Ford is updating the look of its F-150 pickups — featuring a redesigned grille — just two years after launching an all-new version of its top-selling model.
The refresh is evidence that the Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker is committed to continuing to invest heavily to keep its F-Series trucks the most popular in America.
The confirmed F-150 mid-cycle refresh for the 2018 model year is largely a bunch of tweaks: redesigned front-end grille and wheel options; bolder seat colors; first-in-class technological offerings; and a new diesel engine among other enhanced features designed to reach a broad cross-section of truck buyers.
But Ford officials insist continuous improvement every year is crucial for the massively profitable vehicle now marking 40 years as the nation’s best-selling truck.
Michelle Krebs, senior analyst for Autotrader.com, an online marketplace for vehicle shopping, said the addition of a diesel engine is big news especially for the towing audience of diesel enthusiasts while helping Ford’s need to meet increasing fuel economy standards.
“Added technology features fit with what we hear from consumers who want more and more technology, specifically safety features and information features that make them more connected,” Krebs said. The integration of Apple Car Play and Android Auto — two ways to access smartphone features inside your car — is a response, she added, “to consumers, who according to our surveys, want seamless transition of their mobile devices into their transportation.”
The changes are not as dramatic as those that transformed the F-150 in the 2015 model year when Ford turned to an all-aluminum body, the first such transformation for a major American-made truck.
But the second-largest U.S. automaker hopes to get a leg up on its competition by unveiling the updated truck line, which accounts for nearly one-third of its North American sales, today before the official auto show media days begin.
“Truck customers are constantly looking to improve their productivity, for work and for play,” Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of the Americas, said in a statement. “Since 1977, we’ve been America’s favorite truck, and we’ve never taken that leadership for granted.”
Ford will kick off its marketing campaign for the updated pickups with a nationally televised commercial first airing during an NFL playoff game on Fox Sunday.
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SOURCE: USA Today; Detroit Free Press, Matthew Dolan