Ford’s Amazing Reign At the Top

America’s best-selling truck for 42 straight years and America’s best-selling vehicle for 37 straight years now, is a title that Ford earned by design for its iconic F-150 series pickups, much in part by its commitment to and investment in research and product development.  A vision ahead of its time, the 1946 master plan for the Ford Research & Engineering Center in Dearborn laid the groundwork for Ford’s global expansion and best-selling product lineup. Dedicated by U.S. President Eisenhower in May 1953, it is currently home to 11,000 engineers and designers. In the last decade, connectivity, automation, electrification and other technologies have dramatically shifted the automotive and mobility landscape; this, says Ford, necessitates the need to transform the R&E Center; initial construction slated to be complete by the end of 2022. The master plan envisions a walkable campus of interconnected buildings that could one day house more than 20,000 employees in a flexible, high-tech environment showcasing new mobility solutions such as electrified bikes, scooters and shuttles.

This was not a year of rest for the leader, nor is the 2020 model year.  The 3.3-liter V6 with 6-speed automatic remained F-150’s standard powerplant. Ford also rolled out a 2.7-liter EcoBoost® V6, 5.0-liter V8, 3.0-liter Power Stroke® turbodiesel V6 and 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. Trim levels include XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum trucks. The range-topping F-150 Limited got a serious power upgrade with the high-output 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine previously only available on F-150 Raptor, plus a new high-flow dual-exhaust system and redesigned interior.  For 2020, the Power Stroke turbo-diesel V-6 is also available on the more affordable XLT trims.  Besides three new colors, Ford announced an STX Sport Appearance package upgrade on base XL trucks and an optional Black Appearance package for XLT and Lariat models.  Lariat levels and above now come standard with the Co-Pilot360 driver-assist technologies.

The iconic F-150 Raptor – the ultimate high-performance off-road pickup – was made even better with upgraded technology including class-exclusive, electronically controlled FOX shocks, new Trail Control and all-new Recaro sport seats.  And if you want another Ford truck to be more like a Raptor, note that for the first time ever, Ford Performance Parts is offering after-purchase leveling kits for Ford Ranger and Ford F-150 for even better off-road performance and greater vehicle customization.

Ford wisely provides choices that satisfy the driver just looking for a reliable work truck as well as those looking for a truck that attains elite, fully-equipped status.  The Ford Regular Cab body style has a two doors and a single bench seat; with the same great powertrain and less weight than other body styles, it boasts maximum towing capacity.  The 4-door SuperCab is available on the XLT and Lariat trim levels, and is available with longer bed lengths with rear-hinged back doors for wide access to the back seat.  We drove the four-door F-150 4×4 SuperCrew as well as the Supercrew 4×4 Ranger.  Supercrew is available only on the Lariat trim level and above, including the premium King Ranch and Platinum trim levels.  Both of our testers sported the Ecoboost engine option.

While most famous for the F-150, Ford is also a trend-setter in other truck segments.  The Ford Ranger made a triumphant return this year– a midsize pickup ready for adventure and packed with driver-assist technologies to enable easier driving both on and off-road. Anchored by a high-strength steel frame and powered by a 2.3-liter EcoBoost® paired to an efficient 10-speed automatic, the Ranger is available in either SuperCab or SuperCrew configuration. It can be optioned with 4×2 or 4×4, and comes in three trim levels – XL, XLT and Lariat with available chrome and sport packages.

Ford wisely provides choices that satisfy the driver just looking for a reliable work truck as well as those looking for a truck that attains elite, fully-equipped status.  The Ford Regular Cab body style has a two doors and a single bench seat; with the same great powertrain and less weight than other body styles, it boasts maximum towing capacity.  The 4-door SuperCab is available on the XLT and Lariat trim levels, and is available with longer bed lengths with rear-hinged back doors for wide access to the back seat.  We drove the four-door F-150 4×4 SuperCrew as well as the Supercrew 4×4 Ranger.  Supercrew is available only on the Lariat trim level and above, including the premium King Ranch and Platinum trim levels.  Both of our testers sported the Ecoboost engine option.

While most famous for the F-150, Ford is also a trend-setter in other truck segments.  The Ford Ranger made a triumphant return this year– a midsize pickup ready for adventure and packed with driver-assist technologies to enable easier driving both on and off-road. Anchored by a high-strength steel frame and powered by a 2.3-liter EcoBoost® paired to an efficient 10-speed automatic, the Ranger is available in either SuperCab or SuperCrew configuration. It can be optioned with 4×2 or 4×4, and comes in three trim levels – XL, XLT and Lariat with available chrome and sport packages.

In the heavy-duty segment, Ford is the only manufacturer to design and build all of its engine and transmission combinations – ensuring the powertrain works seamlessly with all chassis components and vehicle calibrations.  For 2020, a 7.3-liter V8 joins the standard 6.2-liter V8 in Super Duty’s gas engine stable. The third-generation 6.7-liter Power Stroke® diesel V8 is upgraded to deliver more power and torque. A 10-speed heavy-duty TorqShift® automatic transmission is available across all three engine offerings.  Besides chassis upgrades, exterior and interior design updates, and enhanced technology, FordPass ConnectTMembedded 4G LTE modem with Wi-Fi access for up to 10 devices is offered as a standard for all new 2020 Super Duty trucks.  Its engines and high-strength steel frame and high-strength military-grade aluminum-alloy body put the F-Series Super Duty at the top of heavy-duty pickup capability.  Our King Ranch level tester also checks off box after box on the luxury list.

The lesson that Ford continues to teach:  Never assume you’ll stay at the top without adapting to change and preparing for the future.  Your best can always be better!

Beverly & Steve Smirnis are members of the Texas Auto Writers Association and the Texas Motor Press Association, reviewing vehicles and casting their votes at driving events where the Truck of Texas, Car of Texas and Off-Road Truck of Texas are some of the titles awarded.  Follow their automotive blog on TheSavvyList.com/TheSavvyDriver