The F-150 family spans across six drivetrains to offer mediocre V-6 acceleration or blistering twin-turbo thrust—and that’s before the electric Lightning rolls out. We give the F-150 two extra points for the popular and powerful turbo V-6, and one for its off-road and towing capacity, but deduct one for its inertia-governed ride and handling. It’s a 7.
How fast is the Ford F-150?
Not fast with the 290-hp 3.3-liter V-6, but it’s only offered in XL and XLT trucks. It still has its upsides, namely a payload rating of up to 1,985 lb and a max tow rating of 8,200 lb.
Ford sells a 250-hp 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 for drivers who like the idea of 440 lb-ft of torque and have a few grand to spend on what amounts to an exotic powertrain. It doesn’t math out as a deal, but the diesel F-150 scores on the EPA highway charts and can tow more than 10,000 lb. We’d spend its upcharge on more bed gear, frankly.
The pluralist choice is the 2.7-liter turbo V-6, standard on Lariats and capable to the tune of 325 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. Payload and towing check in at 2,480 and 10,100 lb, respectively, and the engine goes about its business swiftly and effectively, thanks to the well-programmed 10-speed automatic that comes with every F-150.
For the power-hungry, the 400-hp 5.0-liter V-8 sounds like a NASCAR infield and twists out 410 lb-ft of torque, which boosts towing ratings to 13,000 lb and payload to a 3,325-lb max. But we prefer the astonishingly quick 400-hp 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6, with its 500 lb-ft of torque—and its lineup-topping 14,000-lb tow rating.
For efficiency fans, there’s always Ford’s well-executed Hybrid. It pairs the 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 with a 47-hp electric motor and a 1.5-kwh lithium-ion battery. Electric-only driving is possible at speeds of up to about 10 mph, and the Hybrid’s net 430 hp and 570 lb-ft conserves some fuel though it sheds a thousand pounds in towing ability due to its heavier weight. The killer app is the Hybrid’s on-board generator, which can run
four 120-volt and one 240-volt outlets for up to 32 hours. It shifts with some lag when it accelerates hard, but that improves when it’s dialed into a Sport drive mode.
For the race community, Ford offers the 450-hp Baja-ready Raptor, outfitted with massive off-road tires and with a suspension tuned for maximum impacts. It’s a silly toy that’s deadly serious about going fast when the road ends.
Is the Ford F-150 4WD?
Most versions have rear-wheel drive, but four-wheel drive can be fitted to just about any versions. The basic 4WD setup is a part-time, shift-on-the-fly system; on the Lariat and more expensive versions, a 2-speed torque-on-demand system mimics a part-time all-wheel-drive system to move torque to the front wheels when the rears slip. It also has a manual override with 4H and 4L settings.
The F-150 varies widely in ride and handling, due to bed weight, vehicle weight, wheelbase, and the presence of newly available adaptive dampers. On the popular versions with electronic steering, a solid rear axle, and rear leaf springs, the F-150 has some bounce in its step; when it’s not laden with road-smothering payload, it can bound over bumps and quiver over pavement seams though it has precise steering that makes it feel more maneuverable than its size would indicate. An independent front suspension helps it feel more like a passenger vehicle, but make no mistake: this is a truck, and it handles like one.
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