2016 Ford F-150 4X4 King Ranch
Ford’s ritzy King Ranch helps channel your inner Texan
The King Ranch has always been a bit over the top, hasn’t it?
The King Ranch trim available on Ford’s F series pickup trucks have never been known for subtlety. Past versions have looked positively garish, with lurid two-tone color schemes and busy looking interiors. The version we drove that you see here is still loud and proud, but toned down considerably in the name good taste. Our tester came with a truckload (Ha!) of bells and whistles, but the King Ranch isn’t even the range topper of the F-150 model range; there’s a Platinum model above it, and a Limited trim level higher than that one. So the days of a $100K F-150 (depending on configuration and how much you pig out at the options buffet) are probably not too far off.
So, the perfect vehicle for a Texan, or even Boss Hogg.
Texans love their trucks, and the more dripping with luxury they are, the better. As for Mr. Hogg, back in the day our favourite short, rotund, cigar chomping villain drove around Hazzard County in a massive 1970 Cadillac Coupe de Ville convertible- not the most fitting vehicle to get around an area that is serviced exclusively by ramshackle unpaved arteries. If the Dukes of Hazzard television series ever gets remade in the modern era, perhaps he’d be better served by plying the dirt roads around town in an F-150 King Ranch. It would be the perfect choice for him, serving up the kinds of interior room he’d expect and that would be opulent enough for the diminutive dictator along with the stout backroads capability these trucks are known for. With a choice of a Mustang-sourced 5.0 litre V8 or a powerful 3.5 litre twin turbo V6, he’d have enough grunt under the hood to try and reign those pesky Duke boys in a perpetually oversteering General Lee. Although not in the Ford options catalogue, he’d no doubt be able to find a giant set of bull horns to adorn the front hood from the aftermarket.
OK, but how would it fare in the real world?
We used the F-150 during our Road Test as we would any vehicle we evaluate- commuting, errand running, a trip up to the cottage. During these tasks, it preformed admirably, although we couldn’t help but feel a little guilty using a truck with so much capability in terms of towing and hauling to perform stuff that didn’t stress it in the least bit. Using such a large, heavy and robust vehicle to perform day-to-day running around made us feel a bit guilty- it just seemed wasteful. This raised a question: do the people who buy these opulent pickups actually use them for work, or just grocery getting? We’ve spent time at a residential subdivision under construction as a location to snap a few photos in the past, and they don’t look like particularly friendly places to take a pickup whose price tag approaches eighty thousand dollars with power running boards and slathered in lovely Bronze Fire paint. It’s not that they couldn’t stand up to the challenge-heck, that’s why Ford builds these things- but if it were us, we’d be too afraid to subject it to the punishing environments you see them toiling around in advertisements.
Has Ford’s big aluminum gamble payed off?
Years before Ford unleashed this 13th generation F-150 they decided that in order to meet ever tightening government mandated fuel economy standards while still providing the toughness and reliability F-150s are renowned for, drastic measures in weight savings would need to be taken. They turned their attention to aluminum, known for its strength but also its lightness compared to steel. Pouring a massive investment into development and factory retooling, the end result is a truck that saves a whopping 340 kilos over the 12th generation. That number varies when you consider things like box lengths, engine choice and drivetrain setup, but the fact remains that it’s a huge step forward for the truck market segment. During our Road Test we used it to schlepp around an unassembled gardening shed as well as help with a move (so not high on the scale of F-150 difficulty, but still) and we saw fuel economy to the tune of 14.6L/100km which isn’t too bad for something that’s rated to tow 5,443 kg and tips the scales at 2,108 kilograms.
How has that translated into sales?
Last year, Ford moved 118,837 F-150 units off of dealership lots which makes it the most popular vehicle (car or truck) sold in Canada- an honor it’s held on and off for many years. This year it is on pace to eclipse that number, although by how much we’ll have to wait and see. Let’s put it this way: if Ford decided to abandon all the other products it makes and only sold the F-150, it would still be a Fortune 500 company.
What’s next for the F-150?
With the current 13th generation F-150 being introduced fairly recently, don’t expect too many changes for the truck moving forward- a tweak to a trim level here, maybe the addition of a few new colours there. Ford is wise enough not to mess with a successful recipe. The biggest news that we should be hearing about the F-150 may even come as soon as the Detroit Auto Show early next year, where it will be announced that it will be replacing its aging 6-speed transmissions in favour of a new 10-speed unit co-developed with General Motors. This should shave a 10th or two off the 0-100km/h sprint, but the real reason for the new gearbox is fuel economy. How much better that will make the F-150 in NRCan testing remains to be seen. Ford engineers responsible for the F-150’s roadmap well into the future remain tight lipped for the most part, but they do admit that some sort of electric augmentation (read: hybrid systems) will be part of the truck’s repertoire at some point. If you’re in the market for a truck within the next few years, you’ll want to stay tuned.
2016 Ford F-150 4X4 King Ranch- Specifications
- Price as tested: $77,549
- Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger pickup truck
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/four-wheel drive
- Transmission: 6-speed automatic
- Engine: 5.0 V8, DOHC, 32 valves
- Horsepower: 385 @ 5,750 rpm
- Torque (lbs-ft.): 387 @ 3,850 rpm
- Curb weight: 2,368 kg (5,220 lbs)
- Observed Fuel Consumption: 14.6/100km (16 mpg)