2018 Ford F-150 Review

2018 Ford F-150 - Delivering on all levels, F-150 makes a strong case for best in class.


The Ford F-150 is perennially the bestselling passenger vehicle in the United States. As you likely know, it's a full-size pickup truck that comes in regular cab, extended cab and crew cab bodystyles. Three different bed lengths are offered, ranging from 5.5-feet to 8 feet. Competitors include the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, Nissan Titan, Ram 1500 and Toyota Tundra. For 2018 Ford F-150 receives a variety of changes including several new or revised engines -- including a diesel option -- an available 10-speed automatic transmission, upgraded tech and safety features and freshened front styling.

Six trim levels are offered: base XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum and Limited. Ford also offers a high-performance off-road Raptor variant. Several engines are available, starting with a 3.3-liter V6 engine that makes 290 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. It pairs with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Available are a turbocharged 2.7-liter V6 (325 hp, 400 lb-ft), a 5.0-liter V8 (395 hp, 400 lb-ft) and a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 (375-450 hp, 470-510 lb-ft). All of these three engines all pair with a 10-speed automatic transmission. Available late in the 2018 model year is a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 that makes 350 hp and 440 lb-ft of torque.

Exterior changes for 2018 include new hood, fenders, headlamps and grille. Tech changes include updates to the Sync3 infotainment system and an upgrade for the available forward-collision warning system. Base prices range from $27,705 for the XL to $60,850 for the Limited.

With 385 ponies on tap, the 5.0-liter V8 engine has more than enough gusto to power the F-150 off the line and provides solid passing response. Ford claims a 0-60 mph time of about 7 seconds. Adding a few hundred pounds of payload or attaching a small trailer seems to have little effect on performance. However, if you frequently max out on payload or tow a large trailer, you might want to step up to the 3.5-liter Ecoboost for best performance.

The V8 engine mates to a new 10-speed automatic, that is for the most part unobtrusive. At times, in stop and go traffic, it hunts between gears and you might also notice a hiccup when pulling away from a stop. Likely these are software issues that will get corrected quickly as Ford gathers more information with this new transmission.

EPA fuel economy numbers of 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway are at the top of the class among V8 competitors. That's impressive given the F-150's bulk. Real-world suburban driving is likely to yield 17-18 mpg overall, perhaps as high as 23 mpg in steady-state, empty-bed highway cruising. Note that if you add a trailer or heavy payload, your fuel economy will drop considerably.

The F-150 is available with rear-wheel drive (2WD) or four-wheel drive (4WD). The 4WD system has a low range. Modes include 2WD, 4-Auto (basically all-wheel drive), 4-high (part-time 4WD) and 4-Low. Also included are trailer towing mode and trailer sway control. In addition, Ford offers trailer backup assist, which will essentially back your vehicle and trailer automatically.

Dynamically the F-150 drives smaller than it looks, meaning once you get used to the sheer size it's fairly easy to maneuver in traffic. Steering is nicely weighted, tracks straight and true on the highway and is quick enough to alleviate parking hassles. The brakes have great stopping power and a very easy-to-modulate pedal. There's also a brake-bias adjustment for trailer towing.

Ride quality varies depending on suspension package and payload. Base models ride with the most comfort while versions with the off-road package can be a bit bouncy around town. Either way, the F-150 is a great highway cruiser given its long wheelbase and copious amounts of sound insulation. Though the towing package's larger side-view mirrors create some wind noise at highway speeds.

Smart cabin design makes the F-150 interior work on a number of levels. Controls are easy to reach, visibility is excellent and layout is welcoming. Materials ratchet up depending on trim level, ranging from basic work plastics to fine leathers and woods on top trims. The bucket seats on up level trims are well-shaped and quite comfortable on long trips. In addition, seat heating and ventilation are offered. The rear seats on the crew cab models also offer excellent comfort, though they have a flat seat cushion to accommodate three across seating. Head and leg room abound on crew cabs. Even extra cabs have decent rear seat room -- provided the front seats are not positioned too far rearward.
Major controls are well labeled and logically placed, and the customizable gauge cluster affords a wealth of information. Ford's Sync3 infotainment system is intuitive and provides support for Android Auto and Apple Car Play.

Regardless of model, step-in can be a challenge -- even with the available running boards. Thankfully there are large door openings and plenty of grab handles. With plenty of open and covered bins, interior storage abounds. The rear seats on extended and crew cab models fold to provide extra storage space. The cargo beds have lots of tie down points and the tailgate features an innovative built-in step.
There is a reason why the F-150 is the best-selling pickup, it's a great all-around utility vehicle that can double as a daily driver. While the Ram might offer slightly better on-road comfort and the Chevy might have smoother powertrain choices, the F-150 adroitly blends its attributes making it the best choice overall for many buyers. The wide range of engines, suspension packages and trim levels makes it easy for shoppers to configure the F-150 to best suit their needs. You'll want to drive the competition but will likely put the Ford near the top of your final list.

Mark Bilek

Mark Bilek is the Senior Director of Communications and Technology for the Chicago Auto Trade Association and the General Manager for DriveChicago.com. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining the Chicago Auto Show Web site.

Mark has been reviewing vehicles for more than two decades. Previously, he was associate publisher at Consumer Guide, where he oversaw publication of Consumer Guide Car & Truck Test, Consumer Guide's Used Car Book, and ConsumerGuide.com. He was also responsible for publication of "Collectible Automobile" and various hardcover automotive titles. In 2001 and 2002 he served as president of a Midwest Automotive Media Association. Mark has appeared on NBC TV, ABC TV, Fox News, WGN and MotorTrend TV as an automotive consultant. He hosts the Drive Chicago radio show on WLS 890 AM and was a regular guest on WGN Radio's Steve & Johnnie show. Mark lives in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three sons.