Every single truck in this segment offers its own unique benefits and shortfalls.
In the Canadian pickup truck market, the F-150 has been the king for quite some time now. It’s hard to argue with results when Ford has been selling staggering numbers of these things for decades now, yet when I tested last year’s 2014 model I came away a little underwhelmed. With that in mind, I couldn’t wait to get some quality time behind the wheel of what I consider Ford’s most important redesign of the last few years to see if the new truck is ready to reclaim its title as king of the trucks. Much to my excitement, Ford obliged by sending me the best one they have to offer, a fully decked-out 2015 Ford F-150 Platinum 4×4 Super Cab with all the toys.
First things first, the new aluminum body of the F-150 plays on many styling traits of the previous generation, but in a much louder in-your-face sort of way. It’s a big, powerful, all business pickup truck and it absolutely looks the part. The platinum trim adds body coloured bumpers and miles of chrome trim, 20” polished rims, more aggressive all-terrain tires, and the signature polished aluminum “Platinum” tailgate embellishment to ensure everyone around knows that this isn’t some run of the mill work truck! The F-150’s aggressive looks and proportions made it look simply huge; the truck looks quite a bit larger than the GMC Sierra I recently drove, and a quick check of the dimensions suggest that it is about 4” taller. Its size is right on par with a comparable Ram 1500, yet a part of me wonders whether the extra size really serves any purpose, or is it just big because it can be?
Where being big is unequivocally a good thing is when it comes to the interior of the truck, and the cab of the new Super Cab F-150 is absolutely cavernous. The rear seats offer enough room for three adults to sprawl out like they’re hanging out on an oversized sofa, and the same excessive space carries forward into the front bucket seats as well. If it’s interior volume you’re looking for, the F-150 would be the obvious leader in the segment. One feature I found interesting about the interior layout is the placement of the gear selector in a traditional center console; it looks great and it’s a pleasure to use, but I can’t help but feel like I am giving up a lot of prime storage space to have it there.
Looking past the bells and whistles of the Platinum package, it’s clear that the F-150’s interior- although pretty- is built for work; ergonomics are excellent, storage areas are well planned and easy to clean and the overall fit and finish is competitive with the rest of the segment. I wouldn’t say it’s any better finished than a comparable GM or Ram in that regard. It’s worth noting the MyFordTouch infotainment system equipped in my test truck is one of the best in the business. Ford has mastered the voice command system and the touch screen is good looking, intuitive and lag-free.
Sitting behind the wheel of the F-150 for the first time can be an intimidating experience. Even from inside it feels bigger than its peers and sightlines reduced by the large A and B pillars don’t help. I make a point of driving each and every truck I test to my office in the city to see how it handles the tight city streets and parking. The optional 360-view camera in my test truck made itself very useful. Even for someone who regularly drives full-sized trucks, this beast did take some getting used to. After a few days though, I am happy to report that the truck fit in most city underground garages and even made it into the heart of the city unscathed for a ball game.
That’s a good thing too, because this isn’t a truck I’d want to scratch. With an MSRP of $77,549, this fully loaded top-of-the -line Platinum is the most expensive light-duty truck I’ve ever tested. At that price, it’s also the best-equipped truck I’ve ever driven and comes equipped with every creature comfort imaginable. The Platinum package includes some of the best leather bucket seats in the business, heated all the way around and ventilated up front as well. Real wood trim, voice activated navigation, LED lighting and loads of other high-end touches are also included.
If you’re in the mood to spend money though, my tester also came equipped with the first panoramic glass moonroof I’ve seen in a pickup ($1750), a technology pack that adds the 360-degree camera and park assist ($1250), adaptive cruise control ($1500), and the list goes on. What we have here is a truck that boasts the same features as many high-end luxury cars. I’ll maintain that this is still a pickup truck that, by definition, is built for a purpose and a profit margin. No amount of features and soft leather is going to change that nor should it attempt to.
My test truck came equipped with the optional 3.5L twin-turbo EcoBoost V6, as opposed to the standard 5.0L V8. I was really curious to spend some time with this power-plant in real world conditions to see how it stacked up to the latest high-tech V8s offered by the competition. Right away I noticed that this V6 with its 365 horsepower and 420 ft lbs of torque certainly doesn’t feel any less powerful than the V8s available in the segment. Throttle response is crisp and power delivery is linear, smooth and oh so powerful. The only thing missing is the V8 rumble, but that’s something I could live without if the savings are worthwhile.
That is, however, where this engine starts to loose its luster for me. Despite Ford’s efforts to lighten the truck and focus on their V6 EcoBoost technology to save fuel, my real world economy for the week fell short of my results with similarly equipped competitors. My average for a week of rush hour commuting and a two-hour highway trip was 13.5L/100kms. Compare that to the 12.9L/100km I was able to muster out of GM’s monster 6.2L V8 and 8-speed automatic combo the previous week in identical conditions and the EcoBoost’s merits start to fade a bit. In my humble opinion, I think Ford will need to shift some of their focus towards their very competent 5.0L V8 and develop an 8-speed option to better take advantage of their efforts in lightening this platform.
Fuel economy aside, the F-150 is a great driving truck. It’s smooth, comfortable and quiet; a perfect example of just how far modern pickup trucks have come. During a two-hour highway run I flipped on the adaptive cruise control and sat back in complete comfort, enjoying the ventilated seats on a sweltering day. The steering is light and requires very little correction while rolling along in a straight line. It does feel a little looser around corners than the other big players, but I wouldn’t say it distracts from the overall experience – who corners in a pickup truck anyway?
Having recently driven all the big players in the full sized light duty truck game, I now understand why this segment is often so hotly debated. Every single truck in this segment offers its own unique benefits and shortfalls. They’re all imperfect so the decision comes down to what matters most to you. This particular truck offers work horse capability and ergonomics with the comfort and features of a high-end sedan. That’s a rare offering and I am sure it’s worth the $75,000 to some buyers in this diverse market. That said though, every truck in this segment is available in so many configurations, packages and with dealer incentives that it’s hard to say where you’ll find the most truck for your dollar. Personally, I’ll have my F-150 with a rumbling V8.
2015 Ford F-150 Platinum Gallery