As the top selling half-ton pickup on the market, what could Ford possibly do to make their F-150 even better?
Well aside from the military-grade aluminum bed, the 2018 F-150 can now be had with new more powerful engines, a new 10-speed automatic transmission, Pro Trailer Backup Assist, remote tailgate release, Wi-Fi hotspot capability, improved forward collision mitigation system and much more.
As for engine choices, they range from a 3.3L, 290-hp V6 with 265 lb/ft of torque; a 2.7L, twin turbo, 325-hp V6 with 400 lb/ft of torque; 3.5L, 375-hp twin turbo, V6 with 470 lb/ft of torque; 5.0L, 395-hp V8 with 400 lb/ft of torque; and for the sporty off-road equipped Raptor model, a 3.5L, twin-turbo, 450-hp V6 with 510-lb/ft of torque,
We tested the 2.7L twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 that felt more like a small V8 under the hood. It had impressive power for towing (up to 8,500 pounds) a medium size boat or utility trailer and when coupled to the new 10-speed automatic transmission, it garnered EPA mileage estimates of 19 city, 24-highway mpg in the 4WD SuperCab test truck. These mileage numbers were unheard of a few years ago in a half-ton pickup. But the new improved engine with auto start/stop and weight savings of the aluminum bed, makes this engine the perfect daily driver and for carrying modest payloads as it generates as much torque as the 5.0L V8.
The F-150’s 4WD system is versatile and consists of 2H, 4A, 4H and 4L gearing. This, plus it has selectable drive modes of Normal, Tow/Haul, Snow/Wet, ECO and Sport.
As for towing, Ford’s novel Pro Trailer Backup system is extremely helpful in backing a trailer by merely turning a dash knob that allows the driver to input left/right directions for the direction you want the trailer to go while viewing it on the LCD, while the truck does the steering and braking for you. It makes backing down a tight boat launch ramp a breeze. The truck can also park itself with its Auto Park mode. And we especially liked the remote tailgate release on the keyfob. Although the test truck didn’t come with it, Ford offers a tailgate step that has a pull out step and a flip-up assist bar to ease climbing into the bed. This, and pop-out steps on the sides of the truck.
The F-150 is offered in regular cab, SuperCab and SuperCrew cab configurations, and in XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum, Limited and specialty equipped off-road Raptor trim models. We tested the mid trim level Lariat Sport and it was well endowed with a very long list of safety (including inflatable rear seat belts) and a host of convenience features.
Step-in into a rugged yet attractive cabin is 16 inches to the step rails or 26 if you have long legs and can avoid them. Front seats are heated/cooled and perforated leather that are every bit as soft and supportive as in any luxury car. The dash and vertical stack with its 8-inch touchscreen serves the audio, navigation, apps, Wi-Fi and rearview camera systems, plus the LCD gives a 360 degree birds eye view around the truck. But that’s not all. It also allows a frontal view that is helpful to see over the tall hood when pulling up to a fence or wall so you don’t scrape the bumper. Large HVAC controls are easy to operate and use man-form air direction switches.
The split folding and heated rear seats flip up against the bulkhead offering a flat load space measuring 56x32 inches with a narrow bin beneath the seats to stow small items. With the rear seats down, there’s ample leg and headroom for three adults in complete comfort.
Cargo beds come in 5.5, 6.5 and 8-foot lengths and each have four tie-down hooks, two of which are adjustable and lockable. The tailgate itself is light and dampened which means it lowers slowly whether using the keyfob or manually depressing the release switch. No more having to pull up on a latch. The keyfob release is a really nifty and helpful feature.
The ride on Hankook 20-inch tires was smooth and quiet. Very car-like. Load the bed with bulk or bagged mulch or a bunch of 6x6s and the ride gets even smoother.
Handling with this large, SuperCrew cab is typical truck-like. It’s planted but it’s still a big body to maneuver. Parallel parking is a chore unless the Auto Park function is used. But it’s a feature that takes confidence in using, and in setting up.
The test truck started with a base price of $46,970. But after adding the Preferred Equipment Group ($7,335) that includes voice-activated navigation, remote start, Sync Connect, reverse sensing, heated steering wheel and more; 20-inch spoke painted aluminum wheels ($1,095); Technology package ($1,395); Lariat Sport Appearance Package ($300); Spay-in Bedliner ($495) and delivery ($1,295) brought the bottom line to $58,885.
Yes, that’s a lot of money for a pickup truck, but the F-150 can go and do more than a similarly priced luxury sedan that can’t go through deep snow, mud or high water, tow 8,500 pounds and carry a payload of 3,270 pounds. And the F-150 interior is every bit as posh as a luxury sedan.