The 2018 model is at best a slight mid-cycle refresh but its new engines, 3 of 6, receive bitty boosts in power, payload and per-gallon sipping thanks in part to automatic start-stop. Ford claims another segment-first here by making system standard across model line. Still, only engine left out of any figurative raises is 3,5 liter EcoBoost V6 and its high-output version which is outfitted solely in Raptor.
Anything you can do
Capacities will vary due to axle ratio and drive type but with 325 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque, the 2,7L EcoBoost V6 has a towing range of 7600 to 8000 pounds. If you simply need to pull more, like a miniature house, the 3,5L EcoBoost V6 delivers a best-in-class 13200 pounds of towing capacity, which is a 1000 pound jump from last year. Because 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque will do that. Behind wheel, Lightning Blue F-150 XLT SuperCrew 4×4 felt as light as they come. Slow and steady may win races if you are up against a boastful hare, but with plenty of power and good steering feel. At no time did the truck feel unwieldy or underpowered when pulling the utility trailer. When braking into a stop too late or entering a corner too fast, F-150 never felt unstable. Driver-assistance technologies include trailer-specific blind spot monitoring and a rearview camera hitch assist.
On more dynamic drive through nearby Gregory, Michigan, which essentially was not-so-secret test route for an infamous annual 10 best list, 5,0L V8 powered Race Red XLT SuperCrew 4×4 later took the helm of felt, well, fine. Mild-mannered and non-truck like, really, despite its color and Sport package, which added cosmetic treatments rather than any adjustments to tuning. With 395 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque, both year-over-year increases at plus 10 and plus 13, respectively, 5,0L barreled down country roads as quickly as every other truck, but probably with better handling. There was a fair amount of twisty turns and off-camber corners. High-spirited driving or not, F-150’s dynamics are more compliant than jaw-dropping (Raptor version excluded, of course). But if you are spending your day working with and around a truck, you do not want to exert the same amount of energy in driving it.
Pick a truck, any truck
Where you will be doing a bit of work is with vehicle configurator. Regular, extended and crew cabs are available for all but F-150 Raptor model, which is not offered with a regular cab. Moar doors when the dino roars. As trim lines go, F-150 starts with XL as its base model and moves up to XLT, Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum. Lariat and above can be selected only for 4 door models as well. All 2018 F-150 models are outfitted with aforementioned start-stop system and all but 3,3 liter-equipped vehicles receive new and, ahem, segment-first 10 speed automatic transmission. A carryover 6 speed automatic with Tow/Haul and Sport drive modes are relegated to 3,3L entry engine, itself a downsize from a non-EcoBoost 3,5L. New 10-speed features additional modes Snow/Wet and EcoSelect. Look for F-150 has been updated as well with a new front grille, headlights, taillights and tailgate. The 18 to 20 inch wheels come in new design options as do a variety of interior trims and appearance packages. Most of changes are more serene than bold, but F-150 remains an easily recognizable fascia in crowd. And because all engines are new or updated, fuel economy is up as well. The 2,7L EcoBoost V6 is an all-new second generation seeing a 1 mpg improvement on all figures for 4×4 models. EPA estimates fuel economy at 19 city, 24 highway and 21 combined mpg. The 4×2 version sees a 1 city mpg bump to 20/26/22, which is best-in-class. The updated 5,0L V8 picks up biggest gains and for both drive types. The 4×2 is rated at 17/23/19, an increase of 2/1/1 mpg, respectively. The 4×4 model is rated at 16/22/18, which is an improvement of 1 mpg for all ratings.
Although 2018 Ford F-150 starts at $28’675 (including $1,295 destination), one would be hard pressed to keep pricing at less than $30’000. A bare bones XL is exactly that with its 17 inch steel wheels, AM/FM-only radio and throwback manually-operated windows, mirrors and locks, but there is air conditioning. Manually operated, of course. The 2.7L EcoBoost V6 towing vehicle was priced at $50’385 while 5.0L V8 road runner is similarly listed at $51’380. Both were XLT SuperCrew 4×4 models with Sport Appearance packages. They were equipped with sport cloth upholstery, heated front seats, 10 way power adjustable driver and front passenger seats, remote start, power adjustable pedals, SYNC3 with an 8 inch touchscreen navigation display, smartphone integration, a rearview camera with dynamic hitch assist and blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert and trailer coverage. Regardless of which truck, bed and drive you choose, 2018 Ford F-150 remains a capable choice but with so many configurations and almost everything being an option, it becomes a pricey apple to pick.