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2018 Ford F-150 First Look: 40 & Fabulous

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 1/8/2017 Motor Trend Staff
2018-Ford-F-150-side-in-motion.jpg 2018 Ford F-150 First Look: 40 & Fabulous

This year will be the 40th year that Ford's iconic F-150 has ranked as the best-selling truck in the U.S. (outselling the Silverado and Sierra combined by 24,243 trucks in 2016). It's also been the best-selling vehicle period for 35 years. As happens when so many people confront a midlifeish milestone year, the Ford F-150 is pumping up and getting a little work done so that by this fall it'll look as fresh and perform as well (vastly better, actually) as it did when it had only been outselling everybody for 20 years. It'll even take on the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel with a V-6 turbodiesel of its own.

In terms of appearance, the truck's entire face will go under the knife--€”the grille, lamps, fascia panel, and bumper are all new. (The hood and fenders are unchanged.) We should say grilles, as the F-150 has always offered more factory-optional grilles than the entire aftermarket provides for Chrysler 300s. Seven new tools will produce what seems like double that number of different grille looks, considering the many different finishes (molded black, painted argent, chromed, nickel-finished, body-colored, and combinations of the above). A common theme in most of them is a switch from three narrow bars to two fatter ones. Twin I-Beam is the vintage suspension-evoking nomenclature design boss Gordon Platto uses to describe the look, though there's nothing I-beamish about them. They do stretch wider, extending into the headlamps to provide a wider look. The bumper now dips down to accommodate the grilles, and a new body-color fascia panel separates the grilles from the bumper.

Taller headlamps are required to bracket around these bigger grille beams, and they now feature a pair of light-piped C-clamp details above and below the beam with turn signal lamps bridging between them. Upper trim levels get all LED illumination, and the mainstreamers make do with compound reflectors and halogen bulbs. Moving around to the sides, the biggest change is in wheel choices, which include six new ones—one 17-inch, one 18-inch, three 20-inch, and one 22-inch design.

Related Video: 2018 Ford F-150 Gets Updated

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You'll be able to distinguish a 2018 F-150 going away, too, because the taillamps and tailgate are freshened. The lamps sort of echo the headlamps with a twin C-clamp look, and the tailgate stamping has been revised to include a bold F-150 stamped right into the sheetmetal on all the mainstream trim levels. The King Ranch, Platinum, and Limited models get unique new brushed-metal appliques and make do without the stamped-in logo.

The inside gets some updates, too, with the biggest news being new color ways for the Lariat (tan over mocha), King Ranch (reddish brown over dark mottled brown), and Platinum (sort of dark red over black) versions. Those colors all have fancier-sounding but nondescriptive names such as Kingville and Dark Marsala. Sync 3 gets upgraded with 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto capabilities. B&O Play, a hipper, cheaper sub-brand of Bang and Olufsen, upgrades the sound experience. On the safety and convenience fronts, there's precollision assist with pedestrian detection, which warns of impending doom, and then in the absence of any driver intervention, it will brake the truck to prevent or lessen any impact. The adaptive cruise control system now accommodates stop-and-go traffic-jam cruising.

The biggest news is under the hood, where all the engines are new, save for the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, which was new for 2017 and carries over. Most exciting is the 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6, which will lag the rest of the new engines by half a year, appearing in the summer of 2018 (still as a 2018 model). Few details have been shared as of yet, but we know it's a member of the Lion family of Ford diesel V-6s designed in Dagenham, England, primarily for use in Jaguars and Land Rovers in a joint venture with France's PSA Groupe. Global JLR fitments of the 3.0 have twin-turbocharging, a compacted-graphite iron block, and outputs ratings of 237 hp/370 lb-ft, 251 hp/440 lb-ft, and 271 hp/440 lb-ft, so expect an output somewhere in that ballpark. Officials won't say which models will offer the diesel/10-speed combo, and they're not projecting sales expectations other than to say it should prove popular with folks who tow campers and the like. They also noted that the arrival of this diesel will not affect development of a hybrid F-150, which is expected by 2020.

2018 Ford F 150 front three quarter 03© Motor Trend Staff 2018 Ford F 150 front three quarter 03

The roster of other renewed powertrains opens with the base naturally aspirated V-6 and six-speed automatic. The engine shrinks by 200cc to 3.3 liters and gains a new twin-injection system (port and direct) shared with all other gasoline engines powering F-150s. This helps the smaller engine achieve the same output as the 3.5-liter it replaces (282 hp/253 lb-ft). All F-150 engines for 2018 are said to get improved fuel economy, thanks in part to all engines getting auto start/stop and every engine above the 3.3-liter pairing with the new 10-speed automatic developed with GM.

Doubling the number of injectors in the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 (currently the most popular engine choice with F-150 buyers) reportedly increases the torque output. And the 5.0-liter V-8 marks the first high-volume application of the plasma-transferred wire arc spray-bore cylinder lining process Ford introduced on the GT350's 5.2-liter engine. On that engine, replacing the iron liners with this spray-bore coating helped provide 200cc more cylinder capacity. Here, a new block retains the same bore (and 5.0-liter displacement) and reduces the engine's weight by something less than the mass of eight iron liners. Power and torque are both said to increase.

As midcycle enhancements go, this one is pretty darned thorough, and it seems likely to stretch the F-150's chart-topping popularity into its mid-40s.

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