The Ford F-150 has been the gold standard in American-made pickup trucks for four decades now, and the venerable best-seller is still going strong in its 13th generation. Will that level of standard be enough for the F-150 to retain its top spot in an increasingly competitive truck market? Let’s dig in to find out.
With the 2018 model year, Ford has made a number of major changes to its flagship truck, including several new powertrain options, reworked front- and rear-end styling, and an improved assortment of infotainment features. The Ford F-150 isn’t just a work truck anymore.
The biggest news for the 2018 F-150 is an all-new 3.3-liter V6 engine that replaces the standard 3.5-liter V6 from previous years. Though the displacement has been reduced, the engine puts out the same 282 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque at greater efficiency thanks to combined port and direct fuel injection, reduced internal friction and a far higher compression ratio. This base engine is paired with the existing six-speed transmission.
Other engine options include a reworked twin-turbo 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6, a twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, and a massive 5.0-liter Coyote V8. The 2.7-liter EcoBoost is outfitted with the same dual-injection capability as the base engine, along with reworked internals, bringing its output to 325 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. The larger 3.5-liter EcoBoost is largely unchanged at 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque, while the V8 clocks in at 395 horsepower and a flat 400 pound-feet of torque. Each of these engines is mated to a new ten-speed transmission, and all come equipped standard with Ford’s auto start-stop system.
With the implementation of its new dual-injection system, as well as a concerted effort to reduce internal engine friction and improve operating efficiency, Ford has boosted fuel economy across its entire 2018 F-150 lineup.
The base 3.3-liter engine checks in at a very respectable 19 mpg city, 25 mpg highway, and 22 mpg combined. The 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 isn’t far behind, with ratings of 18 mpg city, 25 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined. Even the brawny Coyote V8 offers a surprising 17 mpg city, 23 mpg highway, and 19 mpg combined, but the real efficiency champ is the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6. The fuel-sipping powerplant boasts a highly impressive 20 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, and 22 mpg combined, ranking it among the most economical gasoline engines in its class.
Safety and Entertainment
The 2017 Ford F-150 ranked as one of the safest vehicles in its class, and the 2018 model year only improves on that lofty acclaim. The 2018 F-150 scored perfect marks from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and it also posted the highest scores across all of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests. Available driver assists include a backup camera, rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, Active Park Assist, lane departure and lane keep systems, forward collision warning, and more.
When it comes to infotainment features, the F-150 boasts an excellent array of available options. While the standard features are somewhat lacking, the optional SYNC 3 infotainment system is attractive, intuitive, and stuffed with features. It comes with onboard 4G LTE data and a Wi-Fi hotspot, convenient Bluetooth connectivity, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration, all of which can be controlled by voice, physical controls, or via an eight-inch touchscreen.
Comparing the Competition
The F-150 faces stiff competition in a crowded pickup truck market, most notably from the Dodge Ram 1500, Toyota Tundra, and Chevrolet Silverado 1500. The best choice depends on your personal tastes and needs, but here’s what you should bear in mind when making your decision.
Dodge Ram 1500
With the 2018 Dodge Ram 1500, variety is the name of the game. The sheer number of trim levels and available options means that you can customize to your heart’s content, building a truck that matches all your needs. The Ram 1500 also offers a comfortable ride and generous seating. However, the Ram 1500 has a less-than-stellar safety record, and the lack of driver assists, and other safety features leaves it trailing behind when it comes to technology. Fuel economy, too, lags behind the F-150 and other class leaders.
If the Ford F-150’s somewhat basic styling just doesn’t do it for you, the Toyota Tundra’s sportier aesthetics may be more your style. The Tundra also offers a comfortable ride and spacious seating, and the TRD Pro trim provides fantastic off-road performance if you’re looking to indulge your wild side. However, excessive road noise remains a problem inside the cabin, and the available powertrains simply can’t match the F-150’s fuel economy.
Chevrolet Silverado 1500
The Silverado 1500 is General Motors’ best-selling vehicle, and it’s not hard to see why. The venerable truck line features several powerfully impressive engines, a host of unique, upscale features on its luxury trim levels, and a sophisticated, intuitive infotainment system. Unfortunately, it also suffers from uninspired driving performance, uncomfortable seating, and a towing capacity that pales in comparison to the Ford F-150.
The 2018 Ford F-150 isn’t perfect, but there is certainly a lot to love about the latest addition to the venerable pickup line. After all, there’s a reason the F-150 remains America’s best-selling truck. If you’re considering the new F-150, here’s a quick look at the most important things you need to know.
- An excellent complement of powertrains, from the fuel-sipping 2.7-liter EcoBoost to the muscular Coyote V8.
- Surprising efficiency without sacrificing towing or driving performance.
- Superlative safety ratings and optional driver assists.
- Quality infotainment options in the form of Ford’s SYNC 3 system.
- Some high-level options can become rather expensive.
- Slightly less leg room for front-row occupants.