2018 Ford F-150: Constant Innovation

2018 Ford F-150: Constant Innovation

2018 Ford F-150Story and photos by Howard J Elmer, additional photos courtesy of Ford

Looking at the latest F-series truck here on a farm in Michigan, it’s easy to imagine another truck, born not far from here in Dearborn, which started this bloodline back in 1948. Okay, we didn’t have to imagine it, because we had one there, a companion and sharp contrast to the newest 2018 offering from Ford.

Styling for the 2018 is a tame update of the current model with cues like the lighting and embossed logos being the key changes. But past these cosmetic changes, Ford has also added three new interior décor packages, six new wheel designs of 18 to 22-inches, and brought back the mesh grille (last found on a ’08 Ford). The other effort is to blend the half-ton and HD SuperDuty styles – that process which started last year is now done. They now both share the same cabs and the same look. Past this, technology in the form of driver-assist features continue to be added; a process that Ford works at constantly.

It’s this program of  “constant innovation” (a Ford catch-phrase) that adds meaningful content to the F-series almost annually. They don’t wait for generational changes to release updates; instead, year in and year out, they change mechanicals and add tech as it’s needed, responding to its customers wants.

For example, in a major 2015 update, the body was switched to aluminum, and you’d expect Ford to ride that wave for several years. However, in 2016, it made powertrain changes and added features like Pro-Trailer backup assist. Then in 2017, the SuperDuty F-series was not only updated, but adopted the same body as the F-150 along with all its new electronics. This year, the truck has added a dozen driver-assist technologies that make this F-series that much easier and safer to drive.

2018 Ford F-150For example,  Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop/Start will bring the truck to a halt and then start it up again as traffic begins to move, all without disengaging. The BLISS system, which is a blind spot warning system, can now also be programmed to include the length of a towed trailer. Pass a vehicle and the blind-spot indicator will stay on till the trailer has safely cleared the passed vehicle. Auto stop/start is also a new standard feature on all 2018 models. So, while not new, the fact that it’s now standard is. Frankly, these systems work so well now that I doubt anyone wouldn’t want them. The upside of stop/start – with no input from the driver? A fuel savings of up to five percent annually.

As for engines, over the 2017 and 2018 model years, the F-150’s engine line- up has been completely overhauled, with all four available powerplants getting more power and a new 10-speed transmission.

For 2018, the base engine in all F-150s will be the 3.3-litre PFDI (Port Fuel Direct Injection) V6 with a six-speed transmission. It makes 290 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque. Fuel consumption is 10.7L/100 km combined (EPA approved numbers). The other PFDI engine in the line-up is the 5.0-litre V8. It makes a respectable 395 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. Fuel consumption is 12.4L/100 km combined.

Then we get into the EcoBoost engines. The 2.7-litre V6 is surprisingly powerful with 325 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque which comes on at a very low rpm of just 2,750. Also, it gets 10.7L/100 km combined. The 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6, which first debuted in 2011, is now in its second generation and is rated at 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque with a fuel number of 11.2L/100 km combined.

The fifth powertrain is exclusive to the F-150 Raptor (for now anyway) and is a 3.5-litre  EcoBoost HO version that bumps up the V6’s output to 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque. Fuel consumption dives to 14.7L/100km combined.

2018 Ford F-150An innovation that was introduced late in 2017 was the all-new 10-speed transmission. With the exception of the 3.3-litre V6 base unit, all engines are now coupled to this 10-speed. This tranny is non-sequential, meaning it jumps from gear to gear (whichever is called for) without having to bump up or down through every other gear. It’s really quite something to see the indicator go from tenth to fifth as you punch the throttle. This transmission features a high-speed one-way clutch, improved kinematics, a tow/haul mode, Gen II high-efficiency filtration and an internal start/stop oil pump that works with that standard auto start-stop feature that is found on all 2018 F-series trucks.

So while this mantra of constant innovation makes perfect sense, the other Ford trait that has won over (and kept) so many truck buyers for decades is choice. Choice, as it applies to trims, wheelbases, cabs, box lengths and powertrains. This last one in particular is key. No other manufacturer offers as many powertrain and build choices as Ford, and they don’t intend to lose that distinction.

Just as an aside – no one at the farm talked about the diesel engine that Ford announced last winter. It was supposed to be here by now – but it’s late. When I asked, I was told it will now be offered in spring of 2018. Though we know little about it, rumour has it that it’s basically the same diesel that is currently found in the Range Rover. The stats on that engine are 254 hp and 440 lb-ft of torque made by a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6.

So, no truck introduction would be complete without some bragging about the “new” weight capabilities. Ford has never been shy about this and for 2018 they are once again pushing the limits and claiming new best-in-class numbers. These are 13,200 lb for towing. For payload, they have posted a 3,270 lb figure. Stating that the 2018 has larger axles, this F-series now has a Max GVWR of 18,500 lb. All this on what we still refer to as a half-ton. Perhaps we should rethink that label, as we left half-ton territory many, many years ago.

Pricing for the base 2018 F-150 will start at $30,499, rising up through nine trim levels to a price of $71,399 for the SuperCrew Raptor. Trucks should start arriving at dealers this October.