With a massive season of BBQ events, you could say that 2017 was the year of the truck around here, as we hitched the DCS Appliances event trailer to what seemed like dozens of trucks. Naturally, with so many varieties of F-Series models in Ford’s line-up, we had the opportunity to put several different versions to work.
As the top selling trucks on the Canadian market for more than half a century, the F-Series is the undeniable king of the road. The only question for many potential buyers is: Which F-Series is right for them?
The F-150 is the top selling passenger vehicle on the continent. Not just the top selling truck, but the top selling vehicle. As consumers’ love affair with light trucks continues and the traditional car segment shrinks, Ford showrooms continue to churn out F-150s at an unbelievable rate.
Newly revamped for the 2018 model year, the F-150 is close to being the “nice car” that many auto scribes fear. A vehicle which does everything it is supposed to do, with no surprises. It gets decent fuel economy, works hard and keeps its occupants comfortable. Despite being new, driving the F-150 somehow feels like hanging out with an old friend, which goes a long way towards explaining its ongoing sales success.
The previous model Eco-boost 6-cylinder model suffered from poorer fuel economy than most buyers expected, when driven in the real world. The 2018 model has received a new 10-speed automatic transmission which allows the 2.7L V6 to consume about 11 L/100 Km (22 MPG) in combined city and highway driving. Our testing confirmed that this is a real world number, even when towing our small event trailer with the bed loaded with coolers. On the road, the transmission shifts so smoothly that it is barely noticeable.
A trio of power options are available, allowing buyers to choose the best towing capacity for their needs, right up to 13,200 pounds (5,988 kg) which surprisingly comes from the 3.5 V6 and not the 5.0 V8 as many would expect.
Creature comforts abound, from available seat massagers to audio & video options, all using the latest version of Sync, which has proven itself to be a user friendly infotainment hub. Like the folks at GMC and Chevy, Ford now offers a WiFi hotspot in its trucks.
Driver aids have become the modern battlefield as automakers work to protect unskilled and inattentive drivers from themselves and the pickup market is not immune. To that end, Ford has made a wide range of technology available in the new F-150, including adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Information System which works with trailers up to 33′ in length and lane keep assist. A 360 degree camera aids drivers while backing into a spot and is super helpful when connecting a trailer.
We haven’t tried it, but reports from some colleagues say that the available Pro Trailer Backup Assist system is a game changer for those who are not confident backing up with a trailer.
F-250 Super Duty
Drive by pretty much any farm or construction site these days and you will see a line up of F-250 Super Duty trucks. For the old school truck fan, this is what we used to call a 3/4 ton truck. A big boy. That said, the days of the rough and tumble 3/4 ton beater are long gone. Today’s F-250 buyers can choose to option in all of the creature comforts and luxury items available on the F-150.
The big difference comes in the amount of work the vehicle is capable of. Depending on configuration, the F-250 Super Duty can tow up to 17,562 lbs. (7,983 kg.), half again as much as an F-150. Sitting a bit higher than the F-150 and having a stiffer ride than its smaller sibling, the F-250 also boasts a more imposing exterior look.
While it does ride higher that the F-150, it was not so much taller that we needed to resort to an extended drop hitch in order to haul the event trailer.
There was one negative that we discovered with the F-250 and surprisingly that was a towing feature. This model was equipped with dual pane mirrors, aimed at making it easier to back up a trailer. I’m sure it works fine with a large trailer, but with a small utility type trailer the convex portion of the mirror creates a weird situation when backing up, especially in the dark. The turning movement of the trailer can’t be seen until the trailer has “over” rotated. I guess what I mean is that every single time I backed the rig up, I could not keep it in a straight line and took multiple attempts to get the trailer where I wanted it.
F-350 Super Duty
This is where things get serious! After helping with the weekly press-car swap, my daughter was excited to report that she was at eye level with drivers of moving trucks while sitting stopped in traffic. In other words, the F-350 is a seriously large truck. Our tester was an F-350 Lariat, which is kind of a mid-range model. Full of most of the mod-cons mentioned above fitted to a vehicle with a cabin more spacious than some overseas hotel rooms.
This beast is powered by a 6.7L V8 Turbo Diesel which generates 440 horsepower and an inconceivable 925 lb-ft of torque which is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. When configured correctly, the Super Duty can tow up to 21,000 LB!
The height was so great that we would have needed a 6″ drop hitch to tow the event trailer with this truck, so we used it for hauling refreshments instead. We filled the bed with 30 cases of water, 20 cases of pop and a cooler with close to 100 lbs of smoked pork ribs. Nowhere near the 3,461 kg payload rating, the extra 230 kg weren’t even minutely noticeable behind the wheel.
Height is not the only thing one notices about the drive experience. All of that capability means that the F-350 has seriously tough underpinnings and that means a ride that is beyond stiff. If you are spatially challenged in a parking lot, a vehicle of this size is not for you. If you do need a truck with heavy duty work credentials however, the F-350 may be right up your alley.
Ford F-150 Raptor
With all of this talk about work, it might be easy to forget about the fun side of Ford’s F-Series. Powered by a twin-turbo V-6 descended from the mighty Ford GT, the Raptor has the soul of a desert racer. It gets the fantastic fuel economy expected of a winning endurance racing legend in the making, while also boasting hoon-tastic off-road performance. You can read our full review of the Raptor here.
Loads of choices
It is pretty easy to see why the F-Series has an ongoing grip on consumers, as the model line-up really does offer pretty much something for everyone from families and weekend warriors to farmers, construction crews and those who need to tow the biggest loads around.