In the past month, I’ve driven five trucks – all of them very different from each other in style and purpose. Three of them were F-150s. Most automakers would be happy if their entire product line sold as much as the F-Series trucks do on their own, and there’s certainly enough variety in the lineup to create a standalone brand. After spending time with the XLT, King Ranch, and Limited trims, it’s clear that the truck can serve a very wide swath of buyers.
At early $75,000, the Limited trim is one of the most luxurious and most expensive full-size pickups on the market today. Along with miles of soft leather, a panoramic sunroof, and near-Buick levels of sound deadening, Ford has gifted the F-150 Limited with the same 450-horsepower high-output EcoBoost V6 that powers the Raptor. It’s overkill in the best sense of the word and turns the Limited into a seriously quick machine.
With all of the press (deservedly) going to Ram’s new 1500 and its extravagant interior, the F-150’s top trims haven’t gotten as much attention. Don’t let that fool you, though, because the level of refinement in creature comforts and materials leave nearly zero room for complaint. Ford’s multi-contour seats are nothing short of brilliant, and with heating, cooling, and massaging on board it’s hard to imagine a nicer place to be. The Limited trim also includes a dual-pane sunroof which, when the shade is rolled back, opens up the cab of the F-150 with a bright and airy feel. The truck’s noise insulation is strong, but still lets a noticeable level of wind and tire noise through while aggressively muting the rowdy sounds coming from under the hood.
The real news with this year’s F-150 is Ford’s move to transplant the 3.5-liter high-output Ecoboost V6 from the Raptor into the Limited. In this application, the engine actually produces more performance than in the off-road hotrod Raptor, good enough for a low 5-second 0-60 mph time. That sort of acceleration feels completely out of place in a full-size pickup, but the giggles that slip out when you put your foot down more than clear up the picture. This is all while retaining a tow rating of around 11,000 pounds – enough to pull nearly any boat or camper.
There’s almost zero outward indication that anything special is going on underneath the sheet metal. Ford’s 2018 redesign of the F-150 brought a cleaner front end design with styling cues similar to those in the latest Expedition SUV. Lighting is LED all the way around, and aside from the large LIMITED badging there aren’t any graphics or logos to clutter up the truck’s profile.
On the road, the Ford is just edged out by the Ram’s level of refinement but tops the Silverado’s driving manners, even with the Limited trim’s large 22-inch wheels and slimmer tires. If we had to lodge any complaints against the top-end F-150, it’d be that the tech in the Ford feels more dated than its other domestic rivals, but only just. The SYNC 3 infotainment system is excellent and easy to use but would truly shine on a screen larger than the 8-inch unit included here. We’ll have to wait for the 2020 Explorer for that to become a reality, though.
It’s hard to argue the case for more $75,000 trucks, but it’s even harder to argue against them when there’s so much included in that price. Ford gets all the validation they need from the sales numbers, and the owners can’t hear our debate from their massaging leather thrones, anyway.