Ford F-150: No need to change the best
By Mark Sherry
The 2013 Ford F-150

There really are not any major changes in the 2013 Ford F-150 or Super Duty pickup trucks compared to the 2012 models, nor will there be much new on the 2014 versions.

And in one concise sentence, Ryan of Dick Brantmeier Ford, Inc. in Sheboygan explained why that is: “When you’re the best, you don’t have to make changes.”

Ryan and Ford have some data to back that claim. The F-Series has been America’s best selling truck for 36 years running, so why tinker with a track record like that?

Truth be told, there have been many changes made to the Ford F-150 over the years, just as there have been to every new car sold. Technology has done some amazing things to trucks and cars, especially in recent years. The F-150 of today is not the F-150 first sold in 1948, of course, and the features of today’s FSeries trucks would flabbergast a time traveler from 1948.

As a matter of fact, those features might even flabbergast anyone who has not sat in an F-Series pickup truck within the last couple years.

Test driving a F-150

While getting ready for a Built Tough Ford sales event now under way at Dick Brantmeier Ford, Inc., Ryan allowed this reviewer to test drive a 2013 FX4 Off Road F-150.

This particular F-150 had perhaps the most impressive list of cool features of any vehicle ever test driven. But people do not necessarily buy a pickup truck for bells and whistles. As Ryan explained, these vehicles have been the leaders of the pack for so long because they are the best made, most durable and most dependable trucks around.

With its 3.5-liter V6 Ecoboost engine, the F-150 can get reasonable gas mileage (rated at 15 mpg city, 21 highway) but still do plenty of hard work. It is rated to tow up to a best-in-class 11,300 pounds but provides such a smooth, comfortable, quiet and reasonably economical ride that, as Ryan pointed out, there are plenty being driven by moms picking up their kids after school. The rear doors and spacious backseats which fit three across mean those kids will be comfortable— actually very comfortable when a person factors in things such as the rear air vents, 110-volt AC outlet and available head restraint DVD players.

But, again, people generally do not buy a pickup truck for the creature comforts. Depending on the package purchased, the F-150 also hauls a best-in-class 3,120 pounds and generates the most available power at 411 hp. In addition, the F-150 SuperCrew has been named a 2012 Top Safety Pick—so the kids will be safe.

Perhaps the biggest addition to the 2013 models was voice-activated SYNC with MyFord available on several models. The system includes two 4.2-inch LCD screens and five-way controls on the steering wheel. Once paired, SYNC recognizes the occupant’s phone and downloads contacts to support voice calling. It also plays music from a phone, MP3, USB or iPod. In other words, the driver can just touch a button on the steering wheel and say something like “call home” or “play playlist country” and those commands will be done.

Impressive features

Once again, the list of features—standard oroptional—in the F-150 test driven was impressive. There are plug-ins for DVD players as well as two USB ports and a Smart Disk plug-in for transferring navigation information and/or photos to the dash screens.

Other eye-catching features include MP3 player and cell phone holders under the lid of the center console, dual temperature controls (driver and front passenger), multi-way power seats with memory settings, a capless fuel filling system, projector headlamps, a removable tailgate, a power sliding rear window with defroster, tow hooks, adjustable pedals with memory settings, an automatic dimming rearview mirror, heated and cooled front seats (both driver and passenger), a rear view camera, Sirius satellite radio, remote start and keyless keypad entry.

This particular F-150 was on sale at Dick Brantmeier Ford for $43,991.

All those cool features of the F-150 also are available in the Super Duty series of Ford trucks, which once again qualify as best in class in just about every category that matters. Available in the Super Duty series is a 6.7-liter V8 turbo diesel engine which puts out 400 hp while offering up to 20 percent improvement in fuel economy over the previous generation of engines.