In Focus

Review: all-new Ford F-150

Scoot over, Smart Car. Putt putt, pious Prius. Move on, Mini-bitty. This here’s Texas, where we love us our pickups. We’re the No. 1 market in the world for pickups. Not the country, the world. Always have been, always will be, because we’re Texas and we’re special.

So if you’re Ford Motor Co. and you sell more pickups in Texas than anybody, you wouldn’t want to do something crazy like, oh, switch from steel bodies to aluminum. Would you?

You would and you did, even though you didn’t need to. And now, you’re cranking out all-new, aluminum-bodied F-150s in both your Dearborn, Mich., and Kansas City, Mo., plants and selling ’em just as fast as you make ’em, even in Texas. Nicely done, even if y’all don’t hail from this neck of the woods.

Why the change? Looming federal CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards. That means better mileage any way you can get it, either by lowering weight or increasing engine efficiency.

Ford is going for both. The F-150’s aluminum body is 700 pounds lighter than the previous steel version. And the engineers are extracting maximum power from minimum displacement with their new, lightweight twin-turbo 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 engine. Featuring auto start/stop, it wrings out 325 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque for an estimated 22 mpg (combined) while generating impressive towing and payload numbers that’ll keep Texans (and everybody else) happy: 8,500 and 2,250 pounds, respectively.

Other engines in the stable:

3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 with 365 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque, generating 12,200 pounds of towing and 3,270 pounds of payload.

3.5-liter V6 with 282 hp and 253 lb-ft of torque; 7,600 pounds of towing and 1,910 pounds of payload.

5.0-liter V8 with 385 hp and 387 lb-ft of torque; 11,100 pounds of towing and 3,300 pounds of payload.

An electronic six-speed automatic transmission with tow/haul mode is standard: a six-speed SelectShift automatic with progressive range select is available.

All this weight- and fuel-saving doesn’t affect all the stuff we love. Options abound, including a plethora of interior cabin trims, starting with the base XL, which is pretty darn comfortable to begin with, and ranging upward to the XLT, Lariat and King Ranch, a Texas favorite. The ultimate package, Platinum, cossets driver and passengers with posh comfort rivaling imported luxury sedans that cannot, of course, also haul 2,000 pounds of manure. Let’s see someone in a Mercedes S try that.

Other goodies include a 360-degree bird’s-eye camera with views of the truck for parking and backing up, integrated loading ramps, LED head- and tail-lamps, a new 8-inch LCD screen, SYNC with MyFord Touch communications and entertainment system, hill start assist, parental control MyKey, rear-view camera, reverse sensing, trailer brake controller and much, much, much more.

All these options add up, of course. Tricking out a top-of-the-line F-150 V8 Super Crew Cab 4x4 with everything can easily double the F-150’s base price of $25,720 and then some. But Ford bends over backward to give F-150 customers a superior level of customization, which keeps the faithful coming back for more.

Whatever the trim level, “Built Ford Tough” is more than just a slogan. This new F-150 was torture-tested in labs, at Ford proving grounds and in the hands of some of Ford’s most demanding truck customers for more than 10 million miles. Pulling heavy trailers and hefty loads through desert valleys and over high-altitude mountain passes, they crisscrossed the country in temperatures ranging from 20 degrees below zero to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. One uncustomized F-150 even completed all 883 grueling miles of the Baja 1000, jouncing past other purpose-built — yet pooped out — race vehicles.

The Texas Auto Writers Association — no slouches in the toughness category — tested 75 vehicles from 18 brands before naming the new F-150 its clear choice as “Truck of Texas,” its most prestigious award. Including this win, nine of the last 12 Truck of Texas honorees have been Ford F-Series trucks.

Durable, capable, efficient and comfortable, the F-150 has always been the standard by which other pickups are judged. Given the revolutionary nature of this all-new model, there’s every reason to think that Ford will keep on truckin’ to success in Texas and the world. Wait: We are the world, right?