Life With the Ford F-150: What Do Owners Really Think?

ford f150 comments gif Ford F-150 | graphic by Paul Dolan

Whether they’re towing, hauling or off-roading (or just planning to one day), Americans are flocking to pickup trucks in droves. The Ford F-Series attracts the largest customer base among competitors, hoarding the title of America’s bestselling pickup truck for a Ford-claimed 44 years. Its latest redesign was also popular among editors, claiming the Best Of 2021 award. The 2021 F-150 saw substantial updates, but how does the previous generation (2015-20) stack up?

Related: 2020 Ford F-150 Review: Still Good, Even After Competitors Are Redesigned

To find out what owners like and dislike about the F-150, we turned to user reviews of 2015-20 models and compared them with our expert evaluations. While the F-150 is undeniably popular, even the bestselling vehicles come with their share of pros and cons — especially as competing pickups step up their game. Read on to see what the previous generation F-150 offers, along with feedback from owners.

2015-20 F-150: Fast Facts

ford f 150 limited 2019 01 angle  exterior  front  silver jpg Ford F-150 Limited | photo by G.R. Whale

Redesigned for 2015, the F-150 started with a four-engine lineup, offering a non-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 or 5.0-liter V-8, as well as turbocharged 2.7-liter V-6 or 3.5-liter V-6 engines. The truck got a refresh in 2018 that added a new 3.3-liter V-6 as the base engine. The 2018 F-150 also saw improved fuel economy and the introduction of a 10-speed automatic transmission — a source of controversy among owners. The F-150 was the first pickup truck to get advanced driver-assist features like adaptive cruise control and a forward collision warning system with automatic emergency braking, both found on 2015 and newer models.

For 2020, shoppers can pick between six engine options: a 290-horsepower, 3.3-liter V-6; a 325-hp, turbocharged 2.7-liter V-6; a 395-hp, 5.0-liter V-8; a 250-hp, 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6; and a 375-hp, 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6. A high-output version of the turbo 3.5-liter, which makes 450 hp, can be found in the range-topping F-150 Limited or off-road-oriented Raptor trim levels. (In Ford vernacular, the turbocharged engines are called EcoBoost.) All but the base 3.3-liter V-6 pair with a 10-speed automatic transmission; the 3.3-liter gets a six-speed automatic.

With the anticipated arrival of the new 2021 model, the 2020 F-150 did not see many changes. The most noteworthy addition was Ford’s Co-Pilot360 as standard equipment on the Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum and Limited trims. The safety suite added blind spot monitoring, lane-departure steering assist and automatic high beams.

The Ford F-150 is rated to tow up to 13,200 pounds with the Max Trailer Tow Package. The turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 can pull the most weight, followed by the 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6 and the non-turbo 5.0-liter V-8. The F-150’s maximum payload ranges from 1,200 pounds to 3,270 pounds.

Ford F-150 Raves and Rants

F-150 owners raved about the 2015-20 model’s spacious cabin, towing prowess and generous fuel economy. But even the most popular vehicle in America has its weaknesses, according to some underwhelmed owners. Common rants include transmission complaints, excessive oil consumption and the truck’s automatic start-stop system. (Comments below have been edited for clarity.)

Rave: A Capacious Cab

ford f 150 limited 2019 12 brown  interior  second row  tan  two tone jpg Ford F-150 Limited | photo by G.R. Whale

The F-150’s roomy cabin was a trending rave among owners — specifically backseat space in the crew cab. Several owners praised the pickup truck’s family-friendly appeal, with ample space to accommodate car seats. A expert review of the 2020 F-150 aligned with these raves, highlighting the massive cabin in the crew cab with exceptional space for rear passengers.

“I made a leap by selling my paid off, 11-year-old reliable Toyota Tacoma for a 2017 F-150 SuperCrew. Why, you ask? Well, I loved my Tacoma; I was the original owner, and it has been paid off for at least eight years. I have one child (two years old) and have another on the way. To accommodate a rear-facing child seat in the Tacoma, the passenger front seat was practically all the way up. We made it work, but realized it’s not going to work with a second child. … In the F-150 SuperCrew, the passenger front seat is all the way back and is barely touching the car seat!” — consumer review for 2017 F-150; Bentonville, Ark.

“So far, this truck fits my needs: towing, 4×4, huge cab space (room for two dog crates with the seats up), very comfortable and fun to drive, reasonable mpg.” — 2020 F-150; Jordan, Minn.

“I purchased a new 2019 Ford F-150 with quite a few options. I’m a big guy (6-foot-3 and big-boned) with two younger children that require car seats. There is still some room behind me with the seat backed up all of the way.” — 2019 F-150; Pineville, Ky.

“It runs smoothly, has awesome acceleration and a big spacious backseat in the crew cab — love it. It has a nice interior with lots of storage, and the 2.7-liter EcoBoost is a great engine for my needs.” — 2020 F-150; Endicott, N.Y.

“I am pleased with the safety and roominess of my F-150 SuperCrew cab. It is  not as fancy as the Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited I had prior, but it has a great deal more rearseat [room] and legroom. It feels good to drive; a bit more challenging to park, but the rear camera helps with that.” — 2019 F-150; Tucson, Ariz.

Rave: It Pulls Through

ford f 150 lariat xlt 2020 01 angle  blue  cargo  exterior  front  off road  silver  towing jpg 2020 Ford F-150 Lariat, XLT | Manufacturer image

The F-150’s towing and hauling prowess is a strong suit among user reviews. Owners highlighted the turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 engine, which is rated to tow a maximum of 13,200 pounds with the Max Trailer Tow Package, while the turbocharged 2.7-liter V-6 got a shoutout for its hauling capability (with a payload rating of 2,470 pounds). In a towing test, a 2020 Ford F-150 Lariat equipped with the turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 outperformed competitors like the GMC Sierra, Nissan Titan and Ram 1500. The F-150’s 10-speed transmission was confidence-inducing, as were its towing mirrors and 360-degree cameras.

“I owned a [Toyota] Tundra, which was a great truck, but it is not an F-150 — just my opinion. My F-150 XLT tows like a champ with the Max Tow Package and it has awesome gas mileage; the 10-speed is a big plus; it is very comfortable and well built. It is simply just a solid half-ton truck.” — 2020 F-150; Ridgecrest, Calif.

“The 2020 F-150 XLT, 2.7-liter EcoBoost is a fantastic truck; it drives smoothly with lots of power. I haul lumber and firewood with it on a regular basis and it handles the weight better than my 2015 Ram 1500 Hemi ever did. I was expecting better fuel mileage out of the EcoBoost but still getting over 20 mpg.” — 2020 F-150; Ontario, Can.

“My Ford F-150 XLT with the 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost is the perfect truck for city usage and pulling a trailer. I was looking at Lariats, but found this XLT with almost all the bells and whistles of the Lariat, but at a lower price. It’s a smooth ride with a massive amount of room inside for my family, and it easily pulls our trailer.” — 2019 F-150; Portland, Ore.

“This is my second F-150 powered by the EcoBoost 3.5-liter. The first was new in 2011, and at 224,000 miles, it was time to part ways. This truck came used as a 2017 with the 3.5-liter. It has pulling power for lots of 9,000-pound trailer towing in the hills of western Pennsylvania. — 2017 F-150; Washington, Pa.

Rave: Impressive MPG

03 ford f 150 supercrew lariat 2018 angle  dynamic  exterior  front  red jpg Ford F-150 Lariat | photo by Christian Lantry

Pickup trucks aren’t exactly known to be fuel efficient, but the F-150 bucks this trend according to some owners. The 2020 F-150’s EPA ratings range from a combined 19 mpg for the 5.0-liter V-8 to 24 mpg for the turbo-diesel 3.0-liter. Some of the F-150’s diesel-powered competitors receive higher ratings, however: The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel gets 26 mpg combined and the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Duramax gets 27 mpg. Where the F-150 really excelled in a evaluation was in its towing fuel economy, which averaged 13.2 mpg with a 3.5-liter V-6.

“I have had the vehicle for 17 months and I’m impressed with the ride, handling, power, off-road capability and remote start temperature control. I have the FX4 Off-Road Package, V-8 engine, 302A Package, towing package, sport appearance, 20-inch wheels and 36-gallon tank. The power is unbelievable getting on and off the freeway, and it accelerates smoothly. My old 2004 truck got 13/15 mpg; this one gets 18 city, 20 city/highway and 22 highway. I’m totally impressed.” — 2019 F-150; Brighton, Mich.

“It’s very accommodating and has plenty of power when needed, yet it’s tuned to be very efficient. With the 2.7-liter EcoBoost and 10-speed transmission, I’ve averaged 24.8 combined mpg on my work errands. That’s impressive for a 4×4 full-size truck with 325 hp.” — 2019 F-150; Hanover, Pa

“I love the 2019 F-150 XLT with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost. It is quick, gets 25-26 mpg at 60 mph, has comfortable seats and the 10-speed transmission is smooth shifting; the only time I notice anything is when slowing down to turn corners.” — 2019 F-150; Backus, Minn.

“After owning a Tacoma and [Nissan] Frontier (which when I needed to haul something, I couldn’t due to the small bed size), I started looking for a full-size truck. However, I did not need a four-door truck. The 2017 F-150 SuperCab fits the bill. Great driver’s cabin, extra storage area and 6.5-foot bed. I went with the 5.0-liter V-8 and six-speed automatic. In seven weeks, I have been averaging 18.7 mpg so I am very happy. That’s better mpg than the Tacoma and Frontier.”— 2017 F-150; Arden, N.C.

“I love my new F-150. The 3.5-liter engine is very responsive with plenty of power and acceleration. The ride is smooth and the truck handles very nicely. The fuel mileage is great for a 4×4 and is one of the biggest reasons I purchased this truck.” — 2020 F-150; Jonesville, Mich.

Rant: Troublesome Transmission

01 ford f 150 lariat diesel 2019 cl jpg Ford F-150 Lariat Diesel | photo by Christian Lantry

A 10-speed transmission became available in 2017, but some owners are not pleased with the addition. Common complaints include the transmission’s rough shifts and the struggle to find the right gear. Our expert evaluation found the 10-speed provides crisp and efficient shifts, but it was reluctant to downshift when paired with the turbo-diesel 3.0-liter.

“I like the features and it gets decent gas mileage [with] four-wheel drive. It’s very quiet, rides well and has plenty of power with the 5.0-liter V-8. But, the new 10-speed transmission is junk — it doesn’t know what gear it wants to be in.” — 2018 F-150; Carencro, La.

“The 2017 was the first generation of the 10-speed transmission. I have been in the service center two times for the transmission. I have heard through talking with other truck enthusiasts that this was a huge problem year for Ford’s 10-speed. Supposedly, they have gotten better over the years, but I am stuck with mine.” — 2017 F-150; West Islip, N.Y.

“I just traded in a 2017 F-150 with the 2.7-liter V-6; it ran like a sewing machine. This one has the bigger V-6 with a 10-speed and it is terrible! It stutters and can’t decide what gear it wants to be in. You have to warm it up even on a summer day before you go out on the highway, otherwise it will shake you to death. I want my 2017 back!” — 2020 F-150; Kearney, Neb.

“This is a nice truck! I have the crew-cab Lariat and it’s very roomy inside. The overall features and quality seem to be on point. The only complaint I have is that the 10-speed transmission is rough shifting and a real dog unless you put it in Sport mode. — 2019 F-150; Providence, R.I.

“I love this truck. Ford is on top of their game with the styling and all of the technology features but the downfall is the 10-speed transmission. The transmission is constantly searching for gears and it bucks and jerks. Can’t wait to trade it for a Super Duty just to get rid of the 10-speed.” — 2018 F-150; Odessa, Texas.

Rant: Where’d the Oil Go?

ford f 150 limited 2019 06 engine  exterior jpg Ford F-150 Limited | photo by G.R. Whale

Excessive oil consumption is a known issue for 2018-20 models of the F-150 equipped with the 5.0-liter V-8, and some owners have experienced the flaw firsthand. In December 2019, Ford issued a technical service bulletin outlining the oil consumption problem and service recommendations. The bulletin states that the affected vehicles have excessive oil consumption of greater than 1 quart in 3,000 miles with no visible oil leaks.

As a solution for mechanics, Ford recommended reprogramming the powertrain control module, installing a new dipstick, and changing the oil and oil filter; there was no recall issued. A class-action lawsuit against Ford followed, claiming the defect can cause unexpected engine stalling and engine failure.

“[The] 2019 [F-150] XLT with a 5.0 V-8 is a nice-looking truck and its ride is smooth. However, the engine is going through excessive oil consumption, 1.5 quarts per thousand miles. Extremely disappointed with the quality.” — 2019 F-150; Ishpeming, Mich.

“I love the look and the interior of the truck, however it is using oil: 1.5 quarts in the first 5,000 miles. I’m currently doing an oil consumption test through the service department. I have been a loyal Ford owner forever and have always loved the V-8s. What has happened to quality?” — 2018 F-150; Willis, Texas

Rant: An Annoying Stop-Start System

03 ford f 150 lariat diesel 2019 cl jpg Ford F-150 Lariat Diesel | photo by Christian Lantry

An auto stop-start system was added for all engines in the F-150’s 2018 refresh. While it’s intended to improve fuel efficiency, some owners claim that the system causes a rough restart, and others are frustrated that the system can’t be permanently disabled.

“Nice vehicle — mine’s an XLT crew cab, 4×4, 6.5-foot bed and 3.5-liter EcoBoost. I’m getting 22 mpg driving back and forth to town. A major annoyance is the auto stop-start: There’s a button on the dash to disable it, but you have to do it every time you get in the vehicle. There should be a software setting or positive set button.” — 2019 F-150; Greenville, S.C.

“There are a few things Ford could have done better, but they are minor in my opinion. The auto stop-start is not my favorite feature. Its operation should be like the heated seats. When you turn on the heated seats, they stay turned on even after you shut off the truck and start it again later. The auto stop-start has a button to turn it off, but only for the current operation of the vehicle. It should stay on or off until you choose a different setting.” — 2019 F-150; Yorktown, Va.

“The truck has plenty of power; the styling is awesome; the interior is comfortable and spacious. This is my third F-150 and although it’s nice because it’s new, I miss my 2015 F-150. My 2019 is a 5.0-liter 4×4 SuperCrew. The auto stop-start feature is really annoying; the whole truck shakes when it starts back up.” — 2019 F-150; Greensboro, N.C.

Trims and Pricing

img1364499307 1514408883227 jpg 2018 Ford F-150 Raptor | photo by Evan Sears

As of 2020, the Ford F-150 was offered in seven trim levels from the base XL to the upscale Limited. There are three cab options available: regular, SuperCab and SuperCrew. Used 2015-20 models have a median price of $38,995 among dealers at the time of this writing.

The new 2021 F-150 brings the truck’s first hybrid engine, an upgraded interior and features like Ford’s Pro Power Onboard integrated generator system, Max Recline front seats and an Interior Work Surface option that folds the shifter into the center console, creating a flat table. Choosing the new F-150 over the previous generation will be substantially more costly based on the median price among dealers, however: The median price for a new 2021 or 2022 Ford F-150 is $54,554, while the starting price for the base XL regular cab is $30,985.

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Former News Editor Jane Ulitskaya joined the team in 2021, and her areas of focus included researching and reporting on vehicle pricing, inventory and auto finance trends. Email Jane Ulitskaya

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