When all is said and done the F-150 is undoubtedly the most famous vehicle built – save the Mustang – by the Ford Motor Co. since Henry Ford brought out the Model T more than 100 years ago.
But the F-150 pickup has been the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. for more than 40 years, beating back challenges from Chevrolet and scaring off potential challengers from Asia.
The fact is the Ford 150 has evolved during the course of its lifetime into an almost pitch perfect blend of rural simplicity and urban sophistication that seems to effortlessly bridge the divisions at the heart of the American experience.
Throughout the years, there is no doubt the success of the Ford F-150 also has made rivals such as the Chevrolet Silverado and Ram 1500 into terrific products with loyal followings all of their own.
But in a democracy, the winner is the one with the most votes and that’s the Ford 150, which year in and year out has proven the most popular with people who need a pickup and people who think they do.
Of course, the F-150 has a distinctive face and the Blue Oval on the front has grown steadily larger, helping mark the truck as a Ford product. Designers also have taken care with the front fascia and lighting set up, which vary depending on which version of the F-150 the customer orders, to produce an appealing set up.
The windshield of the F-150 has a sportier lean to it. The sedan-like angle to the truck’s windshield is actually one of the biggest changes in truck design, which over the years has moved away for the nearly vertical windshields found on earlier generations of trucks used by farmers, ranchers and tradesman.
However, the exterior design of any pickup is dictated by its functional nature and I’ve thought the most important element is whether the liftgate is easy to drop and lift. On the F-150 the hardened aluminum liftgate, one of any truck’s most important components, is easy to raise and lower, saving on the sweat and frustration.
The cab of 2019 F-150, however, is the star of the show and a far cry from the utilitarian cabs that were standard in the past.
Rivals like Chevrolet and Ram have put an immense amount of effort into turning the interior of their trucks into facsimiles of luxury cars. However, the interior of the F-150 is spacious, which isn’t exactly a surprise given the overall size of the vehicle, but it is also comfortable even if you spend any length of time behind the wheel.
When in the driver’s seat the visibility is very good for 180 degrees and the controls for entertainment and HVAC are within easy reach even though the cab is large, and the dashboard seems to go on forever.
The steering wheel is large and comfortable to hang onto, and also is equipped with key controls such as volume on the radio and Ford Sync allows you to use a smart phone hands-free. The 8-inch touch screen in the center stack was easy to read and on a night stuck in traffic in an F-150, you can even forget your actually driving a truck.
The seats are supportive and the materials used inside the cabin almost seem too nice to finish off a vehicle that’s also designed for hard work and off-road pursuit or adventure.
Another impressive feature on the Ford F-150 is its overall ride and handling. It can’t be described as sedan like but even on rough surfaces where the shortcomings of truck suspensions can make themselves felt, the truck does well. The handling around curves is nice and efficient and the steering, while it requires more effort, certainly is quite responsive. In addition, the brakes have ample stopping power when necessary.
Overall, the driving dynamics are surprisingly nimble for a big vehicle.
I couldn’t help but be impressed by the power and performance the 3.5-liter, V6 EcoBoost engine in the 2019 F-150 4X4. You can select two-wheel or four-wheel drive from the driver’s seat but the I was prepared for a somewhat hesitant response because of the truck’s weight and the layout of the drivetrain.
But the 3.5-liter EcoBoost, which delivers 375 horsepower and 470-foot pounds of torque, responded with alacrity and efficiency. The truck’s 10-speed transmission responded smoothly and the truck’s stop-start system was practically invisible and I assume helped bolster the fuel efficiency to a combined rating of 19 miles per gallon and 23 mpg on the highway, which is impressive for a truck even in an era of rising fuel-economy standards.
But, oh the prices! It used to be trucks offered a relatively inexpensive and reliable form of transportation even if you wound up paying more for gasoline each week. Times have changed and the price of all vehicles is outrunning the cost of inflation, but trucks are in a whole other category by themselves.
The Ford F-150 4X4 Lariat that I drove carried a sticker price of more than $65,000. Nonetheless, it was an awful nice truck.