies and improved engines

Ford could have taken a break. After all, the Ford F-150 has reigned as America's best-selling truck for 40 years and has been the top-selling vehicle in the U.S. for 35 years. After a complete redesign of its full-size lineup in 2015 that garnered many awards, it could have been a year for Ford to simply carry over the truck line.

Drawing on its core DNA, Ford's engineers and designers have made the new 2018 F-150 tougher and more capable thanks to a new powertrain lineup and a 10-speed transmission. The 2018 model also offers a larger rear axle that increases the maximum gross combined weight rating and raises towing to a new best-in-class 13,200 pounds and bumps payload to a segment-topping 3,270 pounds.

The bold, signature "Built Ford Tough" styling is emphasized by a horizontal twin-bar grille and all-new C-clamp LED sidelights; beveled nose, fenders and beefy wheel and tire proportions are meant to underscore the truck's improved power and ruggedness. Available are six different grilles, including unique finishes and geometry to take advantage of the width of the truck's new mesh grille, new upper fascia aerodynamics, and six new wheels ranging in sizes from 18 to 22 inches. At the rear are new taillamps and a freshly designed tailgate with updated appliques.

Its muscled look is not just skin deep: its high-strength, military-grade, aluminum alloy body and bed bring capability thanks to its high-strength steel fully-boxed ladder frame.

Manufacturer photo: The 2018 F-150 arrives with bold new front and rear styling, advanced technologies and improved engines

strong>Under the hood: a base 3.3-liter V-6 delivers 290 horsepower and 265 lb.-ft. of torque; a second-gen 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 has port-and-direct injection technology and produces 325 hp and 400 torque. An enhanced 5.0-liter V-8 claims a 3,270-pound best-in-class payload and gets significant upgrades for 10 more horsepower (395) and an additional 13 lb.-ft. of torque (400).

The second-generation 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 features 13,200 pounds of towing capacity, thanks to 375 hp and 470 lb.-ft. that now beats all diesel-and gasoline-powered competitors, says Ford, including those with V-8 engines that are nearly twice its displacement. A high-output version of this engine has been tuned to boost performance to a massive 450 hp 510 torque.

Ford's 10-speed SelectShift automatic transmission is mated to all engines, except the 3.3L V-6, which is shifted by a six-speed auto with Tow/Haul and Sport Modes. The F-150 includes fuel-saving automatic start/stop technology as standard equipment across all models and engines.

We drove the 2.7- and 3.5-liter EcoBoost pickups, which comprise about 65 percent of sales. We like the new, more aggressive look of the trucks that are penned with an assertive front end and a more distinctive tailgate.

Notable is the on-tap power and torque and the smooth-shifting 10-speed that sorts out the best gear for the job by moving seamlessly up or down with 1, 2, or 3 shifts executed at a time; also impressive is the broad torque curve. Its steering is linear and brakes scrub speed smoothly.

Our drives included both pavement and an off-road course, where the truck performed well, maintaining traction over slick and muddy surfaces. We appreciated the 360-degree camera to navigate through the tight and twisty woodland trail.

Interior upgrades bring two new trim colors for the seats; Platinum models can be had with a Dark Marsala hue option, while Limited buyers can choose a Navy Pier color theme. Sport and Lariat Sport trims can be ordered with faux-carbon-fiber appliques, and the King Ranch editions gets a new Kingsville seat trim.

The 2018 Ford F-150 is available in 4x2 and 4x4 configurations with a Regular Cab with a 6.5- or 8-foot box; a SuperCab with a 6.5- or 8-foot box; or a SuperCrew with a 5.5- or 6.5-foot box. The base work-truck XL starts at $28,675 with destination, an increase of $270 over the outgoing truck. Other trim levels include XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum, and the special edition, desert-racing Raptor.

Specifications

Base price $28,675 (as tested: $33,020)
Curb weight 4,436 lbs.
Displacement 2.7-liter
Engine type 24-valve DOHC EcoBoost turbo V-6
Epa mileage rating 19 mpg city, 24 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 23 gal.
Horsepower (net) 325 at 5000 rpm
Overall length 209.3 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 400 at 2750 rpm
Transmission 10-speed automatic
Vehicle type 3-passenger 4WD full-size pickup

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