1.16.2016

Full Lux Truck: The 2015 Ford F-150 4X4 Supercrew Platinum

Front 3/4 view of 2016 Ford F-150
The 2015 Ford F-150.
Year in, year out, there is one constant in the automotive business, and that is that the best-selling car is a truck.  Specifically, the Ford F-150.  They replaced the family sedan long ago, and now, people with the means to buy luxury cars are putting the money down on Ford pickups instead.




Rear 3/4 view of 2016 Ford F-150
2015 Ford F-150.
The idea of a luxury truck isn't new, but it is newly popular.  Ford tried it in the late 90s with the Lincoln Blackwood and in the mid-2000s with the Lincoln Mark LT.  Neither sold well and both are footnotes. But times and tastes have changed. In 2016, the Ford F-150 comes in not one, but three luxury trim levels, King Ranch, Platinum and Limited, with base prices of $49,936, $52,401 and $58.770 respectively.  A fully-loaded Limited can get close to $70,000 out the door.

We had a 2015 example of the middle of the three luxo trim levels, the Platinum, on Christmas week and took it on a 340-mile roundtrip from Folsom to Ukiah, California to visit Navigator(the best traveling partner in the world, not the Lincoln SUV)'s family...among whom there are some folks more than a little interested in cars.

Beyond how pricey the new ones in luxury guise can be, the number one topic about the new F-150 was its extensive use of aluminum.  And, as with most aluminum cars, unless you're driving the previous steel-bodied version immediately beforehand, you won't notice a difference.  The one place the lighter weight pays off is in fuel economy.  Combined with a 3.5-liter Ecoboost V6, the EPA-estimated mileage is 17 city/23 highway. Not bad for a truck this size, with only a six-speed automatic.  Are there truck buyers who still look skeptically at an F-150 with something other than a V8 under the hood?  Yes, and one of those is among the younger members of the clan.  But he couldn't argue with the performance of the F-150 (the turbo gives the truck all the merging and passing power of a V8).  And to make you forget what's under the hood, Ford engineers have rigged "augmented engine noise"...a throaty "vroom" to play through the audio speakers into the cabin.  It's in synch with the revs under acceleration, it sounds natural and your ears can't pinpoint that it's coming from speakers.  It's exceptionally clever.  But if you know there's a six under the hood, you also know it's fake (Ford does the same for its Mustang models with Ecoboost fours).

Interior view of Ford F-150
2015 Ford F-150 interior.
The interior dresses to impress...your eye is drawn in a million different directions to shapes, textures, materials that all tell you everything you thought you knew about pickup trucks was wrong.  At the wheel, there's nothing that says "truck" in what you see or feel, including the ride.  It actually reminded me most of driving the Rolls-Royce Phantom...a very big, very tall luxury car.

With four-wheel-drive, the base price of our tester was $54,385.  And Ford's press fleet folks found still more goodies to add on.  Equipment Group 701A adds the technology package including adaptive cruise control and a tailgate step for $2,540. The White Platinum Metallic paint was an extra-cost option at $595. The 20-inch polished aluminum wheels were another $400.  It had a twin-panel moonroof spreading over the front and rear seats for $1,295.  The trailer towing package added $495, the pickup bed extender $250, box side steps $325, a 36-gallon extended-range fuel tank (giving you a theoretical 828-mile range on the highway) $195 and a spray-in bedliner $475.  That's $6,570 worth of options. But Ford then subtracts a $500 "Platinum luxury discount", bringing the bottom line, after $1,195 destination and delivery charge, to $61,650.

It's not the most expensive truck TireKicker has ever tested, but it's close...only $875 less than the 2015 GMC Sierra 2500 HD the Phoenix bureau tested a year and a half ago.  And the 2013 RAM 3500 Laramie Crew Cab was only five bucks less than the Sierra, so the F-150 Platinum comes in third. Still, it's rarefied air up here in the low 60-thousands.  That's nicely-loaded Mercedes E-Class, BMW 5-Series, Audi A6, Lexus GS350 F-SPORT or Jaguar XF money.  Yes, it's a truck and those sedans aren't...but are you really going to do truck-like things in a $61,650 rig?  How many bales of hay and bags of manure will ever find their way into the bed of a loaded F-150 King Ranch, Platinum or Limited? Right now, the sales figures suggest there are enough people for whom a luxury truck checks all the boxes...and in that world, the F-150 Platinum makes its own kind of sense by being exactly what they want.

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