Ford says that its new 2018 F-150 was made possible in part thanks to feedback from loyal customers of the iconic pickup.
Ford’s latest flagship truck features a more powerful engine line-up, high strength materials, class-exclusive technologies and a new exterior design. (2018 F-150 redesign summary posted below.)
According to Ford truck designers, creating the next chapter in pickup design comes down to three main concepts: understanding F-Series design heritage, knowing the wants and needs of Ford truck customers, and applying a dose of craftsmanship where pen meets paper.
“We call our F-Series customers ‘bold guardians of the brand,’” says Ford truck design chief Gordon Platto. “These customers know our Built Ford Tough DNA, and they want their trucks to convey strength, capability, boldness and power – without being ‘in your face’ aggressive.”
The team meets multiple times with truck owners throughout the design process in an effort to understand how they use their trucks and what they want in terms of features and style. Recent immersions involved designers, engineers and product marketers embedding with owners to gain a deep understanding of customer routines and develop owner personas to refine the truck’s design.
“Our success starts and ends with our customers,” says Sean Tant, Ford design manager, truck studio. “We always go back to our customers to test our designs. They want their truck to embody the F-Series brand identity and purpose-built appearance, so we continually rework our designs and retest them until we get it right.”
Like the all-new F-Series Super Duty, the 2018 F-150 gets a billet-milled body for a new look. (See additional photos below.)
A horizontal twin-bar grille is intended to convey strength, precision and muscularity while accentuating the width of the new F-150. All-new C-clamp headlamps wrap tightly to the grille, offering LED lighting and signature daytime running lamps to emphasize F-150’s segment-leading innovations. The chamfered nose and fenders were designed to underscore the power and toughness of the available new powertrains.
“F-150 needs to look solid, confident and capable,” says Tant. “All design elements need to have individual as well as collective strength. We wanted to continue with the billet-milled style introduced in 2015 while visually making the truck look wide and planted.”
From a profile view, the truck carries forward signature F-Series cues like the drop-down in the front doors. Wheel openings, as well as wheel and tire proportions are another area in which strength – as opposed to an over-bodied appearance – is emphasized. Large-diameter tires wrap six all-new wheel designs ranging from 17 to 22 inches.
Ford says customers want functional, authentic trucks, which is why the automaker uses traditional frame-mounted bumpers and minimizes plastic covers or fascias.
“Form and function matters to Ford truck customers,” says Platto. “Chrome conveys durability and functionality in our customers’ eyes. Ford trucks need to be purpose-built for work and instill confidence among those who use them.”
From the rear, style cues follow the same design philosophy, with a billet-milled treatment around the fenders, tail lamps and tailgate. The tail lamps provide good illumination, and the F-150 badge on the tailgate is replaced with the stamped-in nameplate of popular XL, XLT or Lariat trim levels, while premium King Ranch, Platinum and Limited series feature a unique satin chrome appliqué.
Tying it all together is where the craftsmanship comes in, according to Platto and Tant.
“When we are designing F-150, we really look at the truck through the eyes of our customers,” says Tant. “We pay attention to detail, and always strive to ensure the truck demonstrates quality – in how its lines meet, accelerate and move through space. We always work to ensure a proper crown is added to the surfaces.”
At the end of the day, members of Ford’s truck team ask themselves whether a truck redesign is Built Ford Tough. If not, it’s back to the drawing board to make it right, so that every Ford F-Series truck continues to live up to the legacy of best-selling truck in America.