Americans loooove the Ford F-Series.
( … how much do they love it?)
Great question! Enough to buy over 820,000 of them in 2016. Believe it or not, Ford sold an F-Series every 33 seconds in December alone. Back in 2015, America’s best-selling vehicle for 35 years straight underwent a risky redesign, where it ditched steel for a high-strength aluminum body. The result? Over 700 pounds of weight loss, and significantly improved fuel economy and hauling.
Two years later, despite a massive negative ad campaign launched by its rivals, the aluminum F-Series is still on top and it doesn’t look likely to falter anytime soon. What’s more, the other Big Two could soon be eating crow — both Ram and Chevy have signaled that their next-generation full-size trucks will follow suit and use more aluminum. Just as those rival models are slated to debut, the F-Series will be hitting dealers with its mid-cycle refresh for 2018. The result is a tasteful step forward. Ford has taken styling cues from its Super Duty trucks, and democratizing details from its high end models across the lineup, to make America’s favorite truck even more appealing.
While this is an evolutionary step and not a great leap forward, this F-Series update is still an important move for The Blue Oval. Here are 10 things you need to know before the 2018 F-150 hits the streets this fall.
1. A brand new mug
Believe it or not, there isn’t much new sheet metal on the ’18 F-Series. Up front, the changes are confined to the new lights, bumper, and at least seven new unique grilles (one for each model), as well as six new wheel designs to choose from. Altogether, they really go a long way to make the new truck look … well, new.
2. Features to keep that new mug pretty
And with that new look, Ford is offering Pre-Collision Assist and Pedestrian Detection, which can automatically brake when the truck senses you can’t react in time. It’ll go a long way to keeping your truck looking its best, and make you and everyone around you safer.
3. Ten is the new magic number
Following the lead of the all-new 2017 Raptor, the entire F-150 lineup will feature Ford’s 10-speed automatic transmission, regardless of engine choice. That means greater fuel economy, smoother gear shifts, and more versatility, regardless of the number of cylinders under the hood.
4. Diesel in a half-ton
For the first time, Ford is offering a diesel engine outside of the Super Duty lineup. Available a few months after the gas-powered truck’s launch (think early 2018), the 3.0 liter Power Stroke diesel will arrive to take on the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. Official performance or hauling numbers haven’t been released yet, but we’ve been told by Ford that it expects the engine to make customers very happy.
5. More power on tap
While the diesel is the big news in the powertrain department, the F-150 is getting some other big upgrades too. The 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6 is getting replaced as the base engine — by a smaller 3.3 liter six. Before you go through the roof, know that Ford expects the new mill to make the same 282 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque as the larger engine, but paired to that new 10 speed, it should return noticeably better gas mileage. The 2.7 liter EcoBoost and 5.0 liter V8 also return in slightly revised forms.
Correction: We originally stated that the 3.5 liter was being phased out for the 3.3. The 3.3 will be the base engine, while the 3.5 will remain the top V6. We regret the error.
6. Out back, things are getting real
Like the available “Twin I-Beam” grille, Ford’s styling team called on the Super Duty for inspiration and designed a new tailgate with “F-150” stamped right into the steel. Ford says the customer’s love for all things “authentic” led to them dropping the stick-on badge and pounding the truck’s name right into its metalwork. The taillights and rear bumper are new too.
7. The Tech Truck
On top of the aforementioned Pre-Collision Assist and Pedestrian Detection, the ’18 F-150 will be available with adaptive cruise control, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot that can connect up to 10 devices, Ford’s Sync3 infotainment system, and a Bang & Olufsen stereo. Like the current truck, it will be Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible, as well as offer blind spot monitoring and a 360 degree camera.
8. The top end is getting more crowded
Ford noticed a funny thing with the current truck: Customers around urban or more populated areas were shelling out for the range-topping Limited, while the well-to-do in more rural areas were going big on well-optioned King Ranch models. So for 2018, the slick, chrome-laden Limited and the leather-clad King Ranch will share equal duty at the top of the heap.
9. Built for a long haul
Ford is keeping mum on official numbers for now, but it’s confident that this new truck will have the best towing capability of any F-150 ever. Considering that the current truck can haul up to 12,000 pounds, this is a pretty big deal.
10. The Raptor is its own animal
In 2018, the F-150 will look a lot different. The Raptor? Not so much. Ford’s factory-built off-roader will hold onto its new-for-2017 looks while the F-150 does its own thing. The result is the most diverse-looking truck lineup we’ve seen in years. And it makes the Raptor stand out even more.