In 1900, Henry Ford built his third vehicle – a truck, but it wasn’t until 1917 that Ford Motor Co. launched its first truck line, with the 1917 Ford
In 1900, Henry Ford built his third vehicle – a truck, but it wasn’t until 1917 that Ford Motor Co. launched its first truck line, with the 1917 Ford Model TT, based on the Model T car, but with a reinforced chassis and rear axle. This early pick-up was rated at one ton.
When Ford premiered its F-150 truck line in 1948, it is doubtful that they envisioned creating a pick-up that would become “America’s Truck” for more than three decades. They produced a vehicle that was destined to become America’s best-selling truck for 39 consecutive years and America’s best-selling vehicle for 34 years.
The 1948 version, known as the Ford Bonus-Built or F-1, replaced the company's previous car-based pickup line. Now in its 13th generation, which began in the 2015 model year, F-150 essentially stands pat as the most significant changes include a new turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 engine that delivers 50 lbs.-ft. more torque for a best-in-class 470 lbs.-ft., an advanced 10-speed transmission that optimizes power and torque curves for improved performance and efficiency; an available Ford Sync® Connect multimedia system; and new appearance and exterior color options.
The 2017 Ford F-150 comes with a truckload of standard amenities and features including a six-speed automatic transmission; rear-wheel drive; air conditioning; tilt and telescoping steering wheel; first-row side-impact airbags; cargo box lights; antilock brakes; electronic stability control and roll stability control
Manufactured at Ford’s Dearborn Truck Plant in Dearborn, Michigan, and Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Missouri, F-150’s personality is bold with its aggressive shape, wide stance, prominent wheel arches and chiseled grille; while comfort, utility and refinement define the truck’s interior. Ergonomically optimized seating for front-row occupants enhances comfort and buttons and controls are optimized so they can be operated while wearing work gloves.
My 4x4 test truck with a SuperCrew® cab and carried a short bed of 5.5 feet and measured 231.9 inches long, 77.2 inches high for the 4x4, and 79.9 inches wide on a 145.0-inch wheelbase.
Powerwise, F-150 offers several engine choices, including a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 with 325 hp and 375 lbs.-ft. of torque, for an EPA rating of 19 city/26 highway mpg; the standard 3.5-liter V-6 engine with twin independent variable camshaft timing that produces 282hp/253 lbs.-ft and an EPA of 18/25; and the new available turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 engine that works with the new 10-speed automatic transmission that increases last year’s power numbers to 375 hp and 470 lbs.-ft. of torque. That system worked efficiently and powerfully and I managed a 6.2-second zero-to-60mph sprint and a 14.8-second quarter-mile (hand-timed) in my F-150 XLT.
Ford’s F-150 is confident cruising the highways, handling heavy payloads and smoothing out road irregularities. Rack-and-pinion, electric power-assisted steering is aggressive and predictable, and coil-on-shock, long-spindle double-wishbone independent front suspension with a stamped-steel lower control arm, and a Hotchkiss-type non-independent live rear suspension with leaf springs and outboard shock absorbers work well together to provide a level truck ride. Four-wheel vented ABS disc brakes deliver responsive stopping ability.
The cabin is packed with amenities and is spacious, with 40.8 inches of front headroom and 40.4 inches for those in the cab. Front legroom was a generous 43.9 inches with second-row passengers getting 43.6 inches. Shoulder room is a comfortable 66.7 inches in row one and 65.9 in the rear seats.
For 2017, Ford F-150 is offered in six basic trims with tweaks for engines, bed length and cab size. The base XL starts at $27,110; the XLT which I tested, started at $32,480; the upscale Lariat bases at $40,865; the Raptor starts at $49,265; King Ranch® model starts at $51,080 and the uppermost scale Platinum trim starts at $53,635.
My XLT, which adds SYNC®, the Power Equipment Group and Chrome Front and Rear Bumper to the XL, based with a Regular Cab and 6.5-foot box; the 3.5-liter engine, 6-speed automatic transmission and 4x2 drive, but my test drive upscaled a bit. A Super Cab added $2910, and as I am a 4x4 guy, especially with trucks, that option was added for $3495.
Shadow Black paint was a standard color, and the interior was augmented with the 301A option which added some great tech conveniences for an additional $2100, then discounted by $1000. The package included fixed backlight with privacy glass and defroster, sideview mirrors with heat, turn signal, auto-dimming feature, rear view camera, power-adjustable pedals, 8-way power driver's seat, 4.2-inch productivity screen in instrument cluster, leather-wrapped steering wheel, SiriusXM satellite radio, a class IV trailer hitch and more.
A drop-in bedliner added $350; box side steps added $325; the remote start system added $195; reverse sensing system added $275; Black platform running boards were $250; the voice-activated navigation system was $795; Sync® 3 with voice-activated communications and entertainment system with 911 Assist®, Vehicle Health Reports and an 8.0-inch center-stack touch screen with audio control and compass added $450, and the coolest high-tech item: Ford Telematics™ Powered by Telogis® was $800. This system includes an onboard device that tracks vehicle location, speed and idle time with optional vehicle diagnostics and maintenance reports.
Destination charges were $1295, for a sticker of $40,110, and after discounts and available incentives of $3750 were deducted, my net sticker-as-tested was $36,360. But check with your dealer for local and national incentive programs and the best deal.
You can “Celebrate 100 years of Ford trucks”, see the 2017 Ford F-150 and more than 2,000 trucks that span decades, from lowered mini trucks, lifted 4x4s, chromed out big rigs, SUVs, custom vans, new trucks and perfectly restored classics at the Carlisle Truck Nationals, August 4-6 at the Carlisle (PA) Fairgrounds. This event and has been the epicenter for all things truck since 1991. Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.
Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.