First Drive: 2013 Ford F-150

The F-Series is the most successful pickup line of all-time, and one of the best-selling vehicles ever sold in the U.S. The current generation F-150 debuted in 2009. A new F-150 is on the way for the 2015 model year.

There are ten model variations of F-150 right now, with a choice of three cabs (Regular, SuperCab and SuperCrew), three bed lengths (5.5', 6.5' and 8.0'), and four engine types (3.7-liter V6; 3.5-liter EcoBoost; 5.0-liter V8; and 6.2-liter V8) in 4x2 or 4x4, each with a six-speed automatic transmission. The matrix of choices is mind-boggling. There are more possible F-150 truck configurations than there are in the entire Hyundai lineup.

Tow/Haul/Cargo

Every manufacturer seems to be able to claim "Best In Class" - so the term is virtually meaningless at present. It's like "Best Comedian with Red Hair” (The answer is "Carrot Top," which just goes to show). The simple fact is that F-150 is a light duty pickup with very good towing figures. Engine size makes a difference, as do drivetrain (4x2 is slightly better than 4x4) and other factors. The EcoBoost engine gets high marks for towing capacity, peaking at 11,300 lbs for a 157" wheelbase SuperCrew model with a 3.73 rear axle ratio. The 3.7-liter V6 with a Regular Cab and a 126" wheelbase is ready for just half that - peaking at 5,500 lbs.

Payload packages are similarly variable. The SVT Raptor, with its special off-road suspension setup, is only capable of hauling 980 lbs, while the EcoBoost and 5.0-liter V8 equipped SuperCab with 145" wheelbase and Heavy Duty Payload Package installed can handle up to 2,810 lbs.

There are three cargo boxes available on various F-150 models. Each has an interior height of 22.4" and 50" of load space between the wheelhouses. The 5.5' box is 67" long at the floor with a volume of 55.4 cu.-ft. the 6.5' box is 78.8" long with a volume of 65.5 cu.-ft. and the 8.0' box is 97.4" long with a volume of 81.3 cu.-ft.

Three cab configurations can be ordered up on F-150: Regular, SuperCab and SuperCrew. SuperCab and SuperCrew each seat six; Regular seats three. Armrest storage up front is ample, and the glove box is appropriately truck-sized. On both SuperCab and SuperCrew models, the seat bottom folds up easily to reveal a nice flat load floor, with some hidden storage at the base. SuperCab gets clamshell rear doors that can only be opened and closed when the front doors are open; SuperCrew has four actual doors, like an SUV.

Dash


2013 Ford F-150 dash.

Engine/Drivetrain/Specs

Four engines are available for Silverado:

3.7-liter V6
302 hp @ 6,500 rpm
278 lb.-ft. @ 4,000 rpm
17 mpg city/23 mpg hwy (2WD)
16 mpg city/21 mpg hwy (4WD)

3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost (+$2,395)
365 @ 5,000 rpm
420 @ 2,500 rpm
16 mpg city/22 mpg hwy (2WD)
15 mpg city/21 mpg hwy (4WD)

5.0-liter V8 (+$1,000)
360 hp @ 5,500 rpm
380 lb.-ft. @ 4250 rpm
15 mpg city/21 mpg hwy (2WD)
14 mpg city/19 mpg hwy (4WD)

6.2-liter V8 (+$4,470)
411 hp @ 5,500 rpm
434 lb.-ft. @ 4,500 rpm
13 mpg city/18 mpg hwy (2WD)
12 mpg city/16 mpg hwy (4WD)

**Six-speed automatic transmission with 2WD or 4WD (+$3,940)

Rear3qLeft


2013 Ford F-150 rear view.

The Drive

The F-150 has great presence on the road, but doesn't feel outsized in traffic. Cornering is confident, and even with an empty box, it doesn't pogo across rough surfaces.

My preference has always been a V8 for a pickup truck, with the theory that the engine would be less stressed under load, and therefore more durable. Ford claims that the EcoBoost is up to the challenge of motivating a pickup truck and its rated tow/haul load, maintaining efficiency and durability for its expected work life. They back up their engines with a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, with additional warranties available for purchase through the Ford Extended Service Plan. The EcoBoost delivers direct, linear power, with very well managed throttle response and virtually no turbo lag. Turbo lag is the delay of power delivery inherent in a turbocharged engine by virtue of the nature of the system. Turbos have to develop boost, which takes time to build - thus the lag upon acceleration. Turbo lag cannot be totally eliminated, but it can be managed. Ford has got it figured out. The downside to the EcoBoost is cost. Ford charges a premium of over $1,000 for the EcoBoost, and you're probably never going to recoup the premium with fuel savings. The 5.0-liter V8 is a capable, proven engine; and for many drivers, the 3.7-liter V6 engine might do the job.

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