Is the Ford F-150's shape just the right mix of size and strength--or is it an over-the-top 'toon rendition of a Tonka truck? Maybe it's both. In the post-Dodge-Ram era, emphatic styling's been a selling point among full-size pickup trucks, and the F-150's slab sides and its huge grille have a following that hasn't dropped off as it's grown bolder and bigger.
It's been a huge departure from the prior F-150, which took up a smooth, rounded shape in the 1997 model year and for its time, changed the notion of truck styling. Understatement and carlike cues were in, if only for a few years.
Clearly, today, macho sells. The current Ram relies on some cues from tractor trailers, and the relentlessly linear F-150 must hit some nerve in the brain of boys of all ages, pinging that first toy dump truck from decades past. It may be G.I. Joe from head to toe, but the F-150's essential shape takes on different personalities with an ease that would make Barbie's stylist green with envy. Suit it up in black with tasteful orange pinstripes and it's a Harley-Davidson; give it leather chaps and fringe and a big belt buckle and it's a King Ranch cowboy. Drop the costumes for plain jeans and a T-shirt and the F-150's just an unpainted bumper away from Joe Six-Pack XL. It's all highly efficient and democratic, even if the F-150 is not. New for 2013: available high-intensity discharge headlamps that form little hockey sticks around the lights--a subtle Michigan-ism if there ever was one.
Inside, the F-150 shows no signs of the somewhat carlike, drab plastic interiors of just a few years ago. The redesign that gave it tough-guy looks brought a more businesslike and upright dash with upgraded interiors. Well-coordinated materials and trims have boxy outlines, punctuated with round, high-set vents. The same look can appear restrained and rather well-done, as in the basic F-150 XL, and it can come off as the most luxurious vehicle sold under a Ford blue-oval badge, if you're settling into a Platinum edition.
With the addition of MyFord Touch controls to the cabin, the F-150 gets either a 4.2-inch LCD screen on the dash or a larger 8-inch screen when fitted with navigation, and a new stack design with larger buttons that underscores how truck users will adapt to MyFord Touch differently--and how Ford is dialing back some of the knob-less designs that it launched MyFord Touch with in the 2011 model year.