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2017 Ford F150

Ford F-150 2015-2019

The 2015 F-150 Ford truck marked the thirteenth generation of this best selling truck.  Fully redesigned, the F-150 featured a first in segment all-aluminum body, added efficiency technology and a new V6 engine option. The move to aluminum made the new F-150 capable of hauling more payload, and its weight reduction improved fuel economy marginally while making it possible to use a smaller engine to power the full-size truck.  It has a maximum towing capacity of 12,200 pounds and a payload limit of 3,300 pounds. It offers solid performance, a myriad of bed and cabin configurations, along with solid safety ratings.  Overall, it is a class leader with powerful engine choices, best in class towing and hauling capabilities, and impressive handling. Although its rivals have nicer interior materials, the F-150’s cabin provides plenty of space.   New features included Active Park Assist, adaptive cruise control, multi-contour massaging seats and a 360-degree surround view camera, trailer hitch assist and LED headlights.
Strengths
Powerful new 2.7L V6 EcoBoost engine
Improved ride quality and handling
Good towing and hauling capacity
Technology and load assist features
Weaknesses
Control layout
Uncertainty of repair costs on aluminum
Pricey in higher trim levels

What's Available
Ford reduced the F-150 trim levels in this transition year to XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum.  Ford dropped the STX, FX2, and Limited; the Raptor rejoined the line up in 2017; and the FX4 became available as an off-road package (bundling off-road-tuned shocks, skid plates, and an electronic locking rear axle) on every trim. Same three body styles remain: the two-door Regular Cab, the extended SuperCab and the four-door SuperCrew.  Three bed lengths are available depending on your cab configuration. Four engines are available including three V-6s, two of them turbocharged, and just a single V-8. The standard 3.5-liter V-6 engine replaces the former 3.7-liter; it rates 283 horsepower. The 5.0 liter V8 engine and new 2.7 liter EcoBoost V6 are the midrange choices.  The top engine is a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 making 365hp and 420 lb-ft of torque.  All F-150s had a standard automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive and used regular gas.

Prices lure you in at a reasonable $26,615 for a bare bones XL model, but if you start adding features and sizing up you should be prepared for the sticker price to reach $60,000-plus on heavily optioned King Ranch and Platinum trucks.

The XL came with 17-inch tires; manual windows; an AM/FM stereo; a vinyl floor; manual locks; air conditioning; rear flip-up seats on four-door models; and tilt/telescoping steering. The XLT adds a standard CD player; cruise control; power locks; power windows; cloth front seats; and SYNC.

The mid pack F-150 Lariat offered simpler build combinations. There's no Regular Cab version, and engines are limited to turbo 2.7-liter six or V-8 only. Standard features included a rearview camera; ambient lighting; pushbutton start; power-adjustable pedals; leather-trimmed/heated front seats; satellite radio; and SYNC.

The King Ranch came as a Crew Cab only, with either of the shorter pickup beds, with the V-8 standard, and the 3.5-liter turbo V-6 as an option. Standard features included leather seats and trim; heated and cooled power front seats; inflatable rear seatbelts; Sony sound with HD radio; navigation; remote tailgate release; rear parking sensors; LED spotlights; and a console that flows through to the rear seats.

The top tier Platinum offered the same configuration choices as the King Ranch and got standard LED headlights; blind-spot monitors; its own trim; power running boards; remote start and tailgate release; rear parking sensors; 20-inch wheels; aluminum trim; ambient lighting; inflatable rear seatbelts; multicontour heated and cooled power front seats; wood trim; and navigation.

Exterior
Overall exterior styling changes were subtle with most of the popular Ford look remaining intact. The grille and headlights/taillights with optional LED lighting are the biggest styling distinction for the 2015 models.  Many of the other changes served a functional purpose. They include loading ramps that lock into the bedsides for easier cargo loading; a BoxLink system that fits cleats and brackets to the bed so that it can be divided and so cargo can be anchored; a rearview camera with trailer-hitch assist that provides on screen guidance to hitch the trailer: LED headlamps and lighting in the cargo box which uses less energy and a deployable tailgate step for easier access in and out of the truck bed. It was also available with a remote tailgate. This feature allows you to lock, unlock or lower the tailgate using your truck’s key fob.  

Replacing steel with aluminum reduced the weight of the vehicle which impacts fuel economy and payload capacities.  Additionally, the aluminum used in the truck’s bed floor was reportedly 65 percent thicker which would help resist denting. Beyond this the various panels and sections the pickup is constructed of are riveted and bonded together, not just spot welded, which makes the new F-150 even stronger.


Interior
2015 Ford F150 interior, dash 2015 Ford F-150 Limited dash.
Ford F-150 Regular Cab models seat three people, while the SuperCab and larger SuperCrew models seat up to six. Instead of a bench seat, some SuperCab or SuperCrew models have two front bucket seats, which reduce the seating capacity to five. The shift lever is on the column or on the console depending on the seating arrangement up front. Interior upholstery comes in vinyl, cloth, or leather.

The high-end Platinum interior trim with genuine wood accents, leather, big 8-inch digital gauge cluster display, heated and cooled seats, heated steering wheel plus tech features looks nothing like the workhorse XLT.  Some of the F-150's available features are more suited to a luxury car, including the optional class exclusive multi-contour massaging seats. But no one said you can’t ride in luxury in your truck if you’re willing to pay for it.

The instrument panel is all new and features an available 8-inch screen for customizing information displays for fuel economy, towing and off-roading. Tire pressure and trailer information are available through the screen, which offers almost an overload of information.  The infotainment functions have direct, hard-button access to most key features, while things like multicontour seats are controlled by a layer inside the MyFord Touch interface, where they're specified. While the current MyFord Touch is not as intuitive as the GM and Ram systems, a significantly updated version of MyFord Touch called Sync 3 came out in 2016 with a promise of easier usability.

Room/Comfort
A bench seat with room for three or a pair of bucket seats is available up front. In the case of the former, the center position is not suited for long rides. The truck’s front bucket seats are wide and comfortable.  There's only slim room behind the seats in any regular-cab truck. The SuperCab's backseat is tight for a 6-foot-tall adult. The SuperCab's rear-hinged doors open to 170 degrees and provide great access to the inside. Underneath the backseat is a nice partition for cargo that keeps loose items from rolling around in the back. 

The seats do flip up against the bed wall, revealing a flat floor that's great for easy loading of cargo. On SuperCrew F-150s, the rear seats have good leg room and degree of recline. SuperCrew seats can also fold up against the bed wall and in both four-door body styles, there's under-seat storage.  Between the front passengers on most models, there's a wide, deep center console with enough capacity to hold a laptop.

Model Year Changes
2015
  • All-new design
2016
  • New Limited trim level
  • MyFord Touch replaced by Sync 3 media control system
  • New Pro Trailer Backup Assist feature
2017
  • Raptor returns to F150 lineup (off road/performance model)
  • New 10 speed automatic transmission
  • Redesigned turbocharged 3.5 liter EcoBoost engine increase horsepower and torque
2018
  • Exterior refreshed with new headlamps, grilles, bumpers, tail lamps and tailgate
  • New engines include replacement of base V6 engine with new 3.3 liter V6; turbocharged 2.7 liter EcoBoost redesigned but no change in 325 horsepower rating; revised 5.0 liter V8 increases horsepower slightly: new 3.0 liter turbodiesel V6.  All engines except the base now paired with 10 speed automatic transmission.
  • Pedestrian detection, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and WiFi hotspot are newly available
2019
  • New 3.0-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel V6
  • Limited receives Ford's high-output 3.5-liter charged V6 engine. Also gains a high-flow dual exhaust system and a restyled interior. 
  • The 360-degree camera is now standard.
  • The SYNC Connect suite of integrated smartphone apps is now standard on the mid-level XLT.
To optimize the ease of use of the back bed there are many options to be had including loading ramps that lock into the bedsides for easy loading; a BoxLink system that fits cleats and brackets to the bed so that it can be divided and so cargo can be anchored; LED lighting in the cargo box; and a tailgate step that slides out equipped with hand rails.  It folds in and out of the way inside the tailgate, but can support up to 500 pounds of weight on its slim steps.

Visibility is fine to the front and rear corners, but the side roof pillars are very thick, restricting the over-the-shoulder view to both sides. The new “borderless” power-sliding rear window gives the driver a better view out of the rearview mirror by reducing the edges of the window and its track significantly.


Ride/Handling/Performance
The F-150 hosted more powertrain options than any other pickup on the market.  It gets decent fuel economy for its class but was only minimally improved despite the hoopla over the weight reduction and improved aerodynamics.  The new turbocharged 2.7-liter V6 engine gets the best fuel economy ratings at 19/26 mpg city/highway (12.2/9.2 L/100 km city/highway). This engine creates a more car-like drive experience, with punchy acceleration and more power at low rpm when compared with other engines in the lineup.  The base engine returns ratings of 18/24 mpg city/highway.  The available turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 carries over with EPA ratings of up to 17/24 mpg city/highway (13.7/9.9 L/100km city/highway). This engine produces 365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, which improves the F-150’s towing capacity significantly.  Finally, the 5.0-liter V8 remains the work engine with 385 horsepower and 387 pound-feet of torque. Models equipped with this engine got up to an EPA-estimated 15/22 mpg city/highway (15.5/10.6 L/100km city/highway).

Overall impressions are that the F-150 handles corners well for a vehicle of its size, and it has a comfortable ride. However, the brakes are pretty light, and a bit more sensitive than traditional truck buyers may like.


Reliability/Service
Be sure to check the recall history of any used vehicle you are considering buying to make sure any potential problems have been taken care of before purchasing.  A few of the more substantial issues resulting in F150 recalls involve improper assembly leading to steering problem (2015 models); fires caused after seat belt pretensioners deployed during crashes: fires resulting from engine block heater cables plugged into wall outlets (2015-2019 models).  Additionally, on September 18, 2018 a class action lawsuit was filed asserting that 2013-2018 model Ford F-150’s have master cylinder problems that cause the trucks to suddenly lose their front brakes because the Hitachi master cylinders have insufficient piston cup seals that allow brake fluid to leak.

The most common problems reported by F150 owners include engine electronics and cooling issues on the turbo V-6's, although the overall numbers are about average when taking into account the sheer numbers of F-150's out there.

Safety
The 2015 F-150 has great safety scores for its class. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the F-150 an overall safety rating of five out of five stars, with five stars in the frontal and side crash tests, and four stars in the rollover test. Scores mirror the Chevrolet and GMC trucks and is slightly better than the Ram's overall four-star rating.

The F-150 SuperCrew body style received the 2015 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick rating by testing good (on a scale of poor, marginal, acceptable and good) in moderate-overlap front, side, roof-strength and head restraint/seat tests, and most notably in the small-overlap front crash test.  At that time, no other full-size pickups had gone through the small-overlap front test but the IIHS planned to evaluate more pickups that year.  The F-150 Extended Cab, however, earned the second-lowest rating of Marginal in the driver-side small overlap front test, which excluded it from a Top Safety Pick designation.

The F-150 doesn’t have any standard driver assistance features. However, there are several active safety features, including a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, the MyKey driver monitoring system, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, braking assistance via Curve Control, automatic high beams, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and a 360 degree surround-view parking camera.

Value/Recommendations

In head to head competition, the F-150 earned high scores in subjective evaluations, including performance, interior comfort, technology, ride quality, outward visibility and overall value.  It also  tends to be more affordable than its competitors when it comes to fuel, insurance, repair, and maintenance costs, although as those higher stressed turbocharged V-6's age that may change, particularly if they've performed under duress for much of their life.

Overall, picking a model in the full-size pickup category comes largely down to one's taste.  This category is intensely competitive, and there really are no bad choices.  This iteration of the the F-150 offered many class leading features when introduced, and continued to add the latest technology during its production run.  Still, it lacks some of the newer features offered on more recent competitors and the new F150 itself.  If those are important to you, you'll have to go new.  If not, the F150 is a fine choice in this ultra-competitive category. 



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