2018 F-150 redesign further expands on the Built Ford Tough design language, while the truck’s solid billet-milled cues and broad stance – a nod to F-Series design heritage – convey strength and durability. Ford truck designers share their insights on what makes the new F-150 look more capable than the competition, explaining how the truck walks a fine line between exuding confidence, strength and innovation without appearing overly aggressive. Beyond the high-tech industrial tools modern designers have at their fingertips, Ford truck designers rely heavily on customer insight and feedback, as well as design craftsmanship to know what gives their trucks that Built Ford Tough look.
Along with the new 2018 F-150’s more powerful engine lineup, high-strength materials and class-exclusive technologies, its new exterior design conveys a relentless focus on innovation while paying homage to nearly 70 years of the purpose-built, work-tested Built Ford Tough brand promise.
For 2018, F-150 takes signature F-Series design language to new levels by building on its solid billet-milled visual cues and broad stance, while harmonizing with the all-new Super Duty lineup.
According to Ford truck designers, creating the next chapter in Built Ford Tough 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 Built Ford Tough design DNA.
“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.”
Showroom harmony strengthens F-Series brand
Like the all-new F-Series Super Duty, the 2018 F-150 gets a billet-milled body for a new look.
A horizontal twin-bar grille conveys 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 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. With large-diameter tires wrapping six all-new wheel designs ranging from 17 inches to a whopping 22 inches, every F-150 model is sure-footed on-road or off.
Customers want functional, authentic trucks, which is why Ford 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, taillamps and tailgate. The taillamps 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.