Test Drive Notes Library
- Good policy. Ford typically sells close to a million F Series pickups a year. So it doesn’t take a genius (clearly, if we figured it out) to recognize that a small boost in fuel economy in the F150 will translate to a huge increase in national fuel economy. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Ford F150 “Powerboost” Hybrid.
- Fuel economy. According to the EPA, the standard F150 with a 3.5L V6 engine gets 20 mpg overall. The hybrid F150 gets 24. That’s a 20% increase. Now, in reality, we saw 22-23 mpg overall, and we don’t know the real world numbers for the non-hybrid truck. But it seems pretty clear that the hybrid makes a meaningful improvement in fuel economy. Oh, and it also gives you 500-600 miles of range before refueling.
- Power. The hybrid F150 also happens to be the most powerful F150 you can buy right now, combining a turbocharged 3.5L V6 with an electric motor to produce 430 hp. The power is delivered smoothly. The truck generally starts out under electric power, and quickly adds the gasoline engine to the mix. Then the gas engine will seamlessly shut down when you’re gently cruising or heading downhill. We didn’t notice any real penalty in drivability.
- AC Power. A neat trick from Ford: There’s a built in, 2.4kW AC inverter in the truck that powers two AC outlets in the bed. Ford says you can run your air compressor and a couple of power tools and a heated-butt-massager off of it for up to 85 hours if you have a full tank of gas. Or you can get the optional 7.2kW inverter and run your whole house off of it, including your hot tub. Incidentally, from here on out a Ford hybrid F150 with the larger inverter will be issued to every resident of Texas at birth. Just in case.
- Nice interior. It’s luxury-car-quiet inside the F150. There’s tons of interior room in our Crew Cab tester, and creature comforts abound, including power everything. In another thoughtful trick, the shifter folds down flat into the center console, creating a large, flat space between the seats. You can use it for a laptop or a white-linen three course lunch from the taco truck. The infotainment screen in huge, and its Sync 4 system, with over-the-air updates, is easy to use and understand.
- Gate tricks. While not quite as magical as GM’s origami tailgate, the F150’s tailgate is power operated. You don’t realize how much you’ve always hated opening and closing a heavy pickup’s tailgate until you don’t have to do it anymore. Once open, the tailgate has built in pockets for clamps, so you can clamp a piece of wood or a pipe to the tailgate for measuring and cutting. It also has a 48-inch ruler built in. The switch to open the power tailgate is in the standard position, where the latch resides. That makes it a bit inconvenient to close.
- Safety standard. As long as you avoid the bottom rung of the F150 ladder, you’ll get a full suite of standard safety features with your truck. And you can opt for adaptive cruise control if you do a lot of highway driving.
Test Drive Notes Library
- Big. OK, huge. Despite competent handling, it drives “big.” It feels ponderous, especially in suburban and urban settings. We know a lot of suburban Dads who think it would be cool to tool around in a pickup truck. And with all the creature comforts available, it seems like you wouldn’t give up much in terms of comfort. But one thing you give up is agility. Oh, and lots of parking space options. We found it tiresome to drive such a huge vehicle, and wouldn’t recommend it unless you actually need a full size truck. It’s also high off the ground, and requires a "pull and grunt" to get up into the driver’s seat.
- Rough shift. Our F150 had a consistent, harsh shift between 2nd and 3rd gear of the 10-speed automatic transmission. It could be something that a software update can fix. But we remember experiencing the same issue with a Ranger that had the same transmission. The problem is that you quickly pass through 2nd and 3rd gear every time you pull away from a stop, so it doesn’t let you ignore it.
- Mixed ride. The F150 rides well on smooth roads. But heck, what doesn’t? When the road surfaces get uneven, the truck feels stiff and…wait for it… truck-like. It can get bounced around at times. If ride-comfort is your number one priority, you’ll probably do better in a Ram pickup, with a more sophisticated rear suspension.
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