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Rental Car (Truck) Review: 2015 Ford F-150 XLT SuperCab 4x2

Will this truck make the state of Texas proud?

By: Anthony Fongaro | April 2015

Texas. It’s known for many things including construction,extremely successful sports teams (compared to...non-existent ones), people pretending to be cowboys and actual cowboys. When you’re down here, you’ll also find strange vehicles that have their back portion covered only by air. These are pickup trucks. They are more popular than pecan pie and country music combined. This should be the perfect place to test Ford’s new F-150. So that’s exactly what I did: I flew from dreary Chicagoland to the Lone Star State to rent a 2015 Ford F-150 for a week.

This is actually a good test, as I'm not the kind of person who runs to the nearest dealership to buy a pickup. In fact, I'm quite the opposite. This is also a reason why was the one to test the F-150. 

When I arrived in Denton, Texas, the truck I rented was a basic, 2015 F-150 XLT, 4x2 with only one option: a 5.0L V8.  This is a very useful option to have when you’re navigating an unfamiliar city where people drive 25mph over the posted speed limit everywhere they go.  Here is a guy from the land of the deep-dish pizza, listens to foreign music, in Texas, driving a pickup truck at what I’ll call “Texas speed”.  For your reading pleasure, I’ll act like someone actually interested in trucks. Ready?

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It looks like... a truck.

 “Wow”, you’re probably saying, “it looks like a pickup truck.” I was very surprised seeing just how truck-like the F-150 XLT looks. The front end is much more aggressive than in past generations, so hybrid owners should know to get out of your way. If you think there isn’t enough chrome on the standard truck to show off just how American you are, there is an optional XLT Chrome Package that blings your truck to acceptable standards.  It’s also made out of aluminum for the first time instead of steel, making it weigh significantly less than a 3 bedroom home. This means it gets slightly better fuel economy and is a little quicker to get up to what people in Texas think are speed limits. Do you actually care? Didn’t think so. Moving on!

Interior 1

 

It drives like... a truck.

Even more surprising is that this pickup truck drives…like a pickup truck! Under the hood of the F-150 we tested wasn’t some EcoBoost V6, but a full meat-and-potatoes, 5.0L V8 producing 385 hp and 387 lb-ft. This F-150 uses a column mounted shifter with a 6-speed automatic transmission with some very interesting and stupid features. Let’s start with the interesting: It has a sport mode. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we have come to the point in history where literally everything including your dishwasher now has a sport mode. Does it work? Yes. The throttle does become more responsive and the transmission will hold gears longer to pass your fellow F-150 brethren going 55 mph (+20 mph).  Is it ironic that a truck has a sport mode activated by pressing the same button engaging the towing mode? Yes. If you’re planning to be one of the 60,000 people buying an F-150 this month, I would avoid using sport mode unless you absolutely don’t care about gas mileage at all. If so, then 15 mpg should be your target to beat.

But what if you not only want to have a truck that has a sport mode, but also press buttons to select your own gears? Well, you can do that too in this Ford! Only problem: the buttons are in the stupidest location. On the column gear selector, there are buttons labeled + and – to select gears. It’s at such an awkward location I gave up using this pertinent feature after only a few minutes. 

If you’ve never driven a truck before, you should try at least once to see how they differ from a vehicle you drive. I wish I had the 4x4 instead of the 4x2 because the 4x2 had some interesting characteristics of its own. Either way: the suspension is not exactly forgiving over anything other than smooth roads, the turning circle is larger than both Dallas and Fort Worth combined, and the steering wheel feels like it’s connected to a substance called air, so you never know where the front wheels are. I can hear the truck guys in my ear already: “But that’s how pickups are! You want something that can turn or has comfortable suspension, go buy a car.”

                          

Wheel 1           

 

But is the interior as barren as the Grand Canyon?

Actually, no. There are a ton of buttons on the steering wheel that do stuff, buttons by the tiny center screen that do things and climate control. There is a USB port to plug in your mobile device and the car comes standard with Sync and Bluetooth. That said, the Sync system and buttons for Bluetooth and Media are a bit finicky (and by finicky, I mean the phone would connect, then disconnect, then connect, then stop playing my music – though probably because it wasn’t country).  I actually approve of having a simple layout with big buttons in a pickup truck, but Ford could have done better with the design. Having a SuperCab with automatic windows, Sync, and Bluetooth are nice features that puts the second to lowest-tier XLT into acceptable territory.

Interior 2

Were the rear seats comfortable?

Sure. If you’re 4’10” then they are comfortable. Otherwise no…they’re not. If rear space is an issue, you’ll have to pony up another $2,000 for the SuperCrew with four actual doors.If you aren't going to haul people around as much as actually haul stuff around, you don't need the SuperCrew and can save that $2,000.

So why should anyone buy this?

According to a man in Texas (who works for a Ford dealership in Denton, but we don't exactly endorse dealerships, although if you Google the words Ford and Denton, you may figure out which dealership it is), this truck appeals to young college students who want a pickup, but don’t want high payments. It also appeals to workers that don’t need luxuries like leather, navigation, heated seats, etc.; they just want an inexpensive, basic truck to do truck things with. I sort of agree. You can have 5-6 people in truck comfort (which is like car comfort, only worse), while having the technology and designs of vehicles from 2004.

You don’t like it.

I never said I don't like it, but yes, I don't like it. If you’re using this as a work truck, it will work well. I’d probably spend the massive $3,300 on 4x4 which would be worth it. The truck I had was $35,000, and for a vehicle on the road that the only option is an engine, it just doesn't make sense. 

Before I leave the South, it's time for the verdict! 

 

Exterior: 6/10

Is it a good looking truck? Not really. Should trucks look good? They should look tough and the front end is fine.

Interior: 5/10

Not a lot for $35,000. You do get Sync and Bluetooth which is nice.

Performance: 7/10

It’s a big ol’ American V8 in a lightweight aluminum body with sport mode!

Fuel economy: 5/10

It’s a big ol’ American V8 in a truck, what do you expect? Avoid sport mode if fuel economy isn't more than a fleeting thought.

Value for money: 5/10

It is a lot of aluminium for $35,000, but not a lot of technology.

Total: 5.6/10

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So with my utterly unbiased opinion, I would say you should buy this truck if you want to brag to your other truck friends, doing truck things, you have a brand new Ford. Otherwise, you'll have to pony up a lot of money to get a real 4x4 with usable rear seats and technology that a Chevy Sonic or Ford's own Fiesta have for $10,000 less. People do give you the “truck nod” driving a brand new F-150 (the ones that don't utterly hate it because [insert Dodge/Chevy] are better than an F-150 because...). This is the type of vehicle that should last a long time.

If you've never been to the great state of Texas, my friend, come on down here. You will be utterly amazed by this great state. The F-150 XLT 4x2? Not so much. Live from the DFW area in Texas: Anthony Fongaro.

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