Cars and Drivers

Owning a Ford F-150: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Larry W. Smith / Getty Images News via Getty Images

The Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) F-150 full-size pickup was introduced in 1948. It has been the best-selling vehicle in America since 1981. In January of this year, Ford built the 40 millionth F-Series truck.

One reason for the remarkable sales of the F-series line is its breadth of models. Most of those sold are F-150 light-duty pickups. Ford also makes the F-250, F-350 and F-450 “Super Duty” versions, which are heavier, can have more powerful engines and can pull larger loads. The F-150 has eight basic models, from the base XL to the high-end Limited. Each of these can be customized, which means with options the pickup can be configured dozens of ways.

The F-150 also has models for almost any income. The XL has a base price of $30,870. A Limited can cost nearly $90,000.

One challenge Ford has is the substantial percentage of overall sales that the F-series represents creates risks. In June, in the United States that figure was 37.9%. While Ford’s sales rose by 31.5% year over year to 152,262 in June, F-series sales last year were only 26.3% of the total. If F-series sales tumble, Ford is in trouble.

Ford recently moved aggressively into the electric vehicle market with the F-150 Lightning. Ford sold only 1,837 of these in June, but the plan is to ramp sales well into the tens of thousands per quarter. William C. Ford Jr., Ford’s executive board chair, recently commented, “If this launch doesn’t go well, we can tarnish the entire franchise.” The Ford family controls the company through a special class of shares.

What does it mean to own a Ford F-150, or to buy one? As the top-selling vehicle in the United States, with dozens of configurations, it is not the same for everyone. However, these configurations allow it to be a pickup for almost anyone.

Reasons the people own, or don’t own, an F-150:

The F-150 is not always considered the best truck in its class when measured by quality. In the recent J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, it ranked below rival Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra.

The automotive media also do not always favor the F-150. In a recent article in Car and Driver, the F-150 was behind the Ram 1500 TRX and Ram 1500.

The F-150 probably has more configurations than any vehicle on the American road. There are eight major models, and each can be substantially customized.

The F-150 has a price point for almost every driver income level. The XL has a base price of $30,870. A Limited can cost nearly $90,000.

The F-150 has an impressive off-road model. The Raptor is considered among the best pickups for taking a beating when not on the highway.

People who want a fast pickup can get one from Ford. Several recent versions of the truck have broken the 6-second barrier as measured by 0 to 60.

Ford’s electric version of the F-150 has gotten extremely strong reviews. CNN recently wrote that it is the best version of America’s best-selling pickup.

Ford has a huge dealer network. Recently, the count of Ford dealers was put at over 3,000. This is critical when any vehicle needs service.

Ford has had trouble with its trailer brake software. This feature is critical for many drivers.

Ford is likely to continue to upgrade features. The top-selling vehicle in the country will continue to get a large share of Ford’s development money.

Many people use Consumer Reports as a means to select which cars and trucks they purchase. One of their measures is future reliability. The F-150 got a poor grade recently.

The F-150 can be the equivalent of a family car. Several models easily hold five people.

Most pickups drink gasoline. The F-150 can get as much as 26 miles per gallon based on highway driving.

There continue to be debates about the aluminum body Ford added in 2015. It made the truck lighter but has a tendency to corrode faster than steel.

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