The 2017 Ford F-150 is the most innovative of the full-size pickups. The 2017 F-150 lineup offers a completely new powertrain option in the form of a redesigned 3.5-liter V6 engine and a new 10-speed automatic transmission.
The new second-generation 3.5-liter Ecoboost engine boasts 470 foot-pounds of torque, 50 more than last year’s first-generation Ecoboost, along with 375 horsepower. That output tops that of the optional V8 and helps the F-150 achieve a maximum tow rating of 12,200 pounds, sufficient for an enclosed car trailer with a heavy car aboard.
All told, the 2017 F-150 presents four different powertrains, three V6s, one V8, ranging from economy to impressive towing capability. The new 3.5-liter Ecoboost headlines the choices. There is a 2.7-liter Ecoboost V6 we found impressive rated at 325 horsepower and 375 foot-pounds of torque. And there is a 282-hp 3.5-liter Ti-VCT V6, an old design sold mainly on its price point. The 5.0-liter Ti-VCT V8 delivers 385 horsepower and 387 foot-pounds of torque for a tow rating of up to 10,100 pounds.
Introduced as a 2015 model, the current-generation F-150 boasts a lightweight body made of high-strength, military-grade aluminum alloy, along with a frame that uses high-strength steel to further reduce weight, dropping more than 500 pounds. Less weight means better fuel economy, quicker performance, shorter stopping distances, greater payload. Ford’s SYNC 3 was added for 2016.
F-150 is the best-selling pickup, though the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra together outsell the Ford. It’s a competitive market with strong products. The F-150 appears to be at the head of the field, along with the Silverado and Sierra, which were redesigned for 2014, and the Nissan Titan, redesigned for 2016. The current-generation Ram 1500 dates back to 2009, and a new one is expected for 2018. The Toyota Tundra is very dated, launched as a 2007 model. The F-150 is being restyled for 2018 and will be available with new and enhanced engines in fall 2017.
The 2017 F-150 is available in a wide range of trim levels and several body styles. Nearly all F-150 buyers opt for a SuperCab extended cab or a SuperCrew with four full-size front-hinged doors. Regular cabs are mostly fleet.
Plenty of safety technology is available, including a second-row inflatable seatbelt and Curve Control for braking assistance. An F-150 can be equipped with blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control. A lane-keeping system nudges the truck back into its lane when sensors detect crossing of the double-yellow line. Pro Trailer Backup Assist can steer the rig when backing into a driveway or boat launch.
Ford’s Super Crew earned a five-star overall crash-test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). An optional camera setup displays a 360-degree view around the truck, helpful for parking or easing into a garage.
The 2017 Ford F-150 XL is available with any cargo bed or cab. Standard equipment includes 17-inch wheels, manual windows and locks, AM/FM stereo, vinyl floor, manual air conditioning, and tilt/telescopic steering wheel. F-150 XLT adds CD player, cruise control, power windows and locks, cloth front seats, and SYNC. Standard is the old-school 3.5-liter V6, which is the only engine compatible with E85 ethanol. The 3.5-liter Ecoboost V6 and 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 are optional, as is the V8.
F-150 Lariat comes standard with the 2.7-liter V6, leather-trimmed and heated front seats, satellite radio, rearview camera, pushbutton start, power-adjustable pedals.
F-150 King Ranch is Crew Cab only, with a shorter bed and choice of V8 or 3.5-liter Ecoboost V6, King Ranch leather, heated/cooled front seats, inflatable rear seatbelts, Sony audio, navigation, rear parking sensors, and remote tailgate release. F-150 Platinum edition has LED headlights, blind-spot monitors, power running boards, remote start, remote tailgate release, rear parking sensors, and 20-inch wheels.
The F-150 presents an angular look with its aluminum body structure, more chiselled than pre-2015 steel models. The bed and cab are made of aluminum panels glued and riveted together and secured to a ladder frame that makes liberal use of high-strength steel. It looks like a modern tool.
Its stylish faired-back rectangular headlights are distinctive and bracket the tall grille. A beveled hood helps send air across the roof.
SuperCab and SuperCrew body styles come with a choice of bed lengths: 5-foot-6, 6-foot-6, or 8-foot. Loading ramps lock into bedsides and a BoxLink system allows dividing cargo.
This latest-generation F-150 is roomy up front. If you want usable back seats, go for the roomy SuperCrew. Legroom is ample and the recline is satisfying in the back seat of a SuperCrew, but seat cushions are a bit low. Conversely, the rear seats in SuperCabs are tight, best for kids, but they can be flipped up against the back wall, yielding helpful cargo storage space on the flat floor. None of them are set up well for dogs. Regular-cab pickups provide scant space behind the front seats.
In most versions, a wide, deep console sits between the front seats. It’s big enough to hold a laptop. More hard buttons than in past F-Series pickups operate the F-150’s infotainment functions. Controls are designed to be operable with gloves. Platinum models offer genuine wood trim.
Overall, we found the Silverado and Sierra the most comfortable of the full-size pickups. The Ford is comparable to the Nissan and Ram.
By pickup standards, the F-150 feels smooth and soft, the cab relatively isolated from road surface vibration. Its ride comfort and substantial feel makes the F-150 much more enjoyable on the road. It’s much smoother than an F-250.
Electric power steering is quick and light, easy to steer around in a parking lot, responsive on winding roads, stable on the highway. The F-150 and Titan seem to offer the best handling. The Silverado and F-150 have the nicest ride.
The new 3.5-liter Ecoboost is the engine to get. Its torque figures tell us all we need to know.
The 2.7-liter V6 engine works well with Ford’s 6-speed automatic. Acceleration is energetic and smooth, the turbocharger heard faintly under acceleration. Ford’s Stop/Start setup is among the best, practically seamless when it’s time for the engine to restart. EPA-estimated fuel economy is a comparatively thrifty 19/26 mpg City/Highway (22 mpg Combined) with that engine and two-wheel drive.
Quite a difference from the V8 version, EPA-estimated at only 15/21 mpg.
The Ford F-150 is a cutting-edge truck with a smooth ride. Lariat and King Ranch models coddle their owners and remind them daily of their smart choice. Buyers leaning toward the heavier end of a light-duty pickup should spring for the 3.5-liter Ecoboost engine. Those leaning toward the lighter end should be happy with the 2.7-liter Ecoboost.
Mitch McCullough, editor-in-chief, NewCarTestDrive.com, contributed to this report, with staff reports from The Car Connection.