2019 Ford F-150 Review

Ron Sessions | Jun 17, 2019
2019 Ford F-150 front quarter photo
Photo: Ron Sessions

Introduction

The Ford F-Series large pickup truck is the most common sight on U.S. roads. It’s been the best-selling pickup in North America for 40+ years and the top-selling model in the United States—car or truck—for almost as long.

The F-150 light-duty pickup is by far the most popular version of Ford’s F-Series, back for the 2019 model year in XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum, and Limited trim levels. Additionally, the F-150 Raptor is an off-road-ready specialty performance model. Body configurations for the F-150 include 2-door regular cab, extended 4-door SuperCab, and crew-length 4-door SuperCrew variants.

For this review, we evaluated a 2019 Ford F-150 Limited SuperCrew 4-door pickup with the short, 5.5-foot cargo box and 2-wheel drive. This top-of-the-line pickup was equipped with the high-output 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine and 10-speed automatic transmission. In addition, it came with a trailer-tow package, tray-style floor liner, tailgate step, and accessory spray-in bedliner. The total price came to $70,855, including the $1,595 destination charge.

2019 Ford F-150 front photo
Photo: Ron Sessions

What Owners Say

Prior to delving into the conclusions of our evaluation of the 2019 Ford F-150, it’s helpful to comprehend who the typical buyer is for this large light-duty pickup and what they like and dislike about it.

According to J.D. Power research, Ford F-150 buyer demographics are nearly identical to those for the large light-duty pickup truck segment in total. An overwhelmingly large percentage are men (91% for both the F-150 and the segment), their median age is 56 (vs. 55 for the segment), and median household income is $112,264 (vs. $108,095 for the segment).

However, when it comes to psychographics, there are some notable differences between F-150 buyers and that of the average large light-duty truck. For one, 37% of F-150 purchasers consider themselves practical buyers compared with just 31% for the segment as a whole. Also, 63% of the buyers of the U.S.-assembled F-150 mostly agree that they prefer a vehicle from a domestic company compared with 59% of large light-duty pickup buyers in general. And Ford F-150 buyers count themselves as agreeing that a first consideration is fuel economy (56% vs 52% for the segment) and are more likely to purchase an environmentally friendly vehicle (49% vs 45% for the segment).

Buyers indicate their favorite aspects of the Ford F-150 are (in descending order) driving range (a 36-gallon fuel tank is an option), fuel economy, passing power, acceleration, second-row seat room, and the ease of making hands-free calls and using voice recognition and navigation. Conversely, F-150 buyers list transmission shift smoothness (a new 10-speed transmission had just been introduced), headlight effectiveness, ability to achieve desired climate control temperature and airflow, vehicle maneuverability, cabin noise levels, and driver rearward visibility as their least favorite attributes of the vehicle.

2019 Ford F-150 side profile photo
Photo: Ron Sessions

What Our Expert Says

In the sections that follow, our expert provides an assessment of how the 2019 Ford F-150 performs in each of the 10 categories that comprise the J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study.SM

Exterior

While the Ram 1500, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, and GMC Sierra 1500 light-duty pickups received major makeovers for the 2019 model year, the 2019 Ford F-150 continues with the conservative, squared-off shape it launched with the 2005 model and the lightweight aluminum body construction that began in 2015. A minor refresh in 2018 gave the strong-selling Ford truck a bolder face, but buyers looking for the next big thing in F-150s will have to wait a year or two for the next-generation model.

The test truck was a range-topping Limited SuperCrew example with the short 5.5-foot bed that included stylish 22-in. polished aluminum wheels, monochrome exterior trim, body-color bumpers, and satin aluminum-tipped dual exhaust. An optional deployable tailgate step eased the climb up into the bed. Dressed in Agate Black paint, the F-150 Limited looked classy as a $70,000-plus pickup should.

2019 Ford F-150 interior photo
Photo: Ron Sessions

Interior

The F-150 covers a broad price spectrum from just under $30,000 for an XL with vinyl or cloth seats, black vinyl rubberized flooring, urethane steering wheel, and wind-up windows to more than $70,000 for the luxurious, all-boxes-checked Limited. For its version as a work truck, the F-150’s cabin materials have to be durable, so there’s a lot of hard plastic trim that can take knocks and scrapes.

In the cabin of the Limited test truck, most of that is decorated with attractive soft-touch finishes or leather-wrapped coverings for a luxury look worthy of a Lincoln or Cadillac. The work truck bones are still there in terms of large, meaty knobs and switches but the upscale 2-tone color scheme, night-time ambient lighting, wood accents, and panoramic sunroof add a classy, personal-use vibe.

2019 Ford F-150 rear seat photo
Photo: Ron Sessions

Seats

Massaging seats in a pickup? You bet. The power front buckets in the Limited SuperCrew test truck had the Active Motion backrest massage feature as standard equipment, as well as heating and cooling and driver memory settings. The Limited’s front seats are all-day comfortable and offer a wide range of fore/aft, bottom cushion tilt, backrest tilt, height, and lumbar adjustments that accommodate a broad spectrum of body types. Standard power-operated running boards deploy when the Limited’s doors are opened to ease vehicle ingress and egress. In the unlikely event the power front seats don’t offer enough adjustment, the Limited abides with a power-operated tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and foot pedals.

The rear bench seat of the extended-cab SuperCab and crew-cab SuperCrew models is split 60/40 and flips up to accommodate larger cargo. A comfortable center armrest folds down. In the SuperCrew, the rear-seat cushion is extended and affords about the same very generous headroom and near limousine-like legroom as the front seats. SuperCab rear seating is tighter on legroom and its seatbacks are more upright so adults won’t be super comfortable back there on a long trip. At least the SuperCab’s rear doors swing open a full 170 degrees to ease getting in and out.

2019 Ford F-150 climate control system photo
Photo: Ron Sessions

Climate Control System

Standard in the Limited as well as Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum F-150 trims is a dual-zone automatic climate control system that also contains the switches for the heated and ventilated front seats in trucks so equipped. Big knobs and buttons can be operated with gloved hands, there’s a simple pictogram array to direct airflow, and there are no screen menus to toggle through. In Arizona summer weather temps well north of 90 degrees F, the system cooled down the Limited’s commodious cabin in short order.

Base XL and XLT versions of the F-150 come standard with a single-zone manual climate-control system.

2019 Ford F-150 infotainment system photo
Photo: Ron Sessions

Infotainment System

Ford doesn’t offer anything as exotic as the Ram 1500’s optional 12-in. infotainment screen but the F-150 does come standard with voice-activated Sync3 with an 8-in. touch screen in all trims but the base XL, which has a tiny 4.2-in. screen and limited functions. The Ford 8-in. system is easy to use with large volume and tuning knobs and station pre-select hard buttons, plus steering wheel audio controls and some on-screen tiles. Gone are the early Sync days of scrolling through distracting menus.

All 2019 F-150 radios drop the in-dash CD player, but the good news is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity is standard in XLT and higher grades as well as Ford PassConnect, which brings 4G Wi-Fi for up to 10 in-truck devices and remote vehicle access via smartphone. The Lariat trim adds satellite radio and the King Ranch and higher versions upgrade to the 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen premium audio system with HD Radio, navigation, and SiriusXM Travel Link and Traffic.

In the Limited test truck, Bluetooth pairing of my smartphone was a quick and easy operation, voice commands executed without a lot of drama, and hands-free call quality was clear. There are plenty of USB ports in the Limited as well as 12-volt and 120-volt power outlets front and rear.

2019 Ford F-150 pickup bed photo
Photo: Ron Sessions

Storage and Space

The 2019 F-150 pickup is available with 5.5-, 6.5-, and 8.0-foot beds. Optional spray-in or drop-in plastic bed liners protect the bed from scratches and scrapes. The tailgate is lockable but currently, Ford doesn’t offer anything resembling the horizontally split Ram 1500 tailgate or the 6-way articulated one on the GMC Sierra.

In the cab, storage abounds in various nooks and crannies, including two levels of storage pockets in the doors; cubbies in the front, middle, and sides of the console; a deep, tablet-sized bin under the center armrest; a shelf above the also large dash glovebox; and more space under the flip-up rear seat. There are also accessory toolboxes available for the cargo bed.

2019 Ford F-150 reversing camera photo
Photo: Ron Sessions

Visibility and Safety

The 2019 F-150 Limited SuperCrew pickup is a large vehicle to maneuver in tight spaces, but its low-cut front door windows help the driver spot obstacles on the opposite side of the cab and the rear-seat head restraints can pivot forward and down when not being used to improve sightlines out the rear window. The Limited’s 360-degree overhead view reversing camera provides a bird’s-eye view of the top of the truck and its immediate surroundings. The Limited also comes with active park assist that when activated will steer the truck into a parking spot while the driver operates the accelerator, brake, and gear shifter. New for 2019 on all F-150s are standard auto emergency braking and automatic high-beam headlights.

In addition to a full bevy of front, side, and overhead air bags, the Limited SuperCrew comes with inflatable rear seat belts that can help minimize the chance of blunt-force injury from the belts in a serious impact.

Also in the F-150 Limited’s suite of safety technology is adaptive cruise control with full stop and go; a lane-keeping system that attempts to keep the truck from venturing outside its lane; a lane-departure warning system that buzzes when the truck does go over a painted white line without signaling; plus blind-spot and rear cross-traffic monitoring. The F-150 blind-spot system also monitors what may be creeping up behind the trailer you are towing.

Speaking of towing, the reversing camera has a dynamic hitch assist feature that can help the driver eyeball the ball and hitch and get the trailer hooked up properly the first time. Pro Trailer Assist eases backing with a trailer connected by steering with a dash-mounted knob instead of the steering wheel.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not completed testing of all 2019 F-150 models but did give the SuperCrew 4-door 5 (out of 5) stars overall, with 5 each for front- and side-impact performance and 4 stars for rollover resistance.

2019 Ford F-150 EcoBoost engine photo
Photo: Ron Sessions

Engine/Transmission

There is plenty of firepower under the F-150’s hood, with six available engines from which to choose. Standard in short-wheelbase XL and XLT models is a 290-horsepower, 265 lb.-ft. 3.3-liter V-6. The Lariat gets a standard 325-horsepower, 400 lb.-ft. 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 or 395-horsepower, 400 lb.-ft. 5.0-liter Coyote V-8. King Ranch and Platinum F-150s also run the 5.0-liter V-8 and the Limited and Raptor get the high-output, 450-horsepower, 510 lb.-ft. version of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6. Additionally, the standard-output, 375-horsepower, 470 lb.-ft. version of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 and the new, fuel-sipping 250-horsepower, 440 lb.-ft. 3.0-liter Power Stroke V-6 turbodiesel are optional in the XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum. The 3.3-liter V-6 and 5.0-liter V-8 are flex-fuel engines that can run either regular unleaded or E85 ethanol.

Mated to all engine choices but the entry-level 3.3-liter V-6 is a 10-speed automatic transmission first introduced in 2017 and co-developed with General Motors. The 3.3-liter sticks with the tried-and-true 6-speed automatic. Both transmissions use a traditional floor-mounted shifter. The 10-speed’s wide ratio span gives the engine shorter lower gears for quicker acceleration and taller top gears for more relaxed cruising, plus shorter steps between the gears thus allowing the engine to stay in the most productive part of its power curve. The 10-speed also offers driver-selectable drive modes that customize the shift map for different conditions; selections include Normal, Tow-Haul, Snow-Wet, Eco Select, and Sport.

Pickup truck traditionalists may be drawn to the 5.0-liter V-8 with its familiar burly exhaust signature. But the 2.7-liter and 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engines don’t have to rev to get to the fat part of their power curve and offer a smooth, turbine-like takeoff feel and excellent low- and mid-range torque for towing, hauling, or climbing steep grades. The 2019 F-150 Limited test truck with its Raptor-ready 450-horsepower, high-output, 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 was smooth and quiet in operation yet very lively despite its 5,000-lb. plus curb weight, with brisk acceleration available across a wide spectrum of driving situations.

2019 Ford F-150 fuel economy photo
Photo: Ron Sessions

Fuel Economy

All 2019 F-150s are equipped with a start/stop system that automatically shuts off the engine at stoplights to save fuel, then restarts when the driver lifts a foot off the brake pedal. The restart happens with the truck in Drive, yet is surprisingly smooth.

As you might expect, the F-150 fuel economy king is the 2-wheel-drive (2WD) version of the new 3.0-liter Power Stroke V-6 diesel with an EPA-rated 22/30 mpg (city/highway). The most fuel-efficient version of the 2WD 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 musters an 18/25 mpg EPA rating on premium fuel, which beats the 2WD version of the 5.0-liter V-8 at 17/25 mpg on paper. But if you do a lot of towing, note that the real-world fuel economy of the EcoBoost V-6 drops off rather sharply as those twin turbos spool up and suck in more air and fuel.

Then again, if driven conservatively, the EcoBoost V-6 can pinch fuel pennies as I discovered with an observed 19.1 average mpg over a week of around-town driving in the 2WD Limited with the high-output version of that V-6. Also note that with the optional 36-gallon fuel tank and that kind of fuel economy, the F-150 can deliver more than 600 miles of driving range between stops.

2019 Ford F-150 action photo
Photo: Ron Sessions

Driving Dynamics

The 2015 move to the aluminum body shaved as much as 700 lbs. off the larger versions of the F-150. That weight reduction enabled increases in payload ratings (up to 3,270 lbs.) and towing ability (as much as 13,200 lbs.), but it also paid off in making this large, light-duty truck handle and maneuver like a smaller truck. While the ride quality with the F-150’s rear leaf springs doesn’t quite match that of the Ram 1500 with its optional air suspension, it’s quite good considering the F-150’s capabilities. The F-150’s steering is linear and reasonably communicative for such a large vehicle and thanks to less mass to handle, the brakes do a commendable job of bringing this truck down from speed with confidence. Even with the Limited’s ultra-low-profile 275/45R22 tires, impact harshness and ride quality on the test truck were quite acceptable for the luxury pickup truck realm.

2019 Ford F-150 rear quarter photo
Photo: Ron Sessions

Final Impressions

It’s hard to argue with 40-plus years of success. The Ford F-150 covers the waterfront with a wide range of models and features and more powertrain choices than any competitor. Prices keep climbing but without the threat of a recession, we see no ceiling, yet. Even in the face of fresh models from Chevrolet and GMC and recent gains by the very impressive Ram 1500, that sales leadership is likely to continue. Pickup truck buyers are a loyal bunch and we see nothing here in the 2019 F-150 Limited to discourage that loyalty.

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