We're not totally sure whether the 2014 Ford F-150's shape looks a little cartoonish for our taste, or if it's just the right blend of strength and size. Maybe it's both. Powerful styling has been the recent selling point for large trucks, and the F-150's oversized grille and slab sides continue to garner more and more advocates, even as the truck swells in size and boldness.
It's been a big change of pace since the last F-150–which debuted in 1997–with its curves and smoother shape. If understated car-like cues were the theme back then, today's them must be closer to construction equipment and sledgehammers.
Machismo is today's big seller. The modern Ram looks almost like a tractor trailer, and the incredibly linear F-150 seems to have borrowed some of its styling cues from the Tonka trucks of our childhood. While it may look almost military-grade, the F-150 actually has a very versatile personality. 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. Give it leather chaps and fringe and a big belt buckle and it's a King Ranch cowboy; suit it up in black with tasteful orange pinstripes and it's a Harley-Davidson. It's all highly efficient and democratic, even if the F-150 is not. New for last year: available high-intensity discharge headlamps that form little hockey sticks around the lights--a subtle Michigan-ism if there ever was one. New for 2014 is the sporty Tremor version of the F-150, and XLT and STX models get standard 17-inch wheels, while upper-trim packages come with 18-inch alloy wheels.
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.