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2016 Ford F-150: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader March 2016

It would be hard to imagine a United States without the 2016 Ford F-150 full-size pickup truck. It's one of the best-selling vehicles in the nation, an accolade it's enjoyed for more than 30 years. Last year saw the introduction of an all-new generation. Although the styling remains staunchly trucklike, the construction is game-changing.

This F-150 uses mostly aluminum for its body instead of steel. Aluminum is tough but much lighter, and the benefit shows in the truck's fuel consumption and payload capacity. Here's another twist: The range-topping engine isn't a big V8; it's a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6.

The truck is even more compelling because of its comprehensive list of features, including everything from luxury options to advanced safety equipment. Ford doesn't have things all its own way: The competition is fierce, but the F-150 has everything it needs to be a winner.

What's New for 2016?

The SYNC 3 infotainment system (an improvement over the generally unloved MyFord Touch) is now available. A new luxurious Limited trim joins the range, and a new Pro Trailer Backup Assist function makes lighter work of hitching up a trailer.

What We Like

Excellent driving dynamics; impressive capabilities; good gas mileage; comfort, convenience and safety features

What We Don't

The ride can feel stiff when the truck is unladen; repairing aluminum body panels is more expensive; options drive up the price considerably

How Much?

$27,625-$59,965

Fuel Economy

The F-150 uses a 6-speed automatic transmission in every variant. Rear-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is optional.

Engine-wise, a base-level 3.5-liter V6 makes 282 horsepower and 253 lb-ft of torque, returning 18 miles per gallon in the city, 25 mpg on the highway and 20 mpg combined (rear-wheel drive). The figures for all-wheel drive are 17 mpg city/23 mpg hwy/19 mpg combined.

The optional 2.7-liter turbocharged EcoBoost V6 puts out 325 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque. With rear-wheel drive, fuel consumption is 19 mpg city/26 mpg hwy/22 mpg combined; it's 18 mpg city/23 mpg hwy/20 mpg combined with all-wheel drive.

The 5.0-liter V8 is a carry-over from the previous generation, but it could still be a useful choice for towing (see below). It makes 360 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque while achieving 15 mpg city/22 mpg hwy/18 mpg combined in rear-drive form or 15 mpg city/21 mpg hwy/17 mpg combined with all four wheels.

King of the propulsion hill is a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 developing a muscular 365 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. When driving the rear wheels only, it returns 17 mpg city/24 mpg hwy/20 mpg combined. When you link it up to the all-wheel-drive system, it returns 17 mpg city/23 mpg hwy/19 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

Choosing a 2016 F-150 is not a straightforward task. There's a multitude of configurations that involve regular cab, Supercab (extended) and Supercrew (what everyone else calls a crew cab). The bed lengths measure 5.5, 6.5 or 8 feet (the two longer beds come with the two smaller cabs, and the Supercrew is eligible for the shortest bed). Then there are the engines, trim levels and options bundles. The trims, in ascending order of plushness, are XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum and Limited.

XL models ($27,625) are bare-bones work trucks. Standard equipment includes an AM/FM stereo with a clock (but no CD player or USB port), a 4.2-inch screen in the center stack for audio controls, air conditioning, trailer sway control, trailer connection wiring, side-curtain airbags, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel and little else. It doesn't even come with power windows.

All-wheel-drive versions of the XL are eligible for the FX4 Off-Road package (which includes an electronic locking rear axle, a specialist suspension, skid plates and hill-descent control). Other options include side steps, a tailgate assist step, drop-in or spray-in bedliners and trailer tow packages with the Pro Trailer Backup Assist feature (which is basically a self-steering system for backing up to a trailer).

The XLT ($32,985) adds power windows and locks (including the tailgate), power mirrors, a cargo management system (with four tie-down cleats), remote keyless entry, cruise control, SYNC voice controls, smartphone-app integration, a USB port, a CD player, 17-in alloy wheels, some exterior chrome work, carpeting and a few more cabin stowage areas.

The Lariat ($41,145) brings leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, power-adjustable pedals with memory, keyless access/push-button starting, a SYNC 3 infotainment system with an 8-in touchscreen, satellite radio, a rearview camera, LED bed lighting and 18-in alloy wheels.

The western-themed King Ranch ($51,130) comes only with the Supercrew cab, which contains a remote starter, a remote tailgate release, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel and a 10-speaker Sony audio system.

The Platinum ($53,595; Supercrew only) is more conventionally luxurious. It includes an aluminum interior trim, voice-activated navigation, automatic high-beam detection, automatic parallel-parking assistance, a blind spot monitoring system, power running boards, 20-in alloy wheels and a series of exterior upgrades.

The Limited ($59,965; Supercrew only) has 22-in alloy wheels and is loaded up with virtually all that's optional in the lower levels.

And there's a lot of equipment available. Major upgrades include a panoramic sunroof, a 360-degree camera system, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, massaging seats and a segment-exclusive panoramic sunroof. As is usually the case, some equipment that's standard in the higher trims may be optioned for the lower levels. For example, XL models can be upgraded with most of the XLT's features.

Safety

Standard safety items include side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, daytime running lights and traction/stability control. Options range from parking sensors to adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist and a blind spot monitoring system.

In government crash tests, the 2016 Ford F-150 received five out of five stars overall: five for front- and side-impact protection and four stars for rollover protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also made it a Top Safety Pick after the truck won the top score of Good in five major categories.

Behind the Wheel

Aluminum construction means the F-150 feels more nimble than its rivals. The handling/comfort balance is surprisingly good for the most part, and the steering is pleasantly direct. It's only when the speeds get higher that the limitations of rear leaf springs are more easily felt. The cabin is well thought out and generally welcoming. Bottom line: The F-150 is a great all-rounder.

With the basic 3.5 V6, maximum towing capacity is 7,600 pounds. Using the 2.7 turbo V6 allows 8,500 pounds of towing. The 5.0 V8 is capable of 11,100 pounds, and the 3.5 turbo V6 can pull 12,200 pounds. Payload capacity gets as high as 3,300 pounds.

There's no argument or discussion necessary. Anyone who's looking to buy a half-ton truck must absolutely consider the F-150.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 Chevrolet Silverado -- The Silverado is the usual rival to the F-150. This model, which has been refreshed for 2016, favors big V8 engines for higher trims, as opposed to turbocharged V6 engines.

2016 GMC Sierra -- The Sierra is the mechanical twin to the Silverado. If you like the Chevy, you'll like the GMC. Try shopping them both to see where you can get the better deal.

2016 RAM 1500 -- The RAM 1500 is defined and capable. Its rear coil springs provide a comfortable ride, and its options include an air suspension and a diesel engine.

2016 Nissan Titan XD -- The Nissan Titan XD straddles the ground between a half-ton truck and a 3-quarter-ton truck. It's a highly capable, superb machine that has an excellent Cummins diesel engine.

2016 Toyota Tundra -- The Tundra has no-nonsense functionality and avoids any cowboy-themed trim levels.

Autotrader's Advice

The most basic version will do the job, but a happy medium might be an XLT will some well-chosen options. You should at least try to go for the 2.7-liter turbo over the base engine. But the whole F-150 range has an excellent combination of standard and optional equipment, decent fuel economy, strong capabilities and impressive driving manners.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Ford F-150: New Car Review - Autotrader