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Ford F-150: Working Hard — Playing Hard

There’s been a lot written about the newest variation of the legendary Ford F-150. A lot written because there’s a lot of change, and even more that’s worthy of note. This is the core of Ford’s sales number successes and you can only play so much with the most successful vehicle in your lineup.

Having said all of that, I recently tested the 2018 F-150 and I enjoyed the visual edits made by the designers, in particular the bolder front and rear styling, as well as the additions made by the engineering team to enhance technologies and improve the engine options available in a laundry list of potential combinations.

Improvements

Most notably under the hood is the all-new 3.0-liter Power Stroke V6 turbodiesel and enhanced V6 and V8 gas engines. Out of sight – but definitely not out of mind with the F-150 loyal, is the high-strength steel fully boxed ladder frame and high-strength, military-grade, aluminum alloy body. The F-150 can tow more than ever and deliver best-in-class payload ratings.

Drive It

Spending a week in the F-150 is a lot easier than you might think, especially if you had been driving a luxury sedan the week prior. The 2018 F-150’s enhanced power elevates its likability while driving in every situation (on the pavement).

I have always thought the F-150 was plenty comfortable and this new version is easy to handle around town.

Sure, steering takes a bit to get used to as it tends to feel a little light. You have to remind yourself you are pushing a full-size pickup, but it is not that obvious much of the time. Overall, handling is athletic and agile.

Bold Style Adds

Exterior styling gets a huge infusion of attitude with six new grilles in addition to six new wheel choices. Mixing and matching what your like gives the F-150 the ability to be custom-made for everyone. No fewer than seven trim packages are offered, from basic work truck to ultra-plush Limited and crazy-fast Raptor.

New Engine Options

The normally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 from last year is gone in favor of a 3.3-L capable of developing more power and delivering better fuel economy than its predecessor. The 2.7-L V6 and 5.0-L V8 are upgraded and delivering more power. My tester featured the auto stop-start feature that is on the entire engine range to squeeze out better fuel ratings. The 10-speed automatic transmission is a proven performer under the most difficult circumstances, and F-150 owners tend to push their trucks pretty hard.

The 3.3-liter V6 and the 2.7-L twin turbocharged engines are considered all-new for 2018. Based on the old 3.5-L, new cylinder heads make the 3.3-liter better, enabling the application of both port and direct fuel injection. Fuel economy ratings are 19 mpg city, 24 mpg highway.

My tester featured the all-new Bang & Olufsen audio system as well as new tech and safety features, including Wi-Fi, integrated ramps, pre-collision alert with pedestrian detection, blind-spot indicators capable of working with a trailer attached, and adaptive cruise control with stop and go capability.

Towing

With the power increases come better tow ratings, with properly equipped F-150’s offering an impressive 13,200-pound tow capacity. Ford’s Trailer Backup Assist returns as an option. Activated with a knob to the right of the steering wheel, the system uses a checkered sticker on the trailer neck to measure distance and angle. You’ll simply watch the mirrors and rear camera, turning the dial in the desired direction, to get the trailer to go where you want. The speed of the truck is controlled with the brake, just as when using automated parking.

Pricing on the 2018 F-150 starts at $27,610, but you can push that price above $40k if you desire. This is the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. for a reason and none of that was hurt with the newest wave of enhancements in 2018.

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