Test Drive: 2017 Ford F150 Crew Cab XLT FX4 4X4

So many letters in what is ostensibly just an F150.

As noted in the Honda Ridgeline review, we’re testing a few things, and it’s been suggested to us that for a similar price to a midsize truck, or SUV, you can pretty much have a fullsize.

That’s sort of true, and sort of not.

The model we drove had an MSRP of $55,000 +/-. This is well out of our ballpark, but it was what they had on the lot – it’s a standard dealer thing, you always get to test drive the best, as people will often miraculously find features they didn’t know they couldn’t live without. And trucks are notoriously profitable on a per unit basis. That said, the sales guy was fantastic, very knowledgeable from the back seat, and extremely confident in the product he was selling (he found us an “off road” segment to play on, which was cute, even though it would have been manageable in a 2003 Ford Crown Victoria).

So, exterior first.

It’s fucking big. It just really, really is. We decided the best way not to waste the sales guys time was to go straight home, and make sure it fit in the driveway, lengthwise. It did, but only with a foot or two to spare.

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As equipped, I don’t know what the total length was[1] but “long” would be the fair statement. Four doors and a standard bed will do that. It’s actually a pretty good looking truck, too – I’m a big fan of the drop in the front window/sill. It breaks up what is a staggering amount of sheet metal, and gives it some character. Otherwise, yeah, it’s a big truck. The grill is massive, as is the tailgate, and the 20″ wheels look positively diminutive, with 65 series off-road M/S tires on them. It rides tall, it rides high, and you sit up on it. That said, it drives smaller than the visual clues imply.

Nice Segue, eh?

So, in traffic, it’s not bad. It’s big. There’s no getting around that. I got honked at taking the inside turn on a two-lane at a light, simply because the other driver assumed I was going to run wide. And I got awful close to doing so, but I got away with it, and didn’t clip the median. But it took work to do so. Did I mention it’s big? And that size is bound up in length, when you’re maneuvering it. It fills most of a lane, and when I say “fills” I mean it. You pay attention, or you wander out of the lane, there’s not a ton of margin for error in a standard lane.

Big.

It’s also tall – and I can see the attraction. There was pretty literally nothing that I couldn’t see over in traffic, it dwarfs most vehicles. Again, it’s not bad, but you gotta pay attention, especially with the extra ride-height for the FX4/4×4 package, and big wheels/tires. With all that said, it doesn’t wallow through corners the way I’d have expected. It’s not exactly car like, but it does a reasonable approximation of a car going around a corner, or an on-ramp at speed. In other words, you never feel like it’s going to fall over. And those on ramps? Super easy. The 2.7L twin-turbo V6 is a pretty killer little engine. A lot of guys will only buy the V8s in a truck this size, but unless you’re seriously working hard with your truck (and if you are, you’re probably moving up to the F250 or F350 anyway) you really don’t need it. The 2.7TT has gobs of torque down low, and plenty of power in the mid-range. I didn’t wring it out in the high end, but…. that’s not the kind of vehicle this is. Realistically though, this is a better engine for this truck than a V8 would have been ten years ago. The transmission, same thing – it’s a well-tested 6spd automatic, rather than one of the newer 8,9, or 10 speeds that are becoming available, and it felt.. fine. You could feel shifts if you were into the throttle, but it wasn’t harsh. And it was butter smooth in traffic at low throttle too. The brakes seem adequate, but I’m willing to bet they’re a wear item you replace regularly, given the weight of this behemoth.

Back inside, and the driving position is good – like I said, you sit up on it, not in it. Sight lines are remarkably good, and that’s in part because of that dip in the front doors – you can see DOWN into traffic much more easily. IN terms of looking around you, the mirrors are huge, and so are the back door windows. It’s a full size, the headroom means a lot of glass, and that glass all round makes you feel confident in seeing everything you need to. The backup camera picks up the slack just fine, as well.
Sidenote: This, I think, is more why people are gravitating from cars to trucks & SUV’s. All that glass is like the cars we used to have, that you could actually see out of. Trucks haven’t (yet) been struck by the super-high belt lines, and high-arse of the typical sedan of any size now, that you just… can’t see out of awfully well. I mean, you can, but it does take effort. A modern compact sedan has similar sight lines and blind spots to my 2-door coupe, which is ridiculous.
As with most of what we looked at, there’s blind spot warnings as well, and they’re mostly unobtrusive.
Due to those sight lines, the BSWS is probably unnecessary, too, but it’s becoming expected. But so not necessary when you can see so damn much out of the truck, in all directions.
The Sync3 system for the stereo is great, I had my phone paired in seconds. No Android Auto at the time we drove it, but it was apparently coming. The interior seemed well put together (better than the Colorado you’ll read about next), and the storage is, unsurprisingly, ridiculous. You can hide a laptop in the center console. There’s outlets for everything. For our purposes, the back seat is actually kind of amazing: it’s so big back there that we could, I think, put the seats up against the back wall of the truck, and have the dog in his crate, for safety. It’s huge back there. The only thing I can think of that has more back seat passenger space is a modern minivan.

All in all, I liked it. We even got reasonable fuel economy, given it was brand new, with less than 70km on the clock, and a lot of that idling. We left with the gauge showing 19.7L/100km, and a romp up the highway and half an hour in city (Saturday) traffic had me down to 14.5L/100km. that says to me I was probably getting somewhere closer to 10L/100km in real time numbers. If you drive it sedately, it seems it’ll look after you at the pumps. Abuse it, and you’ll have some fun, but you will definitely pay for it. Or tow, for that matter. I can see anything approaching the ( lbs) tow limit seriously destroying your fuel economy. But it is a full size truck, so, no surprise there.

I can only imagine what it’s like with the 3.5L twin turbo/ecoboost under the hood. I really don’t see the point of the V8, these days. Unless that’s turbo’d too (it’s not).

SO, back to where we started – what can you get it for? Is it cheaper to buy a fullsize than it is to buy a mid-size?

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Not on paper, at least. There MIGHT be money on the hood, but again, Canada’s a bit different than the USA when it comes to pricing and discounts. If we waited for a sale, and took what was on the lot, yeah, we could probably get it down to equal, but I think it’s doubtful we could get this particular set-up for less than $40,000. So, best case scenario would be “same price as the Ridgeline”.

It’s not for us though. It’s just TOO BIG and TOO MUCH. It is 100% ‘murica. Bigger is better, and biggest is best, and that’s really not what we’re looking for. If we were though, I’d rather have this than the Chevy Silverado, or Dodge Ram. It’s… more adult feeling than those two (especially the RAM). Ford has really hit the “mobile office” nail on the head. And, yes, we could get into it in a spec we like, for about $10k less on the MSRP, and then whatever Ford has on the hood, plus financing. It would be workable, and yes, it would be about the same price, for about twenty-five percent more truck. I like it an awful lot more than I expected to, though. I can see how people end up commuting in them.

But at the end of the day, it’s a quarter truck we don’t need, want, or have anywhere to park.

Onto the next one!

[1]I’ll find out

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