2018 Ford F-150 XLT Review: Basic, Not Bougie

“Go ahead and hang out in the lounge, Enterprise is on their way and we’ve got you in another truck.” I left the service manager’s office and parted ways, temporarily, with my 2018 Ford F-150 Lariat. It’s had a few issues that one dealer couldn’t (or wouldn’t) diagnose, but traveling farther from home revealed a different service department that quickly identified what needed fixing. When the Enterprise agent pulled up in a 2018 Ford F-150 XLT, I figured it would feel just like home.

Ford wanted me to drive this F-150 XLT so badly that they sold it to Enterprise, who partnered with Battlefield Ford and provided it to me when my F-150 Lariat was making a cacophony of noises from the sunroof, left rear door, IWE, and variable camshaft timing solenoid.

What Is It?

This is a 2018 Ford F-150 XLT SuperCrew with a 5.5′ bed. A friend asked me how it was otherwise equipped, and my answer was “sparsely.” Any trim of F-150 can be optioned up to kinda-sorta surpass the next one (my Lariat is basically a Platinum), but this XLT is a no-options-otherwise XLT.

The XLT trim takes the base XL and adds one-touch power windows, power door locks, carpeted floors and cloth seats (instead of vinyl), cruise control, a mirror on the driver’s sun visor, 17″ alloy wheels (instead of steel) and some chrome accents on the bumpers. Yes, if you want crank windows and manual locks on a brand-new truck, you can buy one with “XL” on the fenders.

My particular truck also has the 2.7L EcoBoost V6 engine, mated to the 10R80 10-speed automatic transmission and rear wheel drive.

How Does It Drive?

I thought, like I said, that I’d feel “at home” in this XLT. After putting a few miles on it, the differences between the stripped-down, 2.7L twin-turbo V6 truck and my loaded-up 5.0L V8 Lariat became apparent.

The two engines make the same 400 ft-lb of torque, but the 2.7L EcoBoost is down on horsepower – 325 hp to my 375 hp. But, the boost comes on low in the rev range and the engine pulls strong all the way to redline. It feels more well-mated to the 10-speed automatic, as the shifts can click off as the truck stays in boost with no loss in power.

My Lariat also has the “FX4” off-road package, which includes a set of Hankook all-terrain tires, which are more aggressive in tread than the Michelin highway tires on the basic XLT. The FX4 also includes “off-road tuned” shock absorbers. Both items contribute toward a more harsh ride, especially when my truck is unloaded.

Between the turbochargers, the tires, the shock absorbers, and the lack of curb weight — remember, I have a heavy panoramic sunroof, heated-and-cooled-everything, and all the four-wheel-drive equipment — the XLT feels far more sprightly around town. It feels more like a grown-up Ranger, whereas my Lariat drives like a shrunken SuperDuty.

How Basic is “Too Basic?”

Here’s the thing. My F-150 Lariat is my only street-legal vehicle. Living in a high-rise in a city forced me to get rid of my “fun” daily driver and consolidate to one car, and that one car had to tow my racecar with ease. When picking out my F-150, I wanted it to be very well-equipped as it was more than just a tool for towing.

However, if I were daily-driving something else and just needed a truck for basic truck things, this F-150 XLT would fit the bill well. The stock sound system is surprisingly good, the bench seat up front is comfortable, and it has the basic amenities that we all expect on any new car today. The 2.7L EcoBoost drivetrain is the real surprise, packing plenty of punch for most drivers. Add in Ford’s optional $275 trailer brake controller, and it would tow my enclosed racecar trailer as well as my Lariat does.

The F-150 XLT from Enterprise has a MSRP around $41,000, which sounds expensive. But, consider that the very dealer where my F-150 Lariat is being serviced has a few similarly-equipped XLTs listed around $33,150 before you even go in to negotiate.

A no-options XLT is definitely not the glamorous, luxury pickup truck that every domestic brand seems to be pushing in advertisements lately. But, it is absolutely enough for many buyers who just need to do “truck stuff” without all the fluff.

5 thoughts on “2018 Ford F-150 XLT Review: Basic, Not Bougie”

  1. It’s actually sort of refreshing to see a truck equipped with just the bare necessities instead of loaded up with every luxo-car amenity and a pricetag to match. Some people just need something to haul or tow with, and this seems to fit the bill nicely. Awaiting your update on what (if anything) was the culprit on your noise issue.

    • Oh, it definitely is. And a lot of press fleet vehicles end up arriving fully loaded, which doesn’t always reflect how the average consumer would option theirs. Trucks, in particular, seem victim to this, and I suspect that a large percentage of what Ford sells come equipped as some form of XLT, with the fleet-spec XL and higher-trims on the tails of that distribution.

      I know what two of the three culprits were, the third is still being investigated. This has been a mildly unpleasant tale that this dealer is working to rectify, and I’ll absolutely be writing up how things have gone once the red truck is back in my hands. I’m thankfully not alone in these issues, but Ford’s response has been lackluster as well…


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