DETROIT, Mich. -- The big news from the Ford Motor Company at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit concerns the debut of the 2018 F-150, Ford's full-size truck.
The 2018 F-150 scores fresh exterior designs, a high-strength aluminum-alloy body. A new smart-tech electronic safety controls Auto Start/Stop and Pre-Collision Assist. Three sizes for the cab and three lengths for the truck box in the back, seven trim versions including new over-the-top Limited. Five powertrain options capped by Ford's new Power Stroke diesel 6-pack and a segment-first 10-speed automatic transmission.
Understand that F-150 amounts to Ford's most important product, ranking as America's best-selling truck for 40 consecutive years and the country's best-selling vehicle for 35 years.
Beginning with the 2015 F-150 new generational design, Ford employed high-strength yet lightweight aluminum alloys for skin panels to make the truck body lighter, stronger and more resistant to dents. Ford estimates the aluminum-body F-150 sheds some 500 pounds in weight compared to a comparable steel-body F-150 and that weight loss enables the truck to tow and haul more, accelerate and stop faster, and run more efficiently.
The face and flanks of 2018 F-150 models reveal streamlined contours, and a bold 2-bar front grille spread from corner to corner across the large prow. Grille patterns vary by trim level up to the top tier housing fancy chrome latticework.
The F-150 of 2018 segments into seven primary trim grades: XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum, Limited and the sporty Raptor.
Also, the optional STX sports appearance package applies to XLT models, and the FX4 off-road kit adds off-road gear like skid plates and an electronic-locking rear differential to F-150 models with 4-wheel-drive (4WD) traction.
The 2-wheel-drive (2WD) orientation with a front-mounted engine sending engine torque to the rear wheels is the standard configuration for the F-150 line, but 4WD is available with electronic switching.
Cab designs conform to the labels of Regular Cab, SuperCab, and SuperCrew.
The base F-150 installs the 2-door Regular Cab and carries a pickup box that measures 98 inches long.
Cabin stretchers include the SuperCab and Crew Cab, each with four doors and more room for riders or gear. Rear doors for SuperCab have rear hinges. They close by tucking behind front doors and open in the absence of B pillars to provide a full unencumbered space for entry. On the Crew Cab variation, conventional front-hinged doors work in an arrangement resembling a 4-door sedan.
A ladder-frame chassis with high-strength steel boxed rails serve as the firm foundation of F-150 to enhance the ride and handling with a robust suspension system and strong brakes. The suspension components include an independent coil-on-shock design in front and a non-independent rear Hotchkiss-type live axle.
Standard plant for F-150 2WD trucks is a new dual-cam 3.3-liter V6 with direct injection and Ti-VVT (twin independent variable camshaft timing) technology. It generates an estimated 290 hp and links to a 6-speed electronic automatic transmission with tow/haul mode and optional SelectShift manual control.
The optional upgrade for F-150 XLT and Lariat trucks is a new 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 with dual port and direct injection. The 2.7-liter plant scores a net output of 325 hp and works with the new 10-speed automatic transmission.
Optional engines include a 5.0-liter V8 worth 395 hp, a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 with twin turbochargers for 375 hp (but boosted to 450 hp for Raptor), and the new 3.0-liter Power Stroke turbo-diesel V6 -- first-ever diesel offered for F-150. Each plant ties to the new 10-speed automatic.
The 2018 F-150 is the first full-size truck to add Auto Start/Stop as standard equipment across all models and engines. Additional new tech gear includes adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality; available Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection and a 4G LTE modem to create a Wi-Fi hotspot.
We estimate that Ford's MSRP chart for 2018 F-150 trucks will extend from about $28,000 to $55,000.