Seriously, owning such a plush and posh pickup as the 2016 Ford F-150 Limited and using it as a work truck is almost a sin. But then again, I would do it. A pickup is a status symbol, much like a luxury car. You can purchase a base $30,000 model or one that costs $100,000. With this car parked in your driveway, your standing in life is clear.
The same goes for a truck. In Ford’s case, the hard-working construction labourer likely drives around in an entry-level F-150 XL or XLT with minimal options while the boss, the one who started out with an XL years ago, prefers and can afford a Limited. He or she has earned the letters “L I M I T E D” plastered across the hood, and they are proud of their achievements and their $80,000 luxury pickup.
Luxurious and capable
The 2016 Ford F-150 Limited is not so much about capability and off-roading than it is about features and amenities that are not typically associated with a vehicle that can tow 10,000 lbs or carry nearly 3,000 lbs. As the ultimate regular-duty luxury full-size pickup, the Limited model is a tough act to follow ― that is unless you need to carry anything longer than 5’5”. A small setback, perhaps.
Although the main purpose of the top-end F-150 Limited is to cajole its occupants, there’s no way that anyone would want their truck to look as though that’s the case. Neither Ford nor potential owners would want it that way.
The posh F-Series looks as rugged as it should if not a little more glamorous than the average truck. This image is reinforced by the 22” wheels, chrome-clad tailgate, and specific front grille. The square tailpipe is an unfortunate added detail, but thankfully, the current F-150 is unmistakably handsome. With only four colours to choose from, the tested Blue Jeans hue is best suited to the truck’s design. White Platinum is a close second.
Opening the door and climbing aboard using the power-operated running boards is the event. The Mojave leather-covered, 10-way power adjustable, heated and cooled seats are not only standard in this trim, but also quite attractive. The details in the cabin remind occupants that this is not a run-of-the-mill pickup. The contrast stitching on the seats and dash is perfectly matched to the genuine fiddleback eucalyptus wood inserts. The VIN plate on the centre console lid completes the package.
Technology and gadgets abound in the 2016 Ford F-150 Limited. The power heated, tilt and telescoping steering wheel offers buttons for the intelligent cruise control, matched with lane keeping assist, blind spot monitoring, and more. SYNC 3 is the centre of attention in this Ford, and I must confess that it’s now one of the better infotainment systems in the business. The interface is lively and responsive. Despite its user-friendliness, the dashboard features a number of redundant controls for the important accessories such as the HVAC and audio systems.
The gauges are a mix of analogue instrumentation and a large configurable centre screen. Although all the vehicle information can be displayed, some elements cannot be blended with others such as speed and fuel economy. The absence of a head-up display seems obvious, here.
Of the many useful characteristics of the new F-150, I’m a big fan of the remote tailgate release (the panel lowers automatically), the tailgate step, and the trailer backup assist. Ford definitely has owners and users in mind with these convenient attributes.
The 2016 Ford F-150 can be powered by one of four engines. With the Limited, there’s only one, and it’s the much-lauded 3.5L EcoBoost V6. While I prefer the 5.0L V8 for its eagerness to rev and its good V8 nature, it’s impossible to overlook the EcoBoost’s power and resolve.
The nicely tuned grunt and 420 lb-ft of torque of this turbocharged V6 are unleashed as of 2,500 rpm. I’m happy to say that the 6-speed automatic transmission is brilliant and on spec at all times. I dread the upcoming 10-speed ‘box. The former is responsive, quick to shift, and perfectly suited to all four powerplants. I expect the latter to improve fuel economy, but at what cost? Time will tell.
The V6’s 365 horsepower push the near 5,000lb truck up to speed with surprising gusto. Under hard acceleration, it’s best to leave the AWD system in Auto mode. In fact, unless you’re towing, this is the preferred setting.
Steering is heavy and well matched to the pickup. The brakes are strong with wooden but responsive feel. This ties in nicely with the F-150’s ride and handling, which are superior to the competition. What I mean by superior is that the overall lightness afforded by the extensive use of aluminum instils confidence in pushing the big Ford beyond its perceived limits. The mega tire and wheel package plays an important role, but the suspension’s tuning effectively limits body roll without sacrificing ride quality.
As a true luxury vehicle, the 2016 Ford F-150 Limited is quiet, solid, and well insulated from the outside world. The occasional bump in the road will jar passengers, if only slightly. Most of the time, the serene, luxurious environment is practically relaxing.
Ford or the others?
The full-size pickup segment is nothing short of a warzone. Despite this, every year for the last five decades, the Ford has been crowned victorious by a landslide. The latest-generation F-150 has some new and known issues with its aluminum body and EcoBoost engines, but buyers seem to be overlooking them. My biggest disappointment came from the returned fuel economy of 16L/100km with more than 50% of the driving taking place on highways.
The Ram 1500 has some bugs, too, but I think I would still opt for one. Meanwhile, the GM twins seem like the safer bets overall. The arrival of the new Nissan Titan and Titan XD will likely do little to upset the current balance.