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2016 Ford F-150 Test Drive. Why It Is Still Awesome

For my first Truck review, I’m gonna delve into one that I’ve had the ability to drive on and off at work for about 6 months in different trims, engines, and with all the options. The 2015-16 f150.

I’ve had the ability to also try it with different kits on it, and as different build ups.

Of all the feature sets, my favorite is the optional 3 person bench seat, but then again I love bench seats! Yet, it feels more narrow (which I’d say all Chevy’s lately do) with one… so it’s 50/50 in the end. The tailgate step seems useless to me, but is honestly just cool!

A Ford f150 with optional bench seat

There are some solid things about these trucks and a few nagging annoyances.

The radios have nice volume, and the controls are easy to use as far as the radio/satellite is concerned. Joining a phone is a bit annoying as it will not tether the Bluetooth while in motion, so passengers have to wait till you stop and you can’t transfer the call into the system while driving. Using an MP3 player is easy if there is an AUX jack, just plug and play. However, my company has one that only has a USB tether that forces you into the radio GUI which for scrolling and finding tracts is a dangerous mess.

The upgraded touch screen jobs are nice because of cameras, and seem decently finger print resistant; I sense just off my ear that the amp inside the unit is stressed by the display and loud volume audio distorts in such models. Honestly though, I think all could use amps and a sub to really fill the cabin.

The transmission is smooth and has come a long way from the vacuum driven units in the early 1990’s and the touchy PC controlled options on models up until around 2010. A transmission heat gauge is standard now, and isn’t just a dummy gauge either. The automatic manual is the only negative, as it can be engaged accidentally, and without an owners manual the only way I’ve figured out how to get out of it is to shut off and restart.

Electronics are a noticed issue. I’ve run into two that try to arm the radio multiple times after running, specifically the 2015’s; moreover, the starter though turned with a key isn’t controlled by it. The engine continues to turn after the key is dropped (a bad habit of mine), and I worry that an emergency shut off with a cat in the fan or something won’t be fast enough and as the trucks are to new to test I am unsure if it will spin to a dead battery on a no run failure.

And if your like me, it is all fly by wire… which i hold is a death trap as all such equipped cars go up in mileage they go up in statistical probability of a run away.  But that’s my unique view I confess. So is the one electronic good about the base models is that they don’t have an easy “Hacker” entry points, and as I work I.T. I think of that kinda thing as a major plus. I don’t want a downloadable app 5 to ten years down the road that makes my truck hack-able like “Apple 2 easy.”

The aluminum body has a noticeable impact on fuel mileage if you believe MPG monitors. The 2015’s report on average 5 gallons more than the earlier years. Even better, the EcoBoost really holds it’s own. It is a far cry from the lazy EFI V6’s like the Colognes and inline 6’s of the past which most people think of when they recall Ford V6’s as for some reason between 2000-2010 I’ve hardly run into any. I drove one the other day that broke off the 35’s like they were nothing.

The only thing I can complain about the EcoBoost is that there is no boost gauge in any I’ve driven and it should be standard like in the diesels. It just looks cool and it’s helpful for tuning or detecting issues before explosions. Ford used to skip Tachs too, and now knows better!

The v8 is pretty standard v8 in power, but it hangs out in low RPM’s thanks to the transmission which I really praise because that means it hangs out in the torque zone where you “feel” all the horses. It’s mileage has amazed me, especially compared to the gas hog jeeps as we drove to Moab.

The handling is really confident in stock form, and it has translated into different lift kits for the most part. My work runs a 4″ Maxtrac that has no issues, and the only genuine 6″ I’ve driven was a Pro-comp kit that started to deteriorate when trail-braking curves. That may be the limit, or that truck even had tire balance issues so it may be a simple fix. One “complaint” about this truck is that even with the traction control on, these things really love to break off the rear end in all trims. This has left me buried up to the hubs in sand before with little or no notice. I think there are some engineering bugs or limits being exacerbated by the lower curb weight. Ending on a positive, Ford seems to have in mind how many of it’s trucks get lifted so they have supplied a teeth rattling supply of stoppage that hadn’t weakened at all after 6 inches of lift.

Fit and finish wise, Ford is still Ford. The paint is a bit soft on these models, perhaps because the chemistry needed to bond to the Aluminum panels. It’s long term durability is still untested. The interior is decidedly American, but it is much nicer than the “plastic bubble” door panels they were using up to the mid 2000’s. The dash actually feels like it now could hold some weight, and the door closes like a piece of metal that you can’t just tear off. I think they are going for an odd target market however, because some have felt tight for my 189 lb 5’11 (& 1/2)” frame and the window ledge and center console feel like they need shorter arms at times (but like I said above they all have been doing this).

Over all, it is a great improvement over the previous models, especially in regards to power and mileage. Which is important when the sticker reads at around a 50% increase in base price over ten years which have seen little inflation. The interior is not very different from the 2006, and even the radio seems quite the same; Ford has to SELL this truck. Luckily they have the argument of more Economical ownership, increased reliability (even if over their own spark plug spitting monsters), and a really nice power curve that makes a buyer think “that’s a v8!” when it even isn’t.

Overall: 4.7 outa 5. I think all cars are too expensive these days because they are giving loans in the same way that crashed housing (yup, see that one coming), so I’ve ignored that factor. It simply does everything it’s supposed to, but some features are annoying or useless.

I also left out a few things like 90 degree spindles that seem to be possible harbingers of long term issues but I can’t cite anything like that yet. If Ford gets the back end to lock down on the 2017 and makes the radio a bit better and the interior a little nicer it’ll get 5.

Written by Mud Flap

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