Driven: 2018 Ford F-150 4x4 King Ranch - Truck of Texas
At an event as traditional as the Texas Truck Rodeo, it is only fitting to start with the most traditional of all trucks - the F-150 - fitted with the most traditional of all engines - a V8. To stick with the theme, the only suitable choice is of course the King Ranch edition.
Once in the roomy cabin, partly covered with brown leather, we take a moment to reflect on the history of this model. The ½-ton segment is a battle field, and a few months of stagnated progress can lead to a backlog. For an incredible 40 years the Ford F-Series is America’s best-selling pickup truck and for 35 years it has been the best-selling vehicle in the US! Counting back to 1917 when the Model TT entered production, Ford has a pickup tradition of a whopping 100 years.
Next to a stronger rear axle, the new 10-speed automatic and improvements on both the exterior as well as interior, there are four new or improved engines, or five if we include the extremely capable but also slightly unhinged Raptor. The base engine is the 3.3L V-6 with 290 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque, coupled with a 6-speed automatic transmission. One step up and linked to the new 10-speed automatic is the new 2.7L EcoBoost V-6 producing 325 hp and 400 lb-ft. Further up the ladder is the enhanced 5.0L V-8 with now 395 hp and 400 lb-ft and top-of-the-line is the second-generation 3.5L EcoBoost V-6 offering 375 hp and 470 lb-ft. In a more potent state of tune the latter powers the Raptor with 450 horsepower and 510 lb.-ft. of torque. We did drive this desert racer at the Texas Truck Rodeo as well, but we cover it in a separate review.
The combination of 4x4, the powerful V-8 and the 10-speed make the F-150 a very enjoyable off-road tool, or even a toy if you prefer so, The quick shifting transmission provides the engine with the best ratio to make sure there is always enough twist to keep the truck going. On paper the 2.7 EcoBoost offers the same amount of torque, but the V-8 offers better results when towing because it does not have to rev as hard which improves gas mileage and reduces the noise level. Without a load in the bed and at highway speeds however, the V6 manages to impress and it is not easy to distinguish it from the 5.0, if it were not for the sound.
Big improvements are the 360-degree camera and the adaptive cruise-control with stop-and-go which is actually a first in this segment. There is also Ford's Pro Trailer Backup Assist and a blind-spot monitoring system that also ‘watches’ the spaces left and right of a 33-foot trailer. As we said earlier, the ½ ton truck segment is a battlefield, so it is just a matter of time before the competition strikes back – as GM will, early next year. For now however, Ford has it all covered and remains the ruler of the segment. Or at least the ruler of the Lone Star State, according to the Texas Auto Writers Association.
2018 Ford F-150 4x4 King Ranch
© Words and images Natan Tazelaar