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I came across this great article that reviews the latest F-150 King Ranch. It also explains why the F-150 is such a great truck and why truck owners love them so much.


I’ve logged plenty of miles in the 13th-generation Ford F-150. After initially hitting the road in 2014 for the 2015 model year, this generation carries on through 2020. At this writing, a new F-150 is coming for 2021; although official details are scarce for the moment, here’s what we know so far.

When F-150’s current iteration hit the road in 2014, headlines included more EcoBoost engines, a weight-saving aluminum body, and a variety of new connectivity features, plus advanced convenience and safety tech — this was the first pickup with adaptive cruise control. Later came advanced parking and maneuvering tech, including a slick trailer parking system that allowed even total rookies (myself included) to maneuver a trailer like a pro. Blind-spot monitoring that worked with your trailer? Check. An advanced camera monitoring system for close-quarter confidence? Check. Massaging seats, a premium audio system, and any engine, package, or trim for any whim? You got it.

After all, shoppers love selection — and Ford sold a lot of F-150s by providing plenty of it.

Even as this chapter in the F-150’s history comes to a close, it’s still offered in more than a half-dozen standard model configurations from which shoppers can customize, upgrade, and fine-tune to their specific needs and tastes. There’s something for everyone: from a simple work-truck, to an EcoBoost-powered luxury towing rig, to the racy and highly specialized F-150 Raptor.

In 2018, Ford rolled out some major updates to the F-150. This included an overhauled engine range. For instance, the 2.7-litre EcoBoost V6 was squeezed for a 25 lb.-ft. torque increase, and massaged to nip away at fuel use. The popular 5.0L V8 was revised to deliver a modest increase in power and torque, while some weight-saving tricks were applied to help reduce fuel consumption.

A new, base 3.3-litre V6 engine was introduced, which was was more powerful and efficient than the 3.5L unit it replaced. A 10-speed automatic rolled out widely across the model range, promising added responsiveness and efficiency. A 3.0-litre PowerStroke turbodiesel V6 became available as well, but the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 wasn’t updated for 2018, having undergone an overhaul for the previous model year.

Elsewhere, the F-150 had been restyled, re-trimmed, and re-coloured inside and out. Looks were fresher and more energized. New features were added, and others became available more widely across the model range. For 2018, advanced safety tech became more common on more of F-150’s available models. Towing capacity was increased by way of targeted upgrades to the truck’s structure and driveline, enabling up to 13,200 pounds of towing capacity when properly equipped.

The updates for 2018 were driven by customer input. Ford says the F-150 owner tends to be the go-to ‘problem solver’ in their circles, so improvements were all targeted at making Ford’s best-selling pickup an even more useful tool. According to Ford, this shopper also tends to be highly receptive to new technologies and features, but only if they serve a true purpose or help solve a real-life problem.

Turns out, plenty of F-150’s problem-solving shoppers also have very specific tastes. That’s why there’s an array of high-end models on offer, including the western-themed King Ranch.

“We’re appealing to a variety of tastes” says Joe Comacchio, Ford Canada’s vehicle line manager for trucks.

The F-150 starts in XL and XLT trim grades, which are common with budget-minded shoppers. Above the XLT trim, F-150 offers four luxury trims: Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum, and Limited. Beyond these, there’s also the high-performance Raptor, a specialized F-150 variant built around the concept of a road-going desert racing truck.

Personalization is important, especially at higher price points. Just as it is with a high-end Lexus or BMW, shoppers dropping big bucks on a high-ticket pickup want to be certain they can configure the truck to precisely match their needs.

“They want their truck to reflect their personality and their tastes,” Comacchio adds. “That’s why you’ll notice some relatively small price gaps, and some pricing overlap, between some of our luxury trims.”

The King Ranch is one of the F-150’s most time-tested trims, having first been introduced for 2001 as the top-line F-150 Crew Cab offering of its day. Set off with unique colors and trimmings, the King Ranch intended to capture the bold and rugged attitude of Texas, and the King Ranch interior was the star of the show.

The name was inspired by King Ranch, a 1,300-plus square mile ranch in Texas — the largest of its kind. With a history dating back to the 1800s, King Ranch today famous today for things like saddle making, luxury leather goods, and its on-site mansion. King Ranch has its roots in the early days of American ranching, and their relationship with Ford began in the late 1990s.

“They’re the biggest ranch in Texas, and they have a massive fleet of Ford trucks” Comacchio explains. “In fact, they’ve even got the original F-150 King Ranch on site for guest tours. We’ve mutually admired each other’s brands, and valued our relationship with one another for years.”

Today, Ford’s designers visit King Ranch for inspiration. In the leather shop and saddle-making operations, Ford designers watch experts create all manner of high-end leather products, observing the latest in materials, colour selection, patterning, and assembly of high-end leather for use in the F-150’s King Ranch interior.

“It’s not just the leather, either” Comacchio says. “Our designers spend plenty of time in the saddle shop and leather goods operations, but the mansion at King Ranch is another source of inspiration for its warm ambiance”.

It’s a long-standing relationship that’s long captured some of the best in rugged American leatherwork, right from its birthplace.

I’ve driven numerous copies of the current, 13th-generation F-150. The most recent (and final) of these was, fittingly, the 2020 King Ranch. Under the skin, it’s the same F-150 you know and love. But on the surface and inside, it’s set apart with no shortage of high-end, western-themed touches.

The King Ranch has a uniquely upscale and formal presence. Chrome is used generously to give the machine some extra glitz, the paint colors are warm and natural, and unique badging and King Ranch-specific tailgate trim panel help set it apart from the rest of the F-150 lineup. Individuality, remember?

Don’t miss the curious W-shaped King Ranch logo — you won’t, its all over the truck. Curiously, the source of this logo seems to be a bit of a mystery lost to the history books. Comacchio says that various theories figure the logo’s shape is a reference to a rattle snake, bull horns, or maybe a similarly-shaped river that flows through the ranch itself.

Of course, the King Ranch’s secret sauce is the interior. Before stepping on board, two things hit you. First, the colour: before you notice any of the finer details, you’re met with an array of soft and rich browns, silvers, and blacks. A little chrome accents the scenery here and there, but mostly, the colors are soft, earthy, and natural. Matte-finish accent panels help keep the visuals smooth and soothing.

Second? The smell. The leather itself is so fragrant, opening the door delivers a strong waft to the nose. You’ll smell it on your clothes for hours after leaving the truck, too. Like the colors and textures on board, the smell is earthy and natural. This all creates a calming and relaxing atmosphere, before you even set off. It’s a convincing invitation to sit back and relax.

If that’s your vibe, the 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 might be the best pickup truck engine for the job, too. With its twin turbochargers, this engine delivers more torque than a conventional V8 and makes it available from far lower revs. Sure, there are benefits to performance and towing, but that much torque so low in the rev range means the engine is both strong and silent when driven gently. The EcoBoost V6 gets to quietly whisking the F-150 along from revs so low that a big V8 isn’t rolling out of bed yet.

So, thanks to design and even the powertrain, the King Ranch is the F-150 you might be after for long-distance relaxation on the open road. I did leave my tester wishing for a smoother ride on rougher roads, however.

“It’s not a high-volume model” Comacchio says. “Some shoppers prefer the darker greys and blacks, as well as the monochrome looks of the Limited or Platinum. Some prefer the warm and inviting look of the King Ranch”.

In fact, Ford sells more F-150 Raptors than they do King Ranches.

Now in its final model-year on sale, the 2020 F-150 opens the bidding at $26,339 in XL trim, with XLT clocking in from $30,769. On high-end models, F-150 Lariat starts at $46,249, followed by King Ranch at $67,599. An F-150 Platinum opens the bidding at $68,449, and the F-150 Limited tops the pricing list $79,729, just ahead of the $76,699 F-150 Raptor.

It’s always nice to have choices.
 
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