Base price: $26,800 + taxes
As tested: $56,000 + taxes
Highway fuel economy: 9.2-10.6 L/100 kms
City fuel economy: 12.2-15.5 L/100 kms
Competition: Dodge Ram 1500, GMC Sierra, Nissan Titan, Toyota Tundra
Made in: Michigan
What do you think is the ultimate family vehicle? When I put that question out to the Twittersphere a while back, David Lendrum was quick to say it’s the Ford F-150. I was keen to see if the totally new 13th generation F-150 lived up to David’s high praise. It is, after all, the best selling pick-up in North America. So I arranged an F-150 for a week-long 1200 km family road trip to put it through its paces.
The new F-150’s most attention-getting change is the fact that most of its body is now built with aluminium. It’s the first production pick-up truck to do that and has given the F-150 a 700 pound diet as a result. Lighter means it can haul more and has also improved fuel economy. In fact, the smallest engine option – the 2.7-litre Ecoboost – that I was driving in our tester, gets a reported 9.2-12.2 litres per 100 kms. I however, wasn’t able to achieve those numbers. This is a turbo, afterall. And when a turbo spools up to give you a bit of extra power or acceleration, your fuel economy suffers. I found I was getting more like 11.5 litres per 100 kms on the highway.
You can also get this truck with three other engine options going all the way up to a 5-litre V8. And while you may think that you need a larger engine than a puny 2.7-litre to haul around your trailer or boat, I found it to be an exceptionally competent engine. As you can see, once I arrived at my in-law’s family cabin, their sizeable ski boat was quickly hitched to the F-150 and didn’t skip a beat. In fact, this engine is capable of hauling 8400 lbs. Another little jewel I discovered was sport mode. The quick push of a button on the gear shift, changes the throttle and transmission response and turns this truck into a muscle car! And while this does no favours to your fuel economy, it makes it a riot to drive.
I found the suspension was very well tuned for city and highway driving. The truck took turns smoothly without the bobbing in the suspension that you sometimes find with larger trucks. However, when taken onto gravel roads, the F-150 was a bit of a rough ride.
The Lariat trim level on our tester didn’t leave many stones unturned in terms of interior comfort. From air conditioned seats to a leather stitched dash to an easy to use digital display directly in front of the driver, this is a very nicely appointed interior. And the number of nooks and crannies throughout the cabin for storing stuff is incredible. Some cheap feeling hard plastic surfaces seemed strangely out of place but largely, it’s incredible to see how far pick-up trucks have come in the last decade in terms of fit and finish. One thing I found rather odd was the ambient lighting in the cabin that lit up the door panels and cup holders with the colour of your choosing. It seemed unnecessary and rather cheesy. And the central entertainment system, while well laid out, could have a more sensitive touch screen. I was having to really jam my finger against the screen to have my requests met.
Seat comfort meanwhile is fantastic. The leather seats in our tester were firm and supportive and the optional air conditioned seats were more than welcome when I got stuck in construction on a hot summer’s day. The optional super-crew cab was the most spacious I’ve ever seen in any of our tests… even when compared to minivans and SUVs. The super-crew, in fact, has 43.5 inches of rear floor space. That’s even more than the Mercedes S class’s 43 inches and that car is flirting with a limousine level of space and comfort. The rear floor is also entirely flat and the seats can fold up to create an insane amount of very usable cargo space. The other extended cab and super cab options for the F-150 pale in comparison. I am in love with this super-crew option!
The cargo bed behind the cab is available in 5.5 foot to 8 foot box lengths and Ford now offers a spray-in liner direct from the factory as a $500 option. Another option I really appreciated was the auto open tailgate. The press of a button on the key fob lowered it from a distance for loading everything from groceries to hockey gear. It’s a good thing too, because the tailgate on the F-150 is quite heavy and a bit of an effort to open and close manually. Other cool features for the box include LED lighting and an optional side step that allows for easy access to the box yet folds under the truck when not in use.
Ford’s new aluminium body when coupled with the super crew cab passed the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s rigorous tests with flying colours, earning it a top safety pick from that organization. While the the extended cab didn’t perform as well. Adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning are other options that help keep passengers safe.
There’s a reason why pick-up truck sales are booming right now. They’re comfortable, practical, fuel economy numbers are quickly improving and you can do a lot of different things with them. As a family vehicle, the F-150 with its super-crew option is a great choice. If you put a canopy over the box, you’d have a secure and dry place to haul anything a family might need. It’s more than capable as a hauling truck for your camping trailer or boat. The super-crew has your kids riding in limo-like comfort. Driving this truck is a breeze – although parking it can be a little tricky in tight parking lots. And if you feel like getting sporty now and then, that sport button on the gear shift is a riot. So, David, you weren’t kidding, this is a more than capable family driver. Thanks for the suggestion!
Family Wheels pros:
Family Wheels cons:
Family Wheels target: one to three child families. Fantastic rear legroom in super-crew means child seats fit very well
Family Wheels driver comfort score: 4/5
Family Wheels rear passenger score: 4.5/5 (super-crew)
Family Wheels trunk test score: 5/5… it’s a pick-up
Family Wheels driveability score: 4/5
Family Wheels fuel economy score: 3/5
Family Wheels value score: 3.5/5