In the automotive world, competition is usually synonymous with drivers in fireproof suits and helmets, purpose-built machines, and famous race tracks. There’s a good reason for that. The teams behind the vehicles have to figure out ways to out-engineer their rivals and build cars that will last long enough to finish grueling races. Drivers need to keep their wits sharp and their concentration constant if they’re going to wind up on the podium.
That’s not the only realm of extreme competition in the auto industry, though. The full-size truck market is one of the most hotly contested segments out there. That’s especially true right now. The demand for trucks is high and that means the stakes for pickup manufacturers are, too. If you’re in the market for one, you showed up at the right time. Truck makers are pulling out all of the stops in hopes of one-upping each other and impressing you.
The smooth and powerful Ram 1500 is all-new for the 2019 model year and is available with diesel, gas, and gas/electric power plants. Look for it at AutoNation Ram dealerships now. Chevrolet and GMC are also totally overhauling their Silverado and Sierra 1500 models for 2019. The Chevy will offer a fuel-sipping turbo I4 as a base engine; if properly equipped, its GMC cousin will come with an exclusive MultiPro Tailgate that can function in six useful ways. Both trucks will be available with a torque-rich 3.0-liter turbodiesel I6.
Ford launched a revolutionary lightweight aluminum-bodied F-150 for the 2015 model year as well as a robust 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6. Over the next few years, it steadily upgraded its half-ton truck by giving its 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 more power, rolling out an efficient 10-speed automatic, and unveiling a more powerful and more capable second-generation Raptor high-performance off-road truck.
To prepare itself for the coming onslaught of its competitors, Ford has incorporated several significant upgrades into the 2018 F-150. Trim lines range from the base XL to the handsome Lariat to the Western-themed King Ranch to the top-of-the-line Limited. And let’s not forget the Raptor. Engine options include a new naturally aspirated 3.3-liter V6, a more powerful version of the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6, a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, and an enhanced 5.0-liter V8. We recently got the chance to experience many of the improvements Ford made to its iconic truck in a 2018 F-150 XLT SuperCrew 4X4.
2018 Ford F-150 XLT Exterior
The most obvious upgrades Ford made to the newest version of the F-150 are visual. The 2018 model sports sleek new “C-Clamp” headlight designs that flank a new two-bar grille that suggests solidity and strength. Below those, our test vehicle’s fog lights cast their illumination out of the chrome front bumper. Ford’s styling team also tweaked the rear end of the new F-150, stamping its sculpted tailgate with the truck’s name and bookending that with fresh taillights.
Thanks to the 302A equipment group, our test truck was outfitted with a variety of exterior and interior add-ons, including the goodies from the XLT Chrome Appearance Package. Those included the front tow hooks, 18-inch wheels wrapped in 275/65R18 Goodyear Wrangler Fortitude HT tires, door and tailgate handles, assist steps, and exhaust tip.
2018 Ford F-150 XLT Interior
The inside of the 2018 F-150 looks almost identical to the 2017 model’s interior, but it’s home to several subtle, welcome improvements. Many of those are either safety-focused or available on high-end versions of the F-150. Our XLT truck featured one of the big upgrades for 2018: an onboard 4G LTE modem that powered a Wi-Fi hotspot with the ability to get 10 devices online.
The 302A equipment group gave us SYNC 3, remote start functionality, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power adjustable pedals, heated 10-way power front seats, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, in addition to a seven-speaker audio system and an eight-inch center touchscreen. Although our truck didn’t have built-in navigation, using the nav function on an iPhone and then pulling the route up through Apple CarPlay was quick and easy.
Legroom and headroom in the second row was plentiful. A quick flip up of the rear bench revealed a conveniently flat load floor and an area where we could store small items.
2018 Ford F-150 XLT Performance
New for 2018, the F-150’s naturally aspirated 3.3-liter V6 replaces the outgoing 3.5-liter V6. Both port and direct fuel injection help it generate 290 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque. A column-shift six-speed automatic with Normal, Sport, and Tow/Haul modes converts those numbers in the engine into numbers on the speedometer. Fuel economy for our particular truck was an EPA-estimated 18 city, 23 highway, and 20 combined mpg.** We averaged 18.4 mpg over the course of our week with the F-150.
With its 6,500 pound gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and 3.73 rear end ratio, our F-150 XLT was capable of hauling 1,680 pounds of payload in its 5.5-foot bed (which was protected by an optional spray-in bedliner) and pulling up to 7,400 pounds behind it.
2018 Ford F-150 XLT Safety
Standard safety equipment on the 2018 F-150 XLT includes front, front side-mounted, and side curtain airbags; a rear view camera with guidelines that help in directing the hitch ball to a trailer receiver; Roll Stability Control; and a tire pressure monitoring system. The 302A package upped the protection around us with a reverse sensing system. Our truck also had the optional Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), which could monitor the length of the F-150 itself as well as a trailer behind it; its Cross-Traffic Alert function watched our back whenever we reversed out of a parking spot.
2018 Ford F-150 XLT Overall
The full-size truck segment is a highly competitive part of the automotive market. If the 2018 Ford F-150 is a clear winner to you, go to an AutoNation Ford dealership, then take one for a victory lap straight to your driveway. Prices for the XLT model start at $33,300.* Our generously optioned tester had an as-tested price of $47,660.
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.