Picking Up the Luxury — on America’s Best-selling Vehicle
With 27 championships, The New York Yankees are arguably the greatest sports franchise of all time. As great as they are, the Yankees winning percentage pales in comparison to that of the Ford F-150, which has been the best-selling vehicle in America for 37 straight years. Yet, unless you live on a farm, own a boat, or need a truck for work, you’ve probably never considered buying a truck yourself. Today, as cars sales continue to slide, SUVs, crossovers, and pickups are gaining market share. Last year, for every six new vehicles sold in the US, one was a pickup. These truck buyers are no longer just the horsey and work boot set. Manufacturers are embracing new buyers by adding refinement and loading up on the luxury features.
I’ve driven pickups numerous times over the years for hauling stuff or towing a trailer. While perfect for those tasks, I never had the urge to own a truck full time. Perhaps it was time to reconsider. To experience suburban life with a modern pick-up, Ford supplied me with a 2019 F-150 Limited 4×4 Supercrew. Supercrew is Ford-speak for the full-size, four-door cab, with a full-size back seat featuring more legroom than a long-wheelbase luxury sedan. The truck is loaded with safety features and even includes inflatable rear seat belts.
For most people, luxury is like porn. You might not be able to describe it, but you know it when you see it. By that standard, this $74,000 F-150 would meet even the most conservative perspective of luxury: two-tone leather, heated and cooled seats with adjustable massage, heated rear seats, glass panorama roof with power shade, wood inlays, WiFi, high-end Bang & Olufsen audio system, power sliding rear window, power-adjustable pedals, automatic running boards, remote tailgate, LED headlights, and adaptive cruise control.
In the Limited, power is supplied by a 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost twin turbo engine with 450 horsepower. This high-output version of the EcoBoost is the same engine found in the wild Ford Raptor. The V6 gets this nearly 5,600-pound, 4×4 vehicle from zero to 60 in five seconds, making it the second fastest pickup ever produced. The brakes are impressive too, hauling it down from 70 mph in just 168 feet. Yet with all this performance, you can still tow more than 9,000 pounds and haul nearly 1,300 pounds in the bed.
Climbing into the truck is easy with running boards that present themselves when you open a door and then retract. My first task with the F-150 was a run to the home supply store. Approaching the truck with my loaded pallet of water softener salt and mulch bags, I hit the button on the remote and the tailgate lowered itself. The added weight in the rear would have been very noticeable in my Subaru, but not so in the truck. Getting the bags out was just as easy. Ford pickups offer a clever fold-out step built into the top of the tailgate. For vertically-challenged folks like me, the step eliminates the gymnastics normally required to climb in and out of the bed.
Next up was heading into town with my wife. Fortunately, she found the seats as comfortable as I did. Parallel parking was easier than expected with the 360-degree camera. For those who might be intimidated parking such a large vehicle, the F-150 has Active Park Assist, which will skillfully park the vehicle while you take your hands off the wheel and admire technology at work. Very cool. Another innovative Ford option for folks who tow is the Pro Trailer Backup Assist which eliminates the stress and frustration of backing up a trailer.
Ford arranged a day for me at the Team O’Neil Rally School in Northern New Hampshire. The 650-mile round trip drive gave me a chance to see how the F-150 handled highway cruising. Merging and passing was effortless with the 450-horsepower engine and the ten-speed transmission, which seemed to find the right gear. With the F-150’s WiFi, I could seamlessly listen to podcasts I had not downloaded.
At the Team O’Neil School’s snow-covered training ground, the instructors took us through a number of exercises including understeer, oversteer, weight transfer, and accident avoidance. But the most fun was the slalom course. You would be surprised what a 2.5-ton vehicle can do with a trained driver behind the wheel.
Could I live with a pick-up truck as my daily driver? Absolutely. But since my kids are grown and I don’t need as big a vehicle, I would go with the Ranger. It’s not as luxurious or refined as the F-150, but it will hold my bikes and bags of mulch, and at only 210 inches long, it will fit in my garage. And yet, the F-150 has those massaging seats.