Ford’s perennial cash cow, the F-150, is celebrating 40 years as America’s best-selling pickup truck. This fresh set of bragging rights will be kicked off with a refreshed 2018 model, which sees fairly significant upgrades across its extensive lineup. In addition to a redesigned front end and slightly tweaked rear, Ford added a healthy dose of much-needed tech to the F-150, as well as big powertrain updates.
Ford is also claiming this will be the “best-towing F-150 ever,” aided in part by strengthening the rear frame and improving how the hitch is attached.
To start, the big news is a new 3.0-liter Power Stroke diesel engine, the first oil-burner ever to appear in the F-150. Ford didn’t have to search too hard for a suitable engine, choosing to dig within its own ranks for the turbocharged “Lion” diesel used abroad in past Land Rover Discovery and Range Rover models. Paired with Ford’s new 10-speed automatic already employed in the Raptor, the diesel F-150 will go on sale in summer 2018 as a 2018 model.
Gas versions of the 2018 Ford F-150 will benefit from gains in power, torque, and fuel economy across nearly every available engine in its existing lineup. All of these engines will now use direct and multi-port fuel injection as well as start/stop technology.
The old 3.5-liter V-6 base engine is out in favor of a new 3.3-liter V-6, which makes the same 282 hp and 253 lb-ft of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy for this engine will improve upon the old base mill, but we’ll have to wait until the EPA ratings to see just how much.
The popular 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 also joins the F-150 lineup for 2018. Along with more power and torque we can expect better fuel economy thanks to reductions in internal friction as well as the new 10-speed (this transmission is standard on all F-150s except for the base 3.3-liter V-6). Both the 3.5-liter EcoBoost and 5.0-liter V-8 will get similar improvements.
Visually the F-150 gets a few upgrades, in the form of seven new grilles, two headlamps, six wheels, and redesigned front and rear styling. Up front the big change is the addition of the twin-bar grille from the Super Duty, while out back it’s all about the F-150 logo that’s stamped into the tailgate. There are also two new seat-trim colors for the interior, as well as some material improvements.
On the tech side of things, the F-150 gets some key updates. B&O Play audio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and Sync 3 with a 4G LTE connection for up to 10 devices within 50 feet are now available. Lane-keep assist and blind-spot detection are still on the menu, but now the adaptive cruise control permits the vehicle to come to a complete stop while following in traffic, and it will resume driving once traffic gets going again.
No doubt all of this tinkering will help keep the F-150 atop the sales heap, and we’ll have more as far as pricing and EPA numbers as the on-sale date nears in the third quarter of 2017.