First Drives First Tests Uncategorized

2016 Ford F-150 Limited 4×4 First Test: Blackwood’s Revenge

Driving and Testing the EcoBoosted, $67,560 F-150 Luxury Truck

Driving and Testing the EcoBoosted, $67,560 F-150 Luxury Truck

I’m not sure when it happened exactly, but at some point in the last 15 years or so, pickup trucks became more of a luxury toy than a tool for work. No truck signaled this shift more than the Lincoln Blackwood, a gussied-up Ford F-150 with a French door tailgate and a carpeted bed that essentially functioned as a 26.5-cubic-foot trunk. The Blackwood didn’t become the sales success Ford thought it’d be—it turned out that although truck buyers appreciated some of the luxury touches, they at least wanted to be able to do some work. So Ford went back to the drawing board and came back with the Lincoln Mark LT, which, uh, didn’t work so well, either. Given the success of the rival GMC Sierra Denali, which at face value is little more than a luxury-trimmed Sierra, someone at Ford had the bright idea to roll a luxury trim level into the F-150 lineup, where it’s been kicking around in Platinum and Limited forms ever since. The move paid off, and the 2016 Ford F-150 Limited 4×4 I’ve just spent a week piloting might just be the best iteration of the lux-truck yet.

The top dog of the F-150 lineup, the F-150 Limited picks up where the F-150 Platinum leaves off, adding more standard features and focusing more on luxury rather than work. Available only as four-door SuperCrew cab with a 5.5-foot bed and the EcoBoost 3.5-liter, twin-turbo V-6 (you can option the Platinum with a 5.0-liter V-8 and a 6.5-foot bed if the mood strikes you), the F-150 Limited distinguishes itself from the Platinum with unique 22-inch wheels, a satin-finished grille and door handles, and a handful of otherwise optional features such as a panoramic moonroof and the tech package as standard equipment. Although you can opt for extras such as four-wheel drive, a tailgate step, box-side steps, and the trailer tow package on the F-150 Limited, equipment such as the FX4 Off-Road package and Max Trailer Tow package is unavailable on the platinum.

At the test track, the F-150 Limited’s standard EcoBoost V-6 remains as potent as ever. Making 365 hp and 420-lb-ft of torque and paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, our 3.55 axle-equipped F-150 Limited hustles from 0 to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds and through the quarter mile in 14.5 seconds at 94.4 mph (152 km/h). The 60-0 braking test saw our Ford pickup tester slowing to a stop in 114 feet. Light for a truck at 5,540 pounds (2,513 kg), the F-150 Limited lapped the figure eight in 27.2 seconds at 0.63 g average.

The F-150 Limited’s performance puts it near the top of the pack when it comes to rival pickups. It bests the most recent Hemi-equipped Ram 1500 Laramie, V-8-powered Toyota Tundra 1794 Edition, and 5.3-liter V-8-equipped Chevrolet Silverado LTZ we tested in all performance metrics. The only truck we’ve tested capable of hanging with the F-150 Limited at the test track is the GMC Sierra 1500 Denali. The last Sierra Denali we tested, a 2016 four-wheel-drive crew cab equipped with the optional 6.2-liter, 420-hp, 460-lb-ft V-8 and an eight-speed automatic, matched the F-150 Limited to 60 mph, pulling ahead in the quarter mile with its 14.2-second performance and 97.1 mph (156 km/h) trap speed. The F-150 trounces the Sierra Denali in braking and handling tests, though, with the GMC needing 129 feet to come to a stop from 60 mph and 27.8 seconds to lap the figure eight at 0.63 g average.

Given my urban apartment-dwelling lifestyle (and let’s face it, the fact that someone who can afford a $67,560 USD pickup can afford to pay a guy to do all the heavy lifting for them), I didn’t test the F-150’s towing or hauling prowess. Rest assured, it’s quite capable; our truck was rated to haul 1,460 pounds (662 kg) or tow 11,000 pounds (4,990 kg). That said, I did use the truck to escape Los Angeles with the wife and dogs in search of some nature. Out on the open road, the F-150 Limited is a capable interstate hauler. The EcoBoost V-6 remains a beast—it pulls strongly and never lets you see it sweat. Despite Ford’s rivals moving to eight-speed transmissions, the F-150’s six-speed automatic doesn’t leave you wanting for extra cogs. It smartly rides the turbo’s torque curve, shifts quickly, and is never caught in the wrong gear. Over about 300 miles, most of it on highways, I averaged 15.3 mpg (15.4 L/100km). The F-150 Limited is EPA-rated at 16/22/18 mpg (14.7/10.7/13.1 L/100km) city/highway/combined. Those looking for a more miserly full-size pickup would likely be better served by an EcoDiesel-equipped Ram.

Steering is trucklike (surprising, huh?), but it’s well-weighted and accurate, even on narrow switchback roads. The F-150’s ride is trucklike, too. It’s mostly unobjectionable, but it is on busy side, especially compared to the magnetic ride-equipped Sierra Denali or the coil- or air-sprung Ram 1500. Washboard roads and interstate expansion joints will leave the F-150 juddering or floating up and down as you move down the road. Those 22-inch wheels, while good-looking, certainly don’t help things, either.

Inside, the F-150 Limited does a pretty good impression of a luxury vehicle. You won’t fool an S-Class driver, but the cabin is spacious and well-appointed with high-quality leather, massaging heated and cooled buckets up front, and heated seats in back. The Limited-exclusive wood trim is pretty nice, too, as is the standard panoramic glass roof. At its heart though, the F-150 Limited starts life as a $26,000 USD pickup truck, so some hard plastic interior panels, such as in the door cards, remain.

Although Ford initially stumbled out of the luxury truck gate with the Lincoln Blackwood and Mark LT, the F-150 Limited is all the better for the lessons learned with the Lincoln truck twins. The lux truck isn’t for everyone, but the Ford F-150 Limited is certainly among the most compelling entrants in the segment, and it finally represents a worthy rival to GMC’s Sierra Denali.

2016 Ford F150 Limited (SuperCrew)
BASE PRICE $63,390
PRICE AS TESTED $67,560
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door truck
ENGINE 3.5L/365-hp/420-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 5,540 lb (56/44%)
WHEELBASE 145.0 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 231.9 x 79.9 x 77.2 in
0-60 MPH 5.8 sec
QUARTER MILE 14.5 sec @ 94.4 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 114 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.78 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 27.2 sec @ 0.63 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 16/22/18 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 211/153 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 1.06 lb/mile