It won’t be long before your choices from Ford will be an SUV or one of these – an F Series pickup, beginning with the F-150 stable.
I’ve just spent a week truckin’ around in a 2018 F-150 dressed in Platinum FX-4 trim that carries as price tag right up there in entry level luxury sedan territory, but with a whole lot more utility and a ton (half-ton?) of electronic gizmos.
The test truck adds $8,020 in options to a base price of $70,579, including $450 for the stunning ruby red metallic paint. This is a 4×4 I wager wouldn’t see any serious off-roading but it definitely has the capability and it makes gravel tracks and muddy cottage trails easy going.
There’s been a great deal of talk about the diesel offering for F-150, but this big boy has a 5.0L V8 under the hood. Hooked to a 10-speed automatic, it gets power to all four wheels via a dial-a-mode 4WD knob on the instrument panel.
This isn’t a particularly cheap date at the gas bar. I averaged 13.5 L/100 km which is close to the advertised 13.0 L/100 km combined consumption. It sounds like a lot, but for us older folk brought up on imperial measure, that translates to 22 mpg and I remember when that was terrific mileage for a full-size sedan and downright miraculous for a pickup. But gas was a whole lot cheaper then.
Today, it’s disconcerting to watch the pump numbers spin as I fuel up the 139-L tank. It does give an appreciable range though.
Headwinds and cross winds take a toll on rage and pulling a trailer would cut the mileage performance by half. If you’re lucky.
Besides it’s considerable hauling and towing capability, there’s a lot to like about this truck. Its 157-inch wheelbase means there’s plenty of room in the crew cab for passengers (front and rear) and with the rear seats folded up there’s huge out-of-the-weather storage.
Power deploying running boards make entry and exit easy for us old folks to climb into that spacious cab, but those boards still get dirty and they’re tough to clean.
The tailgate is a treat in itself. It can be lowered by pushing a button on the key remote and it houses Ford’s concealed truck box access step. There’s also a set of mechanically deploying side steps to aid reaching over the sides of the box. They’re helpful, but experience shows they tend to gum up with mud and freeze up with snow and slush.
Inside, this F-150 has all the comforts of a up-level sedan with high-end amenities like heated and ventilated leather seats, navigation, keyless entry, remote start, reverse camera system with cross-traffic alert, Sync3 infotainment system with voice control, power everything plus a top-notch audio system and a twin-panel moonroof to let the sun shine in.
The tester adds truck-specific goodies like power adjustable pedals, power extendable outside mirrors, trailer brake controller and Ford’s brilliant trailer backup assist in addition to active park assist.
Once inside, I discover I have a great view of the outside world. Nothing can sneak up on my blind spot.
Connecting to my iPhone takes about 15 seconds and a working spoken relationship with Sync is easily established. Look ma, no hands.
Gauges are easy to read in all lighting situations and there are knobs for audio and HVAC. I love it because knobs are what I grew up with, knobs are simple and knobs quickly become intuitive without taking eyes off the road, unlike touch screens (and this truck as a beauty).
Once under way, the 395-horsepower V8 pulls strongly and the 10-speed automatic transmission is a smooth operator.
I find the steering is light and a bit numb on centre and maneuverability, as in all trucks, is a bit of an issue in crowded mall parking lots. Active park assist is a welcome asset because it takes the *&%##@* out of fitting in.
People who pull trailers would love the trailer backup assist that takes *&%##@* away there too. The system is controlled by a simple knob on the instrument panel that you turn in the direction you want to the trailer to go. Take your hands off the steering wheel and the electronics to the rest.
On the highway, this expensive brick hates headwinds and crosswinds and the ride is still truck-like over less-than-perfectly level roadways. Head toss is an annoyance on rough, uneven thoroughfares.
Otherwise the F-150 is a viable alternative as an everyday driver to an SUV, especially for those who need to carry rough or dirty material on occasion.
What about the rest of the time, you ask? A secure tonneau cover takes care of the stuff you’d otherwise pack inside, leaving all the leg room you and your passengers could want.
Practical. Efficient. In short, a stylishly finished, even luxurious, way to get around no matter where you’re going and what you need to take with you.
If you don’t mind the thirst.
2018 Ford F-150 V8
Trim level: Platinum
Price before taxes: $78,599.00
Configuration: front engine, 4WD
Engine/transmission: 5.0L V8/ 10-speed automatic
Power/torque: 395 hp/400 lb. ft.
Fuel economy ratings: 14.9 L/100 km city, 11.3 highway
Warranties: 3 years/ 60,000 km basic, 5 years/100,000 km powertrain
Competitors: Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, Nissan Titan, RAM 1500, Toyota Tundra