Look around you and there’s a good chance someone in your entourage owns a Ford F-150, the models all others are gunning for on the sales chart in North America. Such a large clientele means needs are varied, so the American automaker offers a suitable wide-ranging lineup, including regular, long and crew cab versions, versions with short, medium or long beds, and versions with a number of different powertrains ranging from naturally aspirated V6s and turbos to a V8 issued from the Mustang line. Oh, and four-wheel drive as an option.
All these versions and configurations are also offered in several trims, starting from the base version designed for no-nonsense hard works and working up to the Raptor, a sport edition created specifically for spectacular off-roading. For all that, however, there was a hole in the 2019 product lineup where a luxury version should be. Ford has filled that hole now with the Limited edition, seen before but late to the party this year.
What’s more, Ford has fitted with a 3.5L EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 similar to the one that powers the Raptor as well as the big Lincoln Navigator SUV. All this unit does is deliver 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque, working in conjunction with Ford’s new 10-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.
On approach, the F-150 Limited is immediately distinctive thanks to its massive silver front grille, the L-I-M-I-T-E-D letters splayed across the hood and, especially, a polished-metal surface on the rear panel proudly announcing the same trim letters.
The real elements that set the Limited apart, however, are found once you climb inside. By the way, this trim comes only in Super Crew configuration with four doors and a short bed. We’re in a whole other time zone from the base version of the F-150 that is such a common sight in public works fleets.
Getting in is a cinch thanks to footboards that deploy automatically beneath the doors (and that retract once the doors close). Now, I can already hear you Canadian motorists asking, how does a system like that hold up in winter? From past experience with Ford products I can tell you that as a rule they don’t freeze up.
The elaborate dashboard features wood elements on its façade and leather accents with contrasting touches up on top. Above occupants’ heads is a soft micro-suede headliner in company with a glass panoramic sunroof. The front bucket seats, as well as the split fold-down rear bench, get exclusive leather covering.
Obviously, the front seats are fully power adjustable and are both heated and ventilated. Search a little on the screen’s menu, and you’ll find the command for the seat massage function.
Between the seats is an immense console topped by a big ensign identifying the model (also found in the doors, just so you never forget you’re riding in the most luxurious F-150 available).
Accordingly, there’s no shortage of space for occupants’ legs, and the rear row is cavernous even if you push back the front seats as far as they can go. Incidentally, the seats of the split-fold-down bench allow for creating a fully flat floor and hence another practical and generous space for cargo.
Visibility is excellent so you miss nothing of the surrounding vista wherever you are. In back of the second row is a small window that can be power-opened. For music lovers and audio sound snobs, the Limited edition comes with a premium Bang & Olufsen audio system.
Obviously, since we’re dealing with a pickup, we have to take a close look at the bed. While the Limited version makes do with the shortest bed in the product line (5.5 feet long), that bed’s capacity is substantial at 1,520 lb. And, it’s easy to access. The rear panel is lockable and can be opened remotely, and it harbours a retractable ladder with a small support handle to help you climb up on the bed.
If all you want to do is place in or remove a small from the (very deep) bed, the Limited features, on each side, small retractable steps. The inside of our Limited tester’s bed was covered with a protective black fabric – a popular option for those who want to prevent the floor getting damaged.
By the way, in case you didn’t know, all F-150s have chassis made of military-grade aluminum. Now, some competitors will have you believe that this component is impossible or very expensive to repair. But a recent report by media outlet Automotive News cites research carried out by experts found that the construction and choice of materials of the new F-150 have significantly reduced the cost of repairs after a fender-bender or crash.
It’s also worth noting that the F-150 Limited is destined above all at buyers who will rack up a lot of on-road kilometres with their truck. The boosted power speaks to Ford’s need to satisfy the requirements of its luxury-model clientele, as do other mechanical upgrades like our tester’s superb 22-inch alloy wheels fitted with over-sized Pirelli Scorpion Asimmetrico performance tires.
As for towing capacity, the Limited version’s is set at 11,000 lb (some less-luxurious F-150 models actually can pull more). What’s more, most F-150 buyers check off the option for the Pro Trailer Backup Assist function, which allows the driver to back up with a trailer attached with the aid of a rotating knob combined with the dashboard screen.
On the road
Of course, the winsome looks of this luxury version of the F-150 make one want to get behind the wheel and get out on the road. Which we did. Once the driver’s position is properly adjusted, the immediate impression is how excellent the sightlines are. The downside of that high seating position, of course, is that manoeuvering into and out of urban parking spots can by tricky. To make that easier, Ford placed cameras on the front grille and on the rear end that send images to the dashboard screen.
The drive is actually surprisingly close to that of car, the big F-150 proving gentle almost as a lamb on the asphalt. The engine can deliver outstanding accelerations (0-100 km/h takes under six seconds) and makes passing a worry-free experience. In fact, with the more-powerful new EcoBoost V6 engine, this Ford truck is the fastest in the pickup segment. But before you get too too excited, know that Ford has set a top-speed limit of just over 100 mph (175 km/h) on it.
While it’s as firm as it needs to be for a pickup, the suspension remains relatively gentle, especially when driving on the highway. The steering can appear light, but it’s still relatively precise. Most of the road’s imperfections are easily absorbed, though if you’re in the back the bigger crevices found on Canadian roads can cause a little bouncing around. That could be fixed with the addition of an independent rear suspension, and in fact some spy shots floating around the internet indicate that Ford may be working on just such a solution.
The large Pirelli tires ensure decent road grip, while the braking is sufficiently powerful to help stop with confidence this immense 2,230-kg vehicle, even when it’s carrying a full load of stuff and people.
Front and rear passengers alike enjoy fantastic visibility, as mentioned, and they do so luxuriating in very comfortable seats. The result is a vehicle well-suited to longer trips. Improving its signature pickup on this front is just one of the ways Ford is seeking to keep the F-150 at the front of the pack among pickups. A number of observers have speculated that the F-150 could get a deep makeover for 2021 (though visually it will be more tweaked than overhauled, so it will remain highly recognizable).
Electricity on the horizon?
Worth noting is the availability of the turbodiesel V6 across the model range, and the eventual introduction of a hybrid electric variant. Beyond that, Ford’s recent big investment in small electric-truck manufacturer Rivian is an indication that Ford is interested in jumping into the all-electric pickup market.
In terms of fuel consumption, most of my week driving the F-150 Limited involved a 6-hour-plus trek north of Montreal, with the truck only lightly loaded down (a few hundred lb on a bed that can take 1,520 lb). The long trip, most of its driven at around 110 km/h, gave me a consumption figure of 11.64L/100 km (though the onboard computer read 11.1L), which is pretty remarkable for a vehicle of this size. Of course, the trip consisted of mainly highway or large open-road driving). City driving will give you a whole other reading, have no doubt.
Also, note that Ford recommends Super gasoline for this F-150 edition. As the gas tank can hold 137 litres of fuel, it means that filling it up when nearly empty requires doing two consecutive transactions with your credit card (most fill-up stations having a pre-approved-amount limit of $100)!
The base price for an F-150 Limited 4X4 in Canada is set at $85,529. The test we got from the manufacturer also had the following options: metallized red finish ($450), under-chassis skid plates ($120), lateral retractable steps for the bed ($500), internal wheel-well protection ($200) et protective covering for the bed floor ($600). Add in the federal A/C tax ($100) and transport and prep fees ($1,800) and you get a final total of $87,299.
Obviously, the 2019 Ford F-150 Limited is costly, and it’s cumbersome if you’re going to spend much of your time driving in the city. But the truck is also fleet of foot, and it’s even relatively economical for such a big, heavy truck. Did we mention how practical and versatile it is?
The best, last word comes from my partner, who, after she briefly took the wheel, told me this: “Now I understand why men like this kind of vehicle. It’s marvelous to drive!” Right on! But it’s especially so when you’re on the open road for the long haul. Which of course helps explain the popularity of the format in North America, continent of open spaces and great distances.