What Makes the F-150 so Enduring?
Updated December 21, 2015
Ford’s F-150 is the best-selling vehicle in the land and the best selling pickup for nearly the last four decades. Yes, four decades.
What makes it so popular? Here are nine thoughts
The F-150s grew out of the F series of trucks Ford started building in 1948. The F-series trucks were originally no-frills workhorses aimed at blue collar, meat-and-potatoes guys who were contractors or farmers. In 1975, the F-150 model was introduced to split the difference in payload capacity between the F-100 and the F-250. It quickly claimed a third of F-series sales.
The list of possibilities is endless. There are five — count ’em five — 2015 models from XL to Platinum, each with several variations for cab, box, and engine, just to start.
Those interiors have gotten cushier and cushier over the years. You can argue that a 150 is just as comfortable inside as a sedan. That bench seat in the back is bigger than the booth at your favorite diner. If you spring for the extras like leather massage seats and a dual-panel moonroof, then it’s an upgrade.
The Dude’s Friend
John Goodman drives a 1997 F-150. Need we say more? Who wouldn’t want the same ride as the Dude’s best friend, Walter. Go find your bandana. Don’t like Goodman? How about The Rock? He drives one, too. Chevy may have used “Like a Rock” for years, in commercials, but Ford has the Rock.
With it’s somewhat controversial new aluminum body that helped shed 700 pounds, the 150 builds on its history as the best mileage truck out there. The current base model is rated at 18 city and 25 mpg highway, besting its competitors.
Ford Anticipates the Market. Oh, how the 150 has evolved. And Ford noticed the demand for high-end, luxury — yes, luxury — trucks. Starting price for the high-end 150 is in the $70,000 range. High, but below similar luxury cars. The new 150 features items like 360 cameras, park assist, blind-spot warning and trailer backup assist. It’s a vehicle to be seen in. For successful contractors and small business owners, a luxury 150 is a status symbol. No other $50,000-plus vehicle sold more in the first half of 2015 than the Ford F-Series.
You heard it in a song
Fords have been featured in songs for decades from ZZ Top’s “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide” to Springsteen’s “One Step Up” to Blake Shelton’s “Hillbilly Bone:” “Nah, you ain’t gotta be born out in the sticks with an F-150 and a 30-06 or have a bubba in the family tree to get on down with me.”
J Mays, the vice president of global design at Ford was asked why the 150 endures. “Without sounding sales-y, the F-150 is the first choice of tradespeople who just are looking for really durable trucks, and 55 percent of heavy construction vehicles that are on the road are F-series trucks. … So those become something quite different than, say a car that you would buy out of desire. Very often, people are buying these because they’re built for purpose and they help people get the job done that they happen to be doing.”
Monkey See, Monkey Do
If all the F-150s sold last year were put end to end, they’d form a line from L.A. to New York. Ford sold about half a million of them last year. You covet your neighbor’s pickup. So you get one, the F-150.