One of the most tired discussion topics in the automotive world is the “one vehicle that can do it all”. For some, a vehicle like a Lotus Elise can suffice as a daily driver, while others insist on a 9-passenger Cadillac Escalade ESV. Somewhere in the middle are reasonable folk who pledge alegiance to the Subaru Outback.
Pickup trucks are regarded by a significant portion of the country (read: blue-state pantywaists with NPR locked on the radio) as a wasteful endeavor favored by chronic spouse abusers and manual laborers. But that won’t stop me from nominating the Ford F-150 Platinum as the “One Vehicle To Rule Them All”.
With the F-150 being the best-selling vehicle in North America since the dawn of time, there must be something to this statement, and Ford’s huge range of configurations means that there really is an F-150 for everyone. Recently we were given an F-150 Platinum to test, a trim level meant for the owner of the contracting company rather than one of the grunts. None of our usual truck experts were available and so the task of reviewing this machine fell to me, a pickup truck virgin, who found himself pleasantly surprised at just how cushy – and expensive – these trucks can get.
FULLY-LOADED AND PRICED TO MATCH
The F-150 Platinum isn’t the top dog of the F-150 lineup (that would be the impossibly vulgar F-150 Harley Davidson edition) but it does occupy the upper echelons. Our test truck was loaded to the mammary glands (as pickup owners are fond of saying, albeit not so clinically) with a SuperCab configuration, a 6.5’ pickup bed, 4 wheel drive, and a 3.73 limited-slip rear axle. We also had other limp-wrist options like an in-dash navigation system, a stowable bed extender, moon roof, tailgate step, skid plates (for trips up the gravel driveway at the lake house) and metallic red paint, for a whopping price tag of $54,380. To put that in perspective, that’s $6,180 more than a Porsche Cayenne.
EASY TO FALL IN LOVE WITH ECOBOOST ENGINE
Ironically, our Platinum edition came with the smallest displacement engine available, a 3.5L Ecoboost V6. With 365 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque, the Platinum never lacks for power, and displays minimal lag during acceleration, all the while making cool turbo noises more reminiscent of a diesel-powered pickup truck. We saw about 17 mpg in mainly city traffic, one mpg better than Ford’s 16 mpg rating. Various outlets have reported 0-60 mph times in as low as 6.5 seconds, which feels positively rapid for an enormous pickup truck. With 90 percent of the Ecoboost’s torque available at 1900 rpm, grunt is never lacking, and we never once pined for a big V8, soundtrack be damned.
Living in the urban core of a large city, the F-150 looked comical when parked in my on-street spot, and more than one neighbor had a good laugh as I waited for the power retractable running boards to come down as I entered the big red rig. But haters were soon silenced, as less than 24 hours after I got the truck, calls came in from friends wanting help moving, requesting trips to the garden center and all points in between.
It would be nice to be able to brag about using the 3,060 lb payload capacity or the 11,000 lb tow rating, but the most that the F-150 hauled was a bunch of boxes, a full-size Weber barbecue and some large plants. Truthfully, it felt a lot like bringing a rocket launcher to a paintball match, but the integrated tailgate step and handle won big praise from a middle-aged couple who are no longer as limber as they once were, and provided easy access to the pickup bed and its contents.
IT’S NOT LUXURIOUS FOR A PICKUP, IT’S LUXURIOUS
Aside from the up high driving position, the F-150 Platinum has an interior that would shame the entire Lincoln lineup (something that Ford should be fixing, ASAP). Outfitted in an earthy brown leather interior, the EcoBoost bowled us over with the quality of the leather and dashboard materials. Some of the brushed aluminum trim was a little off, but on the whole, we were stunned at the level of craftsmanship in the F-150’s interior. Then again, we’re used to work trucks with grey cloth, no A/C and a single bench seats. Other “premium” automakers should examine the Platinum’s interior for a lesson on how to do an upmarket interior without pretense or unnecessary complication. Its aesthetic sensibilities may not be as avant-garde as some import brands, but it’s miles ahead of most of the other domestic manufacturers, save for something like the new Chrysler 300’s cabin.
Of course, Ford’s still glitch-ridden SYNC system makes an appearance, in conjunction with the typical Sony head unit. Sound quality is excellent as always, but we ended up being frustrated with the SYNC’s finicky touch screen unit despite being very familiar with its workings. Most impressive is the sheer amount of leg room available in the rear seat – enough to shame a long-wheelbase Lincoln Town Car. Even a pair of 6’4” friends had enough room to extend their legs 180 degrees while sitting in the back seat.
With the ability to sprint to 60 mph, tow a horse trailer and carry five oversized adults in comfort, the F-150 Ecoboost doesn’t fail to live up to its jack-of-all-trades billing. Ferrari once remarked that the Jeep was America’s version of a sports car, but given the technological stagnation of that off-roader, and just how far the pickup truck has come with the F-150 Platinum, it can now assume the title. If the Ferrari is a thing of beauty, with function following form, then the F-150 is the opposite, an eminently practical, utilitarian beast that lacks nothing in the way of creature comforts or performance.
The only question in our mind is that of durability – a V8 pickup is a sure bet to rack up hundreds of thousands of reliable miles, but turbos are more complex than a simple small-block. An owner that’s negligent with repairs may find himself saddled with hefty repair bills, though this won’t be the fault of Ford’s engineering. Then again, if you can afford the steep entry price for the Platinum, a few quarts of oil and regular servicing doesn’t mean much to your pocket book.