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Review of: 2016 Ford F-150 4WD SuperCrew 145" Limited

7.6

2016 Ford F-150 Limited: Lotsa luxury for lotsa cash

By Jil McIntosh

May. 19, 2016

Technology is an amazing thing. First we had cars that could park themselves, and now we have a truck that can back up its trailer.

It’s Ford’s F-150 new Pro Trailer Backup Assist, a new-for-2016 feature that was included on my top-trim Limited tester. It’s part of a trailer tow package that’s either included or optional on the F-150, depending on the trim level.

The F-150 starts at $25,799 in regular-cab, base XL-trim configuration, but my all-out SuperCrew 4×4 Limited started tipping the scale at $75,499. I had several options on top of that, including an electronic locking rear axle, skid plates, and a spray-in bedliner, bringing it to an eye-watering $77,199 before freight and taxes.

Pros & Cons

  • + Great engine sound
  • + Interior materials
  • + Touchscreen display
  • - Steering wheel
  • - Price
Read the full review
  • Walkaround

    Any concern Ford might have had with acceptance of its new aluminum-bodied model never became an issue. It’s still Canada’s best-selling vehicle, and sales are already up for 2016 when compared to the same period last year.

    It’s a ruggedly handsome truck, and my tester laid the chrome on fairly thick, which nevertheless managed to look good save for the oversized and over-the-top LIMITED letters across the hood.

    It’s a long step up into this big truck, especially if you’re vertically-challenged as I am, and so I appreciated the power-operated running boards that automatically drop down whenever a door is opened. (Well, at least until I forgot about them when loading something through the back door, and I whacked my shin on one.) My truck also had box side steps, which pop out when you kick the release button with your toe, although it can be tough to push them back into place because you have to press on the step’s side, not in the middle where the button is.

    You can open the liftgate from the key remote, which can be pretty handy when your hands are full (you have to close it manually). Once the gate’s open, you can access the tailgate step, which pulls out to create a ladder and handle. Unlike on the last-generation truck, the handle now fits inside the gate rather than folding down across it, where it could catch on cargo. It’s an ingenious system, but I still prefer the simplicity of GM’s bumper step.

    7.5Good
  • Interior

    Two words: eucalyptus wood. It may seem silly to fixate on a single trim accent, but the gradation pattern on the wood trim really sets off an interior that already looks good with its two-tone leather upholstery and stitched dash (which, of course, it should for the price). The cabin’s also extremely quiet, which further adds to the luxury feel.

    The front seats both cool and heat, and are very supportive. The rear seats are heated, but a passenger back there complained that while the seats themselves were comfortable, the position put his knees a bit higher than he would have liked—the payoff for the truck’s cargo-friendly flat rear floor.

    The Limited trim includes a huge dual-panel sunroof, heated power tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel and illuminated sill plates. But I could have done without the enormous chrome “Limited” badge on the console box lid, complete with VIN and serial number, plopped right where you might want to rest your arm.

    9.0Excellent
  • Tech

    I’d like to think I can take credit for Ford’s decision to get rid of MyFord Touch, since all I ever did was complain about it—and with just cause, for its fiddly and slow tap-the-corners screen. I’m very impressed with this new SYNC 3 interface, which features large, simple, and easy-to-use icons. The Limited also includes voice-activated navigation, lane-keeping assist, active park assist for parallel parking, blind spot monitoring, and adaptive cruise control with forward collision warning and braking.

    But we’re here to talk trailers and my first experience with the Pro Trailer Backup Assist. There’s a 360-degree camera that gives you a bird’s-eye around the truck, and makes it easier to back up to the trailer for hitching it.

    Before you can use the assist, you have to set up the trailer. It isn’t difficult and you only have to do it once, but don’t think it’s just “hitch up and go” with whatever you want to pull. For each trailer—and you can put several into the system—you have to take four measurements on the trailer and enter them into the truck’s instrument cluster. You also have to permanently stick a special checkered decal onto the trailer tongue, which the system identifies through the backup camera and uses to figure out the direction.

    The driver operates the system through a dial on the dash. For all that it sounds like the truck does all the work, the reality is that the dial simply takes the place of the steering wheel. Ever hear of that old trick where you hold the wheel at the bottom, and then turn it to the left to turn the trailer left, and right to go right? That’s exactly what you’re doing here.

    You still have to use the throttle and brake, and most importantly, you still have to use your mirrors to figure out where the trailer is going. The dial only eliminates the question of which way to turn the wheel. You have to figure out how far you need to turn it (and the steering input is very fast), and where you initially have to position the truck and trailer in order to back into a spot. A couple of times, after I drove ahead for a while and then engaged the system, it required me to find the trailer in the instrument cluster’s memory, and then wait for it to pinpoint the checkerboard decal. That all took about ten seconds—an eternity when you’re backing into a driveway and traffic is piling up and waiting for you to get off the road.

    If you’re only using the system to reach a place that’s relatively in line with the truck, such as backing down to a boat launch, you’ll be fine. But if you think it’ll instantly turn an inexperienced driver into someone who can put a trailer into a parking spot…it won’t. You’ll still have to learn everything other than which way to turn the wheel. The technology behind the system is impressive, but it definitely doesn’t perform miracles.

    8.0Very good
  • Driving

    My truck was equipped with the turbocharged 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6, churning out 365 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque, which peaks at 2,500 rpm (but gives 90 per cent torque power at just 1,700 rpm), and mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. That’s fewer horses than the naturally-aspirated 5.0-litre V8, which makes 385 ponies, but the V6 is a considerable step up in grunt over the V8’s 387 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,850 rpm.

    The engine also has a delicious exhaust note that sounds like there are eight cylinders under the hood. Published fuel figures for the 4×4 are 14.7 L/100 km in the city and 10.7 on the highway, but the best I could accomplish was 15.9 L/100 km. I still found that acceptable for a truck this size, given that I wasn’t easy on it. But any turbocharged engine gets thirstier whenever extra air is forced in, and those who regularly tow trailers might find that one of the naturally-aspirated engines is a better choice overall when it comes to stopping by the pumps.

    I wish for a slightly thinner steering wheel, since this fat one is cumbersome in my small hands, but other than that, this Ford’s driving characteristics sit about mid-pack. The steering doesn’t feel as quick as on the Silverado, but I find it a bit more agile than the Ram or Tundra. The ride is comfortable if a little bouncy, but it’s nice on the highway and quiet overall.

    7.5Good
  • Value

    Can we really talk value in a truck with a starting tag of more than $75,000? Well, you undoubtedly won’t move up to this level if you only want a work vehicle, but just as there are those who like their luxury cars, there are those who prefer their trucks done up that way as well.

    The lists of features aren’t precisely aligned, but among its competitors, my F-150 Limited was the priciest. Against my tester’s $75,499 tag, a GMC Denali in 4×4 Crew Cab configuration starts at $64,825, while Toyota’s Tundra maxes out with the 1794 Edition at $57,785. Even loading up a Ram 1500 Laramie Limited with the EcoDiesel engine and throwing in an extra $4,000 in options brings it shy of the Ford at $73,840.

    6.0Okay
  • Conclusion

    As far as luxury goes, the F-150 Limited has it in spades. The interior is gorgeous, its engine is gutsy, and it’s packed with features. But while the trailer assist’s technology is impressive, it only can do so much. You’re probably better off just to learn how to do it yourself.

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