Pickup Truck Best Buy of 2018
For four years straight, the Ford F-150 has taken the pickup truck honors in our Best Buys competition. And, for four years straight, nobody else has come close to toppling it.
There are many reasons for this. Ford's move from steel to aluminum now seems prescient. Sales continue to grow, and Ford continues to offer a version of the F-150 for virtually every need and budget. Want a stripped-down truck for your plumbing business fleet? Look no further. Need a "cowboy Cadillac" to look good in town when you're not towing your boat? Check. The Ford F-150 has you covered at both ends, and with virtually anything in between.
This year, Ford updated the styling, added a new base engine, expanded the availability of its excellent 10-speed automatic, and promises to add a turbodiesel to its lineup of engines later this model year. Combine these regular updates with the truck's built-in goodness and it's easy to see why the F-150 continues to prove it's without equal.
Ford made significant updates to its powertrains this year, offering a new 3.3-liter V6 base engine in place of the old 3.5-liter. Beyond that, the 2.7-liter EcoBoost, 3.5-liter EcoBoost and 5.0-liter V8 are all backed with Ford's excellent -- and class-exclusive -- 10-speed automatic transmission. They're all solid powertrains, and even the new base V6 can tow up to 7,700 pounds.
However, it's the two turbocharged V6 engines that earn the spotlight here. The bigger 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 pumps out horsepower that nearly equals the big V8, torque that handily beats it, and all with notably better fuel economy. Yet in our Lightning Blue F-150 SuperCrew XLT test truck, the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 leaves very little on the table. Credit improvements like additional torque, now at 400 lb-ft, equaling the twisting force of the V8. Coupled with the 10-speed automatic, the 2.7-liter V6 feels light on its feet and genuinely quick, yet delivers impressive fuel economy, with an EPA-estimated 20 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. Unless you plan on towing big loads frequently -- the F-150 can haul a best-in-class 13,200 pounds when properly equipped -- the 2.7-liter engine is easily worth the extra $995 over the price of the base engine.
But the 2018 Ford F-150 isn't just all guts. From behind the wheel, even our lightly equipped XLT was a joy to drive. The aluminum body shaved 700 pounds from the previous steel-bodied truck, with immediate improvements to how the truck drives. Rather than feeling like a ponderous and heavy appliance, the F-150 feels light on its feet, almost sporty, in spite of being physically as large as any other truck you'd care to mention.
Yet despite the lightness, this is no flimsy-feeling machine. The doors close with a solid "thunk," and the F-150 is amazingly quiet on the road, with only a bit of wind ruffle intruding into the cabin. And what a cabin. It's huge inside, with the SuperCrew boasting tons of room for front and rear passengers. The upshot is that if you're one of the millions of families that use a pickup truck as your daily driven family-and-kid hauler, the F-150 has you more than covered.
Aids and Amenities
That applies even if you're the type who just can't live without fancy features. True, the $30,000 base models are pretty basic, produced mainly for fleet buyers. But step up to even the XLT, and you'll get your choice of engines, Sync 3 infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and available automatic climate control, push-button ignition, and more. But the F-150 is just getting warmed up at this point. Expected niceties like leather seats are available, of course, but so are unique features like Ford's Pro Trailer Backup Assist, which lets you more intuitively align your trailer using a simple knob on the dash. There are power-operated running boards available, a remote-release tailgate, and even a tailgate with an integrated, slide-out step. Then there's adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, accident detection and avoidance, lane keeping assist, and all the safety and convenience features you’d expect in a nicely equipped luxury sedan. And like many luxury cars, prices can climb quite high if you aren't careful, but judicious use of the option sheet can get you the truck you want at the right price. Along with its excellent reliability and resale value, there's no question that the 2018 Ford F-150 earns its Best Buy honor.
Video Tour: 2018 Ford F-150
More 2018 Ford F-150
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