In an effort to do something a bit different –shake up the status quo as it were– Team Ford has enlisted accredited AJAC-journalist Tom Sedens of Wildsau.ca fame to give us an unbiased and (in his words) exhaustive look at some of Team Ford’s favourite vehicles. The following is the result of Tom taking a Power Stroke diesel engine-equipped F-150 out for a week and doing the same type of driving that each and every Alberta resident reading this blog takes part in. Working his way through the same snow covered streets, dodging the same famous pot-holes, and listening to the same maddening Oilers games on 630 CHED. If you’re in the market for an F-150, especially of the Power Stroke variety, this is one blog post you don’t want to miss.
A New Heart Beats Under the Hood of the Perennial Half-Ton Sales King
Review and photos by Tom Sedens
There’s nothing new here. You’ll recognize the F150 immediately. The styling has changed slightly over the last few years, but Ford’s adjustments have been evolutionary, not revolutionary. And when you’re selling as many trucks as Ford does, you want to take things slowly. It’s still a great looking truck, and it will age gracefully.
I like the LED strip tail light signature–it’s a cool-looking detail.
My review unit’s Shadow Black paint looked beautiful, and a bit sinister. The huge 20-inch 6-spoke rims, shod with 275/55-sized rubber, fill the wheel wells nicely.
Visually, the only way you can tell it’s a Power Stroke diesel is the badging on the side and a slightly larger tailpipe out back.
Much like the outside, the cabin is familiar territory. If you’ve been in a Ford truck in the last few years, this one will feel similar. That’s not a bad thing. It’s a well-designed, well thought-out and handsomely executed cabin. The materials are pretty nice – the dash has stitched panels on it and I liked the handsome faux carbon fiber trim pieces.
We found the perforated leather seats (which are heated and ventilated) very comfortable and supportive. They would be good road trip thrones.
Front and centre is Ford’s SYNC 3 system, which is one of the easiest-to-use and cleanest systems on the market. It manages the B&O Play premium audio system, your phone functions and voice-activated navigation as well as vehicle settings. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard and work very well here. I love that, while it’s a responsive touchscreen, you can make quick volume and tuning adjustments with large knobs that will work even with gloves on.
Below the screen is a dual-zone automatic climate control, and 12V and 110V household plugs to charge your devices.
For this price level, I had hoped for more driver-assistance technology. It seems a bit spartan, with just a back-up camera with rear proximity sensors and blind spot monitoring. While I’m complaining, I’d like to have wireless phone charging too.
The SuperCrew cab affords space for three passengers that approaches limo-like proportions. I mean, the back seat leg room borders on ludicrous and of course, there’s no shortage of head room either. There’s no compromise in space or comfort for the middle passenger which made all three of my kids very happy.
Rear passengers get adjustable air vents and plenty of power options – a 12V plug, two USB plugs and a 110V household plug
As big as it is, it feels even more open and airy, thanks to the massive panoramic sunroof overhead.
There are a ton of places to put your stuff around the cabin. You’ll find an open bin on top of the dash, as well as a large storage bin under the sliding lid at the front of the console, along with two USB plugs. The glove compartment is large, and there is a massive open storage space under the armrest lid.
Fold the rear seat cushions up (they split 60/40) and you get an absolutely enormous space with a completely flat load floor – and even some underseat storage organizers.
Under the Hood
Here’s the real news. This truck is equipped with Ford’s new 3.0L V6 Power Stroke diesel engine. It puts out 250 HP and, more importantly, a staggering 440 lb.ft of torque at a low 1,750 RPM. All that jam makes its way through Ford’s new 10-speed transmission. This is a 4×4 model, so it is equipped with a rotary electronic shift-on-the-fly knob, allowing you to choose between rear-wheel drive, automatic 4×4, and high and low range full-time 4×4.
Ford rates this combination at 11.8/9.3 L/100 km (city/highway). If that seems impressive, it’s because it is! These are the best fuel economy ratings in the full-size truck class.
On cold Edmonton mornings I really appreciated the F150’s remote starter. I really shouldn’t have to say this about modern diesels any more, but for the record, the engine is quiet and there’s nary a hint of smoke.
The powertrain has plenty of power in every driving situation, although it’s not the-hand-of-God-pushing-you-back-in-your-seat punch you get from the mighty 3.5L EcoBoost. But it’s nice linear power and combined with the almost imperceptible shifts of the transmission, it makes for a very slick driving experience.
You can choose between a number of drive modes – Normal, Tow-Haul, Snow-Wet, Eco and Sport, each of which impact the truck’s responsiveness and how it delivers its power. I was surprised to find an auto start-stop feature on the diesel engine – it’s pretty smooth when it turns off the engine, but you can definitely feel it twist and fire up every time. This feature is defeatable if it drives you crazy.
The F150’s ride is nice, but as with any leaf-spring truck, it gets a bit nervous and jittery over road imperfections. For a full-size truck, the handling is outstanding.
We found the F150 to be serenely quiet while driving – wind and road noise are effectively tamed, and there’s just a bit of diesel clatter when you step on it. Which I loved!
If you head off the beaten path with your truck, the optional FX4 package is for you. It adds a locking rear differential, hill descent control, off-road tuned shocks and protective skid plates.
Trucks have become daily commuters for many, but the bottom line is that they still have to be capable work vehicles. This configuration affords you 1,940 pounds of payload capacity, which makes for a lot of equipment, tools, materials or whatever else you need to throw in the back of your truck.
Accessing the box is no problem from almost any angle. The tailgate can be opened remotely, there are deployable box side steps and that cool integrated tailgate step with handle. The F150’s box is lit with a bright LED box light. What I really liked was the highly flexible BoxLink cargo management system which uses a universal interface system with a wide variety of available Ford (and aftermarket) tools that make your truck box a seriously configurable, customizable work space. You can get accessories like storage bins, hooks, dividers and even things like ramps.
The trailer tow package is standard equipment. F-150 trucks equipped with the new PowerStroke diesel deliver a tow rating of up to 11,400 pounds (5,170 kg). Not only does the PowerStoke make for effortless towing, the truck also has Pro Trailer Backup Assist. This invaluable tool makes backing up a trailer easy – all you do is turn the knob in the direction you want the trailer to go. It’s intuitive and it works. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned trailering pro, it’s hard to go back to the old way of backing up, trying to navigate two vehicles moving in opposite directions at the same time, once you’ve used this system.
WAF (Wife Approval Factor) was fair. She’s not a truck girl, so this is no knock against the F150. She didn’t enjoy parking this beast, but she said she did love the high driving position and the smooth ride.
I mentioned this Power Stroke diesel engine not being as fast as the big EcoBoost. But it’s plenty fast enough for a truck. And its torque is available significantly sooner, which makes it a towing champ. But the real win here comes in the efficiency department. I left this for the end, because after my week in the truck, this was the icing on top. I averaged 11.5 L/100 km over about 500 km and I made absolutely no effort to drive efficiently. That’s mind-blowing – and, by a significant margin, it’s the best mileage I’ve ever measured in a pick-up truck. If you put a lot of miles on your truck, these fuel savings will make a big difference at the end of the year.
The F150 competes with all-new trucks from RAM and GM, yet it totally holds its own. The combination I reviewed brings significant towing and payload capability to the table, and somehow combines it with car-like fuel economy. This is a significant feat, and in my opinion, a game-changer.
That said, considering how many combinations of F150s you can choose from – 7 trim levels, 5 different engines, 3 cab sizes, 3 box sizes and 4×4 – you won’t have any trouble finding the right truck for your needs and wants.
Disclosure: This vehicle was provided by Team Ford.
If you enjoyed this review, feel free to check out my other vehicle reviews under the car reviews tab at the top of my blog.