Feb 25, 2021
To say that the Ford F-150, in one shape or another, has been around for an age is to understate just how important it is. Since the first F-series trucks rolled off the line in 1948, the F-150 has, quite literally, helped build America. Many of the skyscrapers, bridges, parks, suburbs, and even homes that cover the nation had materials and manpower transported in Ford trucks. There are a lot of F-150s for sale in Austin right now.
However in Texas, the Ford F-150 isn’t just “a truck.” It is the great mover and maker of the people, able to take the family camping for the weekend, and haul a horse trailer out of a ranch on Monday. In fact, while other parts of the nation get some special editions, like the Northland Edition for the Pacific Northwest, Texas is the only state that often gets its own F-150, the Texas Edition, which is based off the King Ranch model spec.
Throughout the thick and thin, however, the 2015 to 2020 Ford F-150 has been the class of the field, in both customer satisfaction indexes and official reviews. With a multitude of options, the venerable workhorse is customizable to an almost too-big-for-Texas extent, meaning that whatever your needs are, there is a Ford truck to fit the bill.In fact, it has done so well in the Friendship state that it is one of the best selling trucks in Texas of all time, bar none.
Each year adds slightly different options for each trim, but to help you better understand what you are looking at, we have broken down each trim into their basic components. These are in order of most basic to premium (XL, XLT, LARIAT, King Ranch, Platinum, Limited, and Raptor)
The XL is the working man’s truck of the bunch. It is designed to be rough and ready, and has fleet pricing available. The standard features include:
Power locks and windows, as well as other options, are easily added to make the XL the best fit for your job or trade.
The XLT is the next step up from the XL, and is designed to be the everyday layman’s truck. It comes with all the same standard features as the XL, however with a few comfort and luxury items included into the price, such as:
The LARIAT is where the F-150 goes from an everyday truck to a long-haul truck. Generally includes everything from the XLT trim, but also includes:
Includes everything from the LARIAT trim, but also includes:
Generally includes everything from the LARIAT trim, but also includes:
Includes everything from the Platinum trim, but also includes:
A special model of the F-150 that is designed from the outset to be an off-roading powerhouse sport truck. Standard features include:
This is a truck with only a front row of seating (no rear seats). Some newer models might have a mini-door behind the standard driver/passenger door for easier access to behind-the-seat storage space. (2019 pictured)
Includes a second row of seating, with two full-size front doors and reverse opening smaller rear doors. Can fit 4 to 5 people with moderate comfort (2018 pictured)
The biggest cab offered by Ford, this is a full sized cab with normally opening doors. Can fit 4 to 6 adults comfortable depending on seat choices (2018 pictured)
Introduced in 2013, on the car and truck show circuit in 2014, and sold by dealers in Q3 2014 onwards as a 2015 model, the thirteenth generation of the Ford F-150 was an immediate success. It kept a lot of the standard features and well-known reliability of the twelfth generation, but had a few very important updates across the entire model line - an important thought process as the F-series had sold more than 760,000 models in the US alone in 2013.
The first of these updates is that the F-150 moved from mostly-steel to mostly-aluminum in its construction, making it the first large scale production truck to be aluminum based in the USA. The move helped reduce overall vehicle weight, allowing for better fuel economy, without impacting towing and hauling. In fact, the only part of the F-150 for this generation that is still full steel is the box-frame chassis.
While this move to aluminum was of concern when announced, Ford was able to demonstrate the structural rigidity and safety of the body by secretly entering three development prototypes, disguised as twelfth generation F-150’s, into the Baja 1000 in 2013. All three made it through without any significantly increased damage or issues over a steel bodied F-150.
The second major update for the F-150 in its thirteen generation was a full revision of powertrain options. With the drive in the industry towards fuel economy and reducing emissions, the previous 3.7L V6 base engine was redesigned into a 3.5L V6 which beat its predecessor in power-to-weight ratios.
That engine became the basis for the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 turbo, which carried much of the previous generation’s valve and camshaft technology over to the new generation, and FlexFuel ability was added. The new 5.0L V8 was designed specifically for the heavy duty towing and hauling F-250 and F-350 trucks, but was slotted into the F-150 in a few models as either the standard engine, or an optional upgrade. A new 2.7L EcoBoost V6 was also added, and is a multi-model engine, being shared with the top spec Ford Fusion and the Lincoln Continental.
And finally, in the 2017 model year, for the first time in the F-150’s illustrious history, a 3.0L PowerStroke V6 diesel engine was added to the lineup as an optional engine in the fleet-capable trucks, namely the XL and XLT trim levels.
The 2015 Ford F-150 premiered in January 2014 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. At launch, the F-150 was available in all trims except the Raptor. These trucks were offered initially with four engines as either options or standard equipment. The3.5L Cyclone V6 came with 282 HP. The 2.7L EcoBoost Nano V6 Turbo produced 325 HP. The 3.5L EcoBoost D35 V6 Turbo produced 365 HP. Lastly, the 5.0L Coyote V8 produced 385 HP (yes, a different version of the same V8 found in the Ford Mustang
These four engines produced a wide range of torque, with 253 lb-ftcoming from the Cyclone V6 on the low end, up to 420 lb-ft being produced by the D35 V6 Turbo. At the initial launch, all four engines also connected to the drivetrain via a 6-speed Ford 6R80 automatic transmission.
As outlined above, the biggest step above the twelfth generation F-150 was the move to aluminum for most of the body. All three cab sizes (Standard, SuperCab, SuperCrew) underwent stringent impact testing, including multiple crash tests by different safety agencies in every nation around the world that would sell the F-150.
This was meant to prove that the truck was still a strong, reliable, safe vehicle, and it passed our own NHTSA safety tests with a full 5 star rating. These tests included side-impact, front-offset, direct-rear, lamp-post test, and pedestrian safety. All tests came back with top marks, proving that engineering and design can produce a lighter, more fuel-efficient F-150 without sacrificing safety.
he only major recall for the first year F-150s of the thirteenth generation was for a fault in the radar-guided adaptive cruise control on the higher trim levels. There was a potential fault in the sensors of the trucks built between March 2014 and August 2015 that could cause it to “ghost detect” a pedestrian when there was none, such as on the freeway, and cause the truck to perform a full emergency stop.
The 2016 model of the F-150 featured only a few minor updates. The most important was that the adaptive cruise control was partially redesigned to use a different, upgraded model of radar sensor that had undergone thorough testing to prevent the same recall issues for the 2015 model year.
Other minor updates was the introduction of new type of thermoplastic being used for the headlights to assist in focusing the LED powered headlights on the higher spec trims. This allowed for fewer LEDs to be used while still getting the same brightness and spread, further reducing load on the vehicle electronics.
Tail lamps were full LED as well on all models by the 2016 model year, and interior lighting was also converted to full LED on higher spec trims (LARIAT and above).
While there were still growing pains in the second model year, only minor recalls were issued, with the most egregious being related to the passenger seat belt height adjuster becoming stuck if adjusted with enthusiasm.
The biggest update for 2017 was the F-150 Raptor. After being missing for two years since the twelfth generation, it was announced in the early summer of 2016 as available for sale in the latter half of that year as a 2017 model.
The Raptor also brought a new engine to the lineup, 3.5L EcoBoost D35-HO (High Output) V6 Turbo. This redesigned D35-HO came from the Ford Performance team, and was derived from the D35-GT engine that was used in the Ford GT supercar. While detuned from its source engine, the D35-HO still produced a mighty 450 HP and 510 lb-ft of torque, making it the most powerful V6 Turbo yet in an F-150.
The D35-HO V6 was also used as the standard engine for the Limited trim level, although for that application, it was further detuned down to “only” 375 HP and 470 lb-ft of torque.
Also with the Raptor came the 10-speed Ford 10R80 automatic, an industry first ten in a non-commercial vehicle. This transmission was equipped on the Limited and the Raptor in 2017, and was developed in cooperation with General Motors. This was in exchange for GM helping Ford develop their electric vehicle and hybrid vehicle future vehicles. These kind of exchanges happen more often than many people realize, as major industry shifts (such as the current push towards EV’s) require industry-wide cooperation.
There was one major recall issued in 2017 that received widespread news coverage. Ford recalled 1.3 million 2015 to 2017 F-150s and 2017 Ford SuperDuty trucks for door latches possibly suffering damage if water leaked into them and froze. This could damage the metal in the latch, causing it to be difficult to open, and possibly trapping passengers inside.
In Texas (except for recently), this generally is not a problem. However, it should be noted that there were no other major safety issues, recalls, or software updates. When you make a model for over 60 years, you get at least a few things right!
2018 was the big mid-model refresh year for the F-150, and all models were touched, from the base XL to the top spec Limited. The biggest update across the model line was the introduction of the new front grille, which was adapted from the Super Duty F-250 and greater models. This grille had two bars running across the middle of it, with the Ford logo proudly in the middle.
As well, to comply with new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards regulation 111 ( FMVSS No. 111 ) regarding rear view visibility, every trim received a backup camera as standard. This was also the year that the Sync infotainment control system was upgraded to Sync 3, allowing for better bluetooth and handsfree infotainment operation.
In terms of engines, the 3.5L Cyclone V6 was replaced by a new 3.3L Cyclone V6. Despite the loss of 0.2L, it produced 8 more HP and 12 more lb-ft (290 HP and 265 lb-ft). The 2.7L EcoBoost Nano V6 Turbo received a new turbocharger and was now attached to a Ford 10R80 ten-speed with SelectShift, leading to it developing 25 more lb-ft of torque.
The 5.0L Coyote V8 underwent a significant redesign, and was now producing 395 HP and a flat 400 lb-ft of torque. As with the other engines, the 10-speed automatic became the transmission of choice.
Lastly, the 3.0L PowerStroke V6 diesel arrived, having been redesigned from a SuperDuty-model engine. There were limitations on its availability, however, as it was slated for the XL and XLT trims only, and only for commercial or fleet sales. It produced a respectable 250 HP, but a whopping 440 lb-ft of torque.
With so many engines being introduced, something was bound to go wrong. There was only one major recall in 2018 that was deemed “urgent,” meaning you should not drive the vehicle until the issue was remedied. This issue was that the new 3.3L Cyclone V6 may have had cylinder heads machined without sufficient width lubrication supply holes for the camshaft bearing journals. In the worst case scenario, this could cause a blockage, leading to the camshaft overheating outside of its very tight operational range, and causing a full engine stall or seize. Any vehicle that was affected would receive an entirely new cylinder head on the company’s dime, even if the vehicle is outside of warranty.
The next generation (fourteenth) of the F-150 was announced in 2019, and as such, Ford began the winding down of major model updates and changes. Most trims stayed the same as their 2018 versions, with two notable exceptions.
The first is that the top spec Limited received the powertrain of the Raptor, namely the 3.5L EcoBoost D35-HO V6 Turbo. To differentiate it, however, the Limited received a chromed dual exhaust, while the Raptor continued with its offering of black exhaust tips.
The other major update was with the aforementioned Raptor, receiving revised bucket seats that had been designed with guidance from Recaro, who had designed the Focus ST, Fiesta ST, and Edge ST sport seats. It also gained new FOX Racing 3.0 shock absorbers that were dynamically and electronically adjustable. The last major Raptor update in 2019 was the new Trail Control system, which allows for the vehicle computer to control throttle, differential ratios, and per-wheel braking, allowing the driver to manage steering and navigation in extremely challenging off-road situations.
No major recalls occurred in 2019, apart from the normal firmware and software updates for the vehicle.
The swansong year of the thirteenth generation, there were no major updates, as Ford dealers, as well as company HQ, were more interested in clearing out existing stock to make way for the fourteenth generation models.
As well, 2020 caused the manufacturing plants where the F-150 is built to be shut down due to the global pandemic, with the decision being made for the new fourteenth generation to start being built when the plants were reopened. However, there was already more than enough stock that even today, in 2021, you can walk onto a Ford dealership lot and see multiple 2020 F-150’s with “For Sale! Reduced To SELL!” signs hanging in their windows.
|Trim||Years||MSRP||Engine||Tow Rating (lbs)||Review|
|XL||2015-2020||$28,745+||3.5L V6 (2015-2017)|
3.3L V6 (2018+)
2.7L V6 Turbo (2015+)
2.7L V6 Turbo
|LARIAT||2015-2020||$42,750+||2.7L V6 Turbo||7,600+||2016 Car & Driver Review|
|King Ranch||2015-2020||$52,990+||5.0L V8||8,300+|
|Limited||2015-2020||$67,735+||3.5L D35 V6 Turbo(2015-2018)|
3.5L D35-HO V6 Turbo (2019+)
|9.300+||2019 Review by AutoBlog Media|
|Raptor||2017-2020||$53,455+||3.5L D35-HO V6 Turbo (2017+)||8,000+|
Throughout the thirteenth generation, there were only two major recalls:
There are multiple minor recalls and service bulletins. The most common of these recalls are in regard to non-critical sensors and software updates to fix bugs. These included the transmission not reporting being shifted into Drive correctly, faulty automatic cruise control sensors potentially detecting a “ghost” and applying the pedestrian emergency stop, and seatbelt height adjusters becoming stuck if handled with force..
In terms of known problems, the Ford F-150 does not have any critical issues. Average yearly repair and maintenance costs are estimated to average around $600 to $1000 depending on trim, making it straddle the average for light and mid-size trucks.
Both gas and diesel power units score high on reliability with regular maintenance. Long-term testers have shown no significant transmission or engine issues.
One of the great things about trucks is that you can pretty much build one to fit your exact needs, or find one for sale that will do as good a job as a built one! However, there are as many uses for a truck as there are trucks to be used, so we’ve broken them down into generic categories.
Ford specifically makes the base edition XL for rough and tumble work sites, and the slightly more comfortable XLT for tradies. Hauling up to 2,500 lbs in the bed on a regular cab XL, or towing up to 7,100 lbs with the XLT, both have their specific uses, and will still get excellent fuel economy of over 18 MPG fully loaded, in both 4x2 and 4x4 sub-trims.
Realistically, if you’re hauling more than 3,000 lbs in your truck bed, you’re probably going to be looking at going a step up to the SuperDuty line of trucks. However, if you really need to get up to 3,000 lbs of haulage without breaking the bank, a King Ranch with a SuperCab will get you to 2,980 lbs rated, and is less than $55,000 new, so probably less than $40,000 or lower used.
Ford doesn’t differentiate fifth wheel against hitch towing, so the only recommendation we can give here is that if you’re looking at a trailer in any sense, any trim from the King Ranch on up will get you on the road.
However, we will offer the caveat that the slightly higher priced Platinum trim does have the BLIS system as standard. The extra safety and redundant systems to aid with the driver handling the trailering can never be a bad thing.
While everyone has a different idea of what the ideal daily driver is, if you wanted to daily drive an F-150, we can’t help but recommend either the LARIAT or King Ranch models.
The LARIAT gets the recommendation because it has all that the common layperson needs. You have all three cab sizes available as options, you have all three bed sizes available, and you have all the creature comforts that you would want during a daily commute or slightly longer distance trip.
The King Ranch is recommended only if you have slightly deeper pockets and want to splurge a little. It has the uprated sound system, the built in class IV trailer hitch, leather throughout, and special interior color. It also has the 5.0L V8, which still gets a respectable 22 MPG combined fuel-efficiency despite being a massive engine. And, if it matters any, this is what former President George Bush drives around his ranch in Texas.
This… this is what the Raptor was built to do. The Raptor is an off-roading, trail-conquering, hill-topping monster. It has dynamic systems that keep all four wheels in contact with the ground as much as possible. It only comes in 4x4. It has gigantic tires on 17 inch rims. Any other truck would be able to handle a little bit of dirt here and there, but the Raptor was born to play in, on, and around it!
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