2018 Ford F-150

Performance


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2018 Ford F-150 Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.6

No matter how nice they are inside, trucks are measured first and foremost by their capability. The 2018 Ford F-150 won’t disappoint you. It has several powerful engine options and provides the highest towing and hauling capacities in the class. It also handles well and rides smoothly. There’s also the high-performance Raptor trim for those who want to journey off road.

  • "Taken on their own, the turbo V6 models pack all the power and performance a truck owner will need. Ford has worked hard to sell the 3.5-liter EcoBoost as the premium engine. It has the power and performance to back up that sales pitch. Even the smaller 2.7-liter EcoBoost has plenty of oomph. Yes, we may love the sound and instant response of the V8, but its days appear to be numbered." -- Autoblog
  • "The 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 is now even more appealing, thanks to its punchier torque and the wider ratio spread of the 10-speed versus the old six-speed. The small six-cylinder sounds great under load, too, and emits a satisfying turbo whistle when the driver really sticks the spurs to it. Traditionalists, for whom Ford continues to offer the 5.0-liter V-8, likely will be more pleased by the continued availability of the big, naturally aspirated engine than concerned about the marginal improvements to its performance. … there's no beating the five-oh's muscle-car soundtrack and linear, old-school power delivery that builds thrust to a crescendo near redline." -- Car and Driver
  • "Although Ford still can't match the diesel engine options on the Ram 1500 and Nissan Titan, the EcoBoost V6 and new 10-speed transmission deliver plenty of power for towing and hauling as well as respectable fuel economy." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)

Acceleration and Power

The F-150 comes standard with a 3.3-liter V6 engine that puts out 290 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. Though it’s only the base engine, that doesn’t mean it’s bad. It still has plenty of power for daily driving, and many buyers will be perfectly happy sticking with this V6.

For more power, you have several options. There’s a turbocharged, 2.7-liter V6 – one of two EcoBoost engines – that produces 325 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. There’s one V8 in the lineup too. It’s a 5.0-liter engine that makes 395 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. These engines are more capable, and the V8 has a nice engine note.

The other EcoBoost engine is a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that puts out 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. That torque rating is higher than anything rivals offer, and it’s a major reason why this engine is the best one for towing.

The Raptor trim gets its own engine: a high-output, turbocharged 3.5-liter V6. It puts out 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. The Raptor is a sort of off-road performance vehicle masquerading as a truck, and it has excellent power and acceleration.

Later in the model year, the F-150 will be offered with a 3.0-liter turbodiesel engine.

The base engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, while every other engine is paired with a 10-speed automatic. The 10-speed delivers power more smoothly than the six-speed and is much better for towing.

With the base engine, the F-150 gets better fuel economy than most full-size trucks. It earns an EPA-estimated 19 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. Fuel economy is about the same (give or take 1 mpg) with the two turbocharged engines. The 450-horsepower, twin-turbo V6 gets the worst fuel economy, earning 15 mpg in the city and 18 mpg on the highway.

  • "I first hopped into an XLT SuperCrew 4x4. Once just barely out of earshot from the Ford event tent, my drive partner laid into the throttle with full force. Not bad. The engine makes very usable power, but it does so way up at 6,500 rpm, and it has to work pretty hard to get there. It sounds sad and brutal doing it, as well. And while the transmission usually does a good job of not hunting for gears, it's a bit slow to shift and you really notice a big kick-down when you need to quickly dip into the throttle. That said, for a base engine, the new V-6 is far from an anchor, and I think most people who just want to get into an F-150 for cheap won't be disappointed." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The F-150's venerable 5.0-liter V8 isn't as quick as the 3.5-liter EcoBoost, but it's still got enough thrust to support an attractive tow rating. The basic goodness of the chassis and driving experience stays the same no matter which engine you buy." -- Edmunds
  • "After spending some time in each of them, the 2.7-liter seems to hit a sweet spot in terms of power, torque, capability, acceleration, and cost." -- Motor Trend

Handling and Braking

Like all full-size trucks, the F-150 comes standard with rear-wheel drive and is available with four-wheel drive. Despite its size, the F-150 is reasonably agile, and it’s composed on winding roads. The good outward visibility also helps you maneuver the vehicle. The ride is smooth even with larger wheels. It’s not the best-handling truck in the class, but there are no reasons to complain about this Ford.

There’s an available off-road package that includes a locking rear differential, an off-road-tuned suspension, and hill-descent control, making the F-150 a capable off-roader. But if venturing off the beaten path is something you truly enjoy, you’re better off opting for the F-150 Raptor. Its main design goals are to be embarrassingly powerful and to dominate any off-road terrain you dare to tackle. It adds specialty off-roading features like beadlock wheels, which help increase grip in slippery conditions. It also has several driving modes to let you handle everything from everyday driving conditions to the most challenging terrain.

  • "Steering is overboosted, but that's par for the course in the full-size pickup realm. It is light effort, which makes maneuvering through small spaces and dragging large trailers much easier. It's accurate on center and quicker than expected on initial turn-in. It makes hustling the 2018 F-150, especially with those turbocharged engines, enjoyable on curvy back roads. And as big as it feels, the F-series stays between the lines." -- Autoweek
  • "Even top-dog F-150s with 21- and 22-inch wheels ride well, and while the Ford isn't as buttoned down during hard driving as General Motors' well-sorted Silverado and Sierra trucks, its excellent driving position and forward sightlines make it easier to maneuver." -- Car and Driver
  • "Despite the large full-size truck dimensions, the F-150 is reasonably agile around town or on a winding canyon road. With an empty bed, the rear tires are prone to some skittishness over broken pavement, which is typical for pickups." -- Edmunds

Towing and Hauling

The F-150 now has its highest-ever towing capacity – a class-leading 13,200 pounds when properly equipped. Its max payload is 3,270 pounds, which also leads the class. In addition to the high capacities, the F-150 offers helpful features like Trailer Backup Assist, Dynamic Hitch Assist, and Trailer Sway Control. These features make it easy to connect a trailer and maneuver it, whether you’re driving down the road or backing down a boat ramp.

All of the F-150’s engines are strong, but the turbocharged engines are the best towing options. They can tow heavy trailers without feeling the least bit strained, even when going uphill.

  • "Backing up a trailer, especially for the inexperienced, can be a harrowing task. The general rule to never put yourself in a situation where you need to backup doesn't work in all instances. For example: a boat ramp. Ford's Pro Trailer Backup assist makes it a cinch. Simply tap a button to trigger the mode then use a small dial on the dash to aim the trailer in the intended direction. You control the speed, but the truck automatically handles the steering. This will be great for those owners that may only tower a trailer three or four times a year." -- Autoblog
  • "For the ever-critical towing aspect of trucking, the 10-speed doesn't disappoint. We drove a 2017 F-150-with a big dual-axle trailer that Ford claimed amounted to 9900 pounds of ballast-back to back with a 2016 model with the same load. Although we can't speak to the V-6's power advantage over its predecessor, the 10-speed holds a clear edge. Its extra ratios afford more options when downshifting, such as when descending a steep grade, and the shifts are even rev matched in Tow/Haul mode for maximum smoothness. The six-speed, by comparison, is slower to shift and feels lumpier when selecting a lower gear; it can also be caught out trying to choose among gears." -- Car and Driver (2017)
  • "It was a telling drag race up a hill with a 7 percent grade while towing a 9,900-pound trailer: a 2016 Ford F-150 with the original 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 and six-speed transmission versus the 2017 F-150 with the second-gen V-6 and new 10-speed transmission. We don't have official test results, but suffice it to say, it was a rout. As it should be. The outgoing 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 for rear-drive vehicles has been available since 2011 and was getting long in the tooth. It benefits from lessons learned on subsequent EcoBoost engines, such as the 2.7-liter V-6 for the 2015 model year. The result is a 10-horsepower boost to 375 hp while torque increases by 50 lb-ft to 470 at 3,500 rpm-plenty of power for its 12,200-pound tow rating." -- Motor Trend (2017)
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