2015 Ford F-150 Lariat Review: Working. Class.
Automakers wow with luxe trucks.
It's not fair that the most comfortable offices go to the folks who hardly do any physical labor. Work in an office and you'll enjoy comfy leather chairs, wood-paneled walls, and mood lighting. But, if your profession involves sweat, you're lucky to get a barn, an unfinished building, or a corrugated trailer on the side of a highway.
At least your ride can pamper you. A bevy of new high-end pickup trucks can haul, tow, off-road, keep the family comfortable on vacation, and even double as a mobile office. But that job you're working so hard at better pay well, because upscale trucks don't come cheap.
For instance, Ford's upcoming F-150 Limited is expected to sell for north of $60k. For that kind of money, you get a truck with all the F-150's available options plus extras like chrome accents, "Mojave" leather seats, and fiddleback eucalyptus wood trim—stuff office workers won't even find in the executive boardroom.
Ford isn't alone: the Ram Laramie Limited, GMC Sierra Denali, and Chevy Silverado High Country are other full-size trucks who've traded their work duds for business casual attire. The simple fact is, pickups with high-end options have huge margins that equal big profits for manufacturers. That's why GM, Ford, and Chrysler are fawning over buyers willing to plunk down more than twice a truck's starting MSRP for the kinds of amenities you'd find in a Mercedes or Lexus.
What's it like living with a luxury truck? Well, I'll have to wait until this winter to try Ford's new flagship or GM's redesigned full-sizers. But I did just spend a week with the upscale 2015 Ford F-150 Lariat 4x4 SuperCrew (MSRP as tested, $55,965), which proved to be alarmingly adept at nearly everything I asked it to do.
My expectations were already high when the truck arrived. That's because Ford's updated, aluminum-body F-Series has already earned plenty of praise: Not only did a panel of 57 automotive journalists award it the Truck of the Year for 2015, but the new F-150 was also named both the Truck of Texas and the Official Winter Vehicle of New England. Whether you're towing dirtbikes, plowing a parking lot, or just trying to get to work, the F-150 can handle it.
Like the upscale Platinum and King Ranch trims, the luxurious Lariat edition adds some civility to all that capability. Even without fiddleback eucalyptus, its heated and cooled seats and panoramic sunroof weren't too far off from what you'd find in an Audi or Range Rover—let alone a truck capable of carrying a 2,650 lb. payload and towing 10,700 lbs. Despite some hard plastic finishes, all the buttons and knobs are designed to be easy to turn with gloves on, and almost every surface conceals a drawer or storage cubby with a rubber mat that can be removed and cleaned.
Next year, the dashboard will get the benefit of Sync 3. While the 2015 model's infotainment system proved perfectly serviceable, it lacks the on-board internet that Chevy, GMC, and Ram offer. If you're running a business out of the Lariat's comfy passenger seat, you're going to have to rely on your phone's data plan to e-mail the office or download plans.
Or you could just bring your coworkers along with you: Four adults would have ample space to spread out in the Lariat's spacious Supercrew cab. The dog I brought along on a weekend trip to New Hampshire appreciated that the back seats folded up to reveal a flat floor where she could comfortably lie down. Whether you're hauling tools, camping gear, furry friends, or your in-laws behind the driver's seat, you'll like the flexibility.
Powered by Ford's 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine, the whole package exudes a quiet presence on the road—a subtlety that's missing from most trucks. It was even easy to maneuver, thanks to electric power steering and a 360-degree camera that helped out in tight parking lots and on narrow trails. Even if you've stenciled the name of your business on the side of the door, this is still a truck you won't want to scuff up.
Like its target buyer, the F-150 isn't as showy as a high-end SUV. Cruise down the highway, and you'd never guess how capable the truck is off-road or on a job site. On a winding back road, its dimensions suddenly seem to shrink, with car-like handling. But because it's a truck, the Lariat's upscale features don't feel like conspicuous consumption—even when the upgrades are purely cosmetic.
Despite all that the Lariat offered, I still found something unsettling about a full-size truck that was comfortable to drive as an upscale sedan. That's because—no matter how good it is—the F-150 isn't without compromises.
Even with cameras that make it easier to park and four-wheel drive, it's still huge, and has a lot of inertia when headed into a corner. A compact truck—like the redesigned Toyota Tacoma or all-new Chevy Colorado or GMC Canyon—might be a more manageable choice for a weekend warrior who just wants to cart around mulch or haul antique dressers. No pickup can seat as many passengers as an SUV or minivan. And if you want maximum payload capacity, you have to choose the long-bed configuration and forego most amenities, including those comfy rear seats.
The biggest compromise of all? Fuel economy. In a week of both city and highway driving, I never matched the F-150's claimed EPA combined rating of 19 mpg. In fact, I never even broke 17 mpg—but I also didn't feel like I was using that much gas.
Most V8-powered pickups snarl and rumble when you accelerate, giving you a visceral sense of how much fuel you're burning. But not the EcoBoost-equipped F-150. Thanks to its deceptively quiet V6, EcoBoost badges, and massive, 36 gallon extended range tank, you won't notice how much gas you've used—until you fill the tank and the bill runs into three digits.
Sure, the liberal use of aluminum adds strength and reduces weight, and the twin-turbo V6 is capable of sipping fuel on long highway trips. But once you ask for power, the F-150 delivers, and the EPA estimate falls by the wayside.
But if you're truly using the F-150 for all that it can do, the Lariat's size and fuel consumption won't matter. That's because it makes promises that only a full-size pickup can keep. It's an incredible feat of engineering that's also a comfortable place to run a business or relax on a weekend road trip. After all, hard work deserves a reward.
Get Our Newsletter
Real advice from real experts. Sign up for our newsletter
Thanks for signing up!