2018 FORD F150: RE­FRESHED OR RE­CY­CLED

Re­freshed or Re­cy­cled?

4WDrive - - Contents - BY PERRY MACK

TRUCK AND SUV SALES have a set a blis­ter­ing pace over the last few years, spurn­ing a highly com­pet­i­tive mar­ket as man­u­fac­tur­ers at­tempt to gain and hold mar­ket share. Their strong­est tool in this game is tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion and styling re­fresh in or­der to make ev­ery year a new year. Be­cause new is news.

Ford plays this game bet­ter than any­one else and that’s not a bad thing. Not only do they give the peo­ple what they want, they are will­ing to take some risks in de­liv­er­ing what we don’t know we want yet, for in­stance, the in­tro­duc­tion of alu­minum into the F150 back in 2015.

2018 doesn’t in­tro­duce any game chang­ers into the F150, not the kind that makes you want to trade in your one to two year old truck to get a 2018 model. But there are enough en­hance­ments to make you want to lease a new truck rather buy out your old lease, or take a solid look at Ford if your brand loy­alty is wa­ver­ing from Ram or Chevy. Many

changes are just cos­metic, but there are also new pow­er­train op­tions and en­hance­ments, as well as new driver as­sist tech­nolo­gies to al­low F-150 own­ers to do more on and off the road with their trucks.

Let’s start with ev­ery 4x4 en­thu­si­ast’s core val­ues, the steak not the siz­zle, the sub­stance rather than style – the en­gines and power trains. The 2.7l EcoBoost V-6, and the 5.0l nat­u­rally as­pi­rated V-8 get some tweaks to im­prove torque and horse­power, and, along with the 3.5l Ecoboost, will be mated to the new 10-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

Last year's nor­mally as­pi­rated 3.5l V-6 has been dumped and re­placed with a more ef­fi­cient 3.3l V-6, bolted to a six-speed trans­mis­sion for a lower price point en­gine/pow­er­train op­tion.

All en­gines will get the Auto Start/Stop tech­nol­ogy, which re­duces idling time by stop­ping the en­gine at a traf­fic light and fir­ing it up when you step on the gas. For­tu­nately it is au­to­mat­i­cally dis­abled in tow/haul, and off-road mode.

Here is the re­al­ity check. Al­though there are six en­gines (in­clud­ing the diesel to be re­leased next year) to choose from, there are only two en­gines you should or will want to buy.

The bot­tom end 3.3 litre doesn’t have the jam to do any­thing a pick-up truck needs to do, un­less cruis­ing main street is all it needs to do. Max torque and horse­power fig­ures are too low to be of con­se­quence, and the RPM re­quired to hit the max num­bers is too high to be used ef­fi­ciently. Ford has also ham­strung the en­gine, as it is only avail­able with the six-speed trans­mis­sion. This does cre­ate a price point truck so you can get in the door of a shiny new Ford at $30,500 CDN – al­beit only for the Reg­u­lar Cab 4x2 in the XL trim. If, like 99% of Cana­di­ans, you only buy 4x4 pick­ups, your en­try fee to the 2018 F-150 will be $35,000 CDN.

The nor­mally as­pi­rated 5.0 litre V8 is slug­gish un­der load. Yes it has that won­der­ful V8 sound, and yes, you can

op­tion it out to hit the best-in-class pay­load ca­pac­ity (3,270 lbs.; 1,483 kg), but the truck felt slug­gish pulling just an 3629 kg (8000 lb) trailer, so that much or more would be an ex­er­cise in frus­tra­tion on any up­hill grade. Un­less you plan to add af­ter­mar­ket en­gine en­hance­ments af­ter your war­ranty is done, or you are a die-hard V8 afi­cionado, skip this en­gine as well.

The 3.5 l high-out­put Ecoboost is an awe­some en­gine, but only avail­able in the Rap­tor, and the diesel en­gine hasn’t been re­leased yet, al­though it will be your most ex­pen­sive up­grade when it ar­rives.

This new diesel en­try is a 3.0l tur­bocharged Power Stoke V-6 (which also gets the 10-speed trans­mis­sion). It is wel­come news for Ford en­thu­si­asts as Ford is the last of the big three to bring a diesel to the half-ton mar­ket place. Ford says it won’t be avail­able un­til spring of 2018, it will be ex­pen­sive, and will only be avail­able on higher end trims. No fuel ef­fi­ciency, horse­power or torque val­ues have been re­leased as Ford con­tin­ues to cal­i­brate the en­gine in ad­vance of EPA scru­tiny, cour­tesy the de­ba­cle over VW’s in­ten­tional fudg­ing of emis­sion test re­sults. But in the nev­erend­ing com­pe­ti­tion for ‘best-in-class’, the en­gine will have to beat Ram’s three litre Ecodiesel. So we ex­pect max num­bers from Ford's diesel to be roughly 250 hp @ 3600 rpm, 450 lb-ft of torque @ 2000 rpm and hit 29 mph on the high­way in a 4x4. But as I said, you can’t buy it yet, we don’t know the per­for­mance, and we don’t know what it will cost.

So es­sen­tially you have two smart choices for your 2018 F150 this fall– the 2.7 and 3.5 litre EcoBoost. Base your choice on your needs, or the thick­ness of your wal­let. The 2.7litre is spry and ex­cit­ing to drive, even great with a 7500 lb trailer hang­ing off the back. The 3.5l Ecoboost is the work­horse en­gine, your best choice if you need to haul heavy pay­loads or trail­ers, or con­sis­tently climb sig­nif­i­cant grades. It didn’t feel bogged down even with a 4082 kg (9,000 lb) trailer hang­ing off the hitch. My rec­om­men­da­tion is the 2.7 litre Ecoboost so you can en­joy good ac­cel­er­a­tion and good fuel econ­omy in a 4x4 at 13.1l/100km (18 mpg) city, 11.8 l/100km (20 mpg) high­way, and have a truck that doesn’t labour un­der most com­mon loads. Un­less, and it is a big un­less, you re­ally need, or can af­ford the ex­tra torque and horse­power of the 3.5 litre Ecoboost en­gine.

How did Ford get more torque, horse­power and some slight im­prove­ments in fuel econ­omy from their en­gines? It is in large part due to the im­ple­men­ta­tion of port in­jec­tion (PI) in com­bi­na­tion with di­rect in­jec­tion (DI). DI at­om­izes fuel by de­liv­er­ing it un­der high pres­sure di­rectly into the cylin­der dur­ing the com­pres­sion cy­cle. The phase change has a cool­ing ef­fect in the cylin­der al­low­ing a higher com­pres­sion ra­tio and a more ef­fi­cient en­gine. Port in­jec­tion on the other hand, pro­vides quiet, smooth per­for­mance at idle and low rpm, and flushes ex­cess soot and par­tic­u­late cre­ated by DI.

Cos­met­i­cally, most grilles now fea­ture a dual bar that stretches across the

front of the truck giv­ing it a wider look (sim­i­lar to the su­per duty), and the grille dips down slightly into the bumper (a look taken from the Ford rap­tor) with vari­a­tions on this theme to dif­fer­en­ti­ate the dif­fer­ent trim lev­els. The C-shaped lights ex­tend fur­ther to the cen­tre of the truck than 2017, with up­per trim lev­els get­ting LED’s. In the back, the tail lamps are slightly redesigned, and the tail­gate gets a large em­bossed F-150 on the XL, XLT and Lariat trim lev­els, and a satin chrome ap­plique on the King Ranch, Plat­inum, and Lim­ited trucks.

Ford has in­tro­duced new in­te­ri­ors and paint colours, and wheel lovers will ap­pre­ci­ate the six new wheel op­tions rang­ing from 17-22" in di­am­e­ter.

Ford con­tin­ues to in­tro­duce driver as­sist fea­tures that, while not ground break­ing, are de­signed to give driv­ers the con­fi­dence to use their truck more. More trai­ler­ing, more boat launch­ing, more off-road.

New for 2018 tech­nol­ogy

New for Ford, your truck can come equipped with Wi-Fi hot spot tech­nol­ogy de­liv­ered by AT&T across North Amer­ica. In the US-of-A, un­lim­ited data will be $20 USD/month. Who knows how badly Cana­di­ans will be gouged as AT&T will have to work through Cana­dian cell providers.

Adap­tive cruise con­trol al­lows you to set your speed, then us­ing radar and cam­era tech your ve­hi­cle will match the speed of the ve­hi­cle in front of you. You can choose from four dif­fer­ent dis­tances be­tween ve­hi­cles, which it will then main­tain, or if the ve­hi­cle in front of you comes to a com­plete stop – so will you. The sys­tem is also cal­i­brated so you can use it while tow­ing – great for long hauls.

Au­dio­philes, and any­one who loves great sound will drool over the B& O ten speaker am­pli­fied sound sys­tem and the Pre-col­li­sion As­sist with Pedes­trian De­tec­tion is an­other op­tion to keep you out of trou­ble.

Other driver as­sist fea­tures car­ry­ing over from 2017 in­clude a lane keep­ing sys­tem to pre­vent un­in­ten­tional drift­ing, and a 360° cam­era sys­tem to help you see around the ve­hi­cle when you park. The 360° cam­era in con­junc­tion with the for­ward fac­ing cam­era make great ad­di­tions for nav­i­gat­ing the tight trails many of us ex­pe­ri­ence off-road on the way to the cabin, cot­tage, favourite fish­ing spot, or camp site. The down­side is the man­dated shut down once you are over eight kph cour­tesy the gov­ern­ment safety nerds – heaven for­bid you should be dis­tracted by the screen at 9 kph try­ing to avoid ob­sta­cles you can’t see out the win­dows.

Also car­ry­ing over is their Blind Spot In­for­ma­tion Sys­tem with trailer tow tech­nol­ogy, which uses radar in the tail lamps to de­tect ob­sta­cles you may not be able see, now help­ing you with trail­ers up to 10 me­tres long.

Pro Trailer Backup As­sist uses a rear cam­era in con­junc­tion with your side mir­rors, you turn a knob on the dash in the di­rec­tion you want the trailer to go. How is this dif­fer­ent from putting your hand at the bot­tom of the steer­ing wheel and do­ing the same? Us­ing the knob elim­i­nates over-cor­rect­ing and cen­ter­ing is­sues that ac­com­pany in­ex­pe­ri­enced trai­ler­ing. Just turn the knob so the trailer fol­lows the curve you want, and keep your hands off the steer­ing wheel as it spins wildly to guide the trailer along a per­fect path. Let the knob go when you are pointed in the cor­rect di­rec­tion and the truck will straighten the trailer.

With a Sync Con­nect equipped model, you have a num­ber of re­mote fea­tures ac­ces­si­ble through your smart phone us­ing the Ford­pass app. Re­motely start, lock, or un­lock your truck, track its lo­ca­tion, or check the fuel level. You can even sched­ule start times.

The new tech­nol­ogy, cos­met­ics and pow­er­train will keep the F150 in the halfton game and will no doubt help keep it the best sell­ing pickup in Canada for an­other year. Brand loy­al­ists will find it easy to love, and if you’re not a Ford fan, you should take the time to drive it be­fore you dis­miss it.

Ford ekes out ev­ery last bit of en­gine ef­fi­ciency with dual in­jec­tion tech­nol­ogy. Trailer Backup As­sist gets your boat launched or your trailer parked with ease.

Ford’s new ten speed trans­mis­sion aids fuel ef­fi­ciency and smooth power delivery.

The Blindspot In­for­ma­tion Sys­tem adds a level of safety to your daily drive.

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