You have five engine choices to consider when exploring the 2018 F-150. Make that six with the upcoming 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V6, due in dealers later this year.
The vast majority of sales are for a V6 gas engine — Ford offers just one V8 engine. The base engine is a new 3.3-liter V6, adding direct injection for improved performance and efficiency. Consider it Ford’s work duty engine with ample low-end torque, operating quietly under acceleration. It's the only engine paired to a six-speed automatic transmission, which is smooth and competent in everyday driving.
The 325-horsepower, 2.7-liter V6 that we recommend is a peach – its 400 lb-ft of torque is accessible low in the rev range, giving the F-150 an unusually nippy personality we wouldn't expect from a vehicle of this size. This is the first entry point for Ford's new 10-speed automatic, which is sublime. It's refined, smart, smooth and invisible in normal driving. There's a minimal amount of hunting for gears under hard acceleration, too, which makes it easy to forget this is such an advanced transmission.
Ford's 5.0-liter V8 remains – it's charming in an old-school way, lacking the immediacy of the F-150's turbocharged engines, but making up for it with a more enjoyable soundtrack, more predictable fuel economy (although it's worse at 16 city and 22 highway), and the same smashing 10-speed auto. This is the F-150's most likable powertrain, even if it's outclassed on paper.
Ford's 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 is the F-150's most capable engine, offering up 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. It's fast and aside from EPA fuel economy estimates that are difficult to hit in the real world, the 3.5-liter is inarguably the best choice if you need speed or towing capability (the F-150 can manage up to 12,000 pounds with this power plant). Power is constant at low, medium, and high engine speeds, while the two turbochargers spool up with hardly any delay. You want accessible power, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost provides.
Across the model line, the F-150 behaves like a midsize sedan at low to moderate speeds. Under full throttle you’ll feel its full weight, with the truck pitching and rolling in precisely the manner we'd expect. Ride quality is inferior to the Ram 1500 and its optional air suspension, but the F-150 manages bumps and imperfections without too much of the shuddering through the chassis that's common in body-on-frame vehicles.