- The Ford F-150 pickup truck has been the best-selling vehicle in the US since 1981.
- In 2019, nearly 900,000 F-Series trucks rolled off dealer lots in America.
- The F-150 underwent a risky redesign for the 13th generation of the vehicle — arguably the riskiest since the truck first arrived in 1947. Ford engineered the pickup with more lightweight aluminum.
- This week, the all-new 2021 Ford F-150 will be revealed.
- Here’s a look at why the F-150 is an icon, a legend, and a flat-out great pickup.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
This is a very big week in the US auto industry.
On Thursday, Ford is revealing its all-new, 14th-generation F-150 pickup truck. The F-150 has been the bestselling vehicle in American since 1981. It’s far and away the most important four-wheeled machine that Dearborn produces. As goes the F-150, so goes the Ford Motor Company.
The F-150 was rather radically and successfully redesigned in 2014, then updated in 2017. But the competition has kept pace: the Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra, and RAM 1500 are all new or relatively new.
That means that 2020 and 2021 could bring an even more intense pickup truck contest to the USA. It’s worth noting that even an the coronavirus pandemic has damaged auto sales, pickups have continued to attracted customers. It’s also worth noting that Ford, GM, and Fiat Chrysler automobiles make major profits on their full-size pickups.
I’ve checked out every full-size pickup on the market. They’re all pretty great. But the F-150 is … special. Here’s why:
Ford F-150, the reigning king. The champ. The legend. The icon.
Humble beginnings! The Ford F1 was the original F-Series pickup. It rolled out in 1947, right after the end of World War II.
The F-150 has been the bestselling vehicle in the US every year since 1981, back with Ronald Reagan was in his first term as president.
The 13th generation of the F-150 hit the streets for the 2015 model year. It was the most risky redesign of the icon in its long history, as Ford introduced lightweight aluminum to the construction.
The F-150’s rivals include the also-top-selling Chevy Silverado, shown here in Z71 trim with a Duramax diesel engine,
The mechanically similar but more upscale GMC Sierra is also a contender.
The RAM 1500 came on strong after it was updated for the 2019 model year.
The Toyota Tundra has gotten long in the tooth, but this perennial number five in the US pickup-truck race remains a great vehicle.
Even through it brings up the rear, the Nissan Titan has a lot going for it.
BUT the F-150 is the king. The F-150’s midcycle design refresh for 2016 wasn’t anything dramatic. The biggest difference was the beefed-up front grille, lending a more aggressive demeanor to America’s favorite truck.
The last time I saddled up in America’s truck, it was an F-150 4×4 SuperCrew, very well optioned, with an added Limited package that took the price above $74,000.
The “agate black” paint job and shimmering chrome highlights gave this pickup a near-luxury vibe. As you can see, my tester came with a short bed. We generally don’t get the longer box for our review vehicles.
Let’s talk about what makes a pickup truck a pickup truck: the bed, or “box.”
The tailgate is easy to operate, even with heavily gloved hands.
The powered tailgate on my tester had a useful integrated step, as well a handle to assist with climbing into and out of the bed.
It comes in handy! I’m serious! Climbing into the bed of a half-ton pickup used to be tricky.
The F-150 has a step bumper to use when the tailgate is up.
The F-150 uses a body-on-frame construction with a stout, hardtail, leaf-spring suspension.
This Ford F-150 had a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine, one of numerous options. The power is routed to the four-wheel-drive system by a 10-speed automatic transmission.
This high-output variant of the 3.5-liter V6 is something: The turbocharged mill cranks out 450 horsepower with 510 pound-feet of torque. That beats the 5.0-liter V8 engine by a notable margin (395 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque).
Fuel economy is so-so, at 17 mpg city/21 highway/19 combined. But the Raptor-grade motor yields a 0-60 mph time of just over five seconds. Acceleration is sort of staggering for a truck that weighs in at almost 5,700 pounds and can tow 12,000 pounds.
Weirdly, I had trouble running the gas out of my tester, though I didn’t take it on an extended road trip.
The running-board …
… Retracts when not in use.
F-150 badging is prominent on the trucks’ side.
The “camelback” two-tone leather interior on my F-150 test truck was el primo. The front seats are heated, cooled, and exceptionally comfortable.
The SuperCrew configuration provides limo-like seating capacity in the back.
The F-150 has a multifunction steering wheel, leather-wrapped, and an analog-digital instrument cluster that can be customized to display a wide range of vehicle info.
There’s ample storage. In addition to the the large cupholders …
… The F-150 has a cavernous compartment between the front seats.
The Limited designation recurs inside.
The F-150’s infotainment system runs on what is by contemporary standards a modest 8-inch central touchscreen.
Towing capacity for the F-150 is 12,000 lbs.
The F-150 also comes in a completely wild high-performance version, the Raptor.
Ford also produces a police interceptor version of the pickup truck.
The truck is built with pride in Michigan and Kentucky.
Ford is very, very, very proud of the F-150. But that also means that Ford respects the icon and makes sure that, generation after generation, it delivers on its promise.
I’ve tested all the full-size pickups on the market and there’s little question that the F-150 deserves its legendary status. I can’t wait to see what Ford has in store for us with the 14th generation.
Get the latest Ford stock price here.