2018 Ford F-150 Review: First Drive

ford f-150 2018

The wraps came off the new 2018 Ford F-150 pickup truck a few months ago, when we got our first look at the lightly revised cosmetics of the front and rear ends of America's best-selling vehicle. There have been a few more changes for 2018, but not many — and that's OK, as the F-150's last redesign was a dramatic change from prior models with its new aluminum construction and additional turbocharged V-6, and we liked it just fine.

But now there's more spice to the mix. The new front end is available in a ton of different combinations, with grilles differing depending on the trim you choose. And even within a trim level, there are options such as sport packages, monochromatic paint packages and other modifications to keep you guessing as to what model you might be looking at. Between the five different powertrains, different wheelbases, bed lengths, cab configurations, trim levels, interior options and more, it's amazing Ford can keep track of all the possible build combinations it offers.

New Base Engine

But that's OK; choice is good. And you get plenty of choice with the new F-150, starting with powertrains. There's a new base engine, a 3.3-liter V-6, and I got to drive it both unloaded and weighed down with 1,000 pounds of payload. It's mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, the only engine to get that transmission, as the other four engine options all come with the 10-speed automatic. There's no diesel yet; that's slated for later in 2018.

The base 3.3-liter makes 290 horsepower and 265 pounds-feet of torque, a little bit better numbers than the 2017's 3.5-liter V-6. I drove the 3.3-liter in a crew-cab 4x4 XLT model and found it to be perfectly adequate for the task at hand. Once the V-6 builds up some steam, its performance is stout — you won't be winning any drag races, but this motor isn't meant to race; it's there to work. And the best thing about it is that loading the bed with 1,000 pounds of bagged ballast made the haunches squat, but it didn't appreciably affect acceleration or braking performance. The basic F-150 XLT works quite well when called upon to perform truck duties, as one would expect it to. That it does so with such an excellent ride from the 18-inch wheels and standard suspension is just marvelous, and the quietness of the cabin is also decidedly noticeable and appreciated.

Interior

ford f-150 2018

The interiors don't vary much across trim levels, except in style. The King Ranch's deep browns and burgundies are gorgeous, while the Limited's cool blues look high tech. Even the basic XLT's two-tone brown-and-black interior looks high rent, and almost makes you not mind paying $44,000 for a basic pickup with a monochromatic LCD screen, no navigation and cloth seats. What also doesn't change much across trims is the shape of the seats — of which the F-150's remain the worst in a modern pickup. The head restraints are too far forward, the lumbar support never seems to fully deflate and the bottom cushion is too short, so you always feel like you're sitting on the edge of it. Doesn't matter which trim variation you choose, cloth or leather, the seats are still the worst part of the F-150 experience.

Under the Hood

At the top end of the trims is a 5.0-liter V-8 for truck purists who absolutely can't be without one. I'm here to tell you that you don't need it. You really don't. Aside from the noise it makes, which is nice and throaty, it doesn't feel as fast as the remaining two powertrain options. The 5.0-liter V-8 does make 395 hp and 400 pounds-feet of torque, so it's still a robust engine that can deliver some highly motivating thrust when called upon. But the two turbo motors are where it's at when it comes to acceleration.

And of the two, you probably don't need more than the 2.7-liter V-6 EcoBoost. It makes 325 hp and 400 pounds-feet of torque, with a delivery that makes it feel astonishingly quick. You can even switch the drive mode selector into Sport mode to change throttle response and transmission shift patterns for more rapid performance. The 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost makes 375 hp and 470 pound-feet of torque, but unless you find yourself towing often, the 2.7-liter makes the most sense for 90 percent of daily use.

ford f-150 2018

The new 10-speed automatic was optional on the 2017 F-150 with the twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost only, but this year it's standard across the board, with the exception of the base 3.3-liter V-6, which is well-matched to the old six-speed automatic. The 10-speed does hunt a lot with the V-8 and tends to keep it running at low rpm when cruising. This causes a bit of lugging on light throttle application, which causes some driveline judder at speeds below 40 mph. Such behavior was not present in the turbocharged V-6 models I sampled. The 10-speed automatic is smooth and unobtrusive the rest of the time. Kudos to Ford for putting a little display in the gauge cluster that always tells you what gear you're in. It's thanks to this display that you can see just how much the 10-speed shifts around, and how quickly it tends to do so. I can't fault it for shifting a lot, however — it has 10 speeds, and it's going to use them. That's the idea of a 10-speed transmission.

Other New Features

There are a few new features for 2018 as well, such as an excellent B&O Play premium audio system by Bang & Olufsen, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go that works even when you're trailering a load, a precollision system with pedestrian detection and autonomous emergency braking, and a new Wi-Fi system with Sync 3 that finally lets you connect up to 10 wireless devices to the truck's hot spot. There are new capabilities as well, such as a higher, 13,200-pound maximum towing capacity and an 18,500-pound maximum gross combined weight rating as well. Fuel economy is up on most powertrains thanks to improved engines and the proliferation of the 10-speed automatic.

We're eager to get a new '18 F-150 in for a full test, so stay tuned to see what it's like to live with one daily. Which one should we request? Which powertrain would you like to see PickupTrucks.com review first? Leave your answer in the comments below.

Editor's note: This post was updated Aug. 14, 2017, to correct information about which model-year 2017 engine the 10-speed transmission was available with.

Cars.com photos by Aaron Bragman; manufacturer images

 

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ford f-150 2018

ford f-150 2018

ford f-150 2018

ford f-150 2018

ford f-150 2018

ford f-150 2018

ford f-150 2018

ford f-150 2018

ford f-150 2018

ford f-150 2018

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Comments

Correction: The 10 speed was not optional with the 5.0L in MY17. 10 was only available with 3.5L EB, not an option.

Yikes, HO 3.5L EB highway mpg drops substantially (5mpg) versus the baseline 3.5 EB. Maybe that has more to do with being a Raptor with big wheels and poor aerodynamics?

Ford's current management is killing the company Henry built with the obsession over FE.

Their ads yell about (3200 lbs?) payload but Mr Bragman can't resist suggesting we all want too much (V8) performance. You can 'get by with less' they insist. Go ahead, you try owning a five thousand pound truck with a 3.3 motor!

I don't want less! If I'm asked to pay north of $40k for a damn pickkup truck I don't want to hear the word "less."

I want more, damn it. This is a great time to be RAM or GM. Ford spends billions fighting the last war (gas mileage) and RAM keeps selling Hemi's. GM cannot make their 6.2 motors fast enough, and Ford's management is still hung up on the price of gas in 2008. It's weird.

turbocharged V-6, and we liked it just fine."

I bet you do Mark lol, cokrd valves, limp mode towing.
Give me a break,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68KOgBCvrDU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVMSuc2j2LU&t=11s

Ram tough trucks, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hm4s-SPfJK4

Ford's current management is killing the company Henry built with the obsession over FE.

Their ads yell about (3200 lbs?) payload but Mr Bragman can't resist suggesting we all want too much (V8) performance. You can 'get by with less' they insist. Go ahead, you try owning a five thousand pound truck with a 3.3 motor!

I don't want less! If I'm asked to pay north of $40k for a damn pickkup truck I don't want to hear the word "less."

This is a great time to be RAM or GM. Ford spends billions fighting the last war (gas mileage) and RAM keeps selling Hemi's. GM cannot make their 6.2 motors fast enough, and Ford's management is still hung up on the price of gas in 2008. It's weird.


Posted by: papajim | Aug 13, 2017 11:53:22 PM

Thank you. This is exactly what I've thought for over 2 years. Ford sacrificed a few things in their pursuit for top fuel efficiency in the half-ton segment. They sacrificed the durability of their truck, and the reliability of their engines, and then asked too much money for it.

With the mediocre reliability (ecoboost especially) of their powertrain line-up, I could never bring myself to pay the prices Ford dealers think they should get. I don't want a truck with a lightweighted frame, timing-chain eating overboosted V6, plastic hub locks, and body panels that end up with peeling paint and holes all over the bed from doing work.

It's no wonder the 2015+ F-150 hasn't been the game changer it was promised to be. I have more than a couple friends that are lifetime Ford fans that are still embarrassed by the wimpy hollow-sounding doors and air leaks galore. A couple of them had their beds line-x'd within days of the GM bed test commercials. They played it quiet btw lol.

I'm sure thousands of people were greatly impressed by the new 2018 Ford F-150 pickup truck. Nice new features, especially premium audio system and a new Wi-Fi system. I'd like to express my gratitude to the Ford company in my next article here https://myessayslab.com/. All these features bring huge improvement. Thanks for a great review!

Is the f 150 still a pickup truck or more a big Van ? In my opinion it looks now more and more like an European Big Van , i prefere older f 150's (1995 Style ) but for the Rest i like it.

Ford as usual listens to the customer base. Look at those beautiful interiors, many options on the front end to configure, best in class everything, number 1 for a reason.

@ Papajim

Your comment says it all. This is why GM and Ram numbers will stay where they are or continue to grow. Biggest question are Ram's numbers; do they get them from Ford or GM?

Also, new GM twins and a new Ram are almost out. Going to be suprising from Ram I believe: this is the first Ram truck that has been rebuilt from the ground up since Ram became its own brand under FCA. And you cannot deny it, new vehicles under FCA are much better built and have higher reliablity, not to mention more awards and praise.

@Ken- yes- the lower FE numbers for the HO 3.5 EB are 99% due to it being in the Raptor. If they did a sport truck (reg cab SB) with that same motor, it'd get the same economy as the regular motor.
Too bad about the seats- I haven't spent much time in the new truck (just hopped in and out) but that seems like a deal breaker- I don't have time to get somewhere after a long drive and then feel out of sorts. Nissan's Zero Gravity seats sound much better. I think I'd give up some fuel economy for those.

I think it's strange to assume most pickup buyers will ignore the V8 option in favor of the turbo. As much as I'm really impressed by the EcoBoost options, the 5.0 would be my choice. I'll take 395 hp over 325 all day long.

You people are so funny. There is no realiability problems with the eco boost. My family and several people I know have many of them. A few of them are well past 100,000 miles with ZERO issues. Any manufacturer can have problems at any time. I have however heard of several problems with gm's 5.3. That motor is a turd and a friend of mines shelled out at 24,000 miles. Dealer said it was because of cylinder deactivation. They said gym is having all kinds of problems with that.

$44k for a basic XLT with no nav and cloth? No thanks... But Ford will offer deep discounts so it'll probably be a $35k pickup when it's all said and done.

I paid $46k OTD for my brand new 2016 Toyota Tundra 4x4 Platinum last year, even with the dated truck platform, it's a much better buy than a basic XLT for $44k... I'll enjoy vented/heated diamond stitched seats with navigation, you can enjoy your cloth basic XLT for a similar price.

The 5.0 is the only engine that can burn e85, for that reason alone, I'd buy the 5.0. I love the 5.0 flex-fuel in my 2011.

All the sacrifices in the insane quest for fuel economy yet look at that chart. I would rather have the 3.3 and save on the initial cost (anything to drop the price on a $40k plus basic truck) or go for the 5.0. I still can't believe the Raptor has the ecoboost. Ford listens to their customers? Yeah right, unless they were only listening to the ones who live in the Bay Area who need a truck to haul their ego around.

not sure whats up with the seat comments? my seats are very comfy in my 2016 F150.

I think it's strange to assume most pickup buyers will ignore the V8 option in favor of the turbo. As much as I'm really impressed by the EcoBoost options, the 5.0 would be my choice. I'll take 395 hp over 325 all day long.
Posted by: redbloodedxy | Aug 14, 2017 9:25:19 AM

I keep trying to talk myself into getting a 5.0 on my next one when this lease is up, but I love this engine. Look at the torque curve of the 2.7, it's a great truck engine. I'm just glad Ford gives these options to it's customers. This 18' doesn't have a bad grille offering, they are all sharp!

I keep trying to talk myself into getting a 5.0 on my next one when this lease is up,

Posted by: 2.7EcoboostRoost | Aug 14, 2017 7:15:33 PM

Get a GM twin with the 6.2 engine. Then you can change your name to something more respectable like,.....i don't know.... like maybe " 6.2 sledge hammer".

"Yikes, HO 3.5L EB highway mpg drops substantially (5mpg) versus the baseline 3.5 EB. Maybe that has more to do with being a Raptor with big wheels and poor aerodynamics?"
---- Posted by: Ken | Aug 13, 2017 11:31:18 PM

Nope. Has to do with drinking more gas to get more power.
Though when you're playing for speed, you also tend to get some changes in gear ratios, too.

I don't know if Roadwhale is making a semantic point here.

Ride height and wheel/tire diameter make a HUGE difference in highway FE. The taller the truck is, the more gas it will use all other things being equal. It will require more fuel to perform the same task.

Where does the extra fuel go?

Moving air. Every time. No exceptions. Ever.

"Ford's current management is killing the company Henry built with the obsession over FE.
"Their ads yell about (3200 lbs?) payload but Mr Bragman can't resist suggesting we all want too much (V8) performance. You can 'get by with less' they insist. Go ahead, you try owning a five thousand pound truck with a 3.3 motor!
"I want more, damn it. This is a great time to be RAM or GM. Ford spends billions fighting the last war (gas mileage) and RAM keeps selling Hemi's. GM cannot make their 6.2 motors fast enough, and Ford's management is still hung up on the price of gas in 2008. It's weird." ---- Posted by: papajim


Ford has the right of it, however. Reports have it that while the EPA may not squeeze the fuel mileage ratings for a bit, they ARE upping the penalties for not reaching the current requirements. This means less profits for Ford on an already-reduced profit line from their aluminum trucks.

AND, Ford is also right that you simply don't need to keep upping the power and capacities of a sub-Class IV truck. Those huge engines any more are simple overkill whose power will almost never be used in the way they are designed. A half-ton truck doesn't NEED to tow 7500#. It shouldn't be forced to as with proper weight balancing that would overload the truck when including ANY passengers at all. And no one-ton truck should be hauling anywhere close to 30,000#. Again, with three tons over the axle you're overloading a truck supposedly rated for -- wait for it -- ONE ton plus passengers.

Ford's finally realized that they've gone too far. Trucks with such ridiculous capabilities don't belong in the hands of ordinary drivers. There's a reason work trucks require special training for their drivers, acknowledged by their CDL license. There are too many un-trained people pulling loads they can't handle.

But what's more ridiculous is those people who have that great big pickup truck, towing a tiny little utility trailer to carry things that would easily fit in the bed.

Ford may be right, but their stock price is crap for the last five years---and there's a revolving door at the CEO's office. Not good.

Mr Ford has been pounding the drum for Green causes during the last 20 years and the board of directors is a reflection of his orientation.

The public is not buying it, and neither is Wall Street.

"I think it's strange to assume most pickup buyers will ignore the V8 option in favor of the turbo. As much as I'm really impressed by the EcoBoost options, the 5.0 would be my choice. I'll take 395 hp over 325 all day long."
---- Posted by: redbloodedxy | Aug 14, 2017 9:25:19 AM

Why? What possible need do you have for so much horsepower? It wasn't all that long ago that even 300 horses was considered extreme for a pickup truck. Why are Americans so obsessed with horsepower over usability? Of all these grossly-overpowered, oversized Road Whales™ on the road, only about 20% of them EVER see a full-capacity load. The rest are nothing but playthings that, to be honest, could be replaced by a completely different and more economical vehicle and serve their needs just as well.

Oh, I understand the desire for status. I even understand the desire to make a statement about yourself. But when I wanted to make a statement, I bought a Camaro, not a 1500. When I needed a utility vehicle I bought a Saturn Vue (amazing capacity for its size), not a 1500. When I did need an open bed truck, I bought a 20-year-old F-150... and regretted it almost immediately. I sold it three years later because I simply wasn't driving it; all my other driving was in a much shorter, much more agile JKU Wrangler, even to carrying things the bigger truck would have handled more easily. I replaced that big truck with a much smaller Ranger which I tend to use as my everyday ride except under certain weather conditions (only 2WD.) I replaced the Wrangler with something 50% more economical with almost as much room behind the seats that can still give me an open-air feeling by removing roof panels. My point? I still have individuality without looking ludicrous. Today's full-sized trucks are nothing but status symbols and what they're saying is not what you want them to say.

"I don't know if Roadwhale is making a semantic point here.
"Ride height and wheel/tire diameter make a HUGE difference in highway FE. The taller the truck is, the more gas it will use all other things being equal. It will require more fuel to perform the same task.
"Where does the extra fuel go?
"Moving air. Every time. No exceptions. Ever."
---- Posted by: papajim | Aug 15, 2017 9:09:50 AM

Moving air is not the only reason, PJ. There is no way that moving air would cost you 5mpg. The wheel and tire diameter... that's perfectly valid and covered by what I said above; it changes the gearing and changes the load on the engine. And if you're getting superior acceleration, then clearly the final drive and/or the transmission gearing itself is different, again, changing the load on the engine.

There is no one, single, answer to the question; it is a combination of factors. Which is what I stated in my previous comment.

The tombstone grille on the current F-150 gave it a sad appearance. The new Chevrolet inspired grilles brightens things up a little. The GM engineered 10 speed transmission will certainly help strengthen up the drivetrain. Contractors will appreciate the on board WiFi like GM owners has been enjoying for several years now. Higher horsepower engines has been on order since 2014 to help keep up with the truck leader, GM.

"Ride height and wheel/tire diameter make a HUGE difference in highway FE. The taller the truck is, the more gas it will use all other things being equal."

@Roadwhale

Consult with any SAE engineer and ask him to true/false the above statement. Please let me know how don't agree. I'll be waiting to hear from you.

Good review. I am glad someone finally mentioned the seats in the F-150. Very inferior to Tundra, Silverado and Ram. Great for chiropractors though.

The tombstone grille on the current F-150 gave it a sad appearance. The new Chevrolet inspired grilles brightens things up a little. The GM engineered 10 speed transmission will certainly help strengthen up the drivetrain. Contractors will appreciate the on board WiFi like GM owners has been enjoying for several years now. Higher horsepower engines has been on order since 2014 to help keep up with the truck leader, GM.
Posted by: GMSRGREAT | Aug 15, 2017 11:43

I'll break down your sentences in order:
1. Opinion
2. Delusional opinion
3. Outright misinformation (see article below)
4. Opinion ( the 3 people I know who have the wifi in Chevy's say it's cheaper to use their phone for a hot spot) although, I'm all for more choice, thanks GM.
5. More lies. Higher Horsepower?
3.3 Ford 290 hp, 4.3 Chevy 285 (Has more Torque)
2.7 Ford Eco 325, Chevy N/A
5.0 Ford 395 , 5.3 Chevy 355
3.5 Eco 375 (Has More Torque), Chevy 6.2 420
3.5 Eco HO 450, Chevy N/A

Transmission article :
http://www.caranddriver.com/flipbook/10-things-to-know-about-the-new-fordgm-10-speed-automatic-transmission

First sentence reads "This new 10-speed rear-drive transmission is the result of collaboration between Ford and General Motors, although Ford had the engineering lead on it."

I think Ford did well making these improvements....

Although I dont like their philosophy (all aluminum, small turbo power , complex solutions) vs. GM's and FCA's more balanced approaches and simplicity in engines , Ford has pushed solidly into the lead with many options .

19 will , of course, be an interesting year with an all new Ram AND GM twins , both of which may very well incorporate many new items.

Rumors have GM employing more alum (though smartly not total alum) and other weight savings to their new truck which was already pretty close to the Ford . Adding turbo engine options and a diesel potentially as well along with the 10 spd . Supposedly an air suspension like the Ram too along with many new tech stuff. As in 14 when the current GM trucks debuted , it looks to be the leader.

Ram rumored to have much new stuff as well though I have read fewer details.....they are VERY heavy and the oldest current platform with the least payload capability.

As posted above I also believe that Ford has really pushed their limits in load and towing , higher than they should be. Just because a truck CAN do it , doesnt mean it SHOULD . A 5000lb truck with over 12K behind it is ridiculous. Sure its rated to tow it , but it really shouldnt .

@shriker

I appreciated your remarks about the merits of the Ford and GM trucks respectively.

Agree that Ford's technological prowess impresses, but I think they lost their way somehow. Not having a 6.2 V8 engine option for the half ton, especially when that motor is available in the F-Series 3/4 and One ton seems strange.

My view is the 6.2 was a very attractive option in the F150. Cannot understand why it was dropped.

Author...you DO realize that the headrests are adjustable, right? Right? Because, you know, they can line up vertically with the seat when adjusted back all the way.

this is all great but its still a ford



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