2016 Ford F-150 Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
June 20, 2016

The 2016 Ford F-150, fresh off a transformation that made it leaner yet much-improved in most ways, gets new Sync 3 infotainment and trailer-backup wizardry.

Full-size pickup trucks like the 2016 Ford F-150 have been caught in a dogfight for decades. It's a tug-of-war in capability—in towing and payload ratings, and in interior space, and bed dimensions, these big trucks inch ahead of each other, seemingly undaunted by concerns over parking spaces and garage heights.

Even so, fuel economy now plays a role in the truck world. It's there that the F-150's recent dramatic transformation to an aluminum body might just pay off.

In an expensive gamble for Ford, the F-150's pickup's body and bed are composed of glued and riveted aluminum panels. It's a technique akin to the one Ford pioneered with Land Rover and Jaguar before it sold those brands. Under the lighter-weight panels, the F-150 is built on a ladder frame that's almost all high-strength steel, with durability assured by a buffer between them.

Review continues below

The 2016 Ford F-150 holds passengers and cargo better than ever. Fleet-duty Regular Cabs aside, the SuperCab and SuperCrew four-doors have great space to match up with the usual 5-foot-6-inch-, 6-foot-6-inch-, and 8-foot beds.

The F-150 goes out of its way to play down its radically new body structure, wearing every possible right angle, even ditching the few rounded shapes it once wore. Make no mistake, every square inch is detailed to cheat the wind, to make it easier to extract every possible tenth of a mile per gallon from a classically styled pickup truck. Outside and in, though, the F-150 barely makes mention of the fact that it's forging a new path in the market.

Ford F-150 performance

The 2016 F-150 keeps a V-8 in the lineup, as well as a base V-6, but the heart of the lineup is now occupied by a couple of twin-turbocharged V-6 engines. The base is a 3.5-liter V-6, making 282 horsepower and offering a max tow rating of 7,600 pounds. The torquey 2.7-liter turbo V-6 is a better choice, for just a $795 upcharge. It's rated at 325 hp and 375 pound-feet of torque, and it tows up to 8,500 pounds. Engine stop/start is included, too, which might aid fuel economy in real-world stop-and-go.

The two engines at the top of the lineup are the 5.0-liter V-8, now at 385 hp, and the even more capable twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6, at 365 hp. The former has the F-150's top payload rating at 3,300 pounds; the latter, the top tow number of 12,200 pounds, which Ford says is best in the full-size class.

All four engines are paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Both 4x4 and 4x2 drive configurations are available. Electric power steering is standard across the board, and it's light and quick, which doesn't sound very truck-like but complements the new F-150's road manners. The Ford truck has exceptional ride isolation, quietness on the road, and a composure that belies the body-on-frame design.

The 2016 Ford F-150 offers some useful cargo-bed features. There are loading ramps that lock into the bedsides, for easy ATV loading; a BoxLink system that fits cleats and brackets to the bed so that it can be divided and so cargo can be anchored; LED lighting in the cargo box; and a deployable bed step. Our favorite is the tailgate step that slides out, along with a picket-style handrail. It folds in and out of the way inside the tailgate, but can support up to 500 pounds of weight on its slim steps.

Ford F-150 safety and features

If safety is a priority, it's all here in the 2016 F-150. The usual airbags and stability control are complemented by things like a second-row inflatable seat belt; additional braking help via Curve Control; adaptive cruise control; blind-spot monitors; and a lane-keeping system, which nudges the truck back into its lane when it detects a crossing of the double yellow.

In the 2016 F-150, there's a new Pro Trailer Backup Assist option that makes it a lot easier to backup into a tight driveway or boat launch with a trailer; with a simple turn of an in-dash knob, the system does the actual steering—counter-steering when necessary—to keep you going in the desired direction.

The F-150 pares down its trim levels in this transition year to XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum. New equipment offerings include inflatable rear seat belts, pickup-box LED lighting, Sony premium audio, and, on Platinum models, real wood trim. An off-road-oriented FX4 is available (now as a package, not a model), bundling off-road-tuned shocks, skid plates, and an electronic locking rear axle. Top King Ranch and Platinum models command more than $60,000.

This model year, the big news is that Ford's Sync 3 infotainment system replaces the much-maligned MyFord Touch system, wherever that previous system was offered. Although we haven't yet used this system in a vehicle, we look forward to the streamlined experience and improved voice controls that Ford promises.

The 2016 F-150 with the 2.7-liter turbocharged V-6 is the efficiency leader of the lineup. At 19 mpg city, 26 highway, 22 combined, it's several mpg higher than Ford's comparable V-8 F-150 from last year.

The two upper engines in the lineup do modestly better than their predecessors. With the 3.5-liter turbocharged V-6—which more than replaces the former V-8 models—the F-150 is rated at 17/24/20 mpg. And naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V-8 models factor in at 14/19/16 mpg. The base V-6 is the least improved: Ford quotes 17/24/20 mpg.

8

2016 Ford F-150

Styling

The Ford F-150 has a lean aluminum body, but its blocky profile doesn't give it away.

The 2016 Ford F-150 may have taken off in some very new directions in terms of engineering and construction, but not much at all has changed in the way it looks. And if anything the new model seems to have ventured into even bolder, blockier design territory in apparent compensation for the leaner underpinnings. It's a bit like the vast majority of hybrids that don't do much at all to look like gas-electric fuel-savers.

It's almost worth skipping to the interior, which is where the current F-150 has evolved in the most pronounced ways. Ford has kept the beltline low, which helps connect the driver to the road from the inside of the F-150, where the angular shapes have won out over the round. We like how the tall, beveled vents on the center console reinforce its mass.

The shapes and controls all seem scaled and sized for big-handed operators, with more hard buttons restored to the dash even on versions equipped with the MyFord Touch screen interface (now replaced by Sync 3 for 2016). Real wood trim and lovely leather make their way into King Ranch and Platinum models, but at first glance and touch, the Ram's Laramie Longhorn interior seems more subtly rich.

Taking some steps back once again, the F-150 steers clear of looking like anything but a tough truck. It's a Whitman's sampler of rectangles, but every surface is managed to make the aluminum panels less expensive to produce, and better at cheating the wind for a fraction of a mile per gallon. The grille is tall and proud, but the headlamps are faired back, with rectangular insets that are meant to evoke some of the earliest F-Series trucks. On some trims, they're lit by LEDs, a feature we expect to become standard issue on more trim levels in years to come.

Taking some tips from the Atlas concept truck of a couple of years ago, the hood is beveled to lift air up and over the flush-mounted windshield and the roof—and there's even an option for a flush sliding glass window at the back of the cab. The tailgate doubles as a spoiler, and like with the headlamps and taillights, it's faired to keep the airflow managed as well as it can be, around such a high, bluff profile.

8

2016 Ford F-150

Performance

The lightweight F-150 is probably the best-handling of the full-size trucks, and responsive turbocharged engines bring good payload and towing capability.

The 2016 Ford F-150 keeps with the pronounced change in course that this line of trucks took beginning last year—one favoring strong-performing turbocharged engines, adopting electric power steering throughout and steering clear of rear coil springs and air suspensions.

Ford has even, at least for now, kept with tried-and-true 6-speed automatic transmissions (there's a 10-speed on the way in a year or two). And instead, it's put its faith (and a tremendous investment) into a mostly aluminum body structure, as a way of cutting weight and boosting performance. And that's almost certainly paid off.

The F-150's essentially had the equivalent of weight-loss surgery, dropping upwards of 500 pounds. Underneath the aluminum sheet metal is a steel ladder frame, mostly high-strength steel. At the low end, it's down to 1,600 pounds of payload and 5,000 pounds of towing—but at its strongest, the F-150 can carry 3,300 pounds and pull 12,200 pounds.

The leaner engine lineup now counts three V-6s, two of them turbocharged, and just a single V-8. The standard 3.5-liter V-6 engine replaces the former 3.7-liter; it rates 283 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque, enabling a peak towing capacity of 7,610 pounds and a top payload capacity of 1,910 pounds. We were only able to drive it on an off-road course, with no chance to test towing or street performance. For now we'll leave the fleet-spec impressions to the spec sheet itself: this base F-150's lost enough weight that Ford now offers it as a four-door SuperCrew.

The drivetrain that makes the base six an also-ran is Ford's new turbocharged 2.7-liter V-6, outfitted with standard stop/start. It's conceived as a replacement for a small-displacement V-8, and merits the comparison. It's a lightweight, compact engine that has seen lots of attention paid to make it a broad-spectrum choice for F-150 drivers that don't push max towing or payload limits. Rated at 325 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque, it's paired smartly to the 6-speed automatic that's standard across the F-150 lineup. It pulls away strongly, yet takes a fair amount of foot to trigger downshifts—but its stop/start had one of the more seamless wake-up cycles we've experienced. With V-8-like towing capacity of up to 8,500 pounds, and payload capacity of up to 2,250 pounds, the $795 optional engine is the smartest bet for truck owners who use their pickups more like SUVs.

Between the top two engines, it's largely a matter of personal choice and perhaps pride. The 5.0-liter V-8 is pegged at 385 hp and 387 lb-ft of torque, up slightly from last year's truck; the twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 checks in at 365 hp and 420 lb-ft. That engine is even more a V-8 substitute than ever: Ford pipes in V-8 engine noise to layer over its less rumbly sounds, for those who "have to have a V-8." We towed a hefty 9,000-pound trailer in the V-8 version and felt it using every erg and gear to yank the trailer to highway speeds; it's possible the turbo six's extra torque would make that a little easier.

The 2015 F-150’s front suspension is a coil-on-shock independent arrangement, while the rear retains the Hotchkiss-type solid axle riding on leaf springs and outboard shock absorbers staggered to reduce axle windup. The F-150 doesn't have a rear-coil or air-spring setup like the Ram 1500, or the adaptive dampers of the GMC Sierra Denali. Even so, there's a cushion of ride isolation that stems directly from the lightweight body.

At low and moderate speeds, the F-150 manages ride motions like a well-tuned sedan. Push it harder across bad roads and the personality suffers. But up until then it does a convincing impression of something without such workhorse cargo and towing abilities.

If you're concerned with payload, the highest 3,300-pound rating only comes with the V-8; max tow of 12,200 pounds will require the twin-turbo V-6.

For more details on cargo and payload performance and towing, you'll need to cruise Ford's consumer site for the endless particulars: regular cabs go with the longest beds, crew cabs with the shorter beds, but in between are dozens of exclusions by trim level and powertrain, as is the case with the tow and payload ratings—they range from a low of 1,600 pounds for payload and 5,000 pounds of towing (with a new Class IV hitch as the only option), to a high of 3,300 pounds of payload potential and 12,200 pounds of pulling power, depending on the configuration.

All four engines are paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission that's a great companion to all the turbo engines as well as the V-8. Both 4x4 and 4x2 drive configurations are available. Electric power steering is standard across the board, and it's light and quick, which doesn't sound very truck-like, but complements the new F-150's road manners.

9

2016 Ford F-150

Comfort & Quality

Interior space is great for 2016 F-150 Crew Cab models, while cabins feel tight and quiet for the most part.

In terms of cargo and passenger space, ride quality, or overall refinement, the 2016 Ford F-150 doesn't much let on that it's radically different in construction than the pre-2015 model. And considering the weight savings and fuel-economy boost, that's a good thing.

While we might prefer the style of a Sierra or Ram, the Ford feels tough and substantial, just as it ever was. Ford sells the F-150 in three cab styles: the two-door Regular Cab, the extended SuperCab which retains its rear-hinged rear doors, and the four-door SuperCrew.

The F-150's two extra inches of width make themselves known right away. Throughout the model line, the front passenger space is squared off and as roomy as a lie-flat seat on a plane. Ford has put the console and door armrests at the same height, and that will keep your chiropractor and your elbows happy.

You'll only find slim space behind the front seats in any regular-cab truck. Moving to the SuperCab, Ford fits a pair of seats unusable by anyone of driving age--but the seats do flip up against the bed wall, revealing a flat floor that's great for easy loading of cargo.

On SuperCrew F-150s, the rear seats have very good leg room and a perfect degree of recline, though the bottom cushion is a little lower than we'd like. SuperCrew seats can fold up against the bed wall, too, and in both four-door body styles, there's under-seat storage that will secure some smaller, high-priced tools when the need arises.

Between the front seats in most models, there's a wide, deep center console with enough capacity to hold a laptop, in addition to the spaces it reserves for cell phones, drinks, pens and business cards. The driver and passenger both get a set of controls that are simplified and scaled to operate while wearing work gloves. The infotainment functions have direct, hard-button access to most key features, while things like multi-contour seats are controlled by a layer inside the interface (now called Sync 3).

Looking behind those seats, there's a choice of three bed lengths: 67.1, 78.9, and 97.6 inches. The beds themselves can be optioned up with some clever and useful features. There are loading ramps that lock into the bedsides, for easy ATV loading; a BoxLink system that fits cleats and brackets to the bed so that it can be divided and so cargo can be anchored; LED lighting in the cargo box; and a deployable bed step. Our favorite is the tailgate step that slides out, along with a picket-style handrail. It folds in and out of the way inside the tailgate, but can support up to 500 pounds of weight on its slim steps.

The F-150 is for the most part extremely quiet-riding—although we've noticed that the door skins flutter a bit. That said, we haven't been in the base XL regular cab, where the glass isn't acoustically tuned, or the trim quite as nice. In turbocharged models, Ford pipes in the automotive equivalent of Muzak—artificial engine noise to make the engine sonorous—with limited effect in the 2.7-liter variant.

The unanswered questions for the still-new F-150 is how well the aluminum body and steel frame will hold together over time. Ford says it's prepped some 3,000 body shops nationwide on repairing the new truck. Likewise, in overall structural integrity, Ford has a hard-earned reputation to keep up with.

9

2016 Ford F-150

Safety

Five-star safety and some excellent active-safety features put the F-150 above most other full-size trucks.

Last year Ford completely redesigned the F-150, giving it an all-new body structure, including aerospace-inspired, aluminum-intensive construction and a much-bolstered list of active-safety tech.

If safety is a priority, it's all here in the 2016 F-150. The usual airbags and stability control are complemented by things like a second-row inflatable seat belt; additional braking help via Curve Control; adaptive cruise control; blind-spot monitors; and a lane-keeping system, which nudges the truck back into its lane when it detects a crossing of the double yellow.

Some of the best additions are the simpler ones, though. A locking tailgate and tonneau cover turn the bed into a secure storage area. An optional set of cameras stitches together a 360-degree view around the F-150, for tucking it into a garage or a tight parking spot with an expert touch—and helps overcome the blocky F-150's sometimes-difficult visibility.

The IIHS has given the SuperCrew F-150 a Top Safety Pick award, though it's limited by what the agency calls the truck's "Basic" forward-collision prevention systems. It does not give a rating for SuperCab and Regular Cab models—and in 2015 it was discovered that those models do not have the same crash protection as four-door SuperCrew models.

Regardless, federal safety authorities have given the F-150—regardless of cab configuration—five stars overall, with five-star scores in all subcategories except rollover resistance.

That makes the F-150 the top performer in safety in the TCC Rating. That's extremely impressive, as the full-size pickup class as a whole has had plenty of safety underperformers in the past decade. 

Thanks in part to one other advantage—the F-150's major weight loss—this line of big trucks is easier to make quick maneuvers with as well; and we'd call that one additional valuable safety asset.

9

2016 Ford F-150

Features

There's more technology than ever inside the 2016 Ford F-150—and it's not just frills.

With so many possible combinations available within the Ford F-150 lineup, we're going to shorthand it for you thusly: work truck, play truck, tow truck, muscle truck.

Ford offers quite the range of useful features on the F-150. For instance, loading ramps lock into the bedsides, for easy ATV loading; a BoxLink system fits cleats and brackets to the bed so that it can be divided and so cargo can be anchored; LED headlamps and lighting brighten the cargo box; there's a deployable bed step; and best of all, there's a step that slides out of the tailgate along with a post that serves as a handrail, for walking in bed loads. It's rated to hold up to 500 pounds, what looks like an impossible amount given the way it folds and stows away in the tailgate.

And in the 2016 F-150, there's a new Pro Trailer Backup Assist option that makes it a lot easier to backup into a tight driveway or boat launch with a trailer; with a simple turn of an in-dash knob, the system does the actual steering—counter-steering when necessary—to keep you going in the desired direction.

Ford actually trimmed down the F-150 lineup a bit with last year's redesign; but don't expect that to last long. For 2016 there's already a bolstered set of appearance possibilities arriving, and the mighty SVT Raptor is returning this year. In the meantime, there are five trim levels, three body styles, three bed lengths, and four engines in the F-150 lineup.

At the base level, the F-150 XL can be had in any bed length, any cab style, and with almost any drivetrain—although Ford doesn't permit all combinations. For the first time, however, the base V-6 can be paired with a SuperCrew body.

Major XL options in packages include power windows; a power tailgate lock; power mirrors; automatic headlights; a CD player; SYNC; cruise control; BoxLink (see below); and appearance packages, as well as towing packages and 18-inch wheels, as well as a new Class IV trailer hitch for towing less than 5,000 pounds.

The off-road-oriented FX4, which was a standalone trim in the previous model, is now a package available on every version. It can be added to four-wheel-drive models, improving trail capability with an electronic locking rear axle, skid plates and off-road-tuned shocks.

All F-150s have a standard automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. In addition, the XL comes with 17-inch tires; manual windows; an AM/FM stereo; a vinyl floor; manual locks; air conditioning; rear flip-up seats on four-door models; and tilt/telescoping steering.

Stand-alone options across the lineup include a tailgate step (see below); trailer-tow mirrors; a bed divider; a bed liner; a tonneau cover; a power rear window; a rearview camera; rear parking sensors; cloth seats; a 110-volt outlet; satellite radio; and telematics service for on-board vehicle tracking.

The F-150 XLT adds a standard CD player (Ford says its truck customers still want it), plus cruise control; power locks; power windows; cloth front seats; and SYNC. Major option packages can bundle power mirrors; power-adjustable pedals; satellite radio; remote start; power driver and front passenger seats; heated front seats; rear parking sensors; a power-sliding rear window; towing and off-road packages; and upgraded wheels (up to 20-inch).

Blind-spot monitors, inflatable rear seatbelts and a moonroof are standalone options at the XLT level, as are navigation; a bedliner; a tonneau cover; and a bed extender.

Above the XLT, the 2016 Ford F-150 becomes more of a lavishly equipped plaything than a workhorse.

Next up is the F-150 Lariat, which dumps the Regular Cab version and limits engine choices to the turbo 2.7-liter six or V-8. At this level, a rearview camera; ambient lighting; keyless ignition; power-adjustable pedals; leather-trimmed/heated front seats; satellite radio; and SYNC are all included.

Lariat-level options include blind-spot monitors; rear parking sensors; second-row heated seats; a power tilt/telescoping wheel; HD radio with Sony audio; LED side-mirror spotlights; two-tone paint; adaptive cruise control; and parking assist.

The additional trim and super-plush interior leather is the hallmark of the King Ranch model, offered in Crew Cab form only, with either of the shorter pickup beds. The V-8 is standard on the King Ranch and the turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 is available as an option.

Standard features include leather seats and trim; heated and cooled power front seats; inflatable rear seatbelts; Sony sound with HD radio; navigation; remote tailgate release; rear parking sensors; LED spotlights; and a console that flows through to the rear seats.

And if you're willing to add options—which is likely on the King Ranch, if you're considering it in the first place—paint and trim choices; surround cameras and lane-keeping assist; power running boards; blind-spot monitors; tailgate step; a bed extender; box side steps; adaptive cruise; park assist; a moonroof; 20-inch wheels; and a max trailer-tow package.

The F-150 Platinum is at the top of the lineup, and it gets standard LED headlights; blind-spot monitors; its own trim; power running boards; remote start and tailgate release; rear parking sensors; 20-inch wheels; aluminum trim; ambient lighting; inflatable rear seatbelts; multi-contour heated and cooled power front seats; wood trim; and navigation with five years of real-time traffic and other data. Options are similar to those on the King Ranch.

Throughout the lineup this year, Ford's new Sync 3 infotainment systems are replacing MyFord Touch wherever it was formerly offered. Ford notes that this system has better performance, an easier-to-understand interface, and improved voice recognition.

One final word on features and pricing: They can get surprisingly high, even when you think you're going in to get a modest, middle-of-the-lineup truck. For instance, an F-150 XLT with the 2.7-liter turbo V-6 we've driven wore a price tag of more than $49,000, a witness to the major price run-up in full-size trucks over the past decade.

6

2016 Ford F-150

Fuel Economy

Fuel economy for the F-150 improved significantly with last year's redesign, although it's not the efficiency leader in all of its forms.

While the Ford F-150 made some major gains this past year in fuel efficiency, it's not head-and-shoulders above the rest in the way you might suspect, given the hundreds of pounds of weight saved and new, downsized powertrains.

The 2016 F-150 with the 2.7-liter turbocharged V-6 is the efficiency leader of the lineup. At 19 mpg city, 26 highway, 22 combined, it's several mpg higher than Ford's comparable V-8 F-150 from last year, yet it's behind the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, which gets a 29-mpg highway rating.

The two upper engines in the lineup do modestly better than their predecessors. With the 3.5-liter turbocharged V-6—which more than replaces the former V-8 models—the F-150 is rated at 17/24/20 mpg. And naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V-8 models factor in at 14/19/16 mpg.

The base V-6 is the least improved: Ford quotes 17/24/20 mpg for the F-150, while the Ram V-6 posts identical numbers and GM's trucks are just a mile per gallon behind on the EPA highway cycle.

Engine stop-start technology is included in models with the 2.7-liter turbo V-6; as in other setups, it cuts off the engine at longer pauses, like for stoplights, and restarts it when the brake is released—all hopefully in the interest of saving gas during stop-and-go driving. It's disabled in tow mode or when the truck is put into four-wheel drive.

Turbocharged F-150s also have active grille shutters to smooth airflow over the front end, and Ford says it's spent a lot of time on aero details on the new truck to deliver fuel economy gains.


 

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October 18, 2016
2016 Ford F-150 4WD SuperCrew 157" Lariat

It is a very pleasant p/up to live with. the crew cab is very roomy and comfortable, lot of accomodations .

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I choose the 5 L v-8 for his relyability and performances. I found the M/P quiet good with 15.77 miles like 60% highway 40% city. The most uncomfortable thing about this P/Up is that it takes too much room... + More »
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October 8, 2016
2016 Ford F-150 4WD SuperCrew 157" XLT

Gas mileage not as advertised.

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2016 2.7L gas mileage not as advertised. Start stop is Annoying, best gas mileage I've gotten around town is 16.7 19 Highway with 5,000 miles, I was really hoping for better!!! In my opinion your better off... + More »
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September 14, 2016
For 2016 Ford F-150

F150 is car has very good performance & Safet y also pretty good

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F150 is car , when people drove it , feels like they are in heaven
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May 18, 2016
2016 Ford F-150 4WD SuperCab 145" Lariat

Pretty truck

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Overall the vehicle is easy to handle, smooth ride, BUT the drivers seat had a big lump in the middle and after a half hour of driving will make it feel like you have been sitting on a saddle horn.....VERY... + More »
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March 24, 2016
2016 Ford F-150 2WD SuperCrew 157" Lariat

An Awesome Truck

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In fairness to my review, this is my first truck and I have only had it since late December. I have the 2.7 Eco-Boost V-6 that is rated 26 on the highway. It looks good both inside and outside and the ride is... + More »
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February 3, 2016
2016 Ford F-150 4WD SuperCrew 145" XLT

It gets a 5!

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Just turned in /15 supercab for the /16 crewcab. Miles better, feels more solid, way more interior room, yet didn' lose as much bed space as I thought I would (both 145'long). It fits in my 20' garage barely... + More »
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Styling 8.0
Performance 8.0
Comfort & Quality 9.0
Safety 9.0
Features 9.0
Fuel Economy 6.0
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