What is it: 

This is the top-of-the-range Ford F-150 in Australia. We drove from Sydney to Melbourne – and beyond – on a single tank to test real-world fuel economy – and compare the twin-turbo V6 performance to V8-powered US pick-ups.

As with the factory-backed Ram and Chevrolet pick-ups (and upcoming Toyota Tundra) sold locally, the Ford F-150 is imported from the US in left-hand-drive and remanufactured to right-hand-drive in Melbourne.

Whereas the Walkinshaw Automotive Group (the former parent company of Holden Special Vehicles) does the engineering and remanufacturing for Ram, Chevrolet and Toyota, the Ford F-150 is converted here by Thai-based firm RMA in a new faciity not far from the former Ford Falcon producton line in Broadmeadows.

The US pick-ups from the above four brands are imported with factory backing and sold through affiliated dealers.

There is still a small market for privately imported US pick-ups converted locally, but frankly they are chop shops compared to the engineering investment and more than 500 new parts in the factory-backed rigs, which also come with a full factory warranty and dealer support.

Price:

There are two model grades of the Ford F-150 in Australia – XLT and Lariat.

Both are available in short-wheelbase with a standard ute bed length, or long wheel-base with an extended ute bed length.

The RRPs are as follows:

  • Ford F-150 XLT SWB $106,950 plus on-road costs
  • Ford F-150 XLT LWB $107,945 plus on-road costs
  • Ford F-150 Lariat SWB $139,950 plus on-road costs
  • Ford F-150 Lariat LWB $140,945 plus on-road costs

Drive-away prices vary according to stamp duty and registration in each state.

Engine:

Both the Ford F-150 XLT and Ford F-150 Lariat sold in Australia are powered by the same twin-turbo 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine (298kW/678Nm).

Transmission:

All models are paired to a 10-speed automatic and all-wheel-drive.

0 to 100km/h (as tested):

When we tested the Ford F-150 XLT short-wheelbase earlier this year it did the 0 to 100km/h dash in 6.1 seconds (the same as the new Ford Ranger Raptor).

The Ford F-150 Lariat long-wheelbase tested stopped the clocks in 6.2 seconds using our VBox precision timing equipment. 

The 0.1 second difference could be attributed to the extra weight of the long-wheelbase Lariat.

According to the Ford spec sheet, the F-150 XLT short-wheelbase weighs 2451kg and the Ford F-150 Lariat long-wheelbase weighs 2555kg (104kg difference between the two). 

As a guide, the performance of both variants makes the V6-powered Ford F-150 faster than the V8 pick-ups currently offered by Chevrolet and Ram in Australia.

Emergency braking from 100km/h (as tested): 

When we tested the Ford F-150 XLT we praised the comfortable suspension and refined driving experience, however we discovered the 275/60/20 Hankook DynaPro HT tyres lacked grip.

The XLT pulled up from 100km/h in an emergency stop in 47 metres.

Given the Lariat is 104kg heavier than the XLT, one might expect the braking distance to be longer.

However, the F-150 Lariat is equipped with quality Pirelli Scorpion ATR (275/60/20) tyres. 

And the vehicle pulled up from 100km/h in 43.9 metres – which incredibly is in the same range as much smaller pick-ups such as the Toyota HiLux, Isuzu D-Max etc which stop in 42 to 44 metres on average.

Good points:

Bi-LED headlights (way better than the weak halogen lamps on the XLT), radar cruise control and speed-sign recognition (not available on the XLT in Australia) are standard on the Lariat.

Other luxuries include heated and cooled leather seats, a panorama sunroof, chrome wheels, as well as Ford’s clever fold out centre console lid that transforms that area into a work space for a lap top – or to spread-out takeaway food.

And the tailgate on the Lariat can be opened or closed via the remote. You’ll spend hours showing-off this feature to the neighbours.

Exceptional acceleration – and nimble, SUV-like handling – make the Ford F-150 feel like a luxury vehicle.

The F-150 XLT actually felt more comfortable over bumps than the Lariat, but we’re not sure if that should be attributed to a difference in the tyres or the suspension, or both. The short-wheelbase F-150 XLT felt more comfortable than the long-wheelbase Lariat.

Perhaps the short-wheelbase Lariat would be the sweet spot.

To test fuel economy we drove from Sydney to Melbourne – and beyond – on a single tank of petrol, averaging 10.7L/100km on the entire journey.

This is about the same economy we have previously achieved from a turbo diesel V6 Ford Ranger.

With fuel to spare once we got to Melbourne, we didn’t fill up for another 200km – on the way back to Albury.

In the end we travelled 1042km with fuel to spare (the bowser pumped 121 litres into the 136-litre tank, so we could have travelled a further 100km if we were feeling brave).

In inter-urban driving, the fuel consumption climbed to 11.5L/100km which is still respectable for such a large vehicle.

Of course, when towing, hauling a heavy load, or flooring the throttle at every set of lights, fuel consumption would increase.

Bad points:

It’s a shame some of the appealing features (bi-LED lights, radar cruise control and speed-sign recognition) are not available on the XLT and are only available on the Lariat, which is a $33,000 price jump.

V8 fans will be disappointed with the sound of the V6, but sadly V8 days are numbered as they get effectively legislated out of existence with stricter emissions laws around the world.

What the haters say: 

These cars are too big for Australia.

What the haters don’t understand: 

As we said with the Ram 1500 Big Horn and in the previous Ford F-150 XLT road test, these vehicles are not much bigger than a Toyota LandCruiser, Nissan Patrol or Kia EV9 electric SUV – and yet people aren’t trying to ban those vehicles.

Australian sales data shows US pick-ups are primarily bought by people who live and/or work on the fringes of our metropolitan centres (not inner cities and inner suburbs) and use the vehicles to tow big boats, caravans, horse floats and heavy work machinery.

The Ford F-150 in particular has the advantage of Ford’s massive 160-plus dealership and servicing network (Ram and Chevrolet each have about 55 dealers nationally).

Should you buy one? 

US pick-ups might seem intimidating at first, but you easily get used to the size of these vehicles after driving a few blocks. 

Everything else feels cramped afterwards. It’s worth remembering these are family cars in North America so they are engineered to be very easy to drive.

Also consider: 

Ram 1500 or Chevrolet Silverado 1500 V8 and (eventually) the Toyota Tundra V6 Hybrid when it goes on sale in Australia in 2025.