We love the new generation of F-150’s so much that it was our 2017 pick for truck of the year. We’ve tried many different versions, from the basic V6-Turbo EcoBoost to the fire breathing off-road monster Raptor with 450-HP. Even the Raptor now comes with an enhanced version of the new EcoBoost 6-cylinder, a variant of which powers the flagship Ford GT sports car. But what happens when you put the V8 from a Mustang GT into one of the most comfortable pickups we’ve ever driven? It gets even better!
While the numbers on paper are a mixed bag – with 20 more HP than the 3.5-Liter Eco Boost at 395-ponies, but 400ft-lb of torque compared to the EcoBoost’s 470ft-lbs. In terms of driving enjoyment, the V8 wins out every time. First of all, as good as they have gotten the V6 to sound, the 5.0L crushes it. A nice burble at idle gives way to an angry roar as you floor the throttle and a linear power delivery as it revs to redline. There’s a much less elastic throttle feel in this version, owing to the lack of any turbo lag. Coupled with the 10-speed automatic transmission, there’s never a time when you’re caught in the wrong gear.
Shifts are smooth, quick and precise as well, an improvement over last year’s version we tested. The state of modern automatic transmissions, and the advanced computers that control them, is quite remarkable. Just a few years ago even the best ones were slow to shift, sloppy and often felt disconnected from the engine. Now, they feel almost like a dual-clutch and certainly not like they have a fluid coupling to the motor.
That thread of technology is on display throughout this top of the line F-150, with features like lane assist, radar cruise, blind spot monitors, 360-degree cameras, parking assist, trailer backup assist.
There’s almost nothing this thing can’t do! The third generation Sync infotainment system is up to the task as well, with mobile hotspot, tons of apps, great interface and smartphone connectivity. The “entertainment” part of the infotainment system has received a major upgrade, with Bang and Olufsen becoming the premium audio partner. The outgoing Sony was just fine, but this B&O is something special. It’s truly one of the best on the market, including luxury cars, not just trucks.
Amazing audio is not the only clue to the luxury you find in this cabin, with features like heated and cooled seats with massage and a huge panoramic roof, there’s more than enough luxury to go around. In fact, if you’ve got a decent load in the bed, it even rides quite nicely! With no payload, it can be a bit rough, especially over Chicago roads. The Raptor edition of the F-150 owns off-road, but this more street-focused version is pretty incredible off-road as well. We took it to our favorite off-road playground, Badlands off-road park in Indiana. It soaked up everything we could throw at it, even completing challenges that other more “off road” capable trucks couldn’t conquer. Especially impressive was the 4-WD automatic mode, which used sensors to automatically engage the transfer case when needed. It means you’ll always have the traction you need, without having to switch back and forth to save fuel in normal conditions.
Speaking of fuel economy, as you might expect, the V8 didn’t fare as well as its EcoBoost counterparts. In fact, we couldn’t get the combined mileage much over 17 MPG, which is still fairly impressive for such a large truck. Lopping off nearly 700 pounds by going to an all-aluminum construction definitely helped. It’s rated to get over 20 MPG on the highway, but we think you’d have to really work to get that.
Again, we have to end with a slightly sobering note, and that’s the price – it’s very easy to option one of these F-150’s over $60,000, which is quite a lot of money for a pickup. Keeping in mind, however, that it has all the creature comforts (and more) as most $60,000 sedans. When was the last time your sedan could pull an 8000-pound trailer? This is luxury, but it’s also luxury that works. And with the V8, it also sings!