2017 Ford F-150

2017 Ford F-150

2017 Ford F-150By Benjamin Young,

With the amount of hoopla created by the launch of the much anticipated, aluminum-friendly 13th-generation Ford F-150 two years ago, you might think the vehicle wouldn’t make headlines again for a while. But nope –  Ford is showing it isn’t resting on its laurels one bit, and has given the acclaimed pickup a bunch of new toys for the 2017 model year.

Trucks Plus arrived in an unseasonably warm, but still snowy, Quebec in late February to get some seat time in the freshened best seller and check out all the changes.

Most of the improvements take place beneath the skin; for example, standard engine start-stop technology proven to lower fuel consumption and carbon monoxide emissions. The biggest news, however, would be two major powertrain upgrades. The workhorse 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 enters its second generation boasting redesigned, lighter twin turbochargers and other under-hood components that have had their weight reduced to enhance performance and efficiency.

2017 Ford F-150As a result, the engine emerges a completely different — and more powerful — animal achieving significantly greater output. Horsepower is bumped up 10 from previously to 375, and torque increases a huge 50 lb-ft to 470, a segment-best. The extra low-end grunt means towing heavy payloads and large trailers should be much easier than before, although we didn’t attempt to pull anything at the event.

“The 2017 Ford F-150 now delivers the best torque in the segment,” says company CTO Raj Nair in a product announcement. “This class-leading torque arrives with a transformative ten-speed automatic that improves nearly every aspect of F-150 performance.”

Speaking of which, the second piece of the puzzle is the SelectShift transmission containing a whopping ten gears, three of them for overdrive purposes, meaning the truck can get stuff done while maintaining excellent fuel economy. Like the motor, and much of the body as well, aluminum is extensively used to keep the kilograms down.

2017 Ford F-150I’ve evaluated competitors with a higher-than-typical amount of gears before, and an issue sometimes surfaces where the vehicle constantly shifts in an attempt to compensate for fluctuating road speed and/or engine load. Ford says it has programmed in a real-time adaptive shift-scheduling algorithm to help the computer combat this indecisiveness, and it seems to work as advertised. There was little gear hunting on the drive, even going up or down hills.

The tranny is tuned to yield better acceleration. Compared to a lot of pickups in the segment, the F-150 can move and move quickly, especially in a situation such as merging onto a busy highway. I believe the reduction in mass as talked about above really comes into play in this case. There’s even a Sport mode optimizing settings for a more spirited behind-the-wheel experience.

The number of available cab sizes and trim levels are too many to count on two hands, so I won’t go into too much detail about them. We spent the most time in the exceptionally well-equipped Lariat SuperCrew, sprayed in a gorgeous deep Ruby Red Metallic colour featuring a nifty black side door garnish, perfectly suited for carrying both a full load of six passengers and cargo.

2017 Ford F-150All the bells and whistles were present: Pro Trailer Backup Assist (trailer steering using a dash-mounted knob), Blind Spot Information System and AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control (automatic brake and throttle modulation to keep all tires on the ground). Four-wheel drive is part of the SuperCrew package, so traction shouldn’t be an issue regardless of the terrain. There was a scarily steep-looking inclne along our route that the truck tackled like a champ after switching to the 4×4-low mode.

Additional comfort and convenience options include a remote tailgate operable via the key fob, a hidden tailgate step, active parallel park assist, lane keep assist and radar cruise control largely eliminating the need for manual acceleration and deceleration when following other vehicles on the highway. Ford’s acclaimed SYNC 3 infotainment system is also found here, integrating Apple CarPlay and Android smartphone functionality, voice recognition and a touchscreen responding to pinch and zoom inputs.

As tested, the Lariat SuperCrew rang up at $74,169. Entry-level models start at $28,249. The 2017 F150s are available now.

Tags: 2017, F-150, Ford