• 2018 Ford F150 Takes on the World’s Toughest Towing Test: 2018 Gold Hitch Awards Kick-off (Video)

    2018 ford f150 turbo v6
    2018 Ford F150

    How does a 2018 Ford F150 do at towing a 9,500 lbs CM Trailers Cargo Mate trailer up and down a 7% grade of an 8-mile stretch of the highest elevation interstate highway in the country – the Ike Gauntlet? This is precisely what we doing with these tests. The top elevation of the toughest towing test in the World is 11,158 feet above sea level. If a truck does well in this environment and under heavy load, it will do great in your day-to-day operation.

    The 2018 Gold Hitch Awards towing competition is back! This is our fourth year of testing, comparing, and awarding pickup trucks and truck-based SUVs. We show all of our testing setup and procedures on video. We let you know as much as possible about our scoring system, and we make our final votes for the winning trucks on video. We will announce the winners of the 2018 competition in early April, 2018. In the meantime, we will be testing every midsize, half-ton, and heavy duty truck we can get our hands on.

    There are no closed door voting or decisions here. We use the real-world data and truck’s performance to select the winners.

    First up the mountain is the refreshed 2018 Ford F150 with the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 engine. This is the most powerful engine offering in the F150 (not counting the Ford Raptor).

    2018 Ford F150

    Engine: 3.5L EcoBoost V6 (twin turbo)
    Power: 375 hp / 470 lb-ft of torque
    Transmission: 10-speed automatic
    Max Towing: 12,700 lbs
    Rear Axle Ratio: 3.55

    Safety is of primary concern when towing a heavy load. We are using a new 8×20 feet Cargo Mate trailer with tandem axles and a total weight capacity of 12,500 lbs. All half-ton trucks will tow this identical trailer with 9,500 lbs of total weight in order to compete. This weight will max out many half-ton trucks, and this is why we chose it.

    This specific F-150 is equipped with a maximum towing package that includes additional cooling, a 3.55 rear axle ratio, hitch, integrated trailer brake controller, and pro trailer backup assist system (just to name a few components). It also means that it is rated to a tow a maximum of 12,700 lbs. This is a very heavy rating, provided that it is a large crew cab truck with a 4×4 system and a Lariat package.

    Ford’s owner’s manual directs all to decrease the total truck and trailer weight by 2% for every 1,000 feet of elevation gained. We follow all manufacturer requirements, as such this weight is near this truck’s maximum given our elevation.

    Ike Gauntlet Scoring

    The maximum points any truck can get is 100. The downhill portion of the test is scored out of 25 points. Every time we touch the brakes on the way down subtracts a point. On the way up, an 8-minute run is the benchmark (worth 25 points), and every 5 seconds over that subtracts a point. (A truck cannot get extra points to going under 8 minutes.) 6.0 MPG trip meter reading is the benchmark(worth 25 points), and every 0.2 MPG below that subtracts a point.

    Finally, there are a maximum of 25 subjective points. We use the following criteria to decide on the subjective score: cabin comfort, handling and suspension squat, sway or sway control, mirrors, and towing essentials (integrated brake controller, easy trailer chain hookups, high-tech driver aides such as cameras).

    How did the 2018 F150 do? Check out the video for all the details.

    [Spoiler Alert]: The truck got 74.5 points.

    Andre Smirnov
    Andre Smirnov
    Andre Smirnov is an Automotive Enthusiast, Producer, Reviewer, Videographer, Writer, Software Engineer, Husband, Father, and Friend.

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    182 thoughts on “2018 Ford F150 Takes on the World’s Toughest Towing Test: 2018 Gold Hitch Awards Kick-off (Video)

    1. Could you not game the system, target an 8:30 uphill time with very gradual acceleration and reap the fuel economy benefits?

      Which score hurts more? Loss of 1 mpg or loss of 30 seconds time?

      1. O.K. TFL. I’m going to punch you in the stomach now. But I am letting you know ahead of time because I love ya. Here goes…

        Other independent testers load the truck with max towing and payload and do 60-0 braking with and without trailer brakes.

        If you did this, I would not have much reason to stray from your site. But until you do, your competition has you over a barrel.

        1. I have never seen anyone load up a max trailer and brake it without trailer brakes. That is the most unsafe action anyone can do. No truck is rated to stop max trailer weight and stop it. It would need 2 more axles and 4 more brakes to do that.

          1. You’ve never seen that?

            Have you never left your house?

            Your ignorance reveals itself again. Its even happened here on TFL when the guys didn’t rig the trailer brakes right.

            But in the wild, it happens all the time.

            And you are also ignorant of the independent testers who do it as a matter of regular testing.

            And you continue to assert you are the knowledgeable one on such matters.

            Note to all commenters who are not well read on the stats and tests. There is nothing essentially wrong with that. But don’t then assert you know what you are talking about.

            1. Hal, you are completely ignorant in saying a tester should max out a 1/2 ton trailer and disable the trailer brakes. You are now trying to slow down 17,000 lbs. Can you comprehend that at all. That is the weight of a class 5 truck. These are not class 4 or 5 trucks.

            2. Independent testers do this regularly and put it on video and write it up on spreadsheets.

              And you call me ignorant? Not only are you ignorant, you are persistently stupid. Once again, I’m not being a jerk, just trying to lift ye’all out of your uninformed hole.

              Of course it is dangerous. That is why they pay experts to do it off public roads on testing grounds.

              Its dangerous to run your car into a cement wall.

              That is why they they do crash testing!

              Same thing.

              Don’t make me put up a link. You all should know how to google by now. Although some of the testing is behind a pay wall.

              But keep trying JJ, you’ll never get there if you don’t try.

              And if you’ve never seen a truck maxed out and emergency braking without trailer brakes, you need to get out more. Again, it happens way too often.

            3. @Jimmy Johns – don’t waste your breath. All the real truck guys around here know these comments are ridiculous.

            4. I know Iowaford. I would love to see a class 1 truck safely stop the weight of a loaded class 5 truck though. I bet Hal does it all the time with the exception of safely.

            5. Maylay
              December 1, 2017 at 11:15 am
              I’ll let the other posters show you your stupidity.

              And this folks is what you call Hal eating his own pussy.

            6. Come on Hal and show us how smart you are. Post us a link of any half ton truck stopping 17,000 lbs from an independent tester.

            7. You just have to ignore Hal. It’s about the attention-if he does’t get it he’ll have no reason to continue.

            8. I will do your homework for you if one of you promises to never post on TFL again if I put a link to a video comparing the braking of pickups with trailer brakes and without trailer brakes.

              Any taker? No, I didn’t think so. You are all ignorant fools who don’t want to know the truth because you are on the wrong side of it.

              But, the offer still stands.
              I can give you many that aren’t even behind a pay wall, that you insist don’t exist.

          2. Jimmy-I’m with you: I have very little desire to know how a truck does without trailer brakes-it will not do well and should never be done with weights that high.

            1. Sparky, whenever it hook up a trailer to my truck or one of my trucks at work, as soon as i move about 5′, i test the trailer brakes. If it is not right, it must be repaired first. Way to much liability and risk to others to have a trailer that does not work properly. I have had larger axles and brakes installed on trailers because i was not happy with how the factory brakes worked on a fully loaded trailer.

        2. I agree with this, done on a closed course. It shows something often ignored – how much “safety margin” there is in the factory braking system.
          ANY truck can do an empty 60-0 stop empty and fully engage the ABS. Showing that test done when loaded (either to a percentage of max GCWR or at max GVWR) would truly show what the braking system is made of.
          As was said.. the electrical connection to the trailer can and does hiccup sometimes. Just like a skidpad test, it shows the truck’s limit.

    2. Downhill is the measure–Fail. 5000 rpm?

      Can’t trust just anyone driving downhill without the automatic engine brakes.

      3.5 mpg. Not bad. Not good either.

      Big tank. It’ll need it.

      Should have tested turning radius.

      1. Agree on the turning radius, biggest problem for a truck is turn radius and is why many buyers go elsewhere and get an SUV instead. But this would depend on a long box vs Crew cab configurations of all types but that goes for the Gauntlet scoring anyways, all these trucks can be had with different options that change their dynamics.

    3. Pretty much exactly what I would have predicted. Not good downhill, like all modern 8 or 10 speed transmissions. Effortless uphill. I have a hard time seeing any other half ton doing better than this.

      I am more interested to see how the new 5.0 / 10 speed performs. I’m also interested to see the 2.7 / 10 speed, but I imagine it will be pretty much identical to this 3.5 run.

      As long as you don’t get the base V6, you can’t really make a bad choice when choosing your engine in the F150 lineup these days. It will be interesting to see what Ram and GM unveil for engine options at the Detroit auto show next month.

      1. Why would a 8 or 10 speed do any worse down hill than a 4 or 6 speed? They have more-or-less the same ratio’s available to them, only more-right?
        With the right programming they would be able to use more of the available engine RPM to slow the load than a transmission with fewer gears. Seems they would be superior in grade braking as well as climbing.

          1. I still think the 10 speed would do better than the 8 speed given the same motor. The 10 speed is very close to max rpm in 3rd, just like the 6 speed is in 2nd.
            The 8 speed is further away from max rpm in 3rd.

          2. I don’t think it’s the transmission – I think its the small-displacement engine cannot perform engine braking as well as a V8. Towing with my 2018 Raptor, one thing I was disappointed in was the poor engine braking.

      2. Yes! The 5.0 with the 6 speed had the highest score of any half ton ever if I recall. I would like to see if the 10 speed downshifts smarter than some of the 8 speeds. The 3.5tt may not have done great because of the lack of displacement.

        1. Common sense tells me displacement matters, but then I go back to the 2.7 Ecoboost run from a few years ago and it did extremely well. Granted that was with the 6 speed transmission, but still…

    4. Great score. But:

      I’m from hot, hot central valley of California. To get to the coast or out of state we have to go up 7% grades in at times 110 degree heat.

      To be a proper test for my needs. The test should be done in the summer heat.
      I would wish for August. But because of traffic I suppose September would be much better than November.

      What gear were you in after the 10th brake application?

      My point being that if all trucks end up going down hill in 3rd gear and holding. Then it just math. All ten speeds would have to make more brake taps to get down to 3rd gear.

      That seems unfair to the 10 speeds vs. The 6 speeds.

      1. I disagree. PCM programming should do the downshifting into whatever gear is needed (regardless of transmission or number of speeds). If in that gear there is not enough engine braking/compression to hold the speed, then brakes have to be applied. This just shows the disadvantage of small engine displacement. Ford could overcome that by applying brakes via programming to hold speed. On the other hand, the ecoboost has the advantage going uphill, so i think things mostly even out.

        1. Displacement is not that big of a factor. The 2.7 Ecoboost /6 speed had an excellent downhill performance 2-3 years ago. They said they never touched the brakes with it. Meanwhile, the GM 6.2 / 8 speed repeatedly struggles downhill. For whatever reason it’s these new 8 & 10 speed transmissions, and they all struggle downhill.

          And I thought it was a matter of programming too with these new transmissions, but if you watch the video, it was near 5000 RPM and still wasn’t able to maintain speed. So it’s not a programming thing either, because whether the truck had been programmed to get to that gear, or it was put there manually by the driver, that gear was not holding speed. And you can’t just keep downshifting because at some point you would go over redline. I’ve been scratching my head for months to try and figure out why these new 8 and 10 speed transmissions do so poorly with engine braking but I haven’t come up with a good reason yet.

          1. @IowaFord: I believe the F150s have the ability to “lock out a gear”. May be a review of the manual might explain how it is to be used and under what conditions?
            Just a thought.

            1. You are correct that you can lock out a gear in the F150. And it works great with the 6 speed transmission on my 2012 F150. But it still seems as this new 10 speed tranny wouldn’t be able to hold speed anyway. I mean, if it’s in 3rd gear at 5000 RPM, and unable to hold speed, it doesn’t matter if the truck chose 3rd gear on its own, or it was in 3rd gear because I locked out gears 4-10. 3rd gear is 3rd gear, and it’s not effective in holding speed regardless of what method put it in 3rd gear.

              I’d like to think engine braking could be improved with better software, but at this point I’m not sure it will happen from any manufacturer.

            2. lowaFord, if the gear ratio, final ratio is the same than look to the diff. What is the actual drive ratio is determined by a lot of things. We need to know what the final ratio is and the rpm of each truck and then its peak torque. I think peak torque for the EB motors is around 3000-3500, really high compared to other gas turbos, but if the rpms in this case were at 5000 than the motor was not making peak torque. It would be holding the truck back better at 3500rpm…..maybe? Tire size is another factor.

              I bet a 3:73 diff would fix the downhill to 0 brake applications and it would sit at full torque at 3500 rpm in 4th gear maybe.

              If you want lets pull all the final ratios on the 2.7 speed the weight it was carrying vs the 3.5 final drive ratios and there are calculators online to tell you what rpm you will be at vs speed vs your final gear ratio, then you look to dyno sheets to see where the trucks power is at for 60mph, gear ratio, power, final drive ratio for the expected gear, the HP and the torque at that rpm. MAN O MAN Electric vehicles will be so much easier.

            3. This is like paying for a prostitute with a snow suit on, you have no idea what is going to come out of the multiple layers of fluff. Just give me an electric motor please, I am done with the garbage, waky waky automotive industry..

            4. For sure the rear axle ratio plays a part too, but I don’t believe it can explain the big drop-off in engine braking that happened with both Ford and GM when they moved from their respective 6 speed transmissions to the new 8 and 10 speed transmissions.

            5. The RPM at which peak torque occurs does not translate to engine breaking. When engine braking the amount of air pulled through the engine and the amount of resistance to that air flow is what determines the amount of braking. The resistance to air flow increases exponentially with flow of air, or in other words-the speed of the engine. The higher the RPMs the more “braking” you will get.

          2. Wasn’t the 2.7 towing much less weight? You may be right and there may be something with this 10 speed, but i still think it comes down to a displacement/engine compression thing. Would be great to see how the 5.0 does, better/worse. I know my durango with 5.7 and 8speed downshifts/engine brakes superbly, but never towed enough to really test it either.

            1. Yeah that is true, the 2.7 I think was towing roughly 7500 pounds. So that definitely plays a part, but at the same time, there was a GM 6.2 / 8 speed that year that did poorly with the exact same load.

          3. Struggle downhill? God forbid you have to use the brakes to slow down.

            The internet fanboyism of commenting on stuff you don’t even understand is out of hand.

            Measure the brake temp or devalue it. People expect to have to use brakes to slow down. Obviously you don’t want them overheating.

            1. It’s all relative Hi-Fi. A truck that has to have 10 brake applications vs a truck that only needed 2 or 3 is struggling in that comparison.

              If I were a fan boy I would not be criticizing Ford’s 10 speed downhill performance.

              Yes, most people expect to use brakes downhill, but those who actually tow know it is far safer to have effective engine braking than it is ride your brakes on a long downhill stretch of highway.

            2. Having to occasionally use your brakes is not riding them. This is why I said to measure brake temp as “riding the brakes” is only bad because it will overheat your brakes. If they’re not hot but you have to use them a little, it’s a 100% non issue.

            3. HI-FI, It is not perfect, but it is a standerdized test. The focus of TFL has always been real world mountain testing. If you want other types of tests like locking up the brakes on a loaded trailer with no trailer brakes (see idiot above), you can find that elsewhere.

          4. All things being equal, the amount of braking available via the engine is directly related the the displacement of the engine. That gets a little more complicated when you add in things like turbos-particularity with variable geometry.
            I wonder if the difference is the amount of weight being towed? There really isn’t any reason the higher speed transmissions should not do better than the older transmisisons.

        2. I understand your point but I think you missed mine. I’ll try again.

          If all the trucks end up shifting to the same final drive ratio.

          The one with the most gears will always take more brake taps if the transmission requires a brake tap to force the down shift.

          Granted the computer/speed control should maintain a set speed without any driver input.

          But is that available on any half ton?

          1. I get your point. I don’t think any trucks programming requires a brake application to downshift. But if so, then you would be correct that they would be disadvantaged per this scoring method. Tow/haul mode adjusts shift parameters and they downshift on their own as far as i know.

            I also read the 10 speed acts like a 5-6 speed at times (skipping gears under hard acceleration). I would assume this also would apply in rapid downshift/stopping scenarios. So a 10 speed still should have no disadvantage over a 6 speed. It actually should be an advantage.

          2. I understand your point. Perhaps if cruise control was on the computer would be better at automatically downshifting through multiple gears to engine brake.

            Without cruise control, it might take more brake touches to try to dial in the proper amount of engine braking. However, I believe most trucks are programmed to try to hold the speed at which you left off the brakes. In other words, I apply the brakes and slow to 50 mph. From there the truck should be able to make it’s own gear changing decisions to try to hold 50 mph.

            1. Cruise might make a difference. Maybe TFL should set the cruise going down hill AND up hill. Let the PCM decide the best way to do things. If they run over the speed limit by 5 mph, apply brakes until they get back to set speed. Count only those brake applications. Although some manuals may not recommend using cruise for towing?

            2. This is exactly right. My 2014 ecoboost, even in tow/haul, will generally not downshift if I am not using cruise control until I tap the brakes. But even just a brief tap will result in a downshift.

              If I do have cruise control on, the truck will only go a couple MPH above the set speed before it starts to automatically downshift to get it back down.

    5. Couple of things I wish to get off my chest other than the abundant hair,

      1) The Ike is back, WOOOOOHOOOOOO! Ya Man!
      2) What will you do when an Electric truck shows up for mpge or generator mpg such as Workhorse, even Jeep said they will go all electric with the Wrangle as a 4th power plant now so EV’s are coming, these are not concepts, many manufacturers are onboarding, so I ask what will TFL do? Remember the EV gives mpg’s back on the downhill cycle and will likely have 0 brake applications under regenerative braking.
      3) This F150 was nearly at 5000Rpm the entire time down the IKE, what was it getting for mpg’s at those rpms, could you please give us the computer version at least if you will not entertain a fill up before you leave and than a top up for real world. If we get what the trucks computer said, that is a cheap option and gives us something to argue about.
      4) This was a Lariat and you can still get 3:73 gears in a Lariat trim, beyond that you cannot get 3:73, actually if you add any options to the Lariat trim, even a heated steering wheel, you lose the 3:73 gears. Explaining this to the readers at some point would be welcoming to 800,000 buyers every year, or maybe it is just me and I don’t even own one, might one day but doubt it.
      5) I really appreciate the way you now do subjective scoring, big improvement, thanks for listening to the bloggers!
      6) Would like to see longer videos with lots of gauge shots on the way up and down, that is the most interesting and calling off internal functions of the truck is a good time for a interior review from an on road perspective.
      7) The F150 for the subjective review seemed to nail it but only got 22 points. What will it take to get 25, what was wrong with the F150 that it lost 3 points, I am left not knowing?
      8) The IKE is back and so is Christmas, good timing?

        1. I recall the Jeep is suppose to be a Plug-in-Hybrid.

          In regards to Jeep, and upcoming Jeep truck, and with the addition of the Pentastar 3.6L V6 receiving BSG technology for 2019, I wonder if the downhill function* will be turned off during towing?

          *The BSG is supposed to turn on/off the engine during coasting (when all parameters are met), not just while the vehicle is stopped like traditional ESS.

        2. The commentator said the Jeep is furthering their mild hybrid versions to a full All electric plug in Jeep Wrangler. Does that mean electric drive? Here we go with the English language again because now I am not so sure it will be electric drive????

      1. Only comment I’ll throw in is in regards to 5000 RPM going downhill- fuel economy would be off the charts. There is no pressure on the accelerator so you would be using no more fuel than idling.

          1. Oil pump is still pumping, so it stays lubricated. If the accelerator is not depressed, you are not feeding any more fuel than idle. The engine can rev without fuel being fed to it.

            1. Rambro-the work the engine has to do to pull air past a closed throttle plate, compress it and then push it through an exhaust system, as well as the internal friction of the engine itself.

            2. I think most modern cars cut fuel all together when coasting. Or are using VERY little fuel, much less than idle.

          2. Fuel no, but the oil pump is mechanically drive so it will be proportional to engine speed regardless if you’re accelerating or coasting.

            A lot of cars use DFCO, deceleration fuel cut off).

          3. But idling at 900rpm you are stationary = 0 MPG. Coasting down a hill you are moving = 99 MPG on the evic. So 5000rpm traveling downhill would be off the charts on the evic for MPG

            1. How does the engine make power to slow the vehicle, is it just based on the power at 900rpms then or just compression in the motor. Some engines do use fuel to brake, I believe, such as diesels with engine braking?

            2. @Rambro- the intake closes which creates a vacuum that the pistons have to work against. This slows the pistons, which slow the crank, and so on.

            3. I mentioned this below but I think gas engines should be able to shut off injectors and open the throttle body to draw in max air like a Diesel. Now the pistons can compress max air to try and slow the truck down.

            4. Does the 2.8 Duramax not have an engine brake? Is that using fuel to slow it down? Would that not use mpg to get a better score over the other trucks not using mpg as much for downhill points.? Just asking?

            5. Rambro, on diesels the injectors are turned off. Have you ever noticed going down hill on an older Diesel how they get really quiet? The torque converter is engaged and the fuel is shut off for braking.

            6. The 2.8 Duramax also has an exhaust brake. It’s a separate system that has proven to be very effective.

            7. You need the throttle plate closed for max braking,when the compressed gas expands its returning energy, not unless you can release the the compressed gas do you get compression braking.

            8. There is also the possibility of using the exhaust cam to restrict the exhaust flow. It is already done to replace the EGR valve. Maybe they could retard it to restrict exhaust for more back pressure.

            9. The 2.8 duramax uses the turbo as an exhaust brake. It closes up during braking. Diesels do not have throttle plates (new ones actually do-for EGR, but we can ignore that in this application) and so pump a lot of air through them when engine braking. The air is forced through the closed turbo which creates a god deal of back pressure that the pistons have to work against. It is this open throttle design (high air flow through the engine) coupled with an inline restrictor (whether it be a Jake brake, exhaust brake or variable geometry turbo) that makes diesel engines superior when engine braking. Jimmy Johns is on to something as how to give gas engines this advantage.
              No engine I know of uses fuel to brake. Most engines do burn a little fuel even when braking-unless they are shut off.

            10. I should mention that a gas engine would need some sort of exhaust restriction to provide engine braking with he throttle valves open-perhaps there is enough phasing available in the exhaust cam to accomplish this.

          4. All modern gas engines use absolutely zero fuel when coasting downhill. The injectors are cut off. The high RPMs are the result of the weight of the load trying to overcome available engine braking.

            In my opinion, it stands to reason a larger displacement engine would perform better engine braking because there is more suction effect against the closed throttle plate.

            But there is no need for fuel to keep the engine turning…oil pump, alternator, power steering (if applicable), and water pump are supplied with all the revolutions they need…

            1. I agree that there is no reason that there would need to be any fuel injected to the engine but I have never read anything that would indicate the is the case. The engine would have to go into a different operating mode and I doubt that the manufactures would bother to add the software and potential problems with the very little gain that it would provide. I may be wrong. I’d love to see information to the contrary.

        1. Fuel is injected to maintain the correct fuel/air ratio, so there is likely more fuel being burned than there would be idle as there is very likely more air going into the engine. The position of the accelerator only controls the amount of air allowed into the engine, the computer determines the amount of fuel injected based on its measurements of air going in. Vacuum will be high so more air can be sucked past the throttle plate. However, during idle there is some sort of idle control that allows more or less air in to maintain the proper idle RPM (the computer takes over throttle control when there is no input from the throttle peddle).
          Fuel does not provide any lubrication in these engines (quite the opposite in fact).

            1. You wouldn’t. That is just how it works. The computer would have to know that you want to shut down the engine (which is what would happen). Some may have that additional programming now a days, I have not read anything to indicate that that is common place however.

      2. 1. Agreed.
        2. EV’s certainly will take max advantage of regenerative braking on a downhill like this…although regen braking alone is likely not able to stop the weight of this combination. Keep in mind going up this hill with this load at this speed will use far more electricity than regen braking can give back…but nevertheless, a gas or diesel engine gives back zero on a downhill.
        3. Going downhill, a gas or diesel engine shuts off fuel delivery to the engine so long as neither the accelerator or brake pedal is touched.
        4. Clearly the 3.55 axle has no issue whatsoever moving this load up the hill. How would a 3.73 be beneficial? Going downhill, the 3.73 would actually cause the engine to want to rev even higher…
        5. I like the new subjective scoring better, too.
        6. I think a summary screen at the end of the video would be cool for this. Basically, “peak” oil temp, peak trans temp, peak coolant temp, etc. Not all trucks have the ability to read out this data, but connecting a simple ODBII scan tool would provide this info for all trucks.
        7. I think there is no such thing as a “perfect” truck so they held back 3 points to continue to allow room for improvement. Nathan said he didn’t love the interior, so that could have been some of the points right there.

    6. You can’t have MPG be worth 25 points and go by just the trip computers. They are not accurate enough.

      So 1 brake touch = 5 seconds additional time = .2 gallons (read inaccurately) = subjective preferences? Maybe. I know TFL does the best they can so not trying to beat them up.

      I’d throw out the subjective stuff and go with a pass/marginal/fail for that section. Pass is towing comfortably and getting everything set up easily. Marginal is relatively confident towing feel, some difficulty with setting up the trailer/weight to reduce sway. Fail is not being able to set thing up right to feel comfortable/safe towing or scary downhill experience or not able to maintain safe uphill speed.

      MPG points should be off the larger towing loop when you hand calculate at the pump, not off 1 short uphill run.

      1. I guess my main point is that only stuff that can be accurately measured/compared should be worth actual points. Subjective stuff is just that…subjective – and should have no point value. One person my find F150 seats are very comfortable, but for another it could be a deal breaker.

        1. I think this is what they are trying to accomplish with the change. For example, in previous years, a judge might give the truck a low subjective score due to poor engine braking, which basically double penalized the poor engine braking performance, because it had already received a poor score in the downhill part of their scoring system. A few of us mentioned that in these comments and I see this new scoring method as a good response to those comments.

          1. I agree it is better this year for the braking part. But what about all the other subjective items? We weren’t given any details on why the F150 got docked or was given points in that section.

            Was it given points for trailer backup assist even if they didn’t take the time to set it up?
            Was it docked for difficult to operate tow mirrors?
            Other publications hate the F150 seats, does TFL like them?
            Was it docked for sag? I think the video mentions 2.5″. Was the before or after WDH setup?

            Really, just nitpicking. I don’t like subjective items receiving unknown point values.

            1. Yeah I agree with you there. A little more detail and rationale explaining the choice is always a good thing.

              Regarding sag- they said the 2.5″ of sag was before they engaged the WDH.

            2. To me, sag should only be measured/compared during a payload comparison test. Load each truck to each rated max payload as configured. Payload is till completely manufacturer dependant.

              For trailer towing you have complete control over sag as its completely dependent upon your load, trailer, and hitch set up.

              So if they have a Ram with auto level air suspension, will it get bonus points for automatically “fixing” sag?

            3. I think you are right on Rusty. I will say that sag is built into the suspension for various reasons. For me I would much rather hear how the truck handled loaded more than it sagged so many inches. Does the truck still work good with 4″ of sag. If yes then why penalize it.

            4. If the truck sags 4″ under load, it either rides nose up trailering, or nose down when not. Neither is a good thing, as everything from suspension geometry to shock absorbers to steering geometry is affected by static sag and/or list angle.

              A vehicle designed to be operated both light and heavy, darned right should get bonus points for including equipment that fixes this issue.

              Then it is up to subjective evaluations to determine whether the solution introduces other issues. And up to those reading/viewing the test to weigh the reported pros vs cons, and whether they want to take the risk on a more complicated air suspension.

            5. Agreed with Jimmy John! A truck with 3″ of sag might ride with a higher nose and less stability than another truck with 4″ of sag due to different suspension setups.

              It is almost an arbitrary number. What is more imortant is stability and comfort.

            6. The mirror controls are interesting. I don’t believe GM or RAM offers power extending mirrors whatsoever…so Ford should not be penalized if a useful feature no other truck offers is ‘hard to use.’

              What’s even more odd is that these same mirrors are from the Super Duty, which offers separate buttons for power extending and is super easy to use. Why the F-150 is excluded here is beyond me.

            7. @ Stuki Moi:

              I agree with you, particularly your final paragraph. If a RAM can be loaded to max payload and have zero sag because air suspension levels the truck, that would be the most ideal situation for heavy hauling or towing. BUT…if the air suspension has a lot of reliability problems and expense down the road, it might turn out to be better to live with some sag from a very reliable leaf spring.

      2. I agree, I wish they would come up with a better way to measure FE-those computers can vary a fair bit and it is such a short run. It’s better than nothing however.

    7. I was looking at these new F150s with the 10 speed but I had a few issues with the transmission. As been mentioned many times here, I don’t like the lack of agressive downshifts vs. the old 6 speed in tow haul/ sport modes. Is that a software issue? Second, looking at Motor Trend’s First Drive of the 2018 F150, the 0-60 times are alot slower than previous models. I do know that the new 3.5 Ecoboost with the 10 speed did better at 5000 feet, however odd that is. I think my 2015 with the 2.7 Ecoboost and 6R80 could still beat the new ones in several categories.

          1. I hope so, but I’m not convinced that it will. Software engineers have had plenty of time to dial this in, but we still see virtually every 8 or 10 speed transmission, from all brands, struggle to maintain speed downhill using engine braking alone when there is a heavy trailer in tow. For example, GM used to have great engine braking in their 6 speed transmission. 3-4 years ago, they rolled out their 8 speed transmission, and it has never come close to their old 6 speed in terms of engine braking. Now we have Ford transitioning from a 6 speed transmission, which had great engine braking, to a 10 speed transmission, and the early results are not encouraging.

            1. I’m not being negative or insulting, but I wonder how two of the biggest automakers in the country collaborate to produce the latest and greatest transmission and overlook something simple as engine braking for those steep, narrow roads. I guess they have faith in the brakes…

            2. It seems this transmission would be best suited in a paddle shifting Corvette or something with an engine retardant.

            3. IowaFord, even though “coincidentally” it seems that is the case, I don’t believe the transmission is responsible. Max engine braking is available in the gear that allows the highest engine RPMs without going past the redline and with the torque converter locked. That’s it! Certainly the 10-speed can provide the perfect ratio for max RPM without overspeeding the engine. Perhaps it does not drop down aggressively enough at first, allowing the truck to gain speed.

    8. Why are you always testing the 3.5 ecoboost? Their are other motors in the f150 line up.
      The 5.0 always seems to be put on the back burner with you guys. It to got some updates on the motor i thank would be worth looking into.

      1. Yeah I really hope the 5.0 / 10 speed gets tested. We all know the 3.5 Ecoboost will pull anything up the hill with power to spare. But the 5.0 is a great engine too and a much better comparison against the competition.

    9. TFL, I like the new subjective scoring. Since you are leaving out the measured data in subjective, I believe the subjective is more subjective now. Thanks for listening.

      1. Rusty, Ford made some changes for 2018. The frame for one. Thus the higher capacities. 1/2 tons are getting rated higher and higher every year. I have to wonder when it will stop.

        1. The frame is identical to a 2017, save slightly thicker steel in the rearmost section to support a heavier-duty trailer hitch. The rest of the frame is unchanged, and visually you cannot tell the two apart.

    10. Now on this test. A good discussion above on down hill braking. It seems more and more trucks are using more brake applications. However 10 does not scare me. The last chevy was 11. Again did not scare me. You figure there is around 45 seconds of brake cooling before the next 10 mph deceleration. Hardly anything to be scared of. Some people are saying large displacement engines engine brake better but the Silverado last year needed 11 events. I believe the reason that is, is because the throttle bodies are closed down hill. A Diesel has no throttle body so each cylinder is getting filled up with air. I would like to see a gas calibration to cut of the injectors (diesels do this now) and open up the throttle body. Now you have more air to compress and maybe offer better down hill braking like a Diesel. Maybe. Everything else was well done. Good handling,plenty of power to pass if needed and a quiet cabin.

      1. A diesel has almost no innate engine braking. For the exact reason you mention. Absent a throttle body to create a constriction, air is drawn in freely, then compressed. But…, then it rebounds again, like a spring. An air spring, more precisely. Like the ones used in air suspensions. And in basket balls.

        This was the reason for the invention of the compression release / Jake brake for diesels. With one of those in place, air is still compressed. But at the top of the compression stroke, the exhaust valve is popped open, so the air is let out/burped. Resulting in the piston having to work to compress the air going up, but there then not being any compressed air available to rebound it going back down. But absent such a mechanism, compressing air just to have it rebound, dissipates very little energy. As in, it provides very little engine braking.

        Diesel pickups have exhaust brakes (Jake Brakes aren’t exactly quiet and suitable for daily drivers…), which places a constriction in the exhaust system. This achieves pretty much the same thing as a constricted throttle body on a gas engine: It provides resistance to the air the pistons are pumping through the engine. Dedicated exhaust brakes tend to provide more resistance than throttle bodies, as they are more robust; but the idea is the same.

        IOW, absent compression release/Jake brakes, it makes no sense to remove what restriction is already native to gas engines. Augmenting it with a diesel style exhaust brake would help, but is probably not very cost effective. Hybrids with regenerative brakes will probably make more sense in the future, as they can use store the energy captured in batteries, and later use if for other purposes.

        1. Stuki Moi, most of the modern diesels now *do* have electronically controlled throttle bodies in about the same location as a gas engine. The purpose is to help control how much fresh air vs EGR is coming into the engine. It could be shut completely, but this would negate the effect of the exhaust brake.

      2. JJ, fuel is cut from the gas injectors when the driver’s foot is not applying throttle or brakes. It has been this way for quite a long time now. Opening the throttle body on a gas engine would eliminate all engine braking effect…

    11. 1. weird the raptor is so much better downhill, using an online gear calc between the two at any rpm in the same gear is about .5 mph
      2. second gear is too low, 6000rpm would only get you to 51mph
      3. running high rpm downhill doesnt add any heat aside from friction, if it wasnt for closing thermostat the coolant temp would drop.
      4. adding more air to compress wouldnt slow it down, because once you compress it it will want to return to a lower pressure during the downward stroke ( cylinder cutout works on the same principle but opposite pressure, it absorbs some work when trying to pull the piston down when intake is closed, but the piston springs back traveling upward because of the vacuum)
      5. would be interested if using sport mode would work better downhill. owners manual says sport provides additional engine braking.
      6. should use OBD2 to read what the throttle body position is on the downhill, i doubt they are able to fully close it.

      1. My theory on the Raptor doing so well downhill is that the big, wide 35″ off road tires have much more rolling resistance than a standard F150 tire. It also had a 4.1 rear axle if I remember right.

        1. Yes. The higher rear number will help to manage braking torque by the transmission and engine easier. I did some calculations and it’s much easier to slow down fast spinning transmission output with less torque (4.1), than slower spinning one with more torque (3.55).
          I bet, you will have a better Mpg with higher differential (4.1), because, you can move the load easier from dead stop without much boost of the ecoboost engine. It won’t help, if you have a heavy foot of course, but if you use the rear end and tranny to do the job , instead of boosted engine, you should see some results.
          Boost is the enemy of ecoboost Mpg.
          It would be interesting to see the same test , with different rear ratio. TFL ?

        2. I have a 2018 Raptor and tow to and beyond it’s max rating. It has very poor engine braking. The 35’s do have more rolling resistance but they also are harder to slow down than smaller tires. The Raptor’s do all have 4.10 axles; this is not going to help it slow down, though. A numerically higher axle ratio means the engine would be at overspeed in a lower gear trying to maintain 60mph down a hill…so only higher gears could be used. A numerically lower axle would allow lower gears to be used. In the end, it probably comes out as a wash.

      1. Nathan’s just a spoiled brat, miffed that he has sit his ass in anything below a Platinum trim truck…. 🙂

        Maybe my sensibilities aren’t sufficiently refined for the modern world of $80K half tons, but mediocre wouldn’t be how I would describe a brand new Lariat level truck….. (Nor similar trim levels from other makes.)

        1. @Stuki. While I also think the new Lariat trim is better than the King Ranch from 15 years ago, the correct comparison is against comparable trim levels in GM, Ram, Toyota, and Nissan. I was really impressed with the interior of my brother in law’s Platinum Nissan and my dad’s Laramie Longhorn Ram. I haven’t been inside an up level trim Ford or GM since 2013, so I don’t have an good comparison.

        2. There’s not a lot of difference between a Lariat interior and a Platinum interior on a Ford truck. The seats are a nicer leather (or at least more of the seat is real leather compared to pleather); the wood inserts are real wood veneer and not printed wood, and there is a small smattering of additional plasti-chrome (around the power seat controls and climate / radio knobs, for example). More features which are optional on the Lariat will be standard.

          The Ford Lariat has a nice interior, don’t get me wrong. I think the complaints lie in still too much hard plastic trim and visible cut-lines. Not enough-soft touch areas. Ford has improved this interior over the previous generation, but honestly the materials quality looks better in a RAM. But if Nathan was being fair, he would note the Ford interior offers more technology and features than you can get on any other half-ton, so that should help offset materials quality.

    12. So here is a question on subjective….. If the next 1/2 ton goes up and has a decibel of 1 or more higher then the ford does it get docked subjective points and does trucks that come in quieter get additional points? Also if a truck doesn’t have advanced features such as trailer back up assist type feature or maybe power telescoping mirrors does it get knocked subjective points.

      Subjective is one of those things that should wait till its all over and all the trucks tested have had a chance and then the subjective score awarded once all have been tested. Maybe take notes on each truck so as not to disadvantage and early truck. Then award a subjective score to each truck at the award ceremony as a big reveal on the winner.

      1. A V8 (or I6) should get awarded extra points for every decibel they add when going WOT up the Ike…. Why else get a V8?

        For the rest, the quieter the better…..

    13. Pretty good performance. Ford has done well with the new powertrains and other small improvements to stave off the upcoming new models from GM and Ram that will surely bring some improvements to the market.

      Ecoboosts definitely DONT get good mileage . Need to rename them BOOSTeco , much more realistic. Amazing that 6.2/8spd consistently gets better mileage ( pushrods and all ) AND has much more top end power.

      Really should do a test of these down at sane altitudes . Turbo advantage evaporates and in the HEAT , it would be interesting to see how they perform – forced induction usually doesnt like the heat as much. The exact OPPOSITE of what the IKE usually is with high altitude and low temps.

      I have spent a lot of time in my 14 High Country Silverado 6.2 and my partners 15 F150 (King Ranch I believe) Ecoboost. Both are loaded . Mine is faster , period, in all out acceleration from a dig or roll. In the high heat here in Texas during August , the Eco is down a bit more than my 6.2. With a trailer (7K work trailer of our biz) his off idle pull is odd with a slight hesitation till boost hits (lag) but then his low mid range is slightly better but top end is down….without a load its almost not noticeable. His has more small options the Chevy didn’t offer like push button start and rear air vents and panoramic sunroof . My Chevy feels more substantial and made of a solid piece. His rides slightly better but sags significantly more with load. His rear seats have more room but the bed is slightly shorter. Brakes are about even. Both have the old 6 spds and Fords calibration was better until I got an update ….now similar. Almost everyone that rides in either thinks the GM interior is slightly better in these two high enders. Less hard cheap plastic , better console space , more comfy front seats, better infotainment. We insure them both with our biz carrier and his is more expensive to insure. Like his headlights and tail lights better. Mine sounds WAY better.

      Honestly , both great trucks.

      New for 18 F150’s definitely take things to a new higher level. I am sure the upcoming GM products will be right there with them. These tow have long competed VERY closely . Ram is the real up and comer….love the looks and unique features but they need an update which is very close now too……

      1. Pretty much every auto magazine that has tested similar-trim GM and Ford half tons, EcoBoost vs 6.2L, finds the EcoBoost to be the quicker truck. And nobody wants their engine to be screaming along at max “top-end” power when towing. This is where the turbo Ford pulls better at lower RPMs. It doesn’t need to be wound out to produce peak torque.

        I agree EcoBoosts do not get good fuel economy, although they can if they are being driven gently with only passengers. A light foot is key.

        Your 6.2L (or any GM V8) is going to sound a lot better, no doubt there.

        I like the High Country seats and agree they are more comfortable than any seat in the Ford F-150. But I disagree about the rest of the interior. GM still has as much cheap plastic as Ford, even on top-trim trucks. GM has the weird off-center steering wheel, and there is no way GM’s center console offers more storage space. Multiple magazines have put Ford’s console as the largest in class.

        The panoramic moonroof makes the inside of the truck seem so much brighter and airier, and is awesome at night. Ford offers power running boards, ambient interior lighting, rear A/C vents, a 400W inverter with two 110V plugs (GM’s is 150W), adaptive cruise control, auto high beam will full LED exterior lighting (GM still won’t even offer an LED third brake lamp, despite LED tail and brake lamps) plus GM does not have LED reverse lamps like Ford has. All in all, the Ford makes you feel pretty special riding inside. Not saying the High Country isn’t a pleasant place to be…it is…but the Ford is more modern and techy.

    14. So Ford gets docked for having confusing power mirrors. But I do believe they are the only one that has power extending mirrors. Plus all manufactures have it so you have to select a side first. I’ve had them in my last two pickups. Not that hard to figure out.

        1. Part of the issue with the mirrors is they are not used to them. If you actually own the vehicle you would know the systems better and be used to them. Having power folding/telescoping mirrors is simply awesome to have as a feature. Just like trailer brake controller location and how a radio works.

          1. The weird thing is that my 2014 is pretty simple. It has a normal mirror “joystick”, which when flipped back, folds the mirrors. Then it had a separate rocker switch for extending and retracting the mirrors.

      1. The biggest downer with the Ford pickup tow mirrors; is that Ford already have the best mirrors available on anything short of a Class 8, parked right over in the Transit aisle…. Spend some time in a Transit, and every other pickup/van mirror design is just “but why???”

    15. Very little video on the downhill portion, I would like to see more of that. Uphill was great. Also for Christmas from TFL I would like a camera on the side of the rear bumper to show any trailer sway (which didn’t look like much or any). At any rate it would be nice to see.
      Overall nice video, wish it was longer I wanted to see more!

    16. I think the main reason these trucks are having so many break applications on the downhill is because of the way the tfl crew drives them out of the tunnel! They come out in a high gear( maybe 8 or 9).
      Rolling right along at 60 mph right over the edge of the hill, passing several signs telling them ” trucks use lower gear”. Even with the “runaway truck ramp” just a few hundred yards ahead, they just allow the truck to once again reach 60mph before hitting the breaks to bring it done to 50mph. Here is how I was taught to drive a heavily loaded truck: As you approach the edge you slow down and downshift before you go over the edge. Old rule of thumb says: whatever gear you had to downshift to going up the hill, you will need that same gear on the downhill (just like in this video.3rd gear uphill, 3rd gear downhill). In summary, you can’t drive a fully loaded truck like a car. That’s what those signs are there for. In addition, like Rambro pointed out above the 3.73 gears, irreguardless of final gear ratio, would help lower the number of brake applications on the way down with this truck.

    17. Question on the downhill part; is the cruise control being set to dictate a desired speed? If not, how is a truck to know what speed is desired? In other words, maybe I want to speed up to 70 and not stay between 50 and 60. I would think that if I want a certain speed downhill, I would either a) set cruise, b)apply brakes or c)manually downshift. I’m not clear on why brake applications are being counted as a bad thing when the truck has no idea what the desired speed is.

      1. With tow haul mode on, and cruise control off, most trucks are programmed to hold the speed at which you let off the brake pedal. In this test, they hold the brake to slow down to 50 mph, and that tells the truck to try to hold that speed until either the brake or accelerator is used again.

        1. This is not how my 2014 ecoboost works either. It only actively downshifts if I have cruise control on and the speeds starts to climb or I tap the brakes. It doesn’t just downshift if you are coasting down a hill with no cruise or brakes.

    18. Why did it receive a 22 on subjective when it had 10 brake applications and this truck has such a mediocre interior? The 2016 ram that was tested had less brake taps and went up the hill faster with comparison mpg and only scored an 18 on the subjective. The ram still has a nicer interior as well. Please explain TFL.

      You are starting to show bias big time.

        1. A lot of people like me want a hard working truck with the best drivetrain and could care less about gadgets, gizmos, and fancy stuff in the cab. Waste of money…

        2. Ford offers more features on their interior than RAM or GM. Does the Ford interior feel “cheap” on a hot day when cold A/C is blowing out the rear seat vents as opposed to a GM with none? Does it feel “cheap” when you gaze up at the skyscrapers in Manhattan through the all-glass roof when RAM and GM only offer a small sunroof? Does the interior feel “cheap” when everything is nicely lit at night, including all the roof switches…even the rear courtesy lights…plus programmable ambient lighting? RAM does not even offer rear seat reading lights…
          Maybe the Ford feels “cheap” when you look at the 8″ high-res instrument cluster display…compared to RAM’s 7″ display? Or perhaps you think the Ford interior is “cheap” because it’s two 110V outlets run at 400W instead of RAM and GM’s 150W? Or because the Ford can massage you in either of it’s front seats, but the RAM and GM can’t? Perhaps the genuine wood veneers in the King Ranch and Platinum feel cheap? Perhaps the heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, and heated steering wheel feel cheap? Maybe the power-adjustable tilt and telescope steering column feels cheap? Or maybe it feels cheap to sit in the cab of the safest truck on the road?

    19. Here they are limited to roughly 8000lbs for a 70mm towball.
      After seeing the Ike Gauntlet and the Super Ike Gauntlet it makes sense. Ecoboost does not have a lot of engine braking

      1. At this point I don’t think any other half ton would do any better downhill. The only half tons that have done better had 6 speed transmissions. Maybe the Tundra would still do well downhill?

    20. Just want to say how much I love the new subjective score system. If I wasnt so poor I would support you guys more Lol.

      Thanks TFL for listening to the reasonable fans here. It makes me overlook the fact that you didnt get a 5.0 with a 10-speed :p

      1. So I watched that 6.2 running downhill. The engine was running at around 3250 Rpm and not screaming 5,000 Rpm like ecoboost did.
        I think, that TFL should use cruisecontrol in 6.2 case and it would downshift more and keep it at 50 Mph with ZERO brake applications.
        Ecoboost has no room to downshift , because it was at the red line already.
        6.2 had plenty of room, if running by me.
        I know ,that TFL wants to do the computer all the thinking, but they did a lousy job this time and you don’t see the whole picture, because of that.

        1. i still think there is a procedural issue with the f150. by default you would assume all cars are programed to coast as far as possible if you just lift off the gas. same with tow haul mode, until you touch the brakes. someone at work with a Prius said it wont regen brake on long downhill sections unless you ride the brakes, or set the cruise control, otherwise it will gain speed as you coast. i would like to see cruise control used.

          aside from displacement you think the f150 would be better at engine braking being able to phase cams independently, and possibly play with wastegates. TFL should ask ford engineers whats the proper way to go downhill.

          1. Well TFL did everything they could with 3.5 ecoboost running at Rpm close to the red line. There is no escape from speeding up and up shift with ecoboost to prevent engine damage.
            GM had room to downshift and they should also ask GM engineers how to run it properly.
            I bet, just activate a cruise control and GM would have ZERO brakes applications.
            Ecoboost won’t make it and will upshift , when red line is reached.
            There is no replacement for displacement.

    21. Power Wagon hit the brakes ONCE and truck was running at lower gear probably, with engine running at higher RPM, judging by the noise, because I can’t see the gauge.
      If RAM could do that, so GM could.
      There is no replacement for displacement.

      1. Ok, so why did the small displacement turbo engine do better with fewer braking events in older Ike Gauntlets with the old 6R80 transmission vs. this new one? Even the almighty GM 6.2 with the 8 speed had many braking events. I think it’s transmission related.

    22. TFL might need to redo the GM 6.2 test with cruise control on, to get the whole picture, what engine and transmission is capable of, when going downhill, stopping heavy trailer. The test they did doesn’t tell you anything about that. It’s just telling us , that computer doesn’t hold a downhill speed agressively, when in tow/haul mode, because it didn’t downshift, even engine Rpm allowed that easily.
      I don’t care ,how engine and transmission is programmed. I want to know, which engine and transmission combo will hold the speed without applying a brakes.
      I bet GM will hold it and have Zero ,or max One brake, like Power Wagon.

    23. Subjective score should be done at the end with the whole TFL cast with and the notes they gathered. Roman will be facilitator and write pros and cons of each truck on white board. After debates are over, subjective scores are rewarded. Just a thought.

      That would be a great video to watch. Even if it’s a half hour.

    24. did this truck have the 20 inch wheels and max tow package. also MR TRUCK could u explain what wheel size would be better 18 or 20 and what effect each one has pros and cons

      1. I dont believe it does. I think it has 18’s which means it does not have the upgraded rear springs, steering gear, and some others stuff. It also doesnt have the maximum 18400 lb GCWR.

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