Shopping for a new pickup

John McCormick
Special to The Detroit News

The time had come to buy a new pickup and the big question was, which of the excellent contenders on the market today would meet our needs.

Our 2011 Chevrolet Silverado had served well but it was showing its age and lacked many of the convenience, safety and infotainment features of the latest-generation models.

With a 30-acre horse farm we needed a full-size truck with towing capacity, but we also wanted a comfortable, well-equipped vehicle with a large cab and all the infotainment bells and whistles.

Research led quickly to one leading candidate, the Ford F-150. What’s so special about it? Consider that the F-Series has been North America’s best-selling vehicle for decades, with 32 million sold since its launch in 1948; on average two are sold every minute.

In 2017, Ford sold nearly 900,000 F-Series, comfortably outpacing the combined 800,000 total of General Motors’ Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra models. GM’s trucks are being replaced with an all-new generation later this year (and a new Ram truck from Fiat Chrysler is coming), but we needed a truck now. Our experience with owning a 2011 Chevy Silverado had been largely positive. But while the truck had served well for towing and hauling duties, it was showing its age and it made sense to give the Ford a chance to prove its mettle.

For the 2018 model year, Ford introduced a number of important upgrades. The design is refreshed with a new grille, bumpers, lighting, tailgate and wheels.

Under the hood, a new base 3.3-liter V-6 replaces the previous 3.5-liter, and is joined by a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 and 5.0-liter V-8, both updated with more power and torque.

The beefiest F-150 gasoline engine remains the 3.5-liter EcoBoost twin-turbo V-6, with 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. A new 3.0-liter diesel engine, boasting 440 pound-feet of torque and 30-miles-per-gallon potential, joins the F-150 lineup this spring. All these powerplants except the 3.3-liter are paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission (the base engine has a six-speed automatic).

The 2018 upgrade story on the F-150 interiors focused on new colors, materials and options. Ford’s original Sync infotainment system has gone from a laughingstock to front-runner in the form of today’s Sync 3, now buttressed by optional 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity and a deluxe Bang & Olufsen audio system.

A slew of driver aids and active safety features, from adaptive cruise-control to forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection, bring an unexpected level of sophistication to a full-size truck.

All of the above made the F-150 a compelling choice. We were fortunate to make the purchase through Detroit area dealer Gorno Ford, whose staff were very helpful and efficient in guiding us through what can be a complex ordering process.

Whether you’re buying a new full-size truck from GM, Ford, Ram, Nissan or Toyota, the number of body, cab and engine choices, options and variations is staggering. And it’s little surprise that Ford, as market leader, offers probably the widest spread of models.

Our choice of the F-150 Limited model with SuperCrew cab and the 3.5-liter EcoBoost powertrain pushed the price into the $60,000 range, but several thousand dollars of incentives helped trim the final tab.

One benefit of the SuperCrew cab is the rear compartment can carry lots of bulky cargo, instead of passengers, with the seats folded up.

As for the truck bed, we wanted to improve its functionality and security by adding a folding, lockable cover. Of several aftermarket options, we decided the best was the G4 Elite model from Michigan company Steffen Enterprises (

My Ford experience is living up to expectations.

John McCormick is a columnist for Autos Consumer and can be reached at