Pickup Truck of the Year Contender: 2019 Ford F-150 #PTOTY19

Pickup Truck of the Year Contender

Dec 5, 2018
Photographers: Robert Guio, Amir Saidi

Exciting Powertrains Enliven an Aging Platform

Ford rocked the pickup world when it introduced the current-generation F-150 for 2015. This truck featured a body constructed entirely of military-grade aluminum, packed potent second-generation EcoBoost power under the hood, and shattered what we all thought we knew about ½-ton towing capability. The redesign was so bold that the ’15 F-150 won the title of 2015 Pickup Truck of the Year. But that was four years ago, and the competition has been hard at work catching up to the Blue Oval.
A tepid midcycle refresh occurred for F-150 for ’18, which largely consisted of new cosmetics on the nose and tail. It also brought with it the addition of Ford’s new 10-speed automatic transmission. For ’19 the F-150 returns to PTOTY eligibility with a pair of exciting new powertrain options: a 3.0L Power Stroke V-6 diesel and high-output 3.5L EcoBoost V-6. Ford’s new oil-burner debuted late in the ’18 model year, missing our previous year’s test window, thus retaining eligibility for this year. Due to ’19 models not being in production at test time and the lack of change between model years, we allowed an ’18 to participate in Lariat FX4 trim. Along with the Power Stroke, Ford also sent a ’19 Limited, which is now equipped with the high-output version of the 3.5L EcoBoost V-6, formerly relegated to Raptor and Lincoln Navigator only. The Limited model tested was an early preproduction build that Ford was able to procure in time for our test. (Thank you for making us feel special, Ford!)
As the two oldest and most expensive trucks in the test, the pair of Fords had quite the uphill battle from the start. At just shy of $75,000, the Limited was the most expensive ½-ton we’ve ever tested by a pretty wide margin. Thankfully, it put its money where its mouth is and quickly worked to justify the expense. With options such as woodgrain trim, a panoramic sunroof, massaging driver and passenger seats, and suede headliner, Ford gave Ram a good run when it came to interior opulence. While the cabin was as quiet as anything we’ve tested, most judges noted that they could do without the synthesized engine noise pumped through the speakers.
Speaking of speakers, the Bang & Olufsen audio system put nearly all others to shame when it came to both volume and clarity. SYNC3 is still a joy to use, but the competition has caught up (and in the case of UConnect, surpassed) in both ease of use and functionality. The biggest complaint involved Apple CarPlay and the lack of a clear path back to the home screen.
The Fords came to us with arguably the largest collection of technology of the group. Our judges were quick to fall in love with the self-parking feature, which gently steered the trucks into both parallel and perpendicular spots. Pro Trailer Backup Assist split the crowd. While most admired the technology involved, not all were sold on its necessity. Safety features such as the BLIS blind-spot monitoring system and adaptive cruise control with stop and go were appreciated, but most found Ford’s lane-keep assist to be a tad too aggressive at times.
As we suspected, the pair of drivetrains did not disappoint. Churning out 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque, the high-output EcoBoost boasted both highest horsepower and torque of the test. This propelled the Limited to a 6.09-second 0-60 mph time, besting the next closest by nearly half a second. It also cleared the quarter-mile in just 14.74 seconds, breaking the beam at 97.13 mph. The EcoBoost truck also boasted the highest tow rating of the bunch, at 12,700 pounds, and shockingly the lowest available payload at just over 1,000 pounds. Summing up the group’s collective feeling, one judge noted, “I love the power that the high-output EcoBoost provides, it makes for a fun drive!”
On the other end of the spectrum was the engine that garnered the largest curiosity, Ford’s new 3.0L V-6 diesel. Rated at just 250 hp but with 440 lb-ft of twist, the oil-burning mill ranked at the bottom of the leaderboard at the track, but crushed the competition on the road by bringing in an astonishing 21.61-mpg test average fuel economy (with a best of 25.48 mpg). Judges were impressed by its power and acceleration when saddled with a load, be it payload or a trailer. “The diesel engine provides great torque down low, even with a loaded trailer,” opined one judge.
What really hurt Ford when it came time to crunch the numbers was the lack of a truly dedicated off-road package. For decades Ford has relied on the FX4 to fill this role, and it has done tremendously well. However, in the years since Ford introduced the Raptor, which we consider in a league above, the competition has introduced trucks with mild lifts, locking differentials, aggressive tires, and more. This has effectively upped the off-road package ante. While the Rebel, AT4, and Trail Boss have a slight increase in ride height, the FX4 does not. The competition also comes equipped with monotube shocks, while the FX4 does not. And while the FX4 came sporting all-terrain tires, the others had larger and more aggressive Goodyear Duratrac rubber. All hope was not lost, however, as the FX4 did feature a complement of usable skidplates and an electronic locking rear differential that could be selected in 2WD.
Looking at the pair of F-150s as a package, it’s clear why Ford has been the dominant truck producer for four decades. The interior is comfortable, the chassis is tight, the powertrains are fun and exciting, and capability is second to none. Had it not been for the trucks’ slightly dated exterior styling and lackluster off-road performance, the F-150 would have been a serious contender for this year’s top prize.
WE LIKE: Large and comfortable interior, MultiContour massaging seats, incredible EcoBoost power, astonishing Power Stroke fuel economy, massive panoramic sunroof, loads of available technology
WE DON’T LIKE: Dated exterior, astronomical price, FX4 package offerings, fake EcoBoost engine noise, aggressive lane-keep assist

2019 Ford F-150 Limited

Base Price: $70,560
Price As Tested: $74,940
EPA Fuel Econ (City/HWY/Comb): Not yet rated
Engine: 3.5L EcoBoost V-6
Horsepower: 450 @ 5,000 rpm
Torque: 510 lb-ft @ 3,500 rpm
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Accel 0-60 MPH: 6.09 seconds
Quarter-Mile: 14.74 seconds @ 97.13 mph
Braking 60-0 MPH: 117.97 feet
Accel 0-60 (Payload): 6.61 seconds
Quarter-Mile (Payload): 15.13 seconds @ 96.07 mph
Braking 60-0 MPH (Payload): 118.36 feet
Accel 0-60 (Towing): 12.71 seconds
Quarter Mile (Towing): 19.35 seconds @ 75.60 mph
Weight: 5,535 pounds
Tested Fuel Econ (Average/Best): 15.46/20.25
*1,000 pounds of payload **7,500-pound trailer weight

2018 Ford F-150 Lariat FX4

Base Price: $47,205
Price As Tested: $68,225
EPA Fuel Econ (City/HWY/Comb): 20/25/22
Engine: 3.0L Power Stroke V-6
Horsepower: 250 @ 3,250 rpm
Torque: 440 lb-ft @ 1,750 rpm
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Accel 0-60 MPH: 8.87 seconds
Quarter-Mile: 16.97 seconds @ 83.77 mph
Braking 60-0 MPH: 124.64 feet
Accel 0-60 (Payload): 9.32 seconds
Quarter-Mile (Payload): 17.16 seconds @ 81.27 mph
Braking 60-0 MPH (Payload): 127.52 feet
Accel 0-60 (Towing): 18.90 seconds
Quarter-Mile (Towing): 22.48 seconds @ 65.75 mph
Weight: 5,537 pounds
Tested Fuel Econ (Average/Best): 21.61/25.48
*1,300 pounds of payload **7,500-pound trailer weight

POPULAR TRUCKS

MOST POPULAR

Subscribe Today and Save up to 83%!

Subscribe Truck Trend Magazine

Subscribe to:

Truck Trend
Magazine

PRINT DIGITAL
Subscribe Diesel Power Magazine

Subscribe to:

Diesel Power
Magazine

PRINT DIGITAL
Subscribe Truckin Magazine

Subscribe to:

Truckin
Magazine

PRINT DIGITAL
SUBSCRIBE TO A MAGAZINE
CLOSE X
BUYER'S GUIDE
SEE THE ALL NEW Ford F-150
NEWS, REVIEWS & SPECS