Ford’s F-Series pickup is the $50 billion (US) rig. That’s billion not million.
So, the pickup as high-profit luxury ride. The F-Series generated about $50 billion in sales last year. That is based on the U.S. average selling price of $45,700 and calculated by The Detroit Free Press. That $45,700 converts to some $60,600 Canadian at today’s valuations.
And if you spend just $60,000, you’re getting off cheap. Okay, okay, while the F in Canada starts at just under $31,000, the Platinum 4×4 SuperCrew with a 3.0-litre diesel that I just tested had an out-the-door price of $86,129. A big chunk or that included an extra $5,650 for the 3.0-litre diesel mated to a 10-speed automatic gearbox.
Eighty-six thousand one hundred and twenty-nine dollars. WOW. For a pickup? My first house cost $43,000, though that was when pickups were workhorses, not preening ponies.
Now some of you will mention that the F in Canada starts at just under $31,000 and Ford in Canada is offering financing that puts the payment at less than $500 a month. So, you can get an affordable F. If you go with my loaded diesel model, you will also pay about $500 – every two weeks for 84 months using Ford’s deal.
Ford sold very few of those starter models amongst the 1.1 million F-Series delivered last year. Point is, pickups are at least as popular with very wealthy Tesla owners as they are with hard-working pipe fitters and cowgirls. I know this because a very wealthy friend of mine with a Model S uses his F-150 to haul around his surfboards. He’s a self-described environmentalist, as are most Tesla owners.
In any case, let me tell you about this very fancy diesel rig. Ford is touting the diesel as one of two decently fuel-efficient options for the F, the other being the 2.7-litre EcoBoost V-6 gasoline mill.
Both the diesel and the EcoBoost are less thirsty than the honking V-8s that once dominated pickups, but the diesel in particular is not as thrifty as you might think: 11.2 city/8.3 hwy wearing the most fuel-efficient rubber. The thirstiest of the F-Series rigs gets 14.7/10.7, while the best EcoBoost V-6 gets 12.0/9.0.
I was surprised to see the diesel offer such a small fuel economy boost. I mean, Ford has thrown a lot of technology and effort into efficiency: 10-speed automatic transmission (developed in partnership with General Motors), the F-150 aluminum body, and auto start/stop.
The problem is simple, however. The F-series has grown bigger, heavier (all that luxurious equipment), more powerful and more capable. Thus, fuel economy gains are offset by jumps in performance, creature comforts and capability. If the current F were the same size as a 10- or 15-year-old F, then we’d surely see eye-popping fuel ratings.
Alas, then, for all the frothing palaver churned up by Ford officials, this new diesel does not deliver a staggering improvement in actual pump savings. So, it is expensive to operate and nearly impossible to park in any decent-sized city.
What is does do, however, is make some very steady and strong power (250 horsepower at 3,250 rpm and 440 lb.-ft. of torque at just 1,750 rpm) without any of the drama of the turbocharged gas engines also sold in the F. Towing capacity is also terrific (5,170 kg or 11,400 lbs) and the 880 kg (1,940 lbs) payload rating is impressive.
Now if you’re driving out on the range, in wide-open spaces, there is a perverse and very real pleasure to living with an F. It’s just soooo comfortable, especially the Lay-Z-Boy-like front buckets. They are dishy. When you sit up tall, you see forever, which is also a treat.
Ride quality is delightful. The F is solid on the straights and up to a point, it corners quite nicely. All is quiet even at high speeds, too. The look is handsome, build quality seems excellent and the technology array is almost overwhelming.
I, for one, could do without all the driving nannies, but the available lane-keeping system is particularly grating. It’s designed to help reduce drifting outside one’s lane, but either the software writers have dialed up irritatingly intrusive interventions, or the hardware doesn’t work properly.
Either way, numerous times I found the truck jerking the steering wheel out of my hands while I attempted a smooth but rather leisurely lane change. Ugh. Hate it.
I do like adaptive cruise control for long rips in places with some traffic. The mix of radar and camera technology works well at monitoring traffic ahead and maintaining a set distance between vehicles, right down to a dead stop. I do not, however want to pay for an in-truck Wi-Fi hotspot, even if it can connect 10 devices.
Some people who tow will value the optional Pro Trailer Backup Assist, but I don’t need it. The 360-degree camera is enough. Mirrors are big enough to make the blind spot assist unnecessary.
So, the verdict: Ford’s big money-spinner is a luxurious truck now available with a diesel engine that is terrific on the power front, even though the fuel economy numbers are nothing close to spectacular – not when every fill-up is a $120 investment. And some of this rig’s technological offerings are not quite ready for prime time.
2018 Ford F-150 Platinum SuperCrew
Base price: $71,579. As tested: $86,129.
Engine: 3.0-litre V-6, turbocharged diesel (250 horsepower at 3,250 rpm and 440 lb.-ft. of torque at just 1,750 rpm).
Transmission: 10-speed automatic.
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 1.2 city/8.3 hwy with the most fuel-efficient tires.
Competitors: Ram, GMC Sierra, Chevrolet Silverado, Nissan Titan, Toyota Tundra.