Kelley Blue Book Best Buys of 2017: Pickup Truck
The country's best-selling vehicle just keeps getting better
For a third year in a row, the Ford F-150 sets the benchmark for pickups with its blend of capability, competence and innovation, all available in a wide range of models for every budget. It would be easy, understandable even, for the F-150 to rest on its laurels. After all, it was just two years ago that Ford took the bold step to remake America's best-selling vehicle into a lean but mean aluminum-intensive machine. The moved raised eyebrows, but naysayers can't say much as F-150 sales continue to power past the competition.
The 2017 Ford F-150 again marches into new territory with a powertrain that is both more powerful and more efficient. The latest innovation comes from pairing Ford's 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine with a 10-speed automatic transmission, the first such gear-changer on a production vehicle. The engine it's connected to also gets an upgrade, with 10 more horsepower (for a total of 375) and a significant increase in torque from 420 lb-ft to 470 units. With these impressive figures comes another: the ability to tow up to 12,200 pounds.
The extra grunt from this revamped powertrain made short work of the kind of duties expected from a truck, namely towing and hauling. In our tests of each, the Ford barely noticed the extra weight. Even city slickers will appreciate the F-150's ability to hold a gear while descending a steep highway, enabling the truck to maintain its speed and drivers to keep their cool.
As the best-selling vehicle in America for decades, it's little surprise that countless families and individuals use Ford's pickup as a daily driver, not just a work vehicle. Here, too, the F-150 adeptly obliges. As an everyday vehicle, the F-150 is surprisingly competent. While its inherent size will never make it as nimble as a sedan or a smaller pickup, the Ford tends to drive smaller than it actually is.
The same powertrains that make the Ford F-150 so capable for hauling also enable effortless power for acceleration and passing. This is especially true of the two twin-turbocharged V6 options, both of which feel more like a V8. (For buyers still craving a naturally aspirated V8, a 5.0-liter is still available, as is a 3.5-liter V6 that acts as the base engine on lower trims.)
Amenities and driving aids galore
Today's F-150 is a far different breed than your father's work truck. While the under-$30,000 base models are still pretty basic, that all changes as you climb trims and check the options boxes.
Who'd have thought that today's truck buyer could get amenities like massaging front seats, heated rear seats, power-operated foldout running boards and remote tailgate release? Or even safety and driving aids like adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and Ford's Pro Trailer Backup Assist that guides the trailer to the left or right with the twist of a knob? And like other vehicles in Ford's lineup, the 2017 F-150 gets an infotainment boost with a Sync 3 system that is both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible. It all adds up to a truck that easily works like a truck, yet is just as happy to play the role of sophisticated family hauler.
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