Was Consumer Reports Wrong About the 2020 Ford F-150?

The 2020 Ford F-150 has a lot going for it, such as six engines to choose from and its impressive payload and towing capacity. Its trim levels range from about $30,000 to $70,000, putting it within reach of both budget watchers and high rollers. 

As popular as the F-150 is, it would seem likely that reviewers from Consumer Reports would give it high ratings. Instead, the Ford truck’s ratings from CR were lukewarm at best. To find out why it failed to win over CR’s reviewers and to also learn what other reviewers thought, read on.

Consumer Reports’ ratings for the Ford F-150

CR gave the 2020 F-150 an overall score of 57 out of 100. By comparison, the F-150’s rival the 2020 Ram 1500 scored a 68. The F-150’s other big rival, the Chevy Silverado 1500 scored lower at 54 along with its corporate cousin, the GMC Sierra 1500.

A closer look at the tests behind this score provides a few clues as to why the F-150’s score was so disappointingly low. On a road test of a crew cab XLT V6 paired with a 10-speed automatic, the F-150 scored 74 out of 100. CR testers liked the V6 and noted its improved fuel economy of 19 MPG overall thanks to the F-150’s aluminum frame. It also scored well in acceleration, shifting, passenger legroom, cargo space, and low cabin noise.

Where the F-150 fell short in the road test, though, was in the areas of braking, handling, and ride comfort. CR testers thought the Silverado 1500 had an edge in handling and the Ram 1500’s coil spring suspension made its ride superior to the F-150. They were also concerned about the likelihood of body and paint problems with the truck’s aluminum body along with owners having problems finding repair shops for these problems.

Predicted reliability was another weak area for the F-Series pickup with a rating of one out of five. The overall reliability verdict rated the lowest on the five-point scale. Data from 2019 shows that overall reliability was also rated as the lowest, with problematic infotainment graphics and transmission slippage. As a result, Consumer Reports can no longer recommend the F-150.

Consumer Reports also compared other new models on a rating scale of 0 to 100 percent by averaging a model’s overall reliability for the newest three years. At the top of this comparison chart is the 2020 Toyota Tundra with a rating of 75 percent. By comparison, the F-150 had a rating of 20 percent. The Chevy Silverado 1500 and the GMC Sierra had the same rating as the F-150, and the Ram 1500 trailed with a rating of 18 percent.

But what about this truck’s popularity?

The F-Series remains the top-selling full-size truck in America, with total sales topping 896,000 in 2019. The F-150 stands out as being the most popular vehicle of all time and the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. It’s also been the best-selling pickup truck for over four decades.

Ford must be doing something right with the Ford F-150, and the vast multitudes who own these pickups can’t be too far off-base, either. CR’s owner satisfaction rating bore this out because it scored a four out of five. Owners like the truck’s driving experience, comfort, and styling.

But they aren’t as pleased with its value because almost half of them felt that they didn’t get what they wanted relative to what they paid for. When asked if they would buy the F-150 again, 75 percent of the owners surveyed said that they would. 

Was CR wrong about the Ford F-150?

Ford F-150 trucks go through the customer acceptance line at the Ford Dearborn Truck Plant on September 27, 2018
The Ford F-150 | Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Consumer Reports’ take on this truck clearly doesn’t align with the popular view. That doesn’t necessarily mean that CR testers were mistaken. It might mean that the testers and reviewers at this organization have a slightly different focus compared to many owners and other reviewers.

As consumer advocates, they look more closely at vehicle reliability and problems that owners might encounter in the long term. The long-range repair outlook for the F-150’s aluminum construction is a good example of the kinds of things CR testers concentrate on.

Other reviewers at U.S. News and Edmunds present glowing reviews of the 2020 F-150. But they, too, have concerns about its predicted reliability.

The 2020 Ford F-150 won the Kelley Blue Book Best Buy and scored a rating of 4.4 stars out of five. Like CR’s testers, though, the KBB evaluators thought the truck’s handling wasn’t as good as it should be.

So it seems that even a long-time favorite has to weather a little negative feedback from reviewers every so often. It will be useful information for some buyers, but it’s likely that many F-150 owners will take it with a grain of salt.