2016 Ford F-150 review

Chiseled but deceptively modern, Ford's F-150 hides more tech than you think

The 2016 Ford F-150 is a civilized and refined full-size truck.
The 2016 Ford F-150 is a civilized and refined full-size truck.
The 2016 Ford F-150 is a civilized and refined full-size truck.

Highs

  • Handsome exterior
  • EcoBoost torque
  • Ergonomic interior
  • Helpful camera system
  • Comfortable ride

Lows

  • Price with options
  • EcoBoost fuel economy
  • Cheap-looking interior materials

The majority of new-car buyers aren’t sliding behind the wheel of a midsize sedan, they’re hoisting themselves into the cab of a pickup truck—specifically, a Ford truck.

The Ford F-Series has been the bestselling vehicle in the United States for decades, with the Ford F-150 the most popular model of the bunch. It’s no wonder we named it the best truck you can buy. All of those buyers can’t be wrong — or can they? I spent a week with a 2016 F-150 to find out.

Update: read all about the 2018 Ford F-150 lineup here, which promises extensive design tweaks and a raft of new productivity, driver assistance, and infotainment tech goodies.

Chiseled Exterior

The F-150 was extensively redesigned for the 2015 model year, gaining an aluminum body that Ford says saved over 700 pounds compared to the previous generation. That’s good, because even with the lighter body, the test F-150—with the largest-available four-door “SuperCrew” crew cab—still weighed around 5,000 pounds.

Ford also tried to mold that aluminum bodywork into an interesting shape. The current F-150 is much more aggressively styled than before, with lots of creases and chunky shapes to give it a more macho look. The high-end Limited model I drove was further dressed up with extra chrome trim and massive 22-inch wheels. In black, it looked like a blinged-out railroad locomotive.

While it is a bit ostentatious when decked out in all of that bright trim, the basic F-150 shape is fairly handsome.  The front end in particular, with its domed hood and headlights shaped like Tetris pieces, gives the F-150 a distinctive look that’s much more interesting than the stereotypical boxy truck shape.

EcoBoost Not Very “Eco”

One of the pros of buying a pickup truck is that you get plenty of options. The 2016 F-150 is available with no less than four engines, including a 3.5-liter V6, 5.0-liter V8, and two of Ford’s turbocharged EcoBoost engines: a 2.7-liter V6, and a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6. All engines come with six-speed automatic transmissions, and rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.

I had the 3.5-liter EcoBoost, with four-wheel drive. The twin-turbo V6 produces a stout 365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, and is shared with the Taurus SHO and handful of other Ford and Lincoln models. The downsized EcoBoost engines are supposed to offer similar power to larger engines, but with better fuel economy. However, the 3.5-liter V6 doesn’t seem to have a clear advantage over the larger 5.0-liter V8.

The 3.5-liter EcoBoost is a great V8 substitute. You don’t get the classic V8 rumble, but you get everything else.

The 3.5-liter EcoBoost is a great V8 substitute. You don’t get the classic V8 rumble, but you get everything else. There is no discernible turbo lag to interrupt the delivery of the engine’s torque, and it pulls strongly at all speeds. The EcoBoost actually has more torque than the V8, which can only muster 387 lb-ft (along with 385 hp). I definitely felt the difference from the driver’s seat.

However, the EcoBoost just isn’t very “eco.” In the configuration I sampled, the EPA rates it at 18 mpg combined (16 mpg city, 22 mpg highway), giving it only a slight edge over the V8’s 17 mpg combined (15 mpg city, 21 mpg highway). Over 310 miles of driving, I averaged 17.3 mpg, according to the truck’s trip computer. With careful driving, I might have been able to get that number up a bit, but driving normally, the EcoBoost’s advantage was essentially erased.

It’s also worth noting that Ford will introduce major upgrades to this powertrain for the 2017 model year. The V6 is getting a complete overhaul that includes a boost in torque to 470 lb-ft, and it will be paired with a new 10-speed automatic transmission. It will be interesting to see how that compares to the current version.

[comparable-products]

Luxury Truck

The current-generation F-150 shatters the stereotype of pickup trucks as Spartan work vehicles. You can still get a very basic model, but the Limited version has enough tech and convenience features to put a luxury car to shame.

Ford is diligently adapting electronic driver aids that are already commonplace in cars to trucks. My test F-150 had adaptive cruise control, which worked quite smoothly, and lane-keep assist that worked well most of the time, but got a bit flummoxed by tight highway on-ramps. Probably the best tech feature, though, was the 360-degree camera system, which combines front and rear views with a composite overhead view, making maneuvering in tight spaces easy.

2016 Ford F-150
Stephen Edelstein
Stephen Edelstein

The F-150 infotainment system is the same Sync 3 system offered in other 2016 Ford models. It’s not the most elaborate system out there, but it is a huge improvement over the old MyFord Touch systems, and is pretty straightforward to use. In the Limited, you can play with it from the comfort of massaging, heated and cooled seats, and gaze out a full-length glass roof when you’re not busy with the screen. There are certainly no shortage of distractions in this truck.

While the massaging seats were nice, the interior itself didn’t seem upscale enough for what is a nearly-$70,000 truck. The wood trim looked fake, and the cabin was plastered with tacky “Limited” badges. That being said, the basic F-150 interior is pretty nice, with a chunky design aesthetic that matches the exterior, and a nicely composed center console that puts controls within easy reach. But you’ll never mistake this Ford for a BMW.

On the road

The F-150 never lets you forget that it’s a truck, but it is still pretty well mannered. The suspension soaks up bumps and potholes nicely, although there is still apparent shudder on less-than-perfect road surfaces. The cabin is remarkably quiet, and the steering is relatively low effort.

Pricing and options

The 2016 F-150 starts at $27,735 (including destination), but add options like four-wheel drive, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine, and a crew cab, and the price starts to climb quickly. My F-150 Limited test vehicle carried a positively stratospheric base price of $62,290, but options like a trailering package, tailgate step, park-assist system, and spray-in bed liner swelled that price to $67,270.

That price does buy a list of features as long as, well, the truck itself, but they’re probably not all necessary. It might be best to skip the leather interior and 22-inch wheels, and go for an F-150 in a lower trim level.

Conclusion

The 2016 Ford F-150 is a solid truck. It’s impressively civilized and refined and, with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, should offer plenty of grunt for most jobs. The interior is well designed, and Ford includes plenty of tech features. Just make sure things don’t get out of hand when selecting options.

Cars

2019 Ford F-150 RTR gets a light dose of off-road, style upgrades

Vaughn Gittin Jr.'s RTR Vehicles is turning its attention to the 2019 Ford F-150 pickup truck. RTR gave Ford's bestseller new suspension components and tires, as well as more extroverted exterior styling.
Buying Guides

The best hatchbacks for 2019 are small in size and big on tech

The hatchback segment isn't huge, but there are still plenty of good options to choose from. Here, we've rounded up the best hatchbacks available in America, whether you're a fan of efficiency or looks.
Cars

From rugged wagons to hot sports cars, the 2019 NY Auto Show brought it all

From city cars to supercars, anything goes at the New York Auto Show. Automakers from all over the globe traveled to the 2019 show to unveil their newest concept cars and production models.
Cars

Drywall or kayaks? The 2020 Toyota Highlander is ready for your weekend plans

Toyota introduced the 2020 Highlander ahead of its public debut at the 2019 New York Auto Show. The fourth-generation Highlander is bigger than its predecessor, and it comes with more tech features, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Tesla taxis, NYC auto show, and Sony’s 8K TV

On the latest episode of DT Live, we discuss Tesla's autonomous taxi plans, a Face ID lawsuit against Apple,, choosing imperfect produce, the release of Mortal Kombat 11, sustainable fashion, and more.
Cars

Keep your driving record squeaky clean with these top-flight radar detectors

Nobody likes getting a speeding ticket, but these gadgets can help. Check out our picks for the best radar detectors on the market, from the likes of Valentine One, Escort, and Beltronics.
Cars

Tesla Model S and Model X charge faster and go farther with the same battery

An all-new drivetrain for the Tesla Model S and X enables the EVs to travel farther per charge than the previous design. Tesla Model S Long Range sedans have a 370-mile range and Model X Long Range SUVs can travel 325 miles per EPA cycle.
Apple

WWDC 2019 Complete Coverage

Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference is a key tech event each year, and for Apple fans, it will be one of the two best times of 2019 (along with "new iPhone day," of course). For the last few years, Apple has debuted much of its…
Cars

GPS units aren't dead! Our favorite models still do things your phone can't

Love hitting the open road but hate having to rely solely on your phone for getting around? Thankfully, the best in-car GPS systems will allow you to navigate and capitalize on a range of features sans your cellular network. Here are our…
Cars

Electric truck maker Rivian scores $500 million investment from Ford

Alongside Amazon, Rivian can now count Ford as one of its backers. The Blue Oval will invest $500 million in Rivian, and will use the company's "skateboard" chassis as the basis for a future electric vehicle.
Cars

The best diagnostic adapters monitor your car so you don't have to

Sometimes called dongles, the best car adapters will tell you what's wrong under the hood while help you keep tabs on your family and routine maintenance.
Cars

Volkswagen prepares its electric ID R race car for its toughest challenge yet

The Volkswagen ID R electric race car will head to the Nürburgring to set a lap record. With Romain Dumas at the wheel, the ID R will try to become the fastest electric car around the grueling, 12.9-mile long track.
Emerging Tech

Japanese taxis will use facial recognition to target you with ads as you ride

A Japanese startup is trying to reinvent in-taxi advertising by using facial recognition technology to identify the key characteristics of riders and then presenting them with appropriate ads.
Cars

Nvidia agrees with Tesla’s take on self-driving cars, but corrects specifics

Nvidia vice president Rob Csongor agreed with broad statements by Elon Musk at Tesla's April 22 Autonomy Investor Day. Csongor then took exception to what he termed were inaccuracies about Nvidia's self-driving car chip.