The F-150 is the star, representing about two-thirds of F-Series sales. It’s available in three cab styles — regular, super and crew — with either a rear- or four-wheel drive configuration and three pickup box lengths. There are seven trim levels, depending on the cab style and including the off-road Raptor variant, that bring added features.
Ford famously gave the F-150 an aluminum body and a steel chassis that benefitted from some nifty weight-savings tricks for 2015, the last time Ford gave the pickup a full redesign, to shed more than 700 pounds (in certain configurations) and help it meet tougher fuel-economy standards. The updates for 2018 are relatively minor, with new styling cues on the grille, headlights and tailgate, a rearview camera and dynamic hitch assist, more power and torque, and improved fuel efficiency. Inside, there are new materials and available interior colors, plus optional new active safety features, which are becoming more and more common on all new vehicles.
This buyer’s guide aims to give you all the information you need to make an educated decision. It covers the F-150’s safety and reliability ratings, engine specs, horsepower, fuel economy ratings and pricing. And we’ll include a summary of the latest Autoblog test-drive review of the 2018 F-150.
Is the 2018 Ford F-150 safe?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued full reviews for only the 2018 Ford F-150 Super Crew in 4×2 and 4×4 drive trains, giving them an overall crash-test rating of five stars, earning top marks for protecting the driver and passengers against injury. It gives the F-150 five stars for both frontal and side crash protection, and four stars for rollover resistance tests. NHTSA reviewed six configurations of the 2017 model-year F-150 with identical results.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says the 2018 F-150 qualifies as a “Top Safety Pick” for 2017 by virtue of its early release date, but not for the tougher criteria of the 2018 award. It earned “good” ratings for five of six crashworthiness tests but was not rated for the newer passenger-side small overlap crashes, which replicate crashes involving the front corner of a car. IIHS gives the 2018 F-150 a “superior” rating for front crash prevention but a “poor” rating for headlights, another of its new areas of measurement, and a “marginal” rating for the ease of use of its LATCH anchors for child seats.
Ratings may differ for the F-150 from other model years, so be sure to visit the NHTSA and IIHSwebsites to review ratings on the specific vehicle you’re researching.
As of this writing, the 2018 Ford F-150 has not been included as part of the widespread Takata airbag recall, though older models were.
How reliable is the F-150?
J.D. Power most recently reviewed initial quality in the 2017 F-150, which is largely similar to the 2018 model year. It gave the F-150 three out of five possible stars — “about average” — for overall quality, and the top rating of five stars each for overall performance and design, and predicted reliability. Diving deeper, J.D. Power gave the F-150 five stars for things like style and performance; four stars for comfort, instrument-panel features and the quality of body and interior features; and three stars for things like the design of features and accessories, and overall quality.
We should note that Autoblog has voiced some issues with the way J.D. Power weighs serious and less-serious reliability issues. You can read more about that here.
Ford has issued several recalls of the F-150:
- The 2018 F-150 was included in two safety recalls Ford announced simultaneously involving 350,000 vehicles for a potential mechanical problem that could leave the transmission in a gear state other than what the driver selects, such as drive when the driver leaves it in park. Affected 2017 and 2018 F-150s were built at the Kansas City Assembly Plant between Jan. 25, 2017 and Feb. 26, 2018 and at Dearborn Assembly between Oct. 20, 2016 and March 5, 2018.
- The second affected roughly 15,000 pickups equipped with the 3.3-liter V6 with six-speed automatic transmissions with a column-mounted shift lever. Ford said rapid shifting may cause the instrument cluster to no longer display the active gear and may engage reverse or neutral before going into drive.
- The third also affects 15,000 examples, but with the 10-speed automatic transmission, saying a pin that attaches the transmission shift linkage to the transmission may pop out, increasing the danger of not being able to shift the truck’s transmission from drive to park, for example.
- The last recall is for potential engine failure in 30 examples with the 3.5-liter V6.
In all cases, Ford said it will issue fixes at dealerships.
How much interior and cargo room does the Ford F-150 offer?
Seating capacity ranges in the 2018 Ford F-150 from three in the Regular Cab up to six people in the SuperCrew, so passenger volume likewise varies, from 64.6 cubic feet in the RegularCab to 131.8 in the SuperCrew. Bed volume also ranges from 52.8 up to 77.4 cubic feet, depending on whether you choose a 5.5-, 6.5- or 8-foot bed. (Note that not every bed length is available with every cabin.)
Since SuperCrew is the most popular F-150 variant, we’ll use that cabin size for comparison’s sake with two competitors:
- The 2019 Ram 1500 crew cab offers seating for six, with a total passenger volume of 132.4 cubic feet. Cargo volume goes up to 61.5 cubic feet when fitted with its largest 6-foot, 4-inch bed.
- The 2018 Chevrolet Silverado crew cab has 125.8 cubic feet of passenger volume, and cargo volume is 61 cubic feet with the standard box.
How much payload and towing capacity does the Ford F-150 have?
Maximum payload in the 2018 F-150 is 3,270 pounds, significantly more than its competition, while it can tow up to 13,200 pounds, when properly equipped.
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By comparison, the 2018 Chevrolet Silverado has a maximum payload of 2,170 pounds and a maximum trailering capacity of 12,500 pounds. Payload on the all-new 2019 Ram 1500, meanwhile, tops out at 2,320 pounds, while towing capacity is 12,750 pounds.
What are the Ford F-150’s engines and specs?
Ford has updated the range of powertrains on the 2018 F-150. All come with automatic stop-start.
- The base engine on the XL and XLT trims is an all-new 3.3-liter V6, which replaces the 3.5-liter V6. It boasts more power, at 290 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque, and higher fuel efficiency. It’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, while all other engines pair with a 10-speed automatic.
- There’s an all-new 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 for the Lariat, boasting 325 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque and higher fuel efficiency than before.
- There are two 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engines, unchanged from 2017. On the off-road Raptor, it makes 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque, while on the Limited edition, it generates 375 hp and 470 lb-ft.
- A 5.0-liter naturally aspirated V8 is now direct-injected, again boosting fuel economy, and making 395 hp and 400 lb-ft.
In addition, a diesel version is due in spring 2018, wearing the Power Stroke name, to feature a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that puts out 250 horsepower and 440 pound-feet of torque. Ford’s engine meets emissions requirements for all 50 states and is expected to boost fuel economy to around 30 mpg on the highway.
What kind of fuel economy does a Ford F-150 get?
Fuel-efficiency ratings will vary by model and rear- or four-wheel-drive powertrains. We’ll describe the range of EPA ratings for each engine in turn:
- 3.3-liter V6: between 17-20 mpg in the city and 22-25 mpg on the highway
- 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6: 18-20 mpg city and 23-26 mpg highway
- 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6: 15-18 mpg city, 18-25 mpg highway
- 5.0-liter V8: 15-17 mpg city, and 19-23 mpg highway
Additionally, the EPA has rated E85 flex-fuel versions of the 3.3-liter V6, which gets 13-14 mpg in the city and 17-19 mpg on the highway, and the 5.0-liter V8, which gets 11-12 mpg city and 14-17 on the highway. Both will be available later in the year.
The EPA has not yet rated the fuel economy of the Power Stroke diesel engine.
Does the Ford F-150 have a four-wheel drive option?
Two-wheel drive is standard on all trims (except Raptor) and four-wheel drive available on all trim levels. The Raptor is only available with four-wheel drive.
How much does a Ford F-150 cost?
The 2018 F-150 starts at $29,100 including destination fee for the XL Regular Cab and goes up to $62,245 for the Limited in SuperCrew Cab.