MSRP
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2020 Ford F-150 Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.6

The 2020 Ford F-150 delivers almost anything you could want from truck. It offers a half-dozen capable and powerful engines, can tow and haul more than any competitor, and has poised handling and a smooth ride. There's even an off-road performance trim – the Raptor – for the most adventurous buyers.

  • "Taken on their own, the turbo V6 models pack all the power and performance a truck owner will need. Ford has worked hard to sell the 3.5-liter EcoBoost as the premium engine. It has the power and performance to back up that sales pitch. Even the smaller 2.7-liter EcoBoost has plenty of oomph. Yes, we may love the sound and instant response of the V8, but its days appear to be numbered." -- Autoblog (2018)
  • "The 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 is now even more appealing, thanks to its punchier torque and the wider ratio spread of the 10-speed versus the old six-speed. The small six-cylinder sounds great under load, too, and emits a satisfying turbo whistle when the driver really sticks the spurs to it. Traditionalists, for whom Ford continues to offer the 5.0-liter V-8, likely will be more pleased by the continued availability of the big, naturally aspirated engine than concerned about the marginal improvements to its performance." -- Car and Driver (2018)
  • "… the EcoBoost V6 and new 10-speed transmission deliver plenty of power for towing and hauling as well as respectable fuel economy." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)

Acceleration and Power

The F-150 comes standard with a 3.3-liter V6 engine that puts out 290 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. A 10-speed automatic transmission is standard with every engine. The base engine has plenty of power for city and highway driving, as well as some light towing. However, it's not as capable as the other engines in the lineup.

If the base V6 engine doesn't strike your fancy, there are plenty of options. These include a 5.0-liter V8 that makes 395 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque, a turbocharged (EcoBoost) 2.7-liter V6 that produces 325 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque, and a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that puts out 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. There's also a 3.0-liter turbodiesel that puts out 250 horsepower and 440 pound-feet of torque.

All of these engines give the F-150 better towing and hauling capabilities than the base engine. They also help deliver better acceleration. The 375-horsepower turbocharged V6 unlocks the F-150’s highest towing capacity.

Finally, there's the high-output turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that powers the Limited and Raptor trims. It produces 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. This engine makes the F-150 into something of a performance vehicle. It feels strong in just about any driving situation and helps deliver fantastic acceleration.

With its base engine and rear-wheel drive, the F-150 gets an EPA-estimated 19 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. Those are some of the best ratings in the full-size pickup truck class.

Ratings for models with the other engines vary:    

  • 20/26 mpg city/highway with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost
  • 17/23 mpg with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost
  • 17/23 mpg with the V8
  • 17/22 mpg with the high-output EcoBoost in the Limited trim
  • 15/18 mpg with the high-output EcoBoost in the Raptor trim

With the exception of the four-wheel-drive Raptor, all of the ratings listed above are for F-150 models equipped with two-wheel drive. Adding four-wheel drive will decrease fuel economy slightly. At the time of writing, no ratings are available for the diesel engine.

  • Opt for the base 3.3-liter V6 and you'll end up with decent power for hauling and light towing coupled with good fuel economy. What you won't get is an engine with the power to quickly pass, merge and blast off from a dead stop. The 5.0-liter V8 offers good power, but poor fuel economy. If you want the right engine for such a big truck, you're going to want to go with either the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6, 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 or the 3.0-liter Power Stroke V6 turbodiesel. These three engines offer superior abilities when it comes to towing, hauling, fuel economy and acceleration, and they really don't push the F-150's price all that much higher." -- Kelley Blue Book (2019)
  • "The F-150 is a strong performer, even without the range-topping engine. The turbocharged 2.7-liter V6 is punchy, and the smooth-shifting 10-speed gearbox makes the most of it." -- Edmunds (2019)
  • "Incremental though they are, Ford's powertrain updates are welcome. The 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 is now even more appealing, thanks to its punchier torque and the wider ratio spread of the 10-speed versus the old six-speed. The small six-cylinder sounds great under load, too, and emits a satisfying turbo whistle when the driver really sticks the spurs to it. Traditionalists, for whom Ford continues to offer the 5.0-liter V-8, likely will be more pleased by the continued availability of the big, naturally aspirated engine than concerned about the marginal improvements to its performance. It feels much the same as before, meaning its low-end torque isn't as satisfying or as early to arrive as the EcoBoost engines', which match or outgun it in this regard." -- Car and Driver (2018)

Handling and Braking

By full-size pickup truck standards, the F-150 handles pretty well. It's composed on winding roads, and it's not too difficult to maneuver despite its size. Ride quality is great, with the F-150 absorbing road imperfections easily. Like all full-size trucks, the F-150 comes standard with rear-wheel drive, and four-wheel drive is available.

The F-150 can hold its own off road, particularly if you add features like a locking rear differential, skid plates, an off-road-tuned suspension, and hill descent control.

But for serious off-roading, you’ll want the F-150 Raptor. It's extremely powerful and comes with specialty features like beadlock wheels (which keep your tires attached to the wheels and rotating together in off-road situations where you might be running with low air pressure), and a Trail Control system, which is like cruise control for off-roading. The Raptor also lets you change driving modes to match the terrain, and it can go just about anywhere you dare to take it.

  • "This truck steers and handles about as well as anything in the class. It has confidence-inspiring brakes, too." -- Edmunds (2019)
  • "As for ride and handling, you may be surprised such big trucks can be so responsive. The ride is smooth and stable, even with a loaded bed, and the F-150's interior can be anything from comfortable cruiser to luxurious land yacht." -- Kelley Blue Book (2019)
  • "Even top-dog F-150s with 21- and 22-inch wheels ride well, and while the Ford isn't as buttoned down during hard driving as General Motors' well-sorted Silverado and Sierra trucks, its excellent driving position and forward sightlines make it easier to maneuver." -- Car and Driver (2018)

Towing and Hauling

Among full-size trucks, it doesn't really get any better than the F-150 for towing and hauling. When properly equipped, the F-150 can tow up to 13,200 pounds and haul up to 3,270 pounds. The F-150 can pull heavy loads without feeling overworked, particularly when equipped with one of the turbocharged engines.

There are a number of features that can make it easier to pull a trailer, including Trailer Backup Assist, Dynamic Hitch Assist, and Trailer Sway Control. These features make it easy to connect a trailer and maneuver it, whether you’re driving down the road or backing down a boat ramp.

  • "Innovation that makes pickup-truck living a bit easier is a Ford specialty. Take the systems designed to help with towing, like Pro Trailer Backup Assist. This system allows the driver to back into a space, inputting left or right commands via a control knob while the F-150 controls the brakes and steering. The 360-degree camera can be used when locating a trailer's hitch, while a blind-spot monitor can help avoid running into vehicles outside the view of the side mirrors." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • For the ever-critical towing aspect of trucking, the 10-speed doesn't disappoint. We drove a 2017 F-150—with a big dual-axle trailer that Ford claimed amounted to 9900 pounds of ballast—back to back with a 2016 model with the same load. Although we can't speak to the V-6's power advantage over its predecessor, the 10-speed holds a clear edge. Its extra ratios afford more options when downshifting, such as when descending a steep grade, and the shifts are even rev matched in Tow/Haul mode for maximum smoothness. The six-speed, by comparison, is slower to shift and feels lumpier when selecting a lower gear; it can also be caught out trying to choose among gears." -- Car and Driver (2017)
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2020 Ford F-150

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