Nostrils and appliqués: What people think of 2018 Ford F-150

Photo credit: REUTERS

Ford’s midcycle refresh of the F-150 includes a new 3.0-liter Power Stroke diesel option available in 2018, along with other engine improvements, seven new front grilles, six new wheel styles, updated lights and interior tweaks. U.S. sales of the F series rose 5.2 percent to 820,799 last year, making it the nation’s top-selling truck for 40 consecutive years and most-popular light vehicle for 35 straight years. Here’s what people are saying about the 2018 Ford F-150.

“In terms of appearance, the truck’s entire face will go under the knife -- the grille, lamps, fascia panel, and bumper are all new. (The hood and fenders are unchanged.) We should say grilles, as the F-150 has always offered more factory-optional grilles than the entire aftermarket provides for Chrysler 300s. Seven new tools will produce what seems like double that number of different grille looks, considering the many different finishes (molded black, painted argent, chromed, nickel-finished, body-colored, and combinations of the above). A common theme in most of them is a switch from three narrow bars to two fatter ones. Twin I-Beam is the vintage suspension-evoking nomenclature design boss Gordon Platto uses to describe the look, though there’s nothing I-beamish about them. They do stretch wider, extending into the headlamps to provide a wider look. The bumper now dips down to accommodate the grilles, and a new body-color fascia panel separates the grilles from the bumper.”

-- Frank Markus, Motor Trend

Photo credit: REUTERS

“The king of trucks just gets better. The grille ditches Ford’s signature three-bar for a wider, “double I-beam” take. Nice, except the base models get grille ‘nostrils.’ Ugh. I’d jump straight to the handsome Lariat trim. Under the aluminum hood, Ford’s smorgasbord of engine choices gets the first diesel in the light duty’s long history. The hits keep on coming: Wi-Fi hot spot, pre-collision assist, smartphone connectivity, new wheels and ... I could go on all day.”

-- Henry Payne, The Detroit News

“In the rear, the 2018 F-150 also gets new lighting elements, but the changes are more subtle – there is now a split between the upper and lower portion of the element, whereas before it looked to be all one piece. What's more noticeable is the restyled tailgate, which comes in two varieties. The lower trim levels will get a creased trapezoid look with F-150 embossed across the lower portion (it seems the badges weren't big enough for some people to notice). On King Ranch, Platinum, and Limited trucks, the embossing goes away and a fancy appliqué covers most of the upper portion of the tailgate. The decision to omit the embossing on those trucks apparently came late in the game, as a rendering we saw at Ford HQ had them both. The F-150's chief designer said the combination of the stamped name and shiny trim looked too busy. We agree.”

-- David Gluckman, Autoblog

Photo credit: FORD

“The F-150's cabin was already a pretty comfortable place to be, so Ford has worked on addressing details, like making it a better-sounding place to be. So the 2017 F-150 gains an optional B&O Play audio system, to ensure that your rough-and-ready work truck has a world-class sound system for reproducing your favorite music.”

-- Dan Carney, Maxim

“As to the new additions under the hood, we're stoked. However, we'll have to wait a bit longer to see just what kind of improvements the new powertrains will feature. The all-new base 3.3-liter naturally aspirated V-6 seems small for a truck this size, but Ford insists that it's an advanced engine with the same power and torque as the outgoing 3.5-liter V-6, but with better fuel economy. The one we all want to drive is the new turbo-diesel 3.0-liter, but that's not arriving until nearly nine months after the 2018 F-150 hits dealerships in fall of 2017.

The new look for the 2018 F-150 is subtle but attractive, creating a better-looking pickup than the one it replaces. With a 10-speed automatic transmission and powerful turbocharged engines across most of the lineup, it should be just as appealing to drive.”

-- Aaron Bragman, PickupTrucks.com

“Remember the old days when a design was expected to carry a pickup-truck model for nearly a decade? Well, that’s ancient history. With truck sales continuing to outpace passenger vehicles -- Ford sold more than 820,000 F-series trucks in 2016, more than double the sales of the Toyota Camry, the top-selling passenger car -- manufacturers have a vested interest in keeping trucks fresh. That means shorter life cycles with numerous updates in between. Ford isn’t taking any chances with its aluminum-bodied cash cow. Just three short years after the latest F-150 made its debut at the 2014 Detroit auto show, the automaker has given its styling a once-over and updated the powertrains, including adding a diesel to the menu for the first time.”

-- Andrew Wendler, Car and Driver

You can reach Jack Walsworth at jwalsworth@crain.com -- Follow Jack on Twitter: @jackwalsworth

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