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Ford F-150 / F-150 Raptor: Best Full-Size Pickup Truck A fantastic blend of capability, features, and modernity.

Ford F-150 / F-150 Raptor: Best Full-Size Pickup Truck

A fantastic blend of capability, features, and modernity.

Ford F-150 / F-150 Raptor: Best Full-Size Pickup Truck

As good as it was a year ago when we named it the best full-size pickup, the Ford F-150 secured its position for a second go-round this year with drivetrain improvements for 2018 even as its primary rivals—the Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra and the Ram 1500—mostly stood pat. The improvements simply emphasize the engineering sophistication and over-the-road refinement that put Dearborn’s truck atop what remains the one market segment dominated by the Detroit Three.

Pickups adhere to a pretty basic formula, with predominantly body-on-frame construction and live-axle rear suspensions that hark to the earliest days of motorized transport, but Ford, especially, seems committed to bringing the form into the 21st century. Dearborn is maintaining a process of continuous improvement, reinvesting the considerable profits from peddling America’s perennial best-selling vehicle into advanced engineering and features customers embrace. Witness not only the F-150’s aluminum body but also its drivetrain lineup in which the V-8—once the domestic industry’s staple and still dominant in General Motors and Ram showrooms—has been relegated to a supporting role.


For 2018, the entry-level Ford’s V-6 now displaces 3.3 liters rather than the old 3.5, but the reduced cylinder bore was offset by a higher compression ratio (12.0:1 versus 10.8:1) and the addition of port- and direct-injection technologies to increase output. Using both injection types allows finer tuning of the combustion process, and Ford applied the same dual-injection trick to the F-150’s 5.0-liter V-8 and its turbocharged 2.7-liter V-6. Ford first used the same injection strategy in the F-150 a year ago on its EcoBoost-branded twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6, the only engine that didn’t change for 2018, in both its standard 375-hp configuration and in the wild child of the range, the desert-racing-inspired Raptor that boasts 450 horses. A new turbo-diesel 3.0-liter V-6 joins the lineup for 2018, but we’ve yet to sample that engine.

Ford also expanded availability of the 10-speed automatic transmission, formerly offered only with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost but now included with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost and the 5.0-liter V-8 as well. The older six-speed is now used solely with the naturally aspirated 3.3-liter, a drivetrain relegated to the two lowest trim levels, the XL and the XLT. All the updated powertrains see not only moderate power gains but also fuel-economy improvements in the EPA’s regulatory test cycle.


On the road, all of this delivers with smoothly responsive, relatively quiet trucks that are easily maneuvered while offering the cargo-hauling and towing capabilities that full-size-pickup buyers seek. Ride quality doesn’t quite match the smoothness of the Ram 1500, especially when unladen, but the Ford isn’t nearly as harsh as we’d come to expect of pickups a generation or two older.

In other respects, the 2018 F-150 sees some mild styling updates that include a more horizontal appearance to the grille and some metal trim slathered about on the upscale trim levels. There’s new 4G LTE Wi-Fi capability, and optional full adaptive cruise control and a forward-collision-warning system with pedestrian detection and automated braking keep the truck range up to date with industry trends. The combination of modern engines and convenience features, capability, and satisfying handling—plus a full-on performance model in the Raptor that no competitor has yet matched for its off-road ability—makes the Ford F-150 our top choice in this hotly contested segment. —Kevin A. Wilson


front-engine; rear-, rear-/4-, or rear-/all-wheel-drive; 2-, 3-, 5-, or 6-passenger, 2- or 4-door pickup
DOHC 24-valve 3.3-liter V-6, 290 hp, 265 lb-ft; twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve 2.7-liter V-6, 325 hp, 400 lb-ft; twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve 3.5-liter V-6, 375 or 450 hp, 470 or 510 lb-ft; DOHC 32-valve 5.0-liter V-8, 395 hp, 400 lb-ft
6-speed automatic with manual shifting mode, 10-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
4100–5900 lb
Zero to 60 mph: 5.0–6.5 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 13.7–14.8 sec
Top speed: 108 mph
Combined/city/highway: 16–22/15–20/18–26 mpg

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