Stuck in a traffic tie up on the QEW gives a driver a long view at a caravan of transport trucks with US license plates. I was test-driving the mammoth Ford F-150 King Ranch pickup truck, and the transports were one of the few things on the highway with a bigger footprint. Transports from Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio crunched onward, delivering goods to Ontario. How might this picture change with Donald Trump, pulling levers and pushing the buttons on trade agreements like the Wizard of Oz behind a flimsy curtain. Ford has 67 plants worldwide and employs 201,000 people. Changes to trade agreements hatched at 3:00 a.m and announced via Twitter must be a chilling development for the big automakers.
In 2016 the Ford sold three times as many F-150’s as they did passenger cars. Sales of pickup trucks and SUV’s captured 70 per cent of the Canadian market in December 2016. We have fallen in love with all-wheel drive, higher seating positions, and vast cargo capacity, and the F-150 is like a storage shed on wheels.
If you’re not a pickup person, the F-150 King Ranch looks intimidating. You have to hurdle nearly two feet into the air to get into the thing, so it’s handy that a power running board sweeps out whenever the door is opened to help with entry. The side mirrors stick out 16 inches from the body ( helps with towing)-enough that they protrude over the sidewalk when parked close to the curb. I discovered this when I walked into the mirror while shovelling snow. It pays to keep your head up.
Despite it’s size it’s pretty easy to drive. Only when I got jammed in a small parking lot did I curse its size. It took what seemed like a 28 point turn to get out. Otherwise the ride is cushioned, the steering, while numb is light enough that mall prowling and parking is a breeze and those gigantic mirrors and a backup camera help with urban manoveurs. What takes a leap of faith is knowing where the F-150 is riding while in its lane, but for this challenge blind spot detection and a lane keeping feature are at your service.
Yes there are lots of features on the King Ranch model, and there should be for a price of $82,000. Yet this F-150 is mid-pack in the Ford truck price range-starting at the low end of $30,000 and ballooning to a starting price of $73,00 at the highest end. The King Ranch goodies included a twin panel moonroof, adaptive cruise control, tailgate step, park assist and the maximum trailer towing package.
New this year is Ford’s industry first 10-speed automatic transmission paired with an all new V6 EcoBoost engine (made in Cleveland, Ohio) producing 375 horsepower and 450 lb.-ft of torque. The transmission works smoothly and quickly with just the odd occasion when it jumped into gear. Power was never an issue, there’s plenty. My goal was to drive smoothly-like I had an egg under the gas pedal. Conservative driving saw the truck averaging fuel consumption of about 15 litres per 100 kilometre in city and highway driving. Ford’s claimed fuel consumption is 12.7 L/100 km in combined driving.
The F-150 was handy on a trip to get a full face cord of firewood, otherwise I drove it with the back seats empty as well as the truck bed.
Whether they are empty or full, pick up trucks are selling at a torrid pace. They’ve become a lifestyle vehicle, with the features and price of a luxury sedan but likely carrying more laptops than toolboxes.