Ford Motor Co. is about to unveil a restyled 2018 F-150 pickup truck with new features that include a standard 10-speed transmission and available adaptive cruise control, a first for the pickup segment.
The truck will have a diesel engine option for the first time in its 42-year history.
This is the first significant redesign of the top-selling pickup since Ford introduced the 2015 F-150 with an aluminum alloy body.
The 2018 F-150 will make its debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Monday and go on sale late this year.
Ford’s F-Series trucks, including the F-150, are the most-purchased vehicle of any type in the U.S. Ford sold almost 821,000 last year, a 5.2 percent increase over 2015. The line controls almost 37 percent of the full-size pickup truck market, according to Autodata Corp., an industry research firm.
“Truck customers are constantly looking to improve their productivity, for work and for play,” said Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford’s Americas division. “Since 1977, we’ve been America’s favorite truck, and we’ve never taken that leadership for granted.”
For the 2018 edition, Ford designers sculpted the front and rear fascias to create greater distinction between F-150 trim levels. They also sought a closer family resemblance between the light-duty F-150 and its beefier F-250 and F-350 heavy-duty pickup siblings, said Gordon Platto, chief designer of Ford’s Super Duty trucks.
The F-150 now sports a “Twin I-beam” front grille that integrates into the headlights, similar to the look that debuted on the 2017 Super Duty. It alters the appearance of the grille from a vertical design to a more horizontal look, said Platto. Sport models on the upscale Lariat and Platinum trims will employ an aggressive dark wire mesh grille.
The rear design also features new tail lamps and a prominent “F-150” stamp across the tailgate sheet metal — unless customers opt for an aluminum billet applique on King Ranch, Platinum and Limited trims, which deletes the branding.
Ford is adding new digital features to the 2018 F-150.
The truck will have adaptive cruise control, a first for the full-size light-duty pickup segment, allowing drivers to set a cruising speed at a safe distance to the vehicles ahead. The system uses radar and camera technology to monitor traffic and maintain a set distance between vehicles – even following a vehicle down to a complete stop.
In emergency situations, Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection is also an exclusive feature for the segment. The system will audibly warn the driver if it detects a potential collision. If the driver does not react, the system may apply brake pressure – up to the vehicle’s full braking force – and slow the vehicle to reduce speed or avoid a collision entirely. There will be available blind-spot warning sensors and lane-keeping technology to prevent the truck from unintentional drift.
New entertainment options include an available 4G LTE modem with a Wi-Fi hot spot that can connect up to 10 mobile devices at once. An audio system by B&O PLAY — the more youthful division of luxury brand Bang & Olufsen — is available for higher-end sound.
“These trucks are not just for work anymore,” said Platto. “They’re work and lifestyle.”
But changes to the 2018 F-150 extend far beyond cosmetics.
Starting with the new model, all but one of the engines across the F-150 range will be mated to the 10-speed automatic transmission developed in tandem with General Motors. The 10-speed is currently paired to 2017 F-150s with the twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine, including the F-150 Raptor performance truck.
Only one engine in the 2018 F-150 model selection will not come standard with the 10-speed transmission: an all-new, direct-injected 3.3-liter V-6 that will pair with a six-speed automatic. Though slightly lower in displacement, Ford expects the engine will feature the same ratings of 282 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque as the 3.5-liter V-6 it replaces.
Other available engines include an updated 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6, and an improved 5.0-liter V-8. Ford representatives declined to discuss horsepower or fuel economy figures for the updated engines until they achieve EPA certification.
All engines will feature Start/Stop technology to improve fuel economy. Dual-fueling systems that incorporate both direct injection and port injection, for better performance, are standard as well. Ford focused heavily on reducing friction throughout the engines, said Peter Dowding, chief engineer of global engine engineering. Less friction results in greater efficiency, which can improve performance as well as fuel economy.
Buyers will have to wait nearly a full year after the new vehicle first reaches dealers if they want to purchase an F-150 with a diesel engine. It won’t reach the market until summer 2018.
Ford will be the second manufacturer to offer a diesel in a half-ton pickup. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles already offers a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 engine in its Ram 1500 HFE, which achieves a class-leading 29 mpg in highway driving.
But Ford has an even larger range of powertrain offerings in its plans. Last week, Ford Chief Executive Mark Fields said the automaker will bring a hybrid version of the F-150 to market by 2020.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this report said that the 2018 F-150 would have an EcoBoost 3.3-liter V6 engine. That is incorrect. The 3.3-liter engine is naturally aspirated rather than a turbocharged EcoBoost engine.