2018 Ford F-150: Ford raises the stakes in the half-ton power game

It’s not unfair to say that Ford has changed the game in full-size pickup powertrains. Its turbocharged V6 engines have made sixes a dominant force in a market segment once ruled by V8s, and 2018 will see Ford doubling down on its 6-cylinder bet. So far in the 2017 model year, 75 percent of F-150 buyers have opted for 6-cylinder engines. When Ford’s 2018 F-150s roll into showrooms this fall, there will be a new V6 engine among its engine options, as well as upgrades to existing powerplants.

And waiting in the wings: another V6 that doesn’t require spark plugs. As with previous new engines, the latest offering extracts more power from less displacement. Nourished by a combination of port and direct fuel injection, the new 3.3-liter V6 replaces the previous 3.5-liter engine as the F-150’s standard powerplant. The change gives the basic 2018 F-150 290 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque, increases of 8 hp and 12 lb-ft versus the 3.5-liter engine.

Also: Get your first look at the new and redesigned cars of 2018

There will also be a second-generation version of the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6, employing the combined port and direct fuel injection system. HP output -- 325 at 5,000 rpm -- is unchanged, but torque gets a 25 lb-ft bump, to 400 lb-ft, peaking lower in the rev range: 2,750 rpm. Already upgraded for model year 2017, the two versions of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 put out 375 and 450 horsepower, respectively. For 2018, Ford has applied its combined port and direct injection technology to the F-150’s only remaining V8, increasing output to 395 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque, gains of 10 hp and 13 lb-ft.

10 speeds and stop/start

The EcoBoost engines are paired with the new 10-speed automatic transmission, introduced this year, as is the V8, an upgrade for the latter. Another update: All 2018 Ford F-150s will feature stop/start technology. What this will do for fuel economy ratings remains to be seen. Ford wasn’t ready to release F-150 EPA ratings for the coming model year.

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As hinted, there will be yet another V6 engine in the F-150 inventory in 2018, due next spring, when Ford’s half-tonner will have a diesel option. Specifically a 3.0-liter Powerstroke V6 engineered and developed in-house. Output data won’t be revealed until closer to launch, but it’s likely the new F-150 diesel option will compare favorably with its 3.0-liter competition available in the Ram 1500. The Ram turbodiesel is rated for 240 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque.

Will the Powerstroke 3.0 roll out with higher ratings? Don’t bet against it.


 

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