It becomes apparent that Ford really does know how to build a hard-working truck.
In the world of full-size trucks, the Ford F-150 is an institution and it’s easy to see why. Ford knows their market, they know how to build a hardworking and tough truck, and they know how to play the game to keep their offering at the top of buyers’ minds. As such, Ford has given the best selling pickup in Canada a quick face lift for 2018, most notably a revised front fascia and a new 3.3L naturally aspirated V6 for base model trucks. One of the keys to Ford’s success is the shear range of configurations that can be had. The truth is, most F-150 buyers opt for something in the $40-50,000 range, which can get you into a really well-equipped truck. We however, thought it would be interesting to see just how much truck you can buy for $80,000, so we spent a week with the brand new 2018 Ford F-150 Limited EcoBoost; loaded to the gills.
At first glance this Platinum White (a $550 optional color) F-150 doesn’t look much different than the $40,000 example you’ll find in just about any parking lot. If you know your trucks, you’ll likely pick up on the unique grille, LED lighting, prominent “Limited” lettering across the edge of the hood and on the polished aluminum plate that adorns the tailgate. You’ll also notice the gorgeous 22” rims and you might even pick up on the slick power operated running boards. The Limited dresses up the standard F-150 with a much more premium look on the exterior, without overstating itself. It’s well done and suits the truck’s blue collar roots.
Things get a little more over the top as soon as you step up inside the F-150 Limited. This particular unit is equipped with ‘Navy Pier’ blue leather, which a colleague quickly noted as akin to the dark blue interior found in a 1992 Ford Taurus. It might have been unfortunate in the Taurus, but I found the buttery soft muted blue leather a real treat in this truck, mostly just for the novelty of it and missing the days when more cars and trucks had interesting interior colors. The seats are heated all around, and the front seats feature ventilation and massage functions.
Of note during this frigid February test; the heat on the front seats is properly hot, and combined with the massage function, is a great way to melt away the tension from a long day at the office. Atop the leather centre console lid sits a rather large metal plaque proudly displaying the Limited lettering, the truck’s VIN and a production number (our tester was #069). I’s a small touch, but I do appreciate when manufactures go the extra mile to make these high-level trims feel just a bit more special. Other noteworthy luxury gadgets inside the Limited include a full-length glass moonroof and an outstanding B&O Play 10-speaker sound system.
Despite all the upgrades, the F-150 interior is still that of a rugged working truck, and that comes with both its high and low points. Offsetting the fine leather, is a rather clunky looking dashboard with a lot of hard plastic and blocky faux-aluminum trim. The same goes for the centre stack and console area, which would look and feel much more at home in a basic work truck. I’ve spent considerable time in the current crop of domestic pickup trucks, and the general fit and finish inside the F-150 feels like a step down from its competitors. That said, the layout is simple and easy to use, the LCD display in the gauge cluster is also extremely easy to operate, pleasing to the eye and easy to read.
Most important to many buyers though, is the interior’s utility. There is a massive amount of usable storage everywhere you look inside the F-150 Super Crew, from the well-designed console, deep door pockets, in-dash storage and under seat storage. You can even equip the centre console with a file holder! Another big advantage of the F-150 is the cavernous flat floor rear seat area; not only is there plenty of room for three adults to sprawl out in comfort, the seats easily flip upright revealing a large flat loading floor. Over the years, I’ve used this functionality in F-150s many times and it is very handy.
The F-150 can be had with four different engines and two automatic transmissions; a time tested six-speed, or the newer and efficient ten-speed. Engines include three V6s; a brand new 3.3L naturally aspirated V6, the 2.7L EcoBoost and the torquey 3.5L EcoBoost equipped here. You can also opt for a 5.0L V8 if you prefer the rumble and simplicity of a muscular V8. Our Limited came with the top-tier 3.5L ecoboost, which is the torquiest of the range outputting a whopping 470 lb-ft. of torque at 3,500RPM and a very healthy 375 horsepower.
The 3.5 EcoBoost pairs well with the ten speed, which helps to keep the RPMs right in the torquey sweet spot. The F-150 then pulls hard and responds to throttle inputs well, making it feel surprisingly quick both off the line and while passing on the highway. The power delivery from the V6 is as good as or better than any V8 in the segment. It still will never sound like a V8, nor does the EcoBoost generate any fuel savings compared to competitive V8s in my experience. In fact, after a week’s worth of commuting my average consumption sat right around 14.1L/100km. This is respectable for a truck of this stature, but easily bested by certain V8s in the segment.
Power aside, the F-150 is, by a large margin, the most truck-like of the big three pickup trucks on the market from behind the wheel. I know the Limited’s 22” wheels are a contributing factor, but the ride in the truck is rough, to a point of being uncomfortable at times on this winter’s pothole ridden streets. Yes, it’s a truck, but in contrast to a Ram (reviewed here) or Silverado, the F-150’s ride quality leaves a lot of room for improvement. Steering falls into the same category; it’s light and offers a surprisingly tight turning radius, but it’s a bit vague on the highway. I also experienced a lot of wind noise in the cabin of this particular truck, but a little research suggests that it’s likely an issue with the moonroof that Ford will correct.
Being truck-like isn’t all bad though, and living with the F-150 for a while it becomes apparent that Ford really does know how to build a hardworking truck. Little things like how quickly the cabin heats up, the fact that you can drop the tailgate from the keyless entry remote, and the whole suite of smart towing aids like the trailer tow assist, camera views to help line up your truck with the trailer receiver, electronic sway control, and even a blind spot monitoring system that can be programmed to cover the length of your trailer. If you’re using your truck hard, every day, these features can go a long way to making life easier. The F-150, when configured in optimal towing spec, is capable of towing up to 13,200 pounds. Coincidently, that same number also happens to be the F-150’s max payload, but of course the configuration to maximize payload is different than that for towing.
With an as tested price of $79,949, this 2018 Ford F-150 Limited EcoBoost looks great inside and out, and the 3.5L continues to haul butt. However, the ride quality and vague steering that are perfectly acceptable in a $40,000 work horse are just not up to par with what I would expect in a truck at this price point. If you’re looking for an upscale pickup that is a truck first and foremost, and can not only get the tough jobs done, but also offers a bit of unique style and exclusivity then the F-150 Limited is worth a look. If it’s just a hard working pickup you need, then you can probably opt for a lesser trim, optioned exactly as needed for a significant savings over the Limited.