It’s one of the oldest trucks in the current crop of half-tons, and it’s finally starting to show its age. Still, the F-150 remains the best-selling truck in America, and to help keep a firm grasp on its sales crown, Ford gave its best-seller some small revisions to carry it over until the next-gen truck arrives.
|1. Four engines are available with the F-150: a 3.7L V6, a 5.0L V8, a turbocharged V6, and a 6.2L V8.
2. New for 2013, the F-150 gets HID headlights, a revised grille, hill descent control on FX4 models, and the availability of MyFordTouch infotainment.
3. The most popular engine, the turbo V6, makes 365 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque while achieving 16 mpg city, 22 mpg highway.
4. Pricing starts at $24,995, but can reach over $50,000 on luxury-trimmed models.
MODEST CHANGES INSIDE AND OUT
To try and keep the styling of the truck up to date and seemingly fresh, Ford added a new front end complete with a ‘C-Clamp’ grille adopted from the heavy duty lineup. New High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights complete the look, adding a bit of a classy, modern style to an otherwise dated pickup style. That square look, introduced in 2004, is still in use on the current truck.
Another not-so-new feature for 2013 is hill descent control, which was introduced on the off-road ready F-150 Raptor, and has now been spread out to FX4-equipped F-150 models.
Inside, the center stack receives a massage, gaining a new layout along with Ford’s infamous infotainment system, MyFordTouch. Thanks to that addition, the F-150 loses some buttons compared to 2012, making the interior design appear cleaner and simpler.
Using the MyFordTouch system is a double-edged sword. On the one hand it looks great and is laid out sensibly; on the other, it is slow and laggy, and not particularly responsive. As for the buttons underneath, they are large enough to be operated easily with a gloved hand. Unfortunately, trucks not equipped with the MyFordTouch screen use small, finicky buttons that can be hard to hit and the lower set of redundant controls mean you have to take your eyes off the road to change the heating and cooling.
PAY FOR YOUR POWER AT THE PUMP
Four engines are available for 2013: a base 3.7-liter six-cylinder, a 5.0-liter V8, a twin-turbo V6 and a big 6.2-liter V8.
Out of the four power plants, the EcoBoost V6 makes the strongest purchase proposition, and nearly eliminates one of its brethren as an option. That 5.0-liter V8 that makes 360 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque will save you some money at the dealer, but you won’t get what everybody looking to haul needs: torque. Besides that, a lot more fuel will flow into the tank of the 5.0-liter compared to the turbo V6 that produces 365 hp, and most importantly, 420 lb-ft of torque.
Moving down the range, the smallest available engine is a naturally aspirated 302 hp V6 that is close in power to Ram’s V6, but fuel economy-wise it can’t compete with Chrysler’s eight-speed transmission. Ford’s other cross-town rival, GM, also makes a V6 with more power and better fuel economy, leaving Ford’s entry level engine in the dust.
When it comes to the big boys, Ford’s 6.2-liter V8 has been unseated as the most powerful engine in the segment by GM, though its numbers are still very competitive. But none of these mills match up to the value of EcoBoost.
The magic of EcoBoost is turbocharging that helps Ford get V8-beating power numbers out of a V6, with fuel economy that is said to be akin to a V6. Not so however, as hitting those fuel economy ratings of 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway can be a challenge in the real world.
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TURBO TRUCKS FEEL GOOD
It’s hard to argue with the get-up-and-go that Ford squeezes out of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine. It feels authoritative under load, and shows very few signs that a twin-turbo is at work under the hood. Shifts still come smoothly from an automatic six-speed gear box. After hooking up a 9,000 lb. tractor to the back of this turbocharged truck, it’s obvious why almost half of all F-150 buyers opt for this compelling package.
Sending its power through a solid frame, the F-150 shows very little swaying while turning, staying nearly flat. Brakes can be a bit touchy, but they get the job done. Depending on individual towing needs, EcoBoost equipped F-150s can be had with five different final drive ratios: 3.15, 3.31, 3.55, 3.73, 4.10.
Besides the powertrain working well, there are useful bits all over Ford’s half-ton to further draw in work-minded buyers. Starting with the bed, there are two separate step systems that can be installed to help workers climb into and out of the back end. The tailgate integrated step is the easiest way in and out of any pickup truck bed industry wide. It makes it easy for short and tall people alike to climb into the bed in a few short steps, though the moving parts leave open the possibility for something to break. Small steps located just behind the rear doors work well also, giving the user a way to reach things near the front of the bed.
Someone who regularly tows will also be rewarded by the F-150’s Ford Truck Apps. Controlled by a d-pad on the steering wheel, truck apps offers the user different truck specific aides. For instance, if an F-150 owner has two or more trailers, each can be entered into the truck apps system along with specific settings that will be remembered and can be accessed by choosing the trailer from a list. Other apps include departure angle read out, trailer brake settings, and even a trailering check list than runs through all of the necessary connections that every trailer needs.
CHEAP TO START, LUXURY COSTS
Pricing for the 2013 Ford F-150 starts at $24,665 making it the most expensive starting price (by a small amount) of the Detroit half-tons. On the other end of the spectrum, an F-150 can be loaded up to north of $50,000, a segment that has seen massive growth in the last decade. Nearly 30 percent of Ford’s truck sales are luxury trimmed, which is why the brand introduced the new Limited trim for 2013 to sit on top of the range.
While it’s now quite old and isn’t a segment leader, the EcoBoost-equipped F-150 continues to compete. An all-new truck is scheduled to arrive soon and we expect it will leap-frog the competition. Until then, the list of small improvements represent one last hurrah to keep Ford’s half-ton relevant.