It may still be America’s best-selling vehicle, but the all-new Ford F-150 isn’t enjoying the comfortable lead it once had over its competitors. In June, F-150 sales were down 8.9% compared to last year, and combined, the Chevrolet Silverado and its GMC Sierra cousin beat the tar out of Ford. After weathering months of production slow-downs, the folks at the Blue Oval have just introduced incentive packages worth up to $10,000 to step up sales, indicating that Ford’s bean counters may be in panic mode. Smelling blood in the water, Chevy has even launched an aggressive new ad campaign calling into question the aluminum-bodied F-150’s strength and durability.
But this hardly means that it’s the end of the F-150’s reign. Like any new model, there have been some production hiccups, but with Ford’s suppliers and recently retooled plants ramping up production, the F-150 could be out of the woods very shortly. Despite Chevy’s calling Ford’s controversial use of aluminum body into question, 357,180 Americans have already decided that the exotic (for a pickup) material isn’t enough to scare them into a Chevy, GMC, or Ram anytime soon. And now, Ford could be seeing yet another big boost with the introduction of the range-topping 2016 F-150 Limited, the most luxurious truck the company has ever built.
Entering the luxury pickup segment above the Chevy Silverado 1500 High County and the Ram Laramie Limited, the F-150 Limited will slot above Ford’s current Platinum model to offer world-class luxury inside its best-selling workhorse. The recent rise of the luxury pickup is yet another example of how quickly the segment is changing.
Last month, Ford revealed that F-150 buyers are now paying an average $44,000 for their trucks. And with buyers willing to pay more, the premium pickup market has exploded: Prices have risen an average 37.4 percent over the past decade as trucks continue to be refined. At the Laramie Limited’s release earlier this year, Ram president Bob Hegbloom said that in 2014, 44% of Ram 3500 pickups cost over $60,000, while 27 percent of 2500 models topped the $60k mark. Expect the F-150 Limited to start well over that threshold (the Platinum tops out at around $60k), but fully optioned, the truck will almost certainly become the first non-heavy duty pickup to top the $70,000 mark.
For that kind of money (that’s Maserati Ghibli, Range Rover Sport, Tesla Model S, and Mercedes-Benz CLS territory), the F-150 Limited is more than some leather and badges tacked onto a Ford. For your money, you get essentially every option the F-150 has to offer, including the Sync3 infotainment system, 10-way adjustable massaging leather seats, off-road friendly 360 degree camera system, blind-spot warning, power side steps, and a panoramic roof. Exclusive to the truck are unique 22-inch chrome wheels, exotic fiddleback eucalyptus wood accents, and a unique front-end and tailgate treatment.
On top of the opulence expected from a luxury sedan, the F-150 Limited is powered by Ford’s 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6, good for 365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, which will allow Ford’s range-topper to haul up to 10,000 pounds. The engine is mated to Ford’s six-speed automatic gearbox (a 10-speed is slated to arrive in 2017), and will be available with selectable electronic four-wheel drive. Despite being loaded down with all these goodies, Ford predicts that the truck should still return a respectable 17 miles per gallon city, and 24 highway.
While the F-150 Limited might not solve Ford’s current sales issues, it throws down a pretty big gauntlet in the luxury pickup segment. It serves another purpose too: Despite having to look over its shoulder at GM and Chrysler in sales, Automotive News calculates that Ford makes an average $13,333 on every F-150 sold. Add a $30,000 premium to the average price of an F-150, and Ford stands to make a lot of money off its Limited truck.
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