While the choices in full-size half-ton pickups aren't nearly as varied as with family sedans or SUVs, there's still a pretty good selection from which to choose. Nonetheless, the 2014 Ford F-150 continues to be the best-selling truck of them all, year after year. That's not because its rivals are weak; rather, it's because Ford continues to offer customers so many of the features important to them, in a package that's handsome, rugged and reliable.
From features and fuel economy to towing and hauling, the F-150 has it covered. Depending on the model, you can have everything from a basic work truck to a luxurious country limousine. The F-150 is the first full-size pickup to offer a turbocharged V6 engine and an electronic locking rear axle. It also has several clever little features such as a built-in step inside the bed door and Hill Start Assist, which prevents the truck from rolling backward when stopped on a steep angle.
What's New for 2014?
The F-150 receives only minor updates this year. Most notably, xenon headlights are now standard on XLT and above.
What We Like
Varied model lineup; great engine range includes turbocharged EcoBoost V6; lots of clever features to assist on the job site
What We Don't
Confusingly long list of options and trims
The base F-150 engine is a 3.7-liter V6 good for 302 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque. It returns fuel economy of 17 miles per gallon city/23 mpg highway (2-wheel drive) and 16 mpg city/21 mpg hwy (4-wheel drive).
The twin-turbocharged, 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 produces a very healthy 365 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque while returning fuel economy of 16 mpg city/22 mpg hwy (2-wheel drive) and 15 mpg city/21 mpg hwy (4-wheel drive). Properly equipped, the EcoBoost V6 can tow up to 11,300 pounds and carry a payload of 3,060 pounds.
In the V8 category, the F-150 offers a 5.0-liter engine rated at 360 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy figures are 15 mpg city/21 mpg hwy (2-wheel drive) and 14 mpg city/19 mpg hwy (4-wheel drive).
At the top is the monster 6.2-liter V8 rated at 411 hp and 434 lb-ft of torque. Environmental Protection Agency fuel ratings for this engine drop to 13 mpg city/18 mpg hwy (2-wheel drive) and 12 mpg city/16 mpg hwy (4-wheel drive).
Standard Features & Options
The F-150 is offered in nine trim levels -- XL, STX, XLT, FX2/FX4, Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum, Limited and the purpose-built SVT Raptor off-roader. There are three cab options -- regular cab, SuperCab (with small rear doors) and SuperCrew (with full-sized rear doors) and three bed lengths -- 5.5 feet, 6.5 feet and 8 feet. Note that cab and bed availability depend on the selected trim.
The XL gives you just the basics, so you have steel wheels, manual mirrors and windows, a bench seat with vinyl upholstery and a radio that doesn't even have a CD player or an audio jack. At least air conditioning comes standard, as well.
The STX steps up to 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, cloth upholstery, powered accessories and a CD stereo with an auxiliary audio input.
The XLT adds automatic xenon headlights, fog lights, steering-wheel-mounted controls and SYNC voice-command functionality with Bluetooth.
The FX2 and FX4 (the number denotes 2- or 4-wheel drive) boast 18-in wheels, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, SYNC with a 4.2-in dashboard display, satellite radio, a leather-wrapped steering wheel that both tilts and telescopes and individual front bucket seats with power driver adjustments.
The Lariat picks up the pace with leather upholstery, power-adjustable pedals, a power rear window, power front seats with driver memory and the MyFord Touch infotainment system.
The King Ranch ups the ante, flaunting extra chrome on the outside, power-folding mirrors with heating and auto-dimming, cooled front seats, heated rear seats, unique Chaparral leather upholstery, a power-adjustable steering wheel and a 10-speaker, 700-watt Sony sound system with a subwoofer.
The Platinum one-ups the King Ranch with 20-in wheels, chrome mirror caps, power running boards, rain-sensing wipers and a navigation system.
The Limited tops things off with massive 22-in wheels, a sunroof and subtle styling enhancements.
The SVT Raptor, meanwhile, stands alone as a high-performance, off-road-ready beast. The big 6.2-liter V8 is standard here, as are a roughly 7-in wider track, a special long-travel suspension with Fox racing shocks and cast-aluminum SVT control arms, a unique grille and 17-in black alloy wheels with BF Goodrich off-road tires.
The Ford F-150 comes with anti-lock disc brakes, electronic traction and stability control, front and front seat side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags (for both front and rear passengers on SuperCab and SuperCrew cabs).
The F-150 scored well in the government's crash tests, though some models got only three out of five stars in the rollover roof strength test. However, the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the F-150 top marks, naming it a Top Safety Pick.
Behind the Wheel
Given its impressive towing and payload abilities, one might expect the F-150 to ride like a stiffly sprung work truck. But it doesn't. On the open road and even around town, the F-150 delivers the kind of ride and handling one would expect of a large SUV -- smooth, stable and comfortable. The F-150's electrically assisted power steering delivers good feedback and handles the job of moving the F-150's bulk with ease.
On rough roads, the F-150 remains composed, remarkably so for a truck. We like the power provided by the 5.0-liter V8 and especially the rowdy 6.2-liter V8, but it's the EcoBoost V6 that most intrigues us. This turbo V6 is an impressively versatile engine, delivering huge supplies of power when asked yet achieving above-average fuel economy when driven gently.
Other Cars to Consider
Chevrolet Silverado -- It's just as capable, if not more so, and the Silverado is new for 2014 with a much-improved interior.
Toyota Tundra -- Also redesigned for 2014, the new Tundra features more macho styling, newly luxurious trim levels and a proven 5.7-liter V8.
RAM 1500 -- The big news for the 2014 RAM is the arrival of a turbodiesel V6 model that should eclipse the EcoBoost engine's fuel economy.
With so many trims and models, it's impossible to pick just one. We recommend EcoBoost for most uses, but if you frequently tow heavy loads and/or love the sound and thrust of an American V8, there's no substitute for the 6.2-liter motor.