When I decided to have a third kid it was clear to me that a simple SUV or sedan wasn’t going to cut the mustard in terms of space and utility. You simply cannot fit three baby seats in a standard five-person layout so my choice was abundantly clear. We decided to go with the 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan Stow N Go with the DVD entertainment system and I can safely say that it was one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. It had all the space we could ever need and the ability to seat seven came in handy many times. Driving the minivan didn’t bother me at all either (though my wife refused to be seen in it).
Fast forward five years to today and now two (soon to be three) children have switched to booster seats and the Caravan is getting a bit long in the tooth. What a perfect time to test the new F-150 to see if it’s a good candidate to become our next family vehicle.
Trim Levels For Any Need
The F-150 has an array of configurations and trim levels to support virtually anyone’s need. Whether you’re a construction worker, farmer, family man or just plain want to drive one, the F-150 can accommodate you. Let’s have a look at the different configurations:
XL: The barebones utility truck available in regular and SuperCab versions starting at $27,099.
XLT: The truck for the masses available in all cab configurations starting at $32,249.
Lariat: Moving into luxury truck territory with SuperCrew and SuperCab configurations. Starts at $46,849.
Platinum, King Ranch and Limited are the top of the line fully-decked out models starting at $63,749, $66,349 and $73,549 respectively. They only come in SuperCrew versions.
I had the opportunity to test the XLT 2.7-litre Ecoboost and Lariat 5.0-litre in back-to-back weeks which was extremely helpful in order to compare the two.
The fully-loaded Lariat SuperCrew 4×4 was equipped with equipment package 502A which provides chrome step bars, door handles & front grille, LED headlights, heated front and rear seats and a heated steering wheel. It also had the Tech package (lane keep assist and 360-degree camera) as well as a variety of standalone options including inflatable rear seat belts, a twin panel moonroof, adaptive cruise control, box side steps, tailgate step, active park assist, trailer brake assist and spray-in bed liner for a total MSRP of $71,129.
The 385 horsepower 5.0-litre V8 FFV motor is a powerhouse to say the least. I had a feeling it would be overkill for anything I’d need and I was correct. My tasks consist of bringing kids to daycare and back during the week and to the ski hill & soccer games on the weekend so the 2160-lb payload and 7500 lb towing capacity were not going to be tested to their limits. That said, the power sure was fun to have, especially given that a large snowstorm blanketed Montreal in the week I had it. There was a price to pay for all that power in the form of a 19L per 100km observed fuel efficiency.
The F-150 has an incredible four-wheel drive (4WD) system which is easily managed via rotary dial on the dash. There are four modes in the Lariat trim: 2WD, 4A (auto), 4-High and 4-Low. The 4A setting is interesting since contrary to an all-wheel drive vehicle which uses sensors and computers to detect which wheels to send power to, 4WD vehicles use a transfer case operated by way of a switch to connect both drive shafts and split the torque (or rotational force) between the front and rear wheels. Since it’s a mechanical assembly doing the change there can be a delay accompanied with some thumping which is why I prefer to control 4WD myself and tended to avoid this setting.
The Lariat’s leather appointed interior is comfortable though more rugged than I would have thought for a $71,000 vehicle. I was disappointed with the hard leather steering wheel for instance (almost didn’t realize it was leather) and the seating surfaces are definitely made to withstand the heavy workload of a construction crew vs the light duty workload of a family.
Ergonomically the F-150 is stellar all around with a very well laid out cockpit. Most importantly there is a proper shifter instead of not this turn-dial or push button nonsense which cannot be understated. The unique interior door handles are just perfect and the seating position is very comfortable. Ford has done a great job with their Sync infotainment system as I found it very easy to use and well designed. Climate controls are either digital or via physical button which is yet another aspect that Ford gets right. Nothing is worse than having to scroll through several menus just to blast the heat when you need it. The massive twin panel moonroof was a hit with the fam as was the LED-lit interior.
XLT 2.7-Litre Ecoboost
Ford made headlines with the announcement that the new F-150 would feature an aluminum body rather than traditional steel. Among other things this allowed for a significant weight savings of about 700 pounds. With this much less weight to haul around, a smaller, more fuel-efficient motor could be offered without any drop in performance. For those still concerned with the size of the 2.7-litre power plant I can say that those concerns are not warranted in the slightest. The twin-turbo Ecoboost motor had as much power as I desired and more. The truck felt lighter, more nimble and was more responsive on the throttle than the hulking 5.0-litre. Fuel economy on the 2.7 was still higher than I expected, coming in at 14L/100km. Nevertheless this would absolutely be my choice of powerplant in the F-150.
Both models feature a neat trailer maneuvering system where you could control the direction of the trailer while backing up by way of a dial on the dashboard. There is some setup required including placing a sticker on the trailer to calibrate it with the rear-view camera so I didn’t’ get to test it out.
The XLT variant is decidedly less luxurious inside with no leather seats, smaller wheels, a less prominent front grille, and a slightly less advanced dashboard information system. The XLT also doesn’t get the cool LED headlights with the even cooler LED amber headlight silhouette. To be honest I could live with these differences given the significant price difference between the two models. This model came in at $59,179.
There were a few negative issues that grabbed my attention on both vehicles that I feel the need to point out. The first was that a rear door on both F-150s has trouble closing properly. The second was the silly feature of having the vehicle honk it’s horn several times when you leave the key inside with the motor running. It’s so darn loud it’s embarrasses you.
After two weeks with an F-150 being used as my family hauler I can safely say that it did the job and more. It helps that the F-150 is by far the best-looking pickup truck on the market by a long shot in my humble opinion. The SuperCrew has enough space for the young ones to get in and out of with little difficulty. The 4X4 ensures I’ll never get stuck in the snow and naturally there is the added functionality of being able to transport a massive payload in the truck bed at the same time.
There is a great deal going on at the moment on a three-year lease of a 5.0L XLT 4X4 for $199 bi-weekly with $2495 down that’s definitely worth looking into if you’re hoping to pick one up at a reasonable price.
Update September 9, 2016
I was offered the chance to drive the 2016 F-150 Limited later in the summer and boy what a treat it was. I thought the Lariat was luxurious but the Limited was simply outstanding.
On the interior we have unique Mojave leather seats with a black contour, a cushy leather steering wheel and beautiful wood-grain paneling. The exterior of the vehicle was painted a metallic blue that Ford calls “Blue Jeans” and coupled with the polished 22” aluminum wheels delivered an eye-catching package all around.
The limited is truly a special truck but it has a special price to go along with it at $75,999. Now with Ford’s automatic discounts that are listed on the website, the amount falls to $63,589 which is a little more manageable.