Ford F-150 Wins Top Consumer Reports Honor

As if Ford Motor Corp. (NYSE: F) needed help to sell its F-150, the best-selling vehicle in America, to add more customers, it got some nevertheless. Consumer Reports picked it as the best pickup in its 2016 evaluation of brands and models.

The editors wrote:

The redesigned Ford F-150 was named best Pickup Truck, thanks in part to its fuel economy, quiet and spacious cabin, and much-improved infotainment system. It’s Ford’s first win in the category since 1999 and its first overall Top Pick honor since 2012.

After years of falling to its direct rivals, the risk Ford took to almost completely retool the F-150 paid off:

By eschewing traditional steel body panels, Ford created a pickup that weighs less, enabling it to be quick off the line and fuel-efficient. The cabin is extremely quiet and spacious. The intuitive Sync 3 infotainment system is a welcome update from the MyFord Touch. The F150 has the best predicted reliability of any domestic truck.

Steel had been the preferred metal in pickup construction for years, across all manufacturers. Ford made the case for the use of aluminum and buyers were not affected, at least once Ford got the F-150 into dealerships.

The launch of the F-150 was botched. Supply was too tight. Criticisms by rivals of the addition of aluminum may have worked. Whatever the reason, for a period last year, sales dropped compared to the same months of the previous year. Rivals Chevy Silverado from General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.’s (NYSE: FCAU) Ram gained market share.

The F-150 sales trend looks a great deal different this year. F-150 sales were 112,237 for the first two months of the year, up 2.4%. Ford can claim demand for its top-selling product has stabilized. Sales of the Silverado were down 0.6% to 80,999. Ram sales continue to be impressive, up 14.3% to 68,493. Whether Ford can pick up share from Ram is its primary challenge.

The Consumer Reports honor was not the only one the F-150 received. It was named the North American Truck of the Year for 2015.

The F-150 has strong sales, and some fans to support them.