I’m sure it is a coincidence that for the last three weeks I have been driving Ford F-series trucks. Today I leave for the first drive for journalists on the 2014 Chevy Silverado at Knibbe Ranch near San Antonio, and there will obviously be comparisons made, if not entirely shared.
That said, I continue to be impressed with Ford’s continuing efforts to keep their flagship F-150 fresh and exciting. Over the next couple of weeks — along with the first drive observations for the Silverado — I will be reviewing the latest models of the Ford F-250 and the F-350 diesel dually.
By way of background, the F-150 is the nation’s best selling half-ton pickup with more than 225,000 vehicles sold from January thru April, 2013. Two weeks ago the company announced 2,000 more jobs in Kansas City at the plant that produces the F-150 and the redesigned Ford Transit vehicles. That certainly indicates a continuing confidence in the F-series, which continues to be a huge seller.
There are so many variations on the F-150 that a single review would not do them justice. There are ten trim options, three cab styles, two bed lengths, four engine choices, thirteen colors and so many technology, functionality and accessories that the combinations are beyond my simple math skills; recognizing that, I will focus on the one that I drove most recently.
What I drove
My ride was a 2013 Supercab 4×4 in blue flame metallic with a black leather interior, 3.5L EcoBoost V6 engine and six-speed electronic automatic selectshift transmission. Visual/functional additions were the 4×4 appearance package — black Raptor-like graphics on the bright blue finish, matte-black tubular running boards and 20-inch aluminum black painted wheels. It screamed sport truck and featured skid plates, a 3.73 electronic locking rear axle and max tow power package with a capacity of 7,700 lbs., pretty impressive for a six-cylinder engine, and adequate for many sportsmen and women.
Other features that made it a work/play wonder were the 145-inch wheel base, heavy-duty 5.5-foot bed with black spray-on bedliner and tailgate step. Load capacity is 2,000-lbs.
Off-road capability was also assured with the shift-on-the-fly gearbox, well-matched engine/transmission and the right skid plates and tires for a great experience.
Base price on this model is $38,765. As driven, the extras took it up to just under $50,000, but it had just about anything I could ask for. The manufacturers also load up their media fleet vehicles so that we can try just about everything, but — on this truck — I think it could be ordered as shown, except I would have opted for a crew cab for added comfort and interior space.
The features that raised our truck from base price to just under $50,000 delivered are the following:
- The 402A Equipment Group ($5,420 including rear view camera, trailer brake control, FX luxury package, heated/cooled front seats, electronic automatic temperature control, HID headlights, power adjustable pedals, reverse sensor system, power sliding rear window, remote start and Sony single CD/HD package.
- Upgrade to the EcoBoost engine and transmission (well worth the $1,095 charge)
- 3.73 rear axle ($70, again a no-brainer)
- Navigation package ($795)
- Max trailer tow package ($565)
- Tailgate step ($375)
- FX appearance package ($1,780)
- spray-on bedliner ($475)
How it performed
It is uncommon for a truck like this to fail to meet or exceed my expectations. The ride was quiet and the suspension performed well, making this a great truck for those times when a truck must serve double or triple duty as sport/work/family vehicle. With exceptions like the Raptor, any truck in this price range should be this adaptable.
While I didn’t tow with this particular vehicle, I have towed and load-hauled with similarly appointed F-150s and, again, they met or exceeded my requirements, making the drive as much a pleasure and the adventure.
It will be interesting to see how many of the Ford Atlas Concept truck features will be integrated into the 2015 F-150. Some of the bells and whistles will not make it simply because they were for show and were, perhaps, not practical. But, I do think that we can expect to see another step up from Ford soon enough to keep the competition on its toes while raising the mark and retaining its #1 standing.
Up next: First drive of the 2014 Silverado, including tow and haul