A smooth powertrain adds charm to the base-level F-Series.

– Detroit, Michigan

If you need a reminder about how important the Ford F-150 is in the U.S., consider this: Last year, Ford sold 780,354 F-Series trucks in our market alone. That’s more than one truck per minute, every single day. The best-selling pickup is a lot of things to a lot of people, from work trucks that get the job done to fancy cruisers and family schleppers. That’s why Ford offers such a huge range of trims and options, from a basic, $25,799 XL to the blingy $72,000 Limited, not to mention Super Duty variants and the desert-storming Raptor.

Over the years, I’ve tested the lot. And while you could make the argument that trucks are getting really expensive these days – my last F-150 tester, for example, was nearly $70,000 – I’ve always found lots of goodness in simpler models like the XL 4x4 you see here. It’s also proof that you don’t have to spend big bucks to get a lovely pickup that still has plenty of capability.

Pros

  • Ford offers four engines in the F-150, and while it’s only the second-most powerful, this 2.7-litre EcoBoost V6 ($1,300 over the standard, 3.5-litre V6) is my favorite. Especially in this 2,169 kilogram, SuperCab 4x4 version, its output numbers of 325 horsepower and 375 pound-feet of torque are perfectly adequate. I love how smooth this powertrain is, with a six-speed automatic that delivers imperceptible shifts, and tons of low-end torque for acceleration and passing. I enjoy Ford’s larger 3.5-litre turbo-six and, of course, the 5.0-litre V8, but unless you need the extra towing capability (this truck still pulls a respectable 3,400 kg), the 2.7T combo seems like the best bet.
  • I hate stop/start most of the time, but I actually didn’t mind it so much in this F-150. Credit the smoothness of the engine and Ford’s efforts to keep NVH out of the cabin.
  • Overall, the F-150 is really nice to drive. It’s not terribly bouncy or unsettled on city streets, though it, of course, delivers typical truck-like, body-on-frame wobble over really rough pavement. On the highway, it’s smooth as butter, with the EcoBoost engine humming along quietly, returning 10.1 litres per 100 kilometres in the process.
  • The F-150 ties the Ram 1500 in my book for attractive trucks, and I like how the $650 XL Sport Appearance Package and $995 20-inch wheels look here. But please, paint it a prettier color and tint those rear windows posthaste.

Cons

  • Wow, this interior is basic. I expect bare-bones stuff in the XL trim, sure, but I at least thought I’d get a couple more bells and whistles for $40,000. The bench seat up front is almost a novelty, though the center seat folds down to offer cup holders and an armrest. But really, the only upgrade over the super-base interior here is the $500 rear-view camera.
  • So, here’s the thing: I just priced out a fully loaded 2016 Chevy Colorado Z71 4x4 Crew Cab with the long bed (though not as wide, which is important), 2.8-litre Duramax diesel engine, an eight-inch infotainment interface with navigation, and more, and the final price came to $46,215. Plus, with that diesel engine, the Colorado can tow 45 more kilograms than the F-150 you see here, and the Crew Cab configuration offers more functionality for carrying lots of passengers. On its own, and in the context of the broader F-150 range, this basic 2.7-litre model is both charming and capable. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s hard to really get behind an as-equipped truck when just-as-usable, better-equipped midsize offerings land at the exact same price point.

Competitors

  • Chevy Colorado Z71 w/ 2.8L Duramax I4
  • Chevy Silverado 1500 LT w/ 5.3L V8
  • Ram 1500 Sport w/ 5.7L V8
  • Toyota Tacoma Limited w/ 3.5L V6
  • Toyota Tundra SR5 w/ 4.6L V8

 

2016 FORD F-150 XL SUPERCAB 4x4  
ENGINE Turbocharged 2.7L V6
OUTPUT 325 Horsepower / 375 Pound-Feet
TRANSMISSION 6-Speed Automatic
NRCAN FUEL ECONOMY 13.1 City / 10.1 Highway / 11.7 Combined L/100 km
WEIGHT 2,169 KG
TOWING CAPACITY 3,400 KG
SEATING CAPACITY 6
BASE PRICE $35,749
AS-TESTED PRICE $42,865 USD (US model tested)

 

Photos: Steven Ewing / Motor1.com

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