2017 Ford F-150

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To say trucks have changed is like saying phones are different nowadays.

If you grew up with trucks – three-on-the-tree, metal floorpans, bench seats, an inline six (maybe a V8, fed by a carb) roll-‘em-up windows and steel bodies . . . you will be amazed and perhaps slightly baffled by a truck like the 2017 Ford F-150.

It is the leading edge of What is Coming.

You can still get a V8, but Ford is really pushing twin-turbo V6s. There are two on the roster – one of them just 2.7 liters.

Which is very small for a truck this big.   

There is also a ten-speed transmission.

And – an aluminum body.

The general shape remains familiar. But this is a truck like no other before it.

For good and for bad.

WHAT IT IS

The F-150 is Ford’s full-size pick-up. It goes up against the Chevy Silverado 1500 and its GMC-badged clone, the Sierra 1500, the Ram 1500, the Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan.

Though similar to all of them as far as general size and shape, cab and bed configurations and capabilities, the Ford is the only one of the bunch to have a body made of aluminum rather than steel. Which makes it lighter and less prone to rust.

But also makes it more difficult and expensive to repair.

Similar differences are to be found under the F-truck’s hood. You can still get a workhorse six – as well as a powerful V8 – but the F150’s top-of-the-line engine is, uniquely among big trucks, a turbocharged V6.

All of the others have big V8s as their top-performing engines. (The two Japanese trucks come standard with V8s – and don’t even offer six cylinder engines.)

The main reason Ford made the turbo’d  V6 the F-truck’s top-of-the-line engine is the same reason it went with an aluminum body: To squeeze out a few more MPGs. But not so much for the sake of the buyer – the difference in MPGs is surprisingly slight; more on this follows below – but rather because when factored out over all the F-trucks Ford sells in a year, a 3-4 MPG uptick improves Ford’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) numbers. This matters to all car companies but especially to Ford as regards the F-truck, which is the best-selling 1500 series pick-up on the market.

When you sell a few hundred thousand  each year – and the mileage of each one gets averaged in with the mileage of all your other stuff – a 3-4 MPG uptick adds up.

Whether it does much for you, as the buyer of just one F-truck is debatable.

Or maybe not.

We’ll get into that, too.

The F-truck is also the only 1500 truck available with a ten speed automatic, two more gears than the Ram’s optional eight-speed and four more than the Chevy’s standard six-speed (an eight-speed automatic is available in the Silverado) .

Sticker prices for the 2017 F-150 range from $26,730 for a regular cab/2WD XL with the base (not-turbocharged) 3.5 liter V6 to $63,220 for a top-of-the-line Limited Super Crew cab with 4WD, the twin-turbo’d 3.5 liter Ecoboost V6 and ten-speed automatic.

The Chevy Silverado starts at $27,585 for the base Work Truck with 4.3 liter V6 and 2WD; a top-of-the-line High Country Crew Cab with 4WD and the big gun 6.2 liter V8 (sourced from the Corvette) stickers for $57,120.

A Ram 1500 starts at $26,295 for the base 2WD Tradesman with 3.6 liter V6; a Limited crew cab 4WD with the top-of-the-line 5.7 liter Hemi V8 stickers for $56,295. You can also buy a diesel engine in the Ram 1500 –  which (for the moment) is the only 1500 series truck that offers one.

The Toyota Tundra’s base price is $30,120 for a 2WD regular cab with a 4.6 liter V8; a top-of the-line Platinum trim crew cab with 4WD and a 5.7 liter V8 stickers for $50,130.

The Nissan Titan’s base price is $29,580 – topping out a $55,400. Regardless of trim (or whether 2WD or 4WD) all Titans come standard with a 5.6 liter V8.   

WHAT’S NEW

Ford introduced the aluminum-bodied F-truck last year; this year, the big change is the new ten speed automatic, paired exclusively (for now) with the 3.5 liter Ecoboost V6 – which has been tweaked to make 10 more horsepower (375 now vs. 365 last year).

Next year, the ten speed will be used with both the 2.7 liter V6 and the 5.0 V8.

And – huge news – a turbo-diesel six will be offered.

The base 3.5 V6 will also be retired in favor of a new 3.3 liter V6.

WHAT’S GOOD

Aluminum body (and bed) won’t rust.

Twin-turbo 3.5 V6 sounds like a V8 and pulls like a Budweiser Clydesdale.

V8 is still available (for now).

Helpful step-ladder built into tailgate.

WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD

Aluminum body is more vulnerable to damage – and more expensive to fix when damaged. It may cost more to insure for this reason.

Twin-turbo V6s (and ten speed transmissions) may cost more to keep up over the life of the truck.

Aluminum may not rust. But it does corrode.

All of these trucks are over-big. When you need a ladder to get up into the bed, you know things have gotten slightly silly.

UNDER THE HOOD

The F-truck’s engine lineup starts out conventionally enough – with a six.

Kinda sorta.

The V6 engines being used in trucks today are shared with – are sourced from – cars.

For example, the F-truck’s base 3.5 liter V6 (282 hp, 253 ft.-lbs. of torque) is basically the same engine used in Ford cars like the Taurus as well as a number of car-based crossover SUVs like the Edge. Same goes for the Ram 1500’s base 3.6 liter V6 (305 hp, 269 ft.-lbs. of torque) which is the same engine you’d find under the hood of a Charger or Chrysler 300.

The sixes trucks used to come standard with – before they began to market trucks to suburbanites – tended to be in-line and dedicated truck powerplants. They made less power, no doubt – but they had extra-beefy blocks and bottom ends; they were designed to be truck powerplants. Nothing sexy, but long-haul tough – in particular, tolerant of neglect and made to take abuse.

The jury is still out on the use of car-sourced V6s in big trucks. We’ll know how they stack up after they’ve been working hard for 15 or 20 years hauling firewood – and missing regularly scheduled service.

The Chevy Silverado is somewhat different in that its standard 4.3 liter V6 is direct kin to Chevy’s legendary small-block V8, just less two cylinders. Otherwise, it shares an identical layout (including a pushrod, overhead/two-valve configuration) and because of its kinship with the excellent small block V8, might be the pick of the litter as far as these trucks’ standard engines are concerned.

Well, except for the standard engines in the Tundra and Titan – which are both V8s.

The Tundra comes standard with a 4.6 liter V8 (310 hp, 327 ft.-lbs. of torque) and you can order a 5.7 liter V8 (381 hp, 401 ft. lbs. of torque) if you like. The Titan comes only with a 5.6 liter V8 (390 hp, 394 ft.-lbs. of torque) though a lesser V6 (also a car-based engine) is supposed to become available later this year.

Speaking of V8s . . .

The F-truck still offers one (5.0 liters, 385 hp and 387 ft.-lbs. of torque) but it’s a second-string engine now – like an aging quarterback they keep around for another year or two, until his contract runs out.

The big Kahuna – even if it’s small in size – is the twin-turbo 3.5 liter Ecoboost V6, paired with that new ten-speed automatic. All other F-truck engines are teamed with a six-speed automatic – although next year, both the mid-range 2.7 liter turbo V6 and the 5.0 V8 will also be paired with the ten speed automatic.

And the 3.5 liter engine’s actually not a small engine – in terms of airflow. And, power.

Ditto the 2.7 liter engine.

The turbos effectively increase their displacement (as well as power output) by stuffing more air into the engine when under boost. Thus, 375 hp and 470 ft.-lbs. of torque for the 3.5 engine – 10 more ft.-lbs. of torque than the Chevy Silverado’s top-of-the-line 6.2 liter V8 (460 ft.-lbs. of torque).

When under boost, the 3.5 V6 moves as much air – and so, makes about the same (or more) power as V8s close to twice its nominal displacement.

The 2.7’s no gimp, either: 325 hp and 375 ft.-lbs. of torque. That’s more power (and torque) than the Toyota Tundra’s standard 4.6 liter V8 (310 hp and 327 ft.-lbs. of torque).

But when off boost, the physically smaller engine has the potential to use less gas than the “always big” V8s.

Not a lot less, though.

Here are the stats:

The “EcoBoost” twin-turbo 3.5 V6 rates 18 city, 25 highway int the 2WD F-truck and 17 city, 23 highway with 4WD.

The F-truck’s second-string 5.0 V8 rates 15 city, 22 highway with 2WD and 15 city, 21 highway with 4WD.

So, the twin-turbo 3.5 liter six gives you – roughly – 3 additional MPG overall vs. the V8.

Chevy’s V8 (the top-of-the-line 6.2 available in the Silverado) is stronger (420 hp) and comes close to matching the mileage numbers of the EcoBoosted Ford: 15 city, 21 highway for the 2WD version and 15 city, 20 highway for the 4WD rig.

Still, the little big V6 is stout.

It can almost pull as much as the best-in-class Chevy: 12,200 lbs. vs. 12,500 lbs. Both of them completely outclass the Nissan Titan, despite its brawny name and big V8. Its maximum tow capacity is only 9,390 lbs.

The 5.7 Ram 1500 can pull as much as 10,640 lbs.

The 5.7 Tundra can go as high as 10,500 lbs.

With the 2.7 liter V6, the F-truck gives you arguably the best mix of power/performance and mileage: 19 city, 26 highway with 2WD and 18/23 with 4WD. The 2WD figure is outstanding vs. the Tundra 4.6 liter V8, which only rates 15 city, 19 highway in 2WD form and 14 city, 18 highway with 4WD.

Keep in mind that the Ford’s easier-on-gas V6 is also more than a little bit stronger than the Toyota’s guzzler V8.   

A wild card – for now is the Ram 1500’s available 3 liter diesel. It makes 240 hp and a very strong 420 ft.-lbs. of torque (more than all the Ford’s available engines except the twin-turbo 3.5 V6).  Equipped with this engine, the Ram 1500 is the most fuel-efficient 1500 series truck you can buy right now: 21 city, 29 highway. It can also tow a very solid 9,210 lbs. – vs. a maximum of 8,500 lbs. for the Ford with the 2.7 V6.

But, note the italicized text above.

Next year – this fall, actually – Ford will slot a 3.0 liter PowerStroke diesel into the F-150’s engine lineup. Specifications weren’t available as of early March, when this article was written – but word is it’ll be stronger and more capable and more fuel-efficient than the Ram’s available diesel V6.

Might be worth waiting a few months to see.

ON THE ROAD

First, a preface.

We’re going to be seeing much more of these smallish engines – turbo boosted – as well as transmissions with ten speeds (maybe more) because it’s the only way big trucks will remain viable as mass-market vehicles, given the relentless upticking of both federal gas mileage standards and the soon-to-be-imposed emissions standards that – for the first time – target carbon dioxide, an inert gas, as a “pollutant.”

Which it only is if you buy the “climate change” religion.

Anyhow, the only way to “emit” less C02 is by burning less fuel – hence smaller engines and ten speed transmissions, like the F-150’s. The top several of which are overdrive speeds, each one a bit more so until you reach 10 – at which point the engine is hardly running, given the road speed. It generally won’t shift into 10th until you reach at least 45-50 MPH and have backed off the gas, are just cruising.  When it does – watch the digital indicator in the main gauge cluster – engine speed drops to just over 1,000 RPM – a fast idle.

At 70 in 10th, light foot on the pedal, just maintaining your speed – the EcoBoost registers around 1,500 RPM on the tach.

That’s pretty cool, but the real trick – for the tranny (not Caitlyn) is dealing with all those gears below 10th when the time comes to put your foot down.

Some more-than-six-speed automatics are . . . busy. They have to think about it before they change gears. And they get confused. They shift up, they shift down. They sometimes skip up two or three gears to get into the top overdrive gear as quickly as they can, Because Fuel Economy – which isn’t bad per se but in some cases results in the vehicle feeling as though it is surging forward.

This is unnerving.

The F-truck’s ten speed tranny doesn’t do that. Even though it does jump through gears as quickly as Bruce ran the decathlon way back when – and even more smoothly.

Managing all those speeds had to be a programming challenge for the guys who set up the Ford’s ECU, but they did a really fine job. You can watch the progression on the digital LCD display, but the transitions up and down are almost impossible to tell by feel or sound.

Top drawer, well-played.

Speaking of sound. . . .

The EcoBoosted 3.5 V6 does one helluva V8 karaoke. Floor it (if you’re already running at highway speeds when you do this, the ten speed drops 4-5 gears, instantly) and the intake booms with the sound of atmosphere being Hoovered into the thing, almost as if there was a huge Autolite four barrel (remember?) sitting on top of a 460 under the hood.

There’s no sound of the turbos pressurizing the mix – which is probably very deliberate. Diesel people like whistle and wastegate pop. The rest like the bass notes produced by displacement – for which there is still no replacement (see above in re what turbos do). Some very attentive intake/exhaust tuning went into this package.

Only when you’re standing outside the truck and listening do you notice something’s different. Something’s quiet. There’s no V8 burble. Almost no sound at all.  

Inside, too.

The F-truck is tight.

Outside noise is kept . . . outside. No drafts from leaky seals. You can hear the tires a little but just barely and only if you turn down the radio, stop talking and deliberately listen.

Visibility is outstanding – as it ought to be, given the aerial view of your surroundings.

There’s some rear axle skitter on washboarded gravel roads, but that comes with the solid axle layout and all real trucks are susceptible. On pavement, the ride is – dare it be said – soft and smooth. Which is weird, like looking at Caitlyn’s chest. You do not expect to be  . . . pleasantly surprised.

This is, after all, a truck.

You do become aware of its truckness when attempting U turns or are space-restricted in any way. Depending on the wheelbase (ranging from 122.4 inches to 163.7 inches) you have Mauritania-like and then Titanic-like turning circles to cope with, but this is true of all 1500s, all of which have enormous turning circles.

Ford will sell you both automated parallel parking and a trailer back-up system to cope, but if you really need these assists, you might want to up your game before buying something this big.

They are not for everyone – and shouldn’t be.

For also offers a steering assist system that I did find unnerving and turned off after playing with it for a little bit. It’s feels like it’s fighting you as much as correcting you. Painted lines on the road – which is what the system (via cameras) uses to decide when steering input is needed – are often skewed and then so is the steering assist.

This sort of thing is a prequel of the self-driving cars you may have read about. Out in the real world, it works a bit less ideally than advertised.

The good news is, you can turn it off. Ditto the obnoxious automatic stop/start system that shuts the engine (and the AC and power steering) off whenever you roll to a stop, as at a traffic light – and then re-starts it when you take your foot off the brake and press on the gas. In stop and go driving especially, the constant engine start-stopping is annoying. It’s almost instantaneous, but it’s not noise-free. And it can’t be good for the long-term health of the battery, which now starts the car a dozen or more times each day instead of just the once or twice.

Push the Off button on top of the center stack to disable this “feature.”        

AT THE CURB

Ford made a mistake back in the ‘90s when it decided to go non-traditional and gave the F-150 the “melted brick” look. Realizing its mistake, the current F-truck is righteously Squared Off again.    

But the material it is made of – aluminum – is very non-traditional.

For touts the weight reduction – around 400 pounds vs. the previous-gen. all-steel F-150. It won’t rust, either although the frame – still made of steel – eventually will. And aluminum corrodes, too.

But the real problem – potentially – is what you will be dealing with if you damage those aluminum panels, especially the ones that do not bolt on, like the front fenders and hood. Welding aluminum is much more challenging (hence, expensive) than welding steel and bent/warped aluminum panels are tougher to fix than dented steel.

It may cost you more to insure an F-150 than its steel-bodied rivals. Check before you commit.

Another thing to check – if you haven’t been physically up close to a 1500 series pick-up lately – is how freakin’ tall they’ve grown. The bed walls are nipple height for a 6 foot three man and that means even standing on tip-toes, reaching stuff on the floor of the bed isn’t easy. Which is slightly ridiculous. And it’s not just a Ford Issue.

They are all like this now.

What’s next? Codpieces?

Ford’s field expedient fix is not to include a milk crate in the bed with every purchase (so you have something to stand on, in order to get at whatever is in the bed). It is to build a pop-out step-ladder (and a telescoping, pop-up grab pole) into the tailgate. You use these to climb up into the bed.

Clever engineering – but ridiculous that it’s necessary. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan all those years ago, Mr. Ford (and Mr. Chevy and Mr. Dodge) bring those walls down!

You can at least still buy a regular cab/long bed (eight foot) configuration, the kind of layout that’s useful for work, which is what trucks used to be used for.

Or you can buy Super Cab and Super Crew layouts, with various bed lengths.

Same for the domestic brand 1500s.

With the Japanese trucks, cab/bed configurations are more limited – which is one of the main reasons the Japanese have never had more than a toe-hold in the big truck market.

But they’re working on that.    

THE REST

It’s a shame that Ford won’t sell the F-150 Raptor’s version of the 3.5 V6 in other F-150s. In the Raptor, the twice-turbo’d V6 makes 450 hp and 510 ft.-lbs. of torque.

That kind of power would be useful in the regular F-150.   

Not that there’s anything wrong with fun.

But with the Raptor’s hp and torque under the hood, the regular F-150 would be the Tow King in this class and also haul the most ass. It would topple the 6.2 Silverado off its perch as the hot rod of the segment (that can also out-tow and out-pull any other truck in the segment).

Ford has probably thought about it. But – probably – hasn’t done it because of the MPG Situation. The Raptor’s mileage is what you’d expect given 450 hp and 510 ft.-lbs. of torque: 15 city, 18 highway.

This is probably not a problem for the people who’d buy this engine. But it is a problem for Ford – see the little convo up above about CAFE averages. The Raptor is a low-volume model, so selling a few doesn’t do too much damage to Ford’s overall CAFE numbers. But if Ford sold a lot of 15 city, 18 highway Raptor engines in the regular F-150, it would have the same effect that getting a “D” in French had on your otherwise “A” and “B” high school transcript.

You can thank Uncle, then, for the Raptor’s hunky engine being limited to the Raptor. 

Some things you can get that are very cool: an “extended range” 36 gallon gas tank, Ford’s unique/supplementary keypad entry system, panorama sunroof (Super Crew models), factory spotlights, heated rear seats and an outstanding 11 speaker Sony surround sound audio rig.   

Also – and thank the Motor Gods – Ford got rid of those vile funhouse-style outside rearview mirrors that had two mirrors, each one giving a different perspective. The ’17 has big, useful, see-what’s-there one-piece mirrors.

THE BOTTOM LINE

This is the most daring 1500 of the bunch.

The question is: Do you feel lucky?

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72 COMMENTS

  1. I love the old early 90s CK-1500s and I am not a chevy man the old tbi 350 would go 250-300K without a problem and actually had adequate power, you could actually load stuff in the bed and use regular parking spots . Whats the insanity with the new “trucks ‘ you cant reach into the bed and the bed is so stinking short on the 4 doors and the Pork Utilitys,I like 4wd , the painful truth is I could get along quite well without one its not that much trouble putting on a set of chains a couple of times a year. But the new trucks weigh so stinkin much my ST Dakota weighs almost 5K and that is the main reason for poor fuel mileage( I would gladly trade 10 HP for a 300# reduction in weight) never minded driving a loaded truck , but I absolutely despise one that is loaded both ways( high tare weight).

        • Yep. that’s the newest distortion due to CAFE.
          But see government has gifted us with fuel efficiency! We just can’t get the more efficient smaller vehicles we want, but the bigger ones will be better than the current big ones. And the public eats this up. The stupid burns.

          • Brent I have to upvote you on this post, why are we being nudged toward buying $60K arks , that the practical person does not want ? This Diesel stuff is good and well , when I factor in maintenance , price of Ultra low and Adblue, higher initial price , I start getting this queasy feeling . Sure these trucks are starting to get pretty good mileage , however its not great mileage . You can buy a pretty decent sedan for 20K, but its very hard to get a decent work truck for less then $30K and if you can find one in that category its going to be bare bones indeed. I am seriously looking at the “Workhorse ” trucks , whether they will sale to private individuals or not is another story , even though these things are hybrid of sorts they have a lot going for them . To bad I am not rich , of course if I was rich I might consider a “Maule Mule” or “Carbon Cub” to escape the traffic hassles and “bluelight specials”.

  2. When it comes to pickups there’s no question what I’d buy – a 70’s or 80’s Ford 250 or 350. There are still plenty available, they are EASY to rebuild, and all the parts are easy to come by and cheap. Plus they are smog exempt in many states now.

      • Morning, Brent –

        Guy around here still drives a circa 1984 Subaru Brat…. I’m waiting for the front and rear sections to separate in the middle… 🙂

    • Hi Lowell,

      Yup – and I’d expand that into the mid-1990s. A circa that era 1500 with a TBI-fed small block V8 and a five speed manual… the apotheosis of truck design!

  3. I love me pick up trucks! However, I will not buy one with one of those whiny turbo V-6 junk piles in it. A pick up truck is meant to have a big V8 period, end of story.

  4. HI Eric,
    Thanks for the great article. Have a 13 FX4 5.0 I tow my 5k ultra lite trailer with and it’s been good so far. Nice to hear from a commenter that the 6 speed auto has been reliable. And both it and the 5.0 don’t overheat towing through the Mojave in the summer (115-120 F). The big issue is should I buy an ESP when the 3/36 expires in a few months. I used to work on almost everything, but there is very little I can work on with these newer vehicles. Everything is computerized. Makes me think fondly of my 66 Bug: plugs, points and condensor. Adjust the valves and a new rotor and cap every so often. Easy oil changes and the occasional brake job. A couple bucks for gas and your good to go. Dang I’m getting old!

  5. Still driving my 1989 F150.
    300 CID straight 6 with port fuel injection, Intel engine computer.
    Borg Warner T18 (4 forward speeds – 3 + granny).
    Single cab, long bed.
    This is a WORK truck.
    I haul stuff with it, such as dirt, sand, gravel, lumber, plywood, drywall, and tree branches.
    I refuse to hoist these items chest high, because it is a waste of energy.

    From what I can see, they don’t make work trucks anymore.
    I have no interest in purchasing an SUV with a dual cab, short bed with tit high bed sides.

    • Now THAT’S a truck! If only those trannies had a 4th gear/overdrive, they’d be perfect! (Seriously, how many people actually use the granny gear, especially in a 2-wheel-drive truck?!). They certainly don’t make work trucks anymore. Heated leather seats; heated mirrors; beds so short, if ya put a toolbox in ’em, all ya have left is a storage caddy 5 feet off the ground….. They’re luxury transportation for suburbanites and dykes who want to play “I’m the man” on the 10 minute ride to the train station parking lot every day; and when it won’t start, don’t even open the hood- just call the flatbed.

        • I had an 84 F150 300 6cyl 4 speed manual w/od. 2.73 gear made it oretty gutless but would get 23mpg and I could still load it up with scrap. Just don’t get in a hurry.

          • Darn! Where do you guys find the Fords with high gearing?! Virtually all of my Ford pick-ups have had 4.10’s- and regardless of engine, 2×4 or 4×4, all got c. 10MPG. My Excursion has 4.30’s!!!! (V-10, 4×4, and weighs 8K lbs. and gets…..10MPG. -If she had 3.73’s, I’ll bet she’d get 14 or 15 MPGs! -But with all of that low end power, it drives like a Corvette around town. ‘course, isn’t fast on the highway….)

    • Dear Nunzio,

      “This is a WORK truck.
      I haul stuff with it, such as dirt, sand, gravel, lumber, plywood, drywall, and tree branches.
      I refuse to hoist these items chest high, because it is a waste of energy.

      From what I can see, they don’t make work trucks anymore.
      I have no interest in purchasing an SUV with a dual cab, short bed with tit high bed sides.”

      Amen to that.

  6. The 10 speed is a Ford/GM partnership. The FWD 6sp Ford and GM transmissions are also shared engineering and have many shared parts. The Ecoboost F150 has fake sound coming from the speakers to give it a throatier sound, ala Ecoboost mustang

  7. Hey Eric: Couple of questions: Can you take the tailgate off? Easily? Or is it too stinkin’ heavy? Maybe it is okay being made of aluminum. I take the tailgate off my truck (’02 S-10) all the time, especially when I shovel dirt/manure/mulch out of it. Also, the deck of the bed is too high? That means ground clearance, right? If it is just the gunwales being high, then I kinda like that, being as I could put more dirt/manure/mulch in there. Thanks for the review.

    • Hi Tom,

      Okay, no go on the tailgate. It stays on because – wait for it – the got-damned rearview camera is built into it and so there’s a wiring harness running from it to the body (bed).

      On the rest: The deck is way high off the ground and the bed walls are very high. Hence the need for the step ladder that’s built into the tailgate!

      • Get a 99 F250, Tom- the gate on mine comes off easy-peasy in 15 seconds, ’cause the back-up sensor* is in the cab [* = Me, yelling “Hey, geh-tout-of-mine-way!”]

      • If you look underneath, there is a plug you can disconnect. Also, in the glovebox there should be a protective cap to put on the harness.

  8. I can handle the aluminum body, and the overboosted V6. But a 10 speed multiple overdrive automatic? I run stuff at least 20 years old and automatic overdrives are the single biggest failure point. And that is with 4 speed automatics. And unlike an engine, once an auto trans wears out, it seems like every clearance is problematical. A simple overhaul with bands/frictions/steels doesn’t seem to hold up for them. A hybrid with an electric drive seems like a much cleaner more reliable solution.

    • Ernie, these things have multiple systems to ensure planned obsolescence. Just in case one or two systems manage to survive a year or two past the warranty, the other 13 won’t. As you so rightly observed: They haven’t even perfected the 4-speed overdrive automatic yet, but they’re pumping out 10-speed double overdrives! It’s as if they turn the designers and engineers loose and say “Money, complexity, durability, and practicality are no issue! Do whatever your heart desires, they’ll buy whatever we put out there!”.

      • All true, which is why I won’t buy anything newer than 98. The wife’s 07 grand caravan has been a real slugger, getting close to 300k now. (90% road miles as the nearest town is an hour away….) but when it dies I’m quite sure I won’t even try to fix it.

        I personally am regressing. I’m getting into flathead engines and getting all the advantages of pre-communist era cars. The funny thing is, I find that a 1940’s vintage flathead 6 with a 1 barrel carb and a 3 speed overdrive will knock down 25mpg!

        I’m almost agreeing with the elitists, let the mobs eat each other- things won’t improve until the corrupt influence of the gimmedat consumer and willing serf is ended.

        • Ditto, Ernie. The ’99 and ’00 I have now are a little too new for me. Any future purchases will older. Much older. What kills me, is ya can’t even find simple sedans (much less coupes) from the 60’s with the straight sixes. Seems all the ones with 6’s were either scrapped, or converted to 8’s, or used for parts. And trouble is, just about anything from the 40’s to the 70’s that ya might actually want to drive- car or truck- if it’s in halfway decent shape, is a collector’s item now, and worth too much to own, much less drive.

          And it’s only going to get worse as more people start waking up to the reality of these new cars. Even if the EPA is put on hold, between the idiotic corporate policies of the manufacturers, and their idiotic idea of what people want (which in turn has been dictated by them!) I doubt we’re going to see anything sane coming out of Detroit or Asia or Germany any time soon- so the demand for the oldies is only going to go up, until such time as they are outlawed.

      • Oh, just fuck me. I said I’d never buy a pickup with a bed less than 8’…..but I did and now I have to pay the piper. Gotta buy some plywood, doors, framing lumber and can’t legally haul it in Tx. The 2000 Z 71 is an electronic nightmare. Take away the VVT and the engine wouldn’t make all that low end torque. Finding used pieces for it is more daunting than finding used pieces for an early 90’s GM pickup, probably because the entire interior is snap together plastic bs that’s snapped it’s last snap. The seats are sorry POS and the early 90’s were firm and lasted a long time. It has so little room inside I feel the twin front seats with all their smarmy machinations are right at home with the smaller console and the lack of foot room. Thought a guy was gonna sell me his ’93 Turbo diesel Chevy ext one ton 4WD but he never called. Had an electrical glitch and I guess my offer was motivation to find the problem and fix it. Still lookin!

  9. Looking at the stock photo that shows the transmission in 10th … at over 105 mph and with a 13 degree tilt to the right?? Someone at Ford got a little happy with their PhotoShop, unless it was taken on a banked test track.

    I agree – if Ford can get the programming right so that the 10-speed isn’t hunting all the time, they’ll have a winner. Is the transmission that they collaborated with GM on?

    A coworker has an aluminum-bodied “Platinum” F-150 with the turbo V6 (not sure of the displacement) and it’s been a pretty good truck for him. He had a problem with the differential where it had a lot of gear whine, but they took care of it. It’s loaded – every option. And cost him over $60k. There are a lot of Lexus models that cost less than that.

      • He does actually use it as a truck. He is a home builder, so he’s had lumber, sacks of concrete, and any number of other items in it. He builds out in the county (doesn’t want to deal with the awful City of Austin code enforcement process) so he does put a good number of miles on it.

        • I once hauled all that in cars that barely knew it was there. We certainly take it easy these days don’t we? Not pointing fingers, I do it too. Back in the 80’s a friend hauled his lumber and most everything including big trailers with his Ranchero, worked the crap outta that “truck”. Hey, El Camino and Ranchero both had truck registrations. Hardly anyone back then used 3/4 ton pickups unless it was a pure work pickup…..and 4WD was hard to find.

          • I didn’t want to point out to him that the Honda Ridgeline has a better ride, costs less, and will carry everything he needs. “Not a real truck”, but if it suits your needs better…

            • Hi Chip,

              I really like the Ridgeline. If I were in the market for a new truck, it’s the one I’d buy. The new one. Because it’s now available in a less expensive FWD version. AWD (and 4WD) is a money waste for me. I need it maybe a handful of days out of each year.

              And for those days, I have friends with 4WD trucks!

                • Back in the day I drove a Falcon pickup as a delivery vehicle. It was laughably underpowered…..but I gave it hell anyway. Ford could never be accused of making a properly sized clutch and it was no exception. I’d make that 1-2 shift on the tree and you might have thought it broke loose and was spinning the tires…..it wasn’t. Good thing I didn’t drive it much and not far to go.

                  Some of my parent’s old friends came to visit. My dad and the other guy, Johnny, were standing in the driveway when I made my final pass and landed. I got out of my 55 Chevy pickup and his buddy said “I didn’t know a pickup was a sports car”. Like the brilliant 14 year old I was I looked around thinking “you talkin to me?” Spinning that big old knob on the steering wheel, I was bringing the winning Ferrari into the pits, smiling as I watched Fireball Roberts eating my exhaust in his open-wheel Mercedes. Damn man, didja have to break my reverie?

                  • Are unibodies the norm now because automakers want car owners to total their cars after mere fender benders?

                    I can’t help suspecting that is at least part of the equation.

                    • Hi Bevin,

                      It’s chiefly CAFE – pressure to lower weight to up mileage (perversely affected in the opposite direction by “safety” fatwas that increase curb weight).

                      Also, unibodies tend to be more rigid, and so reduce squeaks and rattles.

  10. I used to love F-trucks. F these trucks, though!

    Big? Tall, maybe- but big? Look at that bed. Not gonna haul much in there, ‘specially with most of it aft of the rear axle!

    Tow almost 10K lbs. with these little lightweight transistorized soda cans? Uhh, no thanks.

    These are made to haul people; some stuff in the open trunk in the back, and maybe tow your bass boat. Friend of mine who’s on the road a lot says he’s seeing a big increase in the number of single vehicle pick-up trailer towing accidents. Always one of these newer trucks, hauling some big-ass trailer that they say it’s capable of towing -in italicized print.

    Base model $27K? (Do they actually EVER offer any of those for sale???)- Imagine how much cheaper a low-tech plain-old steel-bodied, non-computerized manual trannied bench-seat good ol’ pick-up could be sold for, if they were still allowed to make such? Such a truck woukld probably sell for about what it costs you today to buy a 15 year-old one.

    I hope you don’t mind me raining on your reviews, Eric (Please say so if you do), but these new vehicles just sicken me. All the technology, and for what? Not only do they suck IMHO, but these babies are pretty much obsolete before they leave the showroom.

    And the grills/headlights are friggin FUGLY!

    I don’t care what it costs- I’ll be keeping my ’00 Excursion for the rest of my life. 10MPG doesn’t seem so bad when I see these things on the road, or when I think about the cost of fixing all of that technology when the warranty runs out- if one even can, ’cause these vehicles are becoming so software and circuit board dependent, once the manufacturer stops supporting them, that’ll pretty much be it.

    • Hi Nunzio,

      You’re not raining… I’m pouring, too!

      I absolutely agree with you; it’s madness.

      How much could a truck such as you’ve described – with a TBI injected V8 and manual five speed, non-electronic suspension, manual 4WD (no electric hubs) and maybe two air bags (if you have to have them at all), AC and power windows cost, brand-new?

      I am certain it could be offered for about $22k – at a a profit.

      PS: Next year, Ford will add a port fuel injection circuit to the existing DI system … so, two fuel injection systems. Why? Because the DI system is carbon fouling the engine… so they need to “fix” it with PFI.

      • Thanks, Eric!

        Ahh! It’s nice to dream, isn’t it? Really makes ya wonder: If they can sell the base models of these for $27K with literally DOZENS of technologically-advanced systems, I’ll bet they could even sell a 4×4 good old basic P/U with A/C and P/W for $22K, ’cause ya know, between the safety-Nazi stuff and the turbos and fancy fuel injection and all, there’s GOTTA be a lot more than $5K worth of pork on these things.

        Hehe, 2 fuel-injection systems….how ridiculous! These things are WAY more complex than the rocket that [didn’t] go to the Moon! It’s like I’ve been saying: Soon there will be no such thing as a used car, ’cause such complex monstrosities are just not feasible to own after the warranty expires and/or after the manufacturer stops supporting the software. This is why 15 year-old trucks are going for over $10K, ’cause once that crop is gone, there’s gonna be a very large segment of the population who will no longer be able to afford to drive. (Then again, this America- I’m sure many will just happily take on life-long crippling debt to “solve” the problem, as many already do…)

        • And imagine if the manufacturers weren’t constantly retooling, and having to do R&D to come up with new gimmicks and comply with Uncle’s fartwars…… Imagine how cheaply the trucks could be made and sold, while still netting the co.s a big profit, just because of all the money that would be saved by the economy of scale of keeping things largely the same.

          • Plus the longer they can make the same thing, the better they get at it. The bugs and glitches finally get worked out. The best vehicles to buy are ones later in their runs.

            And the longer something stays the same, the more same spare parts there are. Now models don’t last very long, and people will find it’s hard to find parts for them.

            And frankly, trucks SHOULDN’T be changed often. Buying new equipment is more risky if its different then what you have and what you’re used too. When I managed a fleet, I loved having multiples of the same thing. I could rarely buy lots of vehicles at the same time, so being able to go back two, three years later and getting the same thing again was always golden.

        • Dear Nunzio,

          “I’ll bet they could even sell a 4×4 good old basic P/U with A/C and P/W for $22K”

          Which means that absent Big Brother, a really down to earth “three-on-the-tree, metal floorpans, bench seats, an inline six, roll-‘em-up windows and steel body, standard cab, long bed USEFUL truck” could probably sell for under 15,000 and still make a profit.

          Now that’s the kind of truck I would buy in a flash.

  11. There’s no replacement for displacement. But that doesn’t matter to many initial buyers of these pickups. The majority unload them at 50-60k and get a new one.

    There’s a reason that there aren’t as many old Fords around as Chevy/GMC’s. They were more expensive to fix and less reliable back in the 90’s. Adding twice turbo’d sixes isn’t going to help in that department.

    I’ll stick with my 2016 Tundra double cab w/8 foot bed. For 2018 they are ruining them with adaptive cruise/lane maintenance and the other safety bullshit. RIP non cloverian pickups. 2018 is the end. Luckily I can put 200,000 miles on my 2016 before any problem above routine maintenance if it is like my 07.

    • There really is a replacement for displacement, turbo’s, but probably not with their cheap throwaway engines I’m guess. You know just like I do there are still turbo diesels that have been working 20 years and are just fine but they didn’t come with gasoline, twin injected engines for competitive V-8 price alternatives. You gets what you pay for. Speaking of Ford pickups in the 90’s, it was just the fact that they had no gas engine that would pull big loads in gas trucks or even not pull loads but last a long time that really got the diesel pickup thing going. Of course back then people fed them farm diesel and now you can’t afford to take one to the dealer for simple maintenance or especially engine work and risk have the red dye in the system. It’s really not the risk for non-warranty pickups some people think. I and everybody I know has run plenty ag diesel and never thought twice about it. I’ve never been checked for diesel color in a big rig and have run plenty tanks of red diesel filling up at the big trailer on construction sites.

    • 92-96 F150 last forever. I have 3 with over 300k. I’ll drive any of them to the U.P. Unfortunately rust has started to take it’s toll.

  12. What an impressive vehicle. Can almost understand why it costs so much.

    You’re absolutely right that today’s “full sized” truck are ridiculously oversized. Yes, some buyers really “need” it. But I can’t believe that a majority of them do. This has become as dysfunctionally stupid a trend as 22″ wheels.

    The size may impress customers when they buy. I bet a majority of them come to regret it.

    • Hi Mike,

      Yup.

      I use myself as the bar. I’m a 6ft 3 guy, I am in very good shape. It is awkward for me to access the bed. The truck is so massive, it’s awkward to drive it. I am no Clover – and would never say there ought to be a law – but when I come out of one of these things, I always shake my head and wonder that a CDL isn’t mandatory!

  13. I’m 65+ in years. I used to tow a NHRA stock eliminator car all over the eastern half of the US. That towing consisted of an open trailer…with car weighing about 7500 pounds…plus a 2000 pound camper in the bed…with a 1984 Dodge D250 with a Thermoquad-carbureted 360 and a 727 3 speed TorqueFlite.

    So, I comment on this subject with a little bit of knowledge, and understanding of precisely what we’re talking about here.

    I quit the racing thing years ago. But that old Dodge, I hung onto up until just 4 years ago. I replaced it with a new, 2013 F150. Regular cab, 8 foot bed (REAL pickups have 8 foot beds), 3.7L non-turbo V6, and six speed trans. In other words, the new truck is a basic work truck. There ain’t nothing Raptor about this thing.

    The new truck is light years ahead of the old Dodge in power, mileage, comfort…everything. This 2013 basic work truck F150 runs rings around that old ¾ ton Dodge with ease. The seemingly tiny 227 cubic inch V6 in the Ford, makes the old 360 V8 seem like it wasn’t even there. The 727 TorqueFlite…well….in its day, it was king. But now….it’s a senior citizen that’s needs to sit on the porch and keep its mouth shut.

    But dual turbos and 10 speed trannys…and a new diesel….in a freak’n half ton pickup? THAT…is insanity. THAT is completely nuts and unnecessary.

    A ten speed automatic? When ISN’T that thing shifting?

    • Hi Aljer,

      I was talking with my friend the mechanic today; we both wonder how much it’ll cost to replace these boxes when they fail. He was also telling me that it’s all programming now and very little wrenching.

      • I work in a Ford shop, they’re already failing. The 6 speed has been great very few failures. But the 6 speed F150 trans is designed by ZF.

        • Can you imagine what the used car market will look like 10 years from now? There won’t be one, except for a smattering of pre-commie vehicles, which will probably be worth a million dollars a piece, as they’ll be the only viable personal transportation. Even 5 years from now, as more of the more-recent older vehicles drop off, it’s gonna be bad, as these delicate electronic snowflake-mobiles are already a big part of the market.

          It’s already to the point where you can get many of these late-model junkboxes for less than their older counterparts.

    • Aljer, this is proof Ford knows their customer. Typical customer these days. A “safety” guy I know tasked to
      oversee a construction site in the oil field has a new Ford Platinum pickup he just bought. He also has to pull his RV trailer to the site or somewhere nearby and live in it. He’s not pulling one going thousands of miles on vacation or something similar.
      I and another guy are looking it over and ask if it gets good mileage with that little 6. Yep, gets pretty good mileage he says. Well, what is it. Oh, I don’t know exactly, don’t think I’ve figured it but it’s pretty good. Ok, what size tank is it. Oh, I don’t know.
      We have this conversation all the time with people and their new vehicles. Then he says, Boy, when I hooked onto that trailer it emptied the tank just like a V-8 would(however that would be).

      I speak to people constantly about their new “truck”, never a “pickup”…..so it’s pretty much the same as my Peterbilt, a truck. But I can tell you to a tenth of a gallon how much fuel that Pete with a Detroit gets grossing 40 tons half the time and 17 tons half the time.

      People rarely know what their vehicle of any kind actually cost them on fuel. I’d bet if fuel were $6/gal. they’d know….nothing like expensive fuel to jerk their head around and push the trip odometer and record the gallons used every tank. Doesn’t take long before the latest fuel “doping” tip gets around. And none of it works I can tell you from experience. If it’s a diesel, try to find a source with no biofuel in it and if it’s gas, try to figure out a brand to stay with since out here in the SW where oil is king, we can’t find any place with straight gas.

      I asked him why he bought a Ford to which he said(we’re speaking of that Platinum, a weighty price for sure)that GM, what he had been driving, was too expensive. How much? Oh, it was quite a bit higher. Typical answer. It’s all gimmicks and for the Dodge buyer, it comes down to initial cost and that was once a good enough reason for some people to buy Dodge but since their diesels started dropping bottom ends some years ago it hasn’t worked out too well. Ford and Chevy were too high. And they are if you don’t intend to trade every couple years and get lucky and the Chrysler electronics boogaboo doesn’t dominate your life.

      The Chrysler 200 I recently had for a week had such bad throttle lag I had to keep reminding myself to wait as if I were still in that Pete with a full load. Gas it and nothing happens, then finally it will take off. The lag was bad enough to make you let off and then gas it again and then when you had to wait or get run over, it would surge…..twice. Neato….and they want to sell my drive by wire steering?

      • To hell with drive by wire. I’ll keep my 86 6.2 Blazer as long as I can manage. It’s cool to think the same dash is used in 1500 pickups and suvs up through medium duty C60 trucks of that era

        • Anchar, I know a guy with an 86 6.2 and was surprised how well it ran. He picked me up at a site one night and took me home. It could have used a little TLC but it ran fine and most everything on it worked including the heater that night. The 6.2 was dissed by most but it was an excellent engine. I knew an HVAC company that had a fleet of pickups with them. Most had close to 300K and were running fine. A local guy has a heavy half Chevy with one that’s had a Bank’s kit installed. He pulls a large RV trailer with it. It’s neat to see him pulling that RV with an old pickup although it still looks good, red and tan with Banks on the side. I have an 82 3/4 T 4WD I’m looking at right now that was originally a 6.2 and now is a 454. If the 454 had been good to start with I’d still be driving it.

          • Mine spent 23 years in the military… and I’ve had it since 2009 and 60000 miles. So long as you keep an eye on the harmonic balancer, the 6.2 will treat you well and replacements are still found running for less than $1k. There is a good marine aftermarket for them as well

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