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2018 Ford F-150 Trim Levels with Comparisons & Configurations.

2018 Ford F-150 Trim Levels, Configurations & Comparisons: Platinum vs Limited vs XLT, Lariat, Raptor & King Ranch
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What 2018 Ford F-150 Trim Level Should you Buy? What is the Difference Between the Trims?

Ford has worked hard to reinvent its workhorse pickup truck - one of the top three best selling vehicles in the United States for decades - into a vehicle that not only fulfils its traditional work truck duty, but also appeals to the increasingly refined demands of the modern truck and SUV consumers.

The 2015 redesign of the F-150 brought in a unique aluminium body that kept up the truck’s tensile strength while significantly reducing its overall weight and boosting its gas mileage. The 2018 mid-cycle refresh is the next step along the F-150’s march into the automotive future. In addition to a fresh new look, the brand-new F-150 includes a whole slate of new safety and technology features alongside new and tuned-up engines.

The resulting vehicle does not just make for a comfortable and sophisticated cruiser that is worthy of its crossover SUV competition, but excels equally as a workman’s truck with its best-in-class towing and payload capacities.

While the 2018 Ford F-150 retains all seven of last year’s trim levels, there is a lot of technology added throughout the lineup that makes choosing the right one for you a little more complicated than before. Additionally, just like the rest of its truck competitors, the 2018 Ford F-150 comes with a large number of additional configurations.

There are three cabin sizes ranging from two-passenger to six-passenger models. There are also three different pickup bed lengths available and five different engine options to choose from. While it is a perfect recipe for making a truck that is just right for you, it can also be a recipe for confusion. This guide sets out to point out the major differences between the different trim levels and provide you with all the advice you need to turn the 2018 Ford F-150 into the perfect truck for you.

Compare the 2018 F-150 XL vs XLT Trims. What is the difference?

The F-150 XL is the quintessential work truck version of the pickup. It starts at a lower price point than either of its major competitors, but it is also appropriately threadbare when it comes to fancy features.

Aside from the government-mandated rearview camera, albeit assisted by Ford’s Dynamic Hitch Assist functionality, there are almost no other technological features to be found. The doors and windows are manually controlled, as is the air conditioning system and the AM/FM radio. Some of those shortcomings can be remedied by the optional power features package, which adds power locks and windows, a CD player, a USB port, and some basic smartphone app functionality.

Despite its rather basic setup, the F-150 XL also benefits from an incredible degree of flexibility compared to most of the other models. It can be spec-ed out with all three cab sizes and bed lengths, as well as all but one of the engine options. That means that it can seat two, four or six people, as well as be fitted with a 5 ½ foot, 6 ½ foot, or 8 foot bed.

It is also, along with the XLT, one of the two trim levels that can be equipped with the base 3.3-liter V-6 engine and a six-speed automatic. The advantage of the base engine is solely in its price point however. It is the least powerful, but not the most efficient choice. It can, however, be upgraded to the smaller turbo V-6 for efficiency and either the larger V-6 or the V-8 for more power.

While the XL is meant as the entry-level work truck model of the F-150, the XLT is the more premium version of the same. It comes with all of the optional powered features of the XL, as well as better cloth upholstery and some nicer interior and exterior accents.

It also can be outfitted with an options package that adds a power driver’s seat, an auto-dimming mirror, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a seven-speaker sound system wired up for SiriusXM. The SYNC3 infotainment system with voice commands and a navigation system are both possible upgrades as well. The XLT is available in all of the same engine, bed and cab configurations as the XL.

The differences between the XL and the XLT are ones of degree rather than kind. These are the models that you select if you are looking for a more bare-bones version of the pickup truck as either a work vehicle or a second car to use for towing or hauling. Most drivers used to cars made in the last decade will find plenty of features missing from these trim levels, such as touch screens and advanced safety technology.

Comfort and convenience aside, these two models are an excellent pick. When equipped with a large bed and one of the high-power engines, they can easily haul or tow as much as some of their larger competitors from other manufacturers.

Which to pick of the two is a matter of how much you are willing to spend and how much time you are likely to spend inside the truck. The upholstery and the audio components of the XLT make long trips in the truck much more pleasant than in the base XL, though the price difference between the two can feel steep for just a little extra comfort. However, if your truck is pulling double duty between being a daily driver and a work vehicle, the XLT may be the perfect compromise.

Compare the 2018 Ford F-150 XLT vs Lariat Trims. What is the difference?

The Lariat is the mid-range model in the 2018 F-150 range, and it trades in a lot of the cost-saving elements of the XL and XLT models for nicer and more consumer-friendly alternatives. The standard upholstery on this model is leather, and both the standard and optional features lists are filled with modern amenities.

Push button start and touch-screen infotainment projected on an 8-inch screen are standard, as is dual-zone automatic climate control and front seats that are powered, heated and ventilated. The ambience of the interior also gets an upgrade from the XLT with extra wood-grain accents and softer plastics. Blind spot monitoring and remote start are among the available options, as is adaptive cruise control, Bang & Olufsen premium audio and a variety of smaller a la carte upgrades like heated rear seats.

It does offer less mechanical options than the XL and the XLT, however. The base V-6 is not available on the Lariat, which means the engine options are limited to either of the turbo V-6 ones or the V-8, all of which come with the 10-speed automatic transmission. It also can’t be spec-ed with the regular cab, coming solely in either SuperCab or SuperCrew varieties.

With a starting MSRP of $41,000, the Lariat is a pricy upgrade on the XLT, but that also demonstrates just how much of a difference in quality there is between the two models. Where the XL and the XLT are fairly spartan in their layout, the inside of the Lariat can easily pass for that of a mid-range SUV. If your plan is to use your truck as a daily driver vehicle, then this will probably be the first model that you can really spec out to match a similarly priced and size crossover.

Compare the F-150 XLT vs Raptor Trims. What is the difference?

Where the Lariat is the luxury upgrade on the base 2018 F-150 models, the Raptor is the performance one. While advertised primarily as the off-road model of the F-150, it is also the best option for drivers looking for excellent performance on the pavement as well.

It may be the most limited model when it comes to layout designs, as it only comes with the smallest bed, either the SuperCab or SuperCrew cabin, and just one engine option. That engine option though, is what makes it all worth it. It is a high output version of the 3.5-liter turbocharged V-6 that makes for the most powerful engine for rest of the F-150 product line. While that version makes 375 horsepower, the Raptor squeezes up to 450 horsepower out of its variant. Going with this impressive engine block is a full range of high-performance accessories, including shocks by Fox Racing, a Torsen front differential and fat BFGoodrich tires.

The Raptor also comes with unique exterior styling and special cloth upholstery exclusive to the model. It can also be upgraded with the standard and optional features from the Lariat trim, with one package including the standard equipment like the leather seats and SYNC3 infotainment, while the other adds Bang & Olufsen audio, front seat heating and cooling, and a 360-degree camera. A technology package can also add lane departure assist, auto high beam control, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and adaptive cruise control with collision mitigation.

The Raptor occupies a unique space among the F-150 models. High performance trucks are a very small segment of the market and the F-150 Raptor is one of the few options in the niche. If you are looking for a vehicle that is big and really fast, the Raptor is the best selection you can make among the F-150s. If you are more interested in comfort than power, then you can get a similar list of amenities for less with the Lariat or much more at a similar price point with the King Ranch.

Compare the F-150 Lariat vs King Ranch Trims. What is the difference?

With the King Ranch, we start entering the premium area of the Ford F-150 trim level selection. The SuperCrew is the only body type from this model onward, and the eight-foot bed also drops off the options list. The 5.0-liter V-8 is the standard engine option, at 395 horsepower, though the 3.5-liter turbo V-6 is available for the higher towing and payload maximums, as well as a small bump in gas mileage, at the expense of 20 horsepower.

From a feature standpoint, the King Ranch includes practically all of the standard and optional features from the Lariat, including the premium audio, touchscreen navigation, and heated rear seats and steering wheel. It also comes with its own special two-tone color scheme for the exterior features and interior upholstery.

The options available on the King Ranch include a mix of appearance and technology upgrades. The King Ranch Luxury options package adds 20-inch uniquely styled wheels, blind spot monitoring, powered tailgate and running boards, ActiveMotion seats, and automatic high beams with rain-sensing windshield wipers. The technology package adds a 360-degree camera, lane keep assist and parking sensors, while a selection of appearance packages let you customize the car’s look.

Where the Lariat is the counterpoint to a mid-range crossover SUV, the King Ranch falls somewhere between the top trims of mass-market crossovers and the entry-level entities in the luxury market. Given the high material quality throughout the interior and the limited bed and cabin options, the pickup truck body functions more like an aesthetic option on this model than a practical addition. This is the pick for those looking for a plush ride with plenty of nice options that can also be helpful when you need to tow a trailer or move something large.

Compare the 2018 F-150 King Ranch vs Platinum Trims. What is the difference?

As the former top end model, the F-150 Platinum is actually a relatively incremental upgrade on the King Ranch when it comes to features, though it also comes with nicer interior trim and more exterior chrome. Pretty much all of the optional features from the King Ranch become standard, outside of the technology package and the adaptive cruise control, which are both part of this model’s Luxury package. Just like on the King Ranch, a dual-pane moonroof is also an option. It can also be equipped with all of the same bed and engine options as the King Ranch.

The Platinum represents only a small increase in cost over the King Ranch when equipped the same way, which makes the choice between the two primarily a matter of taste. The King Ranch is all about its unique dual-tone look and earthy tones, while the Platinum offers a more traditional luxury truck interior and exterior. Besides how they look, the two trims are otherwise close enough to be effectively interchangeable.

Compare the 2018 Ford F-150 Platinum vs Limited Trims. What is the difference?

The 2018 F-150 Platinum is, simply put, the one with everything. It comes in only one configuration, with optional features limited to aftermarket add-ons like a bed liner or a tow hitch. The 3.5-liter turbo V-6, a 5 ½-foot bed and the SuperCrew body are the only available options, and it incorporates all of the optional packages for the Platinum, while wrapping them up in several exclusive styling elements like high-quality 22-inch wheels and unique accents.

The Limited adds only a few exclusives to the potential features you can get on the Platinum, while taking away some customizability options like the V-8 engine. As such, it is unlikely to be popular among anyone who is not attached to its particular visual appearance. All of its features can be had on the Platinum, and even combined into combinations not possible on the Limited. For most, the Platinum will be a better deal than the limited, especially if you don’t want some of the optional features that the Limited bundles in.

Final Thoughts

Which of the many different trim options of the 2018 Ford F-150 will serve you best depends on how you plan on using your new truck. If a long bed and a strong engine are professional or lifestyle essentials, then the XL and XLT models will provide you with the necessary functionality for a very fair price, with the best value between the two depending on how much time you plan on spending behind the wheel.

If you are someone who plans on using their truck for occasional towing or hauling, but is primarily interested in a comfortable crossover, then the King Ranch or Platinum models offer the best combination of style and substance in the lineup, though the Lariat can also be attractive if you are more interested in nice materials than tech features. Finally, the Raptor is the trim of choice for performance enthusiasts thanks to its powerful engine and off-road equipment.

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