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2018 Ford F-150; New diesel is news, but trusty V-8 remains a gem

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Dan Wiese is a freelance automotive writer. He is a regular contributor for Brand Ave. Studios and to AAA Midwest Traveler magazine's online Web Bonus.

We were beginning to think Ford was only kiddin'!

Way back in January 2017 -- a year ago -- the Blue Oval announced it would offer a diesel option in its F-150. So we waited. And waited. And . . .


Earlier this month, Ford announced an all-new 3.0-liter Power Stroke diesel V-6 will become available this spring in F-150. When it arrives, that engine, Ford promises, will produce 250 hp, 440 lb.-ft. of torque, 11,400 pounds of towing muscle, 2,020 pounds of payload capacity and an impressive EPA fuel-economy rating of 30 mpg on the highway.

Alas, we haven't yet sampled this new diesel, which brings the total number of engine choices in F-150 to six, but we did recently spend some quality time with F-150's 5.0-liter V-8.

F-150 is available in a dizzying array of iterations -- XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum, Limited and Raptor trims; short, standard and long beds; standard, extended and crew cabs; V-6 turbo, V-8 and, soon, diesel models; six- or 10-speed automatics; 2WD and 4WD . . . whew!

We'll concentrate on the truck we drove: a 2018 F-150 SuperCrew Platinum 4x4 short-bed that was motivated by Ford's trusty 5.0-liter V-8 and managed by F-150's new 10-speed automatic.

Regarding styling, our Platinum F-150 gave a hero-worship nod to its heavy duty Super Duty brethren via a new twin-bar grille. Other haberdashery alterations for 2018 include updated exterior lighting and a redrawn tailgate.

Under the hood, the 5.0-liter V-8, with its exotic fuel delivery combo of both dual-port and direct injection, makes 395 hp and 400 lb.-ft. of grunt.

Intriguingly, this V-8 also boasts auto engine shutoff for enhanced mpg. We figure this big motor must be less startled on restart than a typical four-cylinder so equipped because this eight-pack's kick-back-on demeanor is the most serene we've noted.

Also notable is the multi-speed gear box, which had the V-8 turning a relaxed 1,600 rpm at 70 mph. And, admirably, that 10-speed at a moment's notice willingly kicks down as many as five gear cogs in an instant when more velocity is required. Once or twice at low speed, when the throttle was released and then quickly re-engaged, we noted slight gear dithering, but 99 percent of the time this transmission was smoother than a cocktail-lounge gigolo.

In 170 miles of mixed city/hwy driving, our V-8 4x4 returned to us 17 mpg.

Other power perks in our 4WD F-150 included selectable drive modes of Manual, Normal, Snow/Wet, Tow/Haul, Eco and Sport, while the 4WD transfer case, in addition to the expected 2H, 4H and 4L choices, also boasted an all-wheel drive "4A" selection.

And did we mention our truck could pretty much park itself at the push of a button? A truck! Remarkable.

Additional 2018 tech upgrades include WiFi hot spot talent, exotic B&O Play audio, and segment-firsts like adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go function and Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection.

F-Series has been America's best-selling truck for 40 years, and best-selling vehicle -- car or truck -- for 35. After driving the 2018, we bet Ford will get to keep on bragging.

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Dan Wiese is a freelance automotive writer. He is a regular contributor for Brand Ave. Studios and to AAA Midwest Traveler magazine's online Web Bonus.

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