The U.S. full-size pickup truck market may be small in terms of players—there are just five, three of them, the domestic brands, dominating the action. But it’s also one of the most profitable segments in the industry, and as a result one of the most hotly contested.

Introduced at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show, the 2018 Ford F-150 illustrates the intensity of the competition. Redesigned and extensively aluminized at vast expense just two years ago, the F-150 will be freshened for the next model year, with styling updates and additions to its powertrain choices.

That’s a little early in the product cycle for cosmetic and mechanical updates, and the message is clear. The F-Series pickup has been America’s best-selling vehicle—car, truck, SUV, what have you—for 35 years, and Ford intends to keep it that way.

Grilles Galore

Styling updates are subtle—new head and taillights, tailgate revisions, and a load of different grille treatments, 10 in all, to lend more differentiation to the various trims. There continue to be a half-dozen main models, not counting the bad boy Raptor: XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum, and Limited.  The only change in the hierarchy involves the King Ranch, which will be elevated to equal status—and price—as the Platinum, one for the country crowd, the other more urban-oriented.

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Inside, the 2018 lineup will feature a wi-fi hotspot option capable of serving 10 different devices, as well as upgraded materials. New driver assist features will include adaptive cruise control with auto emergency braking.

Expanded Engine Options

Arguably the biggest news will be under the hoods of the 2018 trucks, which will shelter two new engines, as well as Ford’s new 10-speed automatic transmission for all but the basic XL. A new 3.3-liter naturally aspirated V6 replaces the current 3.5-liter as the XL engine, delivering comparable output (282 horsepower, 253 pound-feet of torque). It’s mated to a 6-speed automatic, which will carry over from the 2017 model.

More significant, Ford will increase the F-150 engine choices with the addition of a turbodiesel V6. Due to appear midway through 2018, the diesel is a U.S. adaptation of the Lion turbodiesel six from Ford of Europe.  Manufactured at Ford’s Dagenham plant in the United Kingdom, the diesel is offered in 2.7-, 3.0-, and 3.2-liter displacements in other markets but the F-150 version will be a 3.0-liter only. No information yet on output. But prospective owners won’t have to worry about whether it’s ek-oh-boost or eek-oh-boost. Like Ford’s Super Duty diesel, it will be dubbed Powerstroke.

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The 2.7-liter Ecoboost gasoline V6 gets a new cylinder head and increased output, and there will be more muscle in the naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 as well. Ford also anticipates improved fuel economy ratings—thanks in part to standard stop/start technology, a first for full-size pickups—and best-in-class towing.

The gasoline F-150s will arrive in showrooms next fall as 2018 models, with the diesel due to become available about six months later.

 

More New and Redesigned Vehicles for 2018


 

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