If you need luxury with your truck, look no further than the 2017 Ford F-150 Limited. We hit the road to see what it's like.
Make sure you're sitting down when you read this. During a 12-hour daily dealer operating window in December last year, Ford sold five F-150 pickup trucks every minute, almost 300 an hour and around 3,600 per day, which resulted in almost 800,000 units being sold in 2015. And, by all accounts, this year is set to break the records again.
That's around three quarters of Australia's car industry each year for just one model. In fact, it's so popular that it has been America's best-selling vehicle for over 30 years.
So with that in mind, we jetted over to the US of A to test the kitted-out 2017 Ford F-150 Limited, the top-specification F-150 variant that is priced from US$59,600. The entire F-150 range kicks off from a more modest US$26,540.
This monstrous rig measures in at 5890mm in the SuperCrew configuration with the 5.5ft styleside tray. This balloons out to 6190mm when the 6.5ft styleside tray is installed and extends to 6363mm with the 8ft styleside tray in SuperCab configuration. To put these numbers into perspective, the dual-cab Ford Ranger is 'just' 5426mm long.
While it is long, it's actually the width that is the most impressive part of the F-150. It's 2459mm wide — that's almost a full 300mm more than the Ford Ranger, which comes in at 2163mm.
The big numbers continue when it comes to towing and payload. Depending on the wheelbase configuration and hitch arrangement, the highest capacity F-150 will tow a 5400kg load when fitted with the 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6, with the EcoBoost Limited tested here able to pull a 5216kg trailer. Payload for the F-150 Limited comes in at 712kg.
From the outside it's impossible to mistake the F-150 for anything else. The front end features a huge brushed chrome grille with sculpted headlights and exposed tow hitches.
The headlight design features a full LED cluster that includes lights at the top and bottom, along with an LED indicator that lights up the entire outer edge when indicating. The Limited model also proudly wears Limited insignia on the bonnet and features a giant Ford badge.
Sitting on all four corners is a set of 22-inch polished aluminium wheels with 275mm wide all season tyres. They give the F-150 an aggressive look and set the Limited apart from other models in the F-150 range.
Under the bonnet of the F-150 Limited is Ford's latest EcoBoost V6 engine. If you order an F-150 Limited today, you will actually get the new version of this 3.5-litre turbocharged V6 engine, along with Ford's all-new 10-speed automatic transmission, which was co-developed with GM.
The all-new EcoBoost V6 picks up stop/start technology and receives 11 per cent better fuel economy and a 12 per cent better power to weight ratio. The new version of this engine wasn't available to us for testing, so we had to settle for the previous EcoBoost V6 which is a 3.5-litre turbocharged engine that produces 272kW of power and 570Nm of torque (or 365Hp of power and 420ft.lb of torque) at 14.5psi of turbocharger pressure and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
The latest EcoBoost V6 pushes that power and torque figure up to 280kW of power and 637Nm of torque, along with 16psi of turbocharger pressure and a 10-speed automatic transmission. On the official cycle, it consumes 20mpg, which is around 11.8L/100km.
While the F-150 is big in terms of its dimensions, it's not big in terms of weight. The high-strength aluminium alloy tray mates with a steel frame to deliver a standing weight less than that of the Ford Everest. The F-150 in Limited trim weighs in at 2218kg (compared to 2495kg for the Everest, as a comparison).
The F-150 Limited picks up both remote start and remote tailgate operation. Our vehicle had the optional spray in bed liner, which is a rubber material that is sprayed into the tray to offer a grippy surface suitable for sliding items along and holding them in place during driving. There are high-powered LED lights on the sides of the tray, plus an additional light shining into the tray.
Available as an option is what we coined as the stairway to heaven. It's a step that folds out of the tailgate that also has a retractable handle for climbing into the tray — a feature we'd love to see on Aussie dual-cab utes.
Another feature that we initially thought was the biggest gimmick known to man was the retractable side steps. As you open either the driver or rear passenger doors, the side steps fold out from beneath the body.
Unlike a normal dual-cab ute, getting in and out of this rig actually requires either a big step up from terrafirma or the use of these side steps. Needless to say, after a week with the car, we exclusively used the side steps to clamber in and out of the F-150.
Once inside the cabin, the F-150 Limited is all about the bells and whistles. The huge seats in the first row hug nicely and feature a massage function, along with heating and ducted cooling. A giant centre console is dual tiered allowing for two levels of storage — it doesn't come with an air conditioning duct, though.
Infotainment comes courtesy of Ford's latest infotainment system, Sync3. It replaces Sync2, which we've grown to really like, and comes jam packed with technology. Not only can it control features like climate control, the heated steering wheel and seat adjustments, it also comes with a WiFi hotspot for passengers to share within the car.
It can be updated over the air and has a revised navigation system that is nothing short of excellent. Instead of typing in full addresses and waiting for the system to fill fields as you type, all you need to do is type in a keyword or location and hit search. It will then intelligently hunt through its database to find a location — such as LAX, or Treasure Island Las Vegas. It also comes with inbuilt traffic monitoring and route deviation.
While we use DAB+ in Australia, the Americans use Sirius and it's fitted to Sync3. With over 30 million subscribers, it's a paid radio streaming service that is fitted to most modern cars for a monthly or yearly subscription fee and features a number of stations.
Speaking of which, the sound system is a pearler. The 10 speaker, plus subwoofer, Sony sound system pumps out 700W of power and features HD audio, which increases audio clarity to CD quality for both AM and FM when within reception range.
There are two USB ports up front, along with auxiliary power outlets and, more excitingly, two 400W AC power outlets for charging your tools.
The second row features an impressive seat stowage system that allows the bases of the 60:40 split seats to fold upward. This reveals a totally flat load floor, along with a cubby hole for storing valuables. In terms of leg and headroom in the second row... it's incredible. There's loads of toe and knee room and it's easy to fit three big blokes side-by-side. On top of that, there's separate climate controls and seat heating. What else more could you want?!
Let's look at some of the features fitted to this thing. The first one we need to talk about is arguably the most impressive. If you're hopeless at backing up with a trailer (hand your man card in to us for a full refund), you're in luck. The F-150 comes with Pro-Trailer Backup Assist. After using the centre screen to setup the trailer weight and dimensions, all you need to do is use a knob next to the steering wheel to direct where the trailer needs to go.
It's at this point you let go of the wheel and the car reverses the trailer precisely where you need it to go. You can set up 10 trailers within the system and recall them when you hook up — genius. The same system's internals can also check trailer lights and semi-autonomously park the car for you — handy when reversing into tight spaces.
Further assisting the driver is an eight-inch screen that sits between the speedometer and tachometer. It displays the trip computer along with the vehicle's critical functions and can be configured to display a number of gauges and engine temperatures. It also has an altimeter, along with functions to show tilt angle during off-roading.
In terms of letting extra light in, the F-150 features a sliding rear window that can open to increase ventilation. There's also a full length sunroof that can slide open and features an electric cover to prevent excess light entering the cabin.
Other features include radar cruise control with forward collision warning with brake support, 360 degree rear-view camera, power adjustable pedal box, automatic wipers and headlights, inflatable rear seatbelts, electrically assisted steering, three transmission modes for towing, sport and normal driving, leather seats, keyless entry and start, heated and cooled seats, heated steering wheel and lane departure warning.
You would expect a monster-truck-sized truck like the F-150 to drive and handle more like a boat than a comfortable cruiser. Well, think again. As you turn the EcoBoost V6 over, there is a nice idle rumble from the side exiting exhaust.
With 570Nm of torque on offer, the F-150 is ready to move at a moment's notice. It feels virtually lag free thanks to the 3.5-litre V6 portion of the engine, which is then supplemented with 14.5psi of boost pressure, which totally transforms it.
The six-speed automatic transmission is incredibly slick and makes you forget that you're behind the wheel of a five-metre-plus long truck. In fact, under full throttle there is a squeal from the rear tyres before they get traction and monster along.
It will shift from standstill to 60mph in around 6.5 seconds, making it one very quick machine, let alone truck. When the engine is on song, it sounds incredible inside the cabin. That's thanks to an amplification of sound from the Sony sound system.
It takes the noise from the engine bay and digitally amplifies it to play within the cabin. What's better is that it sounds just as mean from outside the cabin too.
Overtaking and acceleration from a standing start is virtually a non event thanks to that 570Nm of torque. We were genuinely surprised at just how quick and versatile the F-150 is.
While the acceleration is impressive, the steering and brakes aren't much chop. The steering provides ample feel, but it's not on par with some of the more refined dual-cab utes in Australia. Likewise, the brake pedal is devoid of feel, which can get a bit annoying when driving in stop/start traffic.
Some of the roads in and around the greater Los Angeles area are pretty average. The ride in the F-150 more than makes up for that with coil springs at the front and two-stage variable rate leaf springs at the rear.
They soak up all the abrupt bumps and the continuous undulations on some of the faster freeways, which would cause sudden jolts in most other cars. There were times where the front felt a little disconnected with the rear due to its length and separate cab. But, overall it was pretty damn impressive for such a big rig.
In terms of off-road equipment, the F-150 is adequately equipped. It comes available in two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive variants in Limited trim. Our test vehicle was four-wheel drive with an optional rear differential lock.
The four-wheel drive modes are operated by a rotary dial that offers 2H (rear-wheel drive), 4A (an automatic four-wheel-drive mode that engages the front axle as required without driver intervention), 4H (a locked four-wheel-drive mode) and 4L (a low-range four-wheel-drive mode). It's pretty easy to use and teams nicely with the graphic display in the centre LCD screen that highlights where torque is being sent, articulation and vehicle angle.
We spent a little over a week and 1000 miles behind the wheel of the 2017 Ford F-150 Limited and were unashamedly impressed with it.
While it's currently not built in right-hand drive, never say never. It's such an incredibly refined vehicle that serves a perfect purpose for those that need a lifestyle commercial vehicle that gets the job done in comfort and luxury.
You can buy a right-hand-drive converted F-150 in Australia at the moment, but we'd love to see Ford do a proper conversion with factory backing. It would have tremendous support in Australia.
It's also worth mentioning that you can get even bigger versions of the F truck. They go all the way up to the F-750 and soon Ford will take the wraps off the incredibly cool looking F-150 Raptor, which we can't wait to drive.
Do you like the idea of Ford importing the giant F-150 to Australia? Would you buy one?