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Driving Impressions : 2014 Ford F-150

The backstory on this one is that my 1997 F-150 was rusting away, mostly because I more or less neglected it (drove it around in the snow mostly, never bothered to wash the road salt off, etc.), it also had been nickel and diming me over the past few years, with brake problems (had to have the passenger side caliper replaced, the brake system would lose pressure whenever there was big temperature swing, causing the brake pedal to drop, which turned on the brake lights which killed the battery; this happened on at least a half dozen occasions over the the last year). I also had to cough up $600+ to have the wiring redone as the critters decided to eat most of it. And there was a small leak in the roof which caused the headliner to droop and grow mold. I was told that the rust was getting to the point where it was going to be marginal on if was going to pass inspection next time around. So I decided to get a new(er) truck. I couldn’t justify buying a new one as this is a secondary vehicle for me and I might put 2k-3k miles a year on it for me. So last weekend I went truck shopping and came home with a 2014 F-150 XLT Supercrew 4WD with the 3.5L Ecoboost and 74k on the clock. This also coincided with my Mustang’s A/C going out for the 2nd time (still under warranty), so I dropped off the Mustang and have been driving the F-150 exclusively this week. Here’s what I’ve gathered.

The Good:

  • The engine. If you had asked me 5 or 6 years ago if getting a turbo V6 over a N/A V8 for a pickup truck was a good idea, I would’ve recommended the V8 without question. Now that the Ecoboost V6 has been around for 8 years and there aren’t widespread problems (with the RWD variant anyway), I’m more comfortable with the idea. After driving on for a week, I’m a believer, even with the relaxed 3.31 gears, this thing flies. It’s got a ridiculous amount of low-mid range torque. Acceleration is effortless and there’s next to no turbo lag.

  • The transmission has very well chosen ratios for a truck. First gear is relatively short for getting off the line promptly, and sixth gear provides relaxed cruising, at 80 MPH it’s still under 2000 RPM.

  • The electrically-assisted power steering is nicely weighted, and not overboosted. I wouldn’t call it sporty, but it’s more communicative than the steering in my mom and stepdad’s 2017 Sequoia.

  • The interior is fairly nice for a mid-trim model, it’s 5 years old but still no squeaks or rattles. The backup camera has a particularly sharp picture.

  • Seats are comfortable. the driver’s side is power adjustable, as are the pedals. Seats are cloth and not heated.

  • Visibility is very good, I love the huge door mirrors, much better than the tiny ones on my Mustang

  • Fuel economy isn’t bad at all for a full sized truck, I’m averaging a bit over 17 MPG overall, 90% of which is local driving with very little highway driving.

  • The heater is very effective, it warms up even faster than my Mustang. I have to wonder if there’s some clever engineering tricks employed to get the engine to warm up so quickly.

  • The interior overall is very roomy. I’m certain that five full-sized adults could ride in this thing and nobody would complain too much.

The Bad

  • The infotainment system isn’t really intuitive vs. the newer Sync 3 system. This truck has the base sync system, it has a small 4.2 inch LCD display that isn’t a touch screen. The arrow buttons that you use to change the settings and such are located further down the center stack than you’d think they would be. Sound quality from the 6 speaker audio system is average at best. Connecting my phone via bluetooth wasn’t as straightforward as it should’ve been, the small screen limits the amount of information that can be displayed at one time. You can get a Sync 3 upgrade kit, but it’s not really worth the nearly two grand outlay. Annoyingly the audio system cannot play FLAC files. About 30% of my music library is encoded in FLAC. So I had to convert those songs to MP3.

  • This particular truck doesn’t have a limited slip rear differential. I was looking at a 2013 FX4 that was also on the lot, it had the 5.0L V8 and an e-locker, and it had 59k miles on it, but they wanted $5k more for it, and I felt the XLT was a better value for money.

  • It has a column mounted-shifter, but also a center console. A bench seat would’ve probably been more practical. The column-mounted shifter has provisions for manual shifting, but it’s very awkward to use as you have to sort of reach around the steering wheel at angle to reach the rocker switch for it. making it pretty useless.

  • The side of the bed is quite high, loading anything remotely heavy is probably going to be done from the back, less you risk scratching up the paint.

  • The bed is only 5.5 feet long, I have a feeling the number of trips to the dump is going to go up. My 1997 had a long bed and I could cram quite a bit in there.

  • The halogen headlights don’t seem to be particularly amazing. They aren’t oxidized at all or anything, maybe I’ve been spoiled by the surprisingly effective HID’s on the Mustang…

Overall this is just about exactly what I was looking for. I wanted things like power windows,locks, A/C, and keyless entry, but didn’t need leather, or navigation. I would’ve liked to have gotten a limited slip diff, but I wasn’t going to spend thousands more to get it. The short bed could be a problem going forward, but I needed something with a back seat as I have two nephews (ages 1 and 3) that I’m going to have to shuttle around sooner or later, and their car seats will not fit in the Mustang easily at all, and long bed super/crew cab trucks are too unwieldy for my tastes. So far I’m really pleased though.

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Nice review! I like this vehicule also.

Interesting perceptions! Thanks for the post and enjoy your new truck.

A buddy of mine just bought a 2014 with a 5.0 V8 in it. I’ll be interested to hear his thoughts on his first Ford truck (was a Chevy man) and the 5.0 & 6 speed auto.

The 6 speed auto in my mustang is a pretty good box. The only complaint I have is that first gear seems to have excess clearance (slop) in the gear-set which makes it a bit annoying with the radio off.

Well written, I hoping to replace my 2013 Equinox in a few years and I’ll definitely take a look at a Ford after reading your review.

Ed B.

I used to have a 2014 XLT Supercab with the 3.7 V6 and 6 speed auto transmission. I was impressed with how it ran and all that. Except for the vibration in the driveline that could never be figured out. Unfortunately I bought a condo with the single garage and the truck didn’t fit so I sold it. I was sad to let it go but the driveway of the condo was too short to park the truck there. If I have another chance to pick up the same model, I will! No question. You got a very good truck, buddy! Motor happily and safely!

I have a 2013 SXT 4X4which is a lower trim than the XLT. Love it! Surprised yours does not have the e-locker.
If is smoother and quieter (my fault for choice of mufflers) than my Mustang!
About 55K, no problems at all. 5.0 Coyote gets around 18 MPG.

I had a 2013 the same setup as FoDaddy, but with the 5.0. They do make a crew cab with 6.5’ bed also, but they’re not as common. I liked the truck, but will list my complaints as they’re fewer:

The AC in Mississippi heat was kinda weak. Not terrible, but I found myself running the fan wide open most of the time. The truck was dark green metallic, almost black, so that probably didn’t help the AC issue. Nor did the crew cab.

I didn’t like the lag you get when the torque converter locks in 3rd gear. It feels almost like another shift, but the trans is still in 3rd if you watch the display. Not a biggie and I got over it.

The headrests- they always seemed to push my head forward. Safety feature, I guess. Maybe my noggin isn’t shaped right.

The killer - the 5.0 engine started to knock pretty substantially around the second oil change. Dealers were no help and claimed it was “normal for the 5.0.” I traded it around 17k miles for my wife’s current highlander. I bought it for $32k after rebates. Traded it in for $30k. So it held it’s resale well.

I like that body style truck. I shopped for another later on, but ran across a good deal private party on an 05 Sierra. Much less power. But the AC is better. And I don’t mind if it gets scratched.

FoDaddy, there are lots of good Ecoboost forums out there. I’ve read a lot on them as I’m interested in the engine. I was skeptical at first, but they seem to be great engines. From what I’ve gathered, change the oil early (5k miles), using synthetic. Timing chain stretch is somewhat common, and some attribute that to extended oil changes. Apparently plug changes need to be done more often than Ford recommends also. Some suggest drilling a weep hole in the bottom of the intercooler to avoid condensation that gets formed in it in humid weather from being sucked into the intake on heavy throttle.

Congrats on the truck. Let me know if you decide you want a V8 again. I’ll trade you the 05 Sierra straight up. :grinning:

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Just let the oil drain before you check it, after you put in a quart, after you change it, etc. for the Ecoboost engines. I thing the manual says give it 15 minutes.

I believe that’s specific to the 2.7. Or it was… may apply to both now that they both have the start/stop tech?

Good summary. I’m interested in the 4WD function. What sort of transfer case does it have? Dana? Atlas? New Process? Is this the type of 4WD only supposed to be used on dirt and snow surfaces; i.e. no front/rear differential? Or can you drive on hard surfaced roads in 4WD? I have no idea why a limited slip rear would run $5000 extra. Or can you only get limited slip rear by buying other stuff too?

The price difference is because the truck with the locker happened to be an FX4 package truck vs. an XLT. Basically, the price difference was for a different trim level w/ more options. I believe you can get the locker on the XLT, though.

A “locker” is different type of differential than a “limited slip” right? OP wanted a limited slip.

It is different, yes. I thought he said the FX4 truck had the electronic locker. The e locker acts as an open differential until you manually engage it.

Limited slip axle is an option also.

The price difference had more to do with the lower mileage and higher trim level. The FX4 model I looked at had leather, the MyFord Touch infotainment, and a few other things. For 2014 (and several other years) you could have a traditional limited slip diff (Ford’s Trac-loc) or an electronically controlled-on demand rear locker, that functions as an open diff until the user engages it. The transfer case is a standard traditional part-time 4WD system it’s a Borg-Warner 4419 , I think. The Platinum/Limited trim trucks have a transfer case with the ability to send power to the front wheels as need automatically, using the transfer case like a center diff in an AWD system

You are correct. I looked again, and OP said they wanted a limited slip, but the only other option on the lot was a truck w/ the electronic locker, which was $5k more. Presumably one configured with a limited slip would be less than the e-locker. My truck has limited slip both fore and aft, and I was thinking 2 x $5,000 === yipeee!! lol

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Regarding the select shift trans with the +/- toggle on the gear selector - I never used it much either. One place it came in handy was low speed cruising (45ish mph for a long stretch) where the transmission might want to shift back and forth from 5th to 6th - it was nice to just lock out 6th gear. Would probably be nice to lock out 6th if towing heavy also.

Interesting, I do not experience any of that. My 5.0 at 55K is just as quiet and smooth as the day I drove it off the lot. Never noticed anything from the torque converter lockup, I do feel slightly it in my Mustang. As far as the AC, I’m in Florida, the Max setting gets very cold, but the outside air setting is less effective.
I said I had zero problems, but I did break something in the transfer case but that was do to ‘user error’ but dealer fixed it under the warranty.

If you’ll excuse my belaboring the transfer case function a little more, to switch from 2WD to 4WD mode on my much older Ford truck I first have to first get out of the vehicle and turn knobs located on both front hubs from ‘free’ to ‘lock’. Then I get back inside and shift the transfer case to 4WD “hi” or 4WD “lo”. Is that how it works on your truck too?

Re limited slip vs standard open differentials, I don’t think I’ve ever been in a position where the limited slip function offered any significant benefit. I’ve been in many situations where the 4WD mode was required to make progress or get unstuck. I think the limited slip function is important for traction more in rock crawling or super-steep hill climbing, rather than just moving along on medium grade rough muddy or snow covered roads to get where you are going. I guess one exception for me might be when my truck has been called to pull on something heavy, like removing a tree stump. Limited slip might have helped for that.

The older trucks had manual locking hubs like yours. Since the late 80’s or early 90’s, the hubs lock automatically when you shift to 4wd. Either electronically (GM) or by vacuum (Ford). The manual locking hubs were less convenient, but more reliable. Not that the auto hubs have been super problematic.

Limited slip does help. Two wheels in the rear spinning vs. one can definitely help get out of bad situations.

Automatic locking hubs would indeed be a convenience. I’ve gotten stuck in a mud puddle in 2wd mode and had to crawl over the hood of the truck and reach down to turn the hubs. Yep, limited slip is definitely helpful in 2wd mode. I’ve benefited from that many times. Good point. My comments above about its effectiveness were intended to be about 4wd mode.