Mountain Wheels: Ford’s F-150 family aims for total domination
Clearly Ford has no problems selling as many F-150s as it can build. In 2018, the company sold more than 900,000 F-Series trucks — approximately one every 35 seconds — and more than 32 million have been sold over the years. Forbes claims Ford made some $41 billion in 2017 just on F-Series sales alone.
That is one hell of a lot of American heavy metal and quite a testament to the appeal of pickups, which are not quite the inexpensive utility vehicle your parents or grandparents may remember them being.
I’ve had two recent examples, including a new light-diesel powered F-150 and a top-of-the-line Limited crew cab that priced in at an ouch-inducing $74,775. But if you spend any time on the road, you’ll see F-150s of its caliber absolutely everywhere, and not as some high-priced rarity.
Welcome to the new world of the American truck, where full-size utility meets posh family comfort, or something like that. As I found with the competition, the Chevy Silverado, the rear seat of a crew cab F-150 is indeed the biggest and most comfortable passenger space you’re going to find on a modern vehicle. When it’s not just you and the radio riding together.
First, the Limited. Its 145-inch wheelbase is bumped up to even more over-the-top status by the addition of the 450-horsepower, 510-lb.ft. monster engine from the Raptor off-road racer truck, plus a 10-speed transmission.
What else do you get for nearly $75,000, effectively triple the price of the company’s most base model? You get everything, literally. It’s stacked with 22-inch wheels, a cabin finished off with wood paneling and carbon fiber-look details, as well as power running boards, glowing blue and chrome rocker panel plates and a parade-worthy, full-cabin sunroof.
It’s gigantic, and all that torque makes it scary fast, too. Minus the raw acceleration, you’ll notice the handling is commensurate with its 250-inch posture and those oversized, rut-sucking wheels — they occasionally dig into tractor-trailer indentations in the pavement, so you may want to drive with more than one pinkie on the wheel. I’d recommend learning to back into spots in parking lots, using the big side mirrors or even the self-parking function. Those mirrors also make you a very big object on two-lane roads, so be mindful of oncoming traffic.
Most amazingly, all of that bounty generated nearly 20 mpg during my travels, complete with 4×4 at full highway speeds. Quite remarkable, really. The sheer presence is extraordinary.
Does it turn into a Lincoln inside at that price? Not quite. It’s certainly an upscale rendition of the full F-150 family cabin, here with two-tone, sculpted, stitched and heated seats front and back. Dash design is just a bit too busy, with six confusingly similar looking control knobs and an overly complicated nine-button audio setup.
I was equally intrigued with my time in an F-150 running the new 3.0-liter V-6 PowerStroke turbodiesel engine, a 250-horsepower, 440-lb.ft. option that was so quiet and so subtle in displaying any discernible turbo lag that I hardly noticed it was a diesel at all. And that’s quite the accomplishment for a powerplant capably hauling a slightly bigger crew cab truck around — a Lariat Sport model with a 157-inch wheelbase.
Let me reaffirm my support for a non-smoking, non-clattering, easy-to-start and simple-to-use alternative powerplant that got me between 22 and 23 mpg on my drives, though the early hype suggests as much as 30 mpg on maybe a slightly less gigantic build of the truck. The only hiccup, literally, is the near constant jarring of the stop-start function, the control for which I finally located after driving a few days. It might be a mandated gas-saving device, but it’s annoying.
Towing capability for the diesel is rated at 11,400 pounds, so maybe it will find a few customers among people looking for stronger yank and slightly improved overall mileage. You’ll also have to do the math if the fuel savings, the continuing higher-than-regular price of diesel and the additional cost of the engine all make it worth it.
Trust me, there are more than a few F-150s out there, so at least you’ve got choices.
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