Ford is intensely proud of building America’s top selling truck for 40 consecutive years but insists it isn’t about to rest on its laurels.
So for the 2017 North American International Auto Show it is showing off some changes that it’s preparing to make to the company’s 2018 F-150 pickup truck, which has routinely outsold its competitors for the past four decades.
Todd Eckert, marketing manager for the F-150, noted that Ford has a long-history of innovation with the Ford F-150 and the innovation continues with the unveiling of the 2018 truck. “It’s all about continuous improvement,” said Eckert despite the major changes introduced when the all-aluminum F-150 first appeared in 2015.
“We like to keep things fresh in the showroom,” said Gordon Platto, chief designer for the F-150.
The changes include the addition of 3.0-liter diesel engine to range of powertrains offered in the F-150, which will be augmented for 2018 with the expanded use of the 10-speed transmission available in all but the base F-150. In addition, a stop-start system, which helps boost fuel economy by shutting down the engine when the truck comes to a complete stop at a traffic light or stop sign.
But Ford also changed the exterior of the new F-150 and allow customers to customize their vehicles by choosing one of seven different grilles. Each of the grilles is different but emphasizes the truck’s rugged capabilities.
(Get sneak peak at what’s coming to this year’s NAIAS. Click Here for the story.)
Platto said the new grilles are important because they will set apart each of Ford’s truck lines by providing them with a distinct look. Grilles and the front end are the principal way that trucks are set apart and the new grilles in each of their seven iterations re-enforce the image of toughness.
From XL to top-of-the-line Limited, all Ford F-150 models receive new grilles, headlamps and bumpers that create a visually wider and more planted stance and maximum differentiation between the series. On the Sport Package-equipped Lariat F-150, the signature twin bars are painted body color for a custom athletic appearance.
Further enhancing its “milled from a block of high-strength, military-grade, and aluminum alloy” look, the F-150 will have six all-new wheel designs, ranging from 17 inches to 22 inches in diameter for 2018.
A new sculpted tailgate with deeper accent form and stamped “F-150” are flanked by new taillamp designs. For further style differentiation, a tailgate applique adds a horizontal element to King Ranch, Platinum and Limited versions, Platto said.
F-150 also brings two new seating trim colors – Dark Marsala for F-150 Platinum, while top-of-the-line F-150 Limited offers a Navy Pier environment. New trim offerings including carbon fiber appearance appliques on F-150 XLT Sport and Lariat Sport models, while the famed F-150 King Ranch features new Kingsville appointed seats are also part of the package of change Ford has planned for the 2018 model year.
Ford F-150 advances the light-duty pickup truck segment again with technologies that bolster productivity, efficiency and driver confidence, while keeping occupants connected to the world around them.
(Click Here for more about a Ford F-150 hybrid.)
Adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality will allow drivers to set a cruising speed. They then use radar and camera technology to monitor traffic ahead to maintain a set distance between vehicles – even following a vehicle down to a complete stop.
New, segment-first available Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection helps the driver avoid or mitigate collisions with vehicles and pedestrians.
With a new available embedded 4G LTE modem for a Wi-Fi hot spot, customers can connect up to 10 mobile devices at one time, virtually anywhere.
New B&O PLAY available audio system takes advantage of high-end speakers, sound and tuning to deliver a richer, more engaging listening experience.
F-150 features the best towing ever thanks to more powerful, efficient engine offerings that include standard Auto Start-Stop across the range, all-new 3.0-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel and expanded availability of segment-first 10-speed automatic transmission, according to Ford engineers.
Jerry Farrell, the chief engineer for the F-150, acknowledged that in the past trucks did not always get the extensive changeover during their shelf life, which has typically been much longer than those of passenger cars.
(Ford axes $1.6 bil Mexican plant but will still move small car production to Mexico. Click Herefor the latest.)
Ford, however, sells roughly 1 million trucks so it can afford to make changes. “When you talk about even 5% of one million trucks, you are still talking about a lot of volume,” he said.