Once upon a time, in a land far away, my daily driver was a diesel-powered pickup truck. It had previously been a fleet vehicle for a mining company. It had a quad-cab, a manual shift gearbox with low range transfer case and a full-sized bed out back.
The fleet manager who had procured this truck had been remarkably stingy while selecting dealer add-ons, leaving me with a truck optioned with only air conditioning. The truck survived typhoons, had been off-roaded regularly and clattered away in a manner befitting an old diesel that had done more than 130,000 km of service. Aside from mass transport vehicles, it was among the largest vehicles on the road and required equal parts patience and aggression to navigate through the ubiquitous snarls of South East Asian traffic.
I miss that truck.
Now here I am in 2019, behind the wheel of a sparkling Ford F-150 Platinum Edition Super Crew in Blue Jean metallic paint. Beneath the acre of hood space in front of me runs Ford’s 3.0 Litre turbo diesel V6, which is quietly (very quietly) churning out 250 horsepower and 440 lb-ft of torque. My wheels are 20-inch polished aluminum, wrapped in 275-width all terrain meats.
I’m surrounded in cavernous opulence. The black leather bucket seats massage me and blow cool air on my back. The Bang & Olufsen sound system mates to my iPhone through Apple CarPlay without challenging my limited technical knowledge and offers crisp, clean sound that seems to come from everywhere.
Visibility in all directions is stellar, including through a panoramic sunroof that could double as a helicopter landing pad. The Ford’s driver and passenger windows are low-cut into the bodywork and eliminate lateral blind spots. I can also see rearward and happily note that the rear view from the truck belies the pickup bed. Cars behind me are visible up to a point where they’re following far too closely.
With the exception of my favourite octogenarian as a passenger, the truck is being driven completely unladen. I have foregone the stage in my life where I’d be towing a trailer loaded with impeller-driven water toys, a camper or a small suburb. As such, providing feedback on towing capacity, hill-climbing and braking with a load in tow is beyond the scope here.
This particular tester is equipped with a 3.31 axle-ratio and although the truck is available with higher axle-ratios (which will typically tow heavier loads at some expense to fuel economy), I wouldn’t hesitate to load up the bed and tow some stuff, if I had it.
On a directly related note, while helming the F-150 over a long weekend when people would be most likely to tow their own stuff the majority of pickups I see are also being driven empty, as well. The unladen ride is smooth on asphalt but does leave a little to be desired on off-camber washboard B-roads where it will bump and buck periodically. I expect this and it isn’t off-putting for a truck in this segment.
The Ford is without question a fantastic place to be, but I do note a few characteristics regarding instrumentation that don’t work well for me. With the exception of the dial-mounted transfer case selector and the radio volume knob, a number of the buttons on the dashboard of the F-150 are, well, small. Seat heaters/coolers, fan speed, and air conditioning controls feel as though they belong in a much smaller vehicle and would be a significant challenge to operate with a gloved hand. Fiddling with the large and highly legible touch-screen to input a destination into the navigation system requires a very significant stretch (perhaps owing to the girth of the Ford) and I can’t do it without taking my eyes from the road and leaning forward. Maybe that’s what passengers are for.
While the Ford handles open highway with comfort and aplomb, in the city the F-150 is a little out of its element. In stop-and-go traffic the ten-speed automatic transmission will periodically take a moment to pick a gear, leaving small pauses in acceleration. I can solve this easily by driving the truck in manual-mode and shifting for myself with the thumb actuated shifter on the gear lever, but this isn’t something I’d want to do regularly.
As a city-dweller, I found myself clenching when entering and navigating underground garages. The truck comes frighteningly close to ‘topping out’ in most garages. It also requires mastery of 27-point turning and judicious use of its outsized mirrors and 360-degree camera system to affect a half-decent parking job. I’m comfortable defending the Ford in this regard insofar as many underground parking spaces in the city were designed for cars that might actually fit in the back of the F-150.
After a week of combined highway and city driving, my fuel consumption numbers are highly satisfying. I’ve averaged 10.4L/100 KM. Fair enough. These numbers don’t compete with miserly, fuel-sipping, grocery getters, but how many of those could you load down with a five-year supply of canned goods?
Pickup trucks are available in countless configurations. Some simple basic workhorses can only boast air conditioning as an added feature. Some, like the Ford F-150 Platinum Super Crew Diesel offer luxury, functionality, and comfort for just about everyone.
I’ll now have fond memories of trucks at both ends of the spectrum.
2019 Ford F-150 Platinum Super Crew Diesel
Price as Tested: $86,499
Drivetrain: Turbocharged, 3.0-litre diesel engine, ten-speed automatic transmission
VVUZZ Recommended: Refinement, luxury, and power for the discerning pickup driver
Images courtesy of the author.