For the last 41 years, Ford has produced the best-selling half-ton pickup on the market. In today’s world that’s an astonishing record as the segment is drastically different than it was more than four decades ago.
My 2018 Ford F-150 4×4 SuperCrew Platinum tester is proof of the dramatic shift from carry-all cargo capabilities to easily becoming a country club vehicle.
The segment is currently divided between using aluminum and steel for major components like the bed and body panels. The F-150 makes use of its extensive aluminum components, which reduce the truck’s weight by nearly to 500 pounds depending on the model.
While I’m in the steel camp myself for a truck bed, repairing aluminum is more costly than steel, it’s hard to ignore the benefits to fuel economy and rust prevention that aluminum provides. Underneath the aluminum body panels Ford sticks with a steel ladder frame.
For 2018, Ford redesigned the three-box design with styling cues from the Super Duty models. The front grille and bumper have been lifted from the Super Duty and use two long, horizontal bars. The fenders and bodylines have a blocky, upright design. The tailgate is thicker, has an optional pull out step, while the bumper has convenient step notches in the outer corners. My test truck had the Styleside 6.5-foot short bed, good for 62.3 cubic feet of storage space.
Under the big expansive hood, Ford offers a plethora of engine choices. My Platinum model tester came with the 5.0-liter V8 that (sadly) is slowly on its way out as it can easily be replaced by a PowerStroke diesel or twin-turbo EcoBoost V6.
Horsepower and torque are up this year, but quite frankly if you’re going use your truck as a workhorse opt for a PowerStroke. If you’re only using it for light duty, 4×4 traction, and mild off-roading – go for the EcoBoost V6. My V8 powered tester came with a 10-speed automatic transmission to try and lengthen the time between pump visits, but they’re still short.
The passage of time has also expanded the interior from a single cab with three-across vinyl bench seat to heated leather, two-row seating for five on a four door SuperCrew. A large touchscreen infotainment system (that finally works properly) dominates the dash, and a big LCD screen sits behind the steering wheel to give you vital truck/driving information.
My F-150 tester uses big knobs/controls/dials that work perfect in a truck. As my tester was a Platinum mode, it featured real wood trim, thick carpeting a power rear slider, excellent Bang & Olufsen audio system.
On the road, the 5.0-L V8 flexes its new-found power with great acceleration and up to 9,100 lb. towing capacity w/3.31 axle ratio. The 10-speed transmissions’ upshifts are smooth, while downshifts are quick and overall the shift logic matches up with the 5.0 V8’s power band very well. For 2018, all F-150s add a standard start/stop feature that reduces fuel consumption while you’re idling.
The 2018 F-150’s front suspension is a coil-on-shock independent arrangement, the rear is a tried-and-true solid axle with leaf springs setup. My test truck rolled on 20-inch all-terrain tires. Another benefit of the aluminum panels is that the F-150 is more-nimble than the previous generation and less clunky over rough surfaces and Chicago pot poles. However, the F-150 still bucks and sways over harsh umps and cornering, like all pickups do.
So, aluminum body panels, V8 or V6, more competitive models, 1977 or 2018, the F-150 is still atop the sales charts and it looks to stay there for a long time.