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2017 Ford F-150 review – Roadshow

Out on a video shoot for the 2017 Ford F-150 King Ranch, I went to reposition this luxury pickup, but the doors wouldn’t open. After a pocket pat-down, I looked through the windows, and there was the key fob, sitting in the cupholder.

2017 Ford F-150

The 2017 Ford F-150 may be pretty fancy pants, but you can still wear your Wrangler jeans. 

Emme Hall/Roadshow

Yes, you can still lock your keys in Ford’s otherwise thoroughly modern truck.

Fortunately for me, the F-150 King Ranch comes with a keypad embedded in the B-pillar to unlock the doors. Enter the code, and you’re back in the saddle.

Options galore

It’s easy to see why the F-150 is America’s best-selling truck. The aluminum-bodied workhorse drives well on pavement, has excellent towing and hauling capabilities, and comes with a whole slew of cab, engine, drivetrain and bed choices. You want a two-door cab with four-wheel drive, an eight-foot bed and a 2.7-liter engine? There’s a model for that. How about a two-wheel-drive, four-door SuperCab with a six-and-a-half foot bed and a naturally aspirated V6? Yup, got you covered.

2017 Ford F-150

The optional tailgate step is part of a $3,780 optional package. 

Emme Hall/Roadshow

My test model King Ranch is only available with the larger SuperCrew cab and a five-and-a-half- or six-and-a-half-foot bed. Unlike the SuperCab, where the two back doors are rear-hinged, the SuperCrew features four traditionally hinged doors. It comes standard with all the leather and wood trim you could possibly want, heated and cooled front seats and heated rear seats. It still can function as a work truck with a power inverter, oodles of storage and a remote tailgate release.

The standard engine in the King Ranch is a 5.0-liter V8, but Ford now offers a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6. At 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque, this engine puts out nearly as much horsepower and more torque than the V8. Unfortunately, my real-world fuel economy of 14.2 miles per gallon did not even come close to the EPA average rating of 20 miles per gallon. Apparently there is plenty of Boost in the twin-turbo engine, but not so much Eco. 

Still, the F-150 has it where it counts, with strong acceleration and surprisingly good handling. Don’t get me wrong — it’s still a pickup truck with a solid rear axle, so expect a somewhat bouncy ride when unladen, but it isn’t cringe-worthy around tight turns. The 3.5-liter engine is mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission, and while it sounds like overkill, its shifts are nearly imperceptible. The brakes feel strong and linear, not grabby at all. While the F-150 is at home on wide-open country roads, it’s easy enough to drive in the city with the available blind-spot monitoring. Commuters will like the comfortable seats with — get this — a massage option. 

Back it up, you got it

The F-150 has some cool innovations to help towing newbies attach and back up a trailer. A checklist in the gauge cluster takes you through every step, so you won’t forget an important part, but the real coolness is the F-150’s Pro Trailer Backup Assist. As anyone who has towed knows, backing up a trailer involves a mental switch. If you want the rear of the trailer to go to the left, you must turn the steering wheel to the right. Pro Trailer Backup Assist takes this switch out of your brain. If you want the trailer to point more left, simply turn the dial located to the right of the steering wheel to the left and watch in amazement as the steering wheel moves in the opposite direction. You’re still in control of brake, throttle and steering, but you’re steering from a dial, not the steering wheel itself.

Towing and payload ratings can get a bit tricky, as it all depends on engine and drivetrain setup. An F-150 with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost and two-wheel drive can be outfitted to tow 12,200 pounds, or the equivalent of nearly five Ford Fiestas. That number is only bested by the Chevrolet Silverado, which can tow 12,500. The Nissan Titan and Titan XD, Toyota Tundra, Ram 1500 and GMC Sierra all fall below Ford’s rating.

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