Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 August 2019

Road test: 2018 Ford F-150

Does the latest version of the best-selling truck alter its successful formula?

The last time I was in an F-150, it was last year’s incarnation of the Raptor – a mighty monster and no mistake, yet one with a 3.5-litre EcoBoost engine. Now, I’m the first to advocate for green motoring – I have a Tesla on pre-order and the all-electric Jaguar I-Pace might be the most impressive car I have driven in 2018 so far. Yet certain vehicles just demand a lunk-sized muscly heart pounding beneath the bonnet. Anything else will always leave you wanting more, however much your environmental credentials niggle away at you.

Gladly, this time around, I am behind the wheel of the 2018 F-150, replete with a 5.0-litre V8. Apologies to the coughing squirrels and wilting grass, but nothing beats the gurgle of eight cylinders getting throaty when you apply your right foot to the fun pedal. With 395hp at your disposal, it takes a decent amount of restraint not to have speed cameras flashing like a festive light display.

Not that planet-preserving concerns have been ignored entirely – start-stop technology comes as standard to save fuel while stationary, while pedestrian detection aids in the very real dangers that might befall any human beings in the path of two tonnes of truck. It has been sculpted into the toughest-looking F-150 to date, too, with the “regular” models now giving the rough-and-ready Raptor a run for its money – and at a significantly lower price tag.

Should you still not be able to sleep at night knowing that your V8 is doubtless contributing a little too enthusiastically to the destruction of our planet, in addition to that aforementioned EcoBoost engine, there is also a 3.3-litre option, as Ford continues to chip away at cubic capacities.

The 10-speed gearbox seems, on paper, to wield an excessive number of ratios, but such concerns are scarcely noticeable once you put your foot down, with it smoothly shifting up to speed. And once you get up to a decent velocity, the F-150 is arguably the best in class in terms of steering precision and handling. Admittedly, you wouldn’t want to it round a Formula One track, but you at least don’t feel like you’re about to star in the classic episode of The Simpsons that starred Canyonero, a fictional 4x4 prone to dubious incidents that end with it setting on fire.

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It is a practically designed truck, with a nod to the workhorse purposes it is largely intended to fulfil. The little step and mini hand-bar to assist clambering into the back of the pick-up are a neat touch, although a little tricky to stow away after use. A cleverer fold-away innovation is the central armrest up-front, which flips up into a third seat in the single-cab F-150 XLT Sport that I test drive. The double cab, however, is the variant you need should your family want to join for the high-perched ride.

As per most of the Ford range nowadays, the interior controls are simple and effective, from the intuitive touchscreen to the clear, concise dash displays. The F-150 has been a best-seller for so long that it seems the attitude is ‘why alter a good thing too much?’ And you can’t really argue with that logic.


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Updated: June 18, 2018 11:05 AM