Businesses define their success with numerous data measurements that will often entail best, highest, most in the description. One case study of success in the auto industry has to be the Ford Motor Co.’s consistent success with its F-series pickup lineup.
Since wrestling the top-selling pickup honor away from Chevrolet in 1977, Ford’s F-series (half-ton, three-quarter-ton, one-ton, two-ton trucks) has been America’s top-selling pickup lineup. That’s 41 straight years. For the last 36 years, the F-series has also been the top-selling vehicle in America. Since 1948, Ford has sold over 40 million F-series trucks, making it the number two-selling vehicle in the world, trailing only Toyota’s compact Corolla.
In 2017, Ford sold 896,764 F-series trucks, coming close to its all-time record of 939,000 trucks in one year. That record may well fall in 2018, as Ford sells a new pickup truck every 35 seconds.
The height of the 13th-generation F-series is exposed here in top-of-the line Limited luxury trim. Our Ingot Silver sample featured the Ecoboost turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 making 375 horsepower along with a stout 475 pound/feet of peak torque. Using a new 10-speed automatic transmission (co-developed with GM incidentally) the 5,600-pound Ford is surprisingly quick and ultra-smooth.
For 2019 models, the Limited will gain the H.O. version of this engine, borrowed from the high-performance Raptor series, with output jumping to 450 hp and 510 pound/feet of torque, making it Ford’s fastest pickup.
The strength of the pickup class and how important these trucks are to the bottom line of the automakers is illustrated in the refined performance and overall presentation of this truck. Yes, buyers still gravitate to functional work trucks; 38 percent of F-series sales are Heavy Duty models, plus Ford has distanced itself from its rivals by cultivating a vast array of fleet customers that also buy a large percentage of new F-series annually.
However, pickups like this Limited are halo vehicles for Ford, and every automaker. On one hand, you could say that this Limited is a better luxury vehicle than Ford’s own luxury brand Lincoln; a premium five-passenger car with a huge trunk — that can also tow 12,000 pounds.
The Limited (($62,855 base, rising to $68,630 for 2019) is stocked with content that will mesmerize a pickup owner who has been out of the market for more than a few years.
The blue leather seats are cooled and heated, plus offer both lumbar and bottom massage, as well as memory settings. There is new FordPass Connect, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot system backed by AT&T. There is Ford’s latest Sync 3 connectivity and entertainment now featuring Alexa apps like home, plus WAZE links. The sound system is upgraded to a high-ouput Bang & Olufsen system, like Mercedes and Volvo use.
Does this sound like your father’s pickup?
Don’t dismiss the advantages of 360-degree surround visibility that support Ford’s sophisticated blind-spot program for both truck and trailer, as well as the Ford Pro Trailer back-up assist steering for inexperienced trailer operators. Overhead, there is a massive dual-panel sunroof. Out back, there is a power rear window. And on the flanks, power running boards deploy when you open the doors, making access a cinch no matter how long your inseam.
Inside, the Ford’s instrument cluster reflects all of the latest in programmable, selectable displays and information panels from digital speedometer to monitoring fuel economy and traction modes. The seats are supportive, the center console almost overwhelmingly huge, while the rear seats are more spacious than most full-size crossovers, with a flat floor below that supports inside cargo hauling extremely well. The shortfall to that interior space is that the pickup bed is only 5½ feet long.
The pros are impressive; remote starting for our cold fall was nice, the auto-high beams are better than any other recently sampled systems, with more precise operation like you would prefer if you were flicking the lever, while the 10-speed transmission was responsive and refined putting the abundant engine torque to requested power needs.
The Limited is a comfortable cruiser that also pushes down a rolling two-lane with aplomb.
At 60 mph, the Ford was quiet, Sirius radio complementing discussions. At 75 mph, the cabin got noisy with too much wind and road noise for a luxury vehicle. That was a surprise. Fuel economy also changed sharply with the speed increase. Traveling 55-60 mph revealed 20-21 mpg on the Ford’s trip computer, dropping below 17 mpg at highway speeds, where the engine is loafing along at only 1,700 rpms. After 1,200 miles together, the calculated fuel economy after three fill-ups was barely 17 mpg.
There is no heads-up display in the Limited, and with a shark-fin antenna on the roof, like most cars, why does the pickup still need a wire antenna on the fender too?
Handsome from any angle, comfortable for every user, the F-150 Limited represents Ford’s position atop the pickup segment with an impressive package of luxury, utility and style.