Oakville Drives: 2016 F150 XLT Sport: A Professional Driver’s Perspective

2016 F 150 XLT Sport
Oakville Drives: 2016 F150 XLT Sport: A Professional Driver’s Perspective

About the Author

R. G. Beltzner

R. G. Beltzner

A long time automobile enthusiast, and competitive race driver, Rainer Beltzner provides performance driving and racing instruction for Porsche, BMW, and Ferrari owners and clubs. He's been doing this for over 25 years. Often, Rainer is found driving/teaching on one of the Canadian Tire Motorsport, Shannonville or Watkins Glen tracks. During the “off-season”, Rainer spends his spare time driving and evaluating a broad range of vehicles. Follow Rainer on Twitter @redy2rol.

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One of the challenges in doing a review of a pick up truck is to actually drive it enough to properly evaluate the payload and trailer pulling features and characteristics. My review is based on driving 1,112 kilometers over a seven-day period. I did get an opportunity to drive into Toronto a few times, carry a couple of different payloads in the box and also connect and pull my 27’ steel fully enclosed trailer (empty) for a couple of hundred kilometers.

Handling characteristics
This is a Canadian and USA best selling truck for many years so I had high expectations. The new F150 has reduced a significant amount of weight with the use of high-grade aluminum for its body and bed. This F150 came equipped with the 2.7L V6 “EcoBoost” twin turbo engine with Auto Start/Stop and 6-speed “SelectShift” automatic transmission, tow/haul and sport modes with a “SuperCrew” body style providing a longer wheelbase. Additional options on this 4×4 included an electronic locking rear axle; 275/65R18 all terrain tires; trailer tow package and integrated trailer brake controller. Everything you need to haul and tow! Without any load or trailer attached, this 2.7L engine producing 325 hp and 375 lb.-ft. of torque is a pleasant powerful machine providing excellent acceleration and passing power. Combined hwy/city driving achieved a fuel consumption of 13.5 L/100. With my 27’ trailer attached, it still pulled reasonably well but gas consumption at 28.3 L/100 became unreasonable. To provide some comparison, my own ¾ ton Ram diesel pulls the same trailer over the same road and distance with 13.1 L/100. While the 2.7L EcoBoost might be an excellent choice for smaller trailers and payloads, I suspect that the 3.5L EcoBoost with 365 hp would be a better option for larger and heavier trailers.

Ford Motor Company of Canada

Model: 2016 F150 XLT Sport
Engine: 2.7L EcoBoost
Base Price: $42,849
Price as Tested: $58,729

The F150 is equipped with electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering that I found too light – removing all the traditional feel of the road. However, like most things, you get used to it after a while. The brakes on this truck are excellent! On dry roads and at all speeds, traction and handling was very good. In the rain, I opted to shift to the 4×4 mode to maintain best traction and stability. One of the challenges pulling a trailer is trailer sway that can result in serious damage if this gets out of control. Ford provides a trailer sway control system as standard equipment with the trailer package. I did not think it worked that well and would still opt to use an external sway management system. The integrated brake controller and electrical trailer connections worked well. Finally, a few comments on the “Pro Trailer Backup Assist” designed by Ford to make the “challenge of backing up a trailer easier than ever”. I did not get an opportunity to test this feature but from watching a few U-tube videos, it does seem to have some benefit with smaller trailers. I remain convinced that nothing beats practice when dealing with larger enclosed trailers where visibility is severely lacking.

2016 F150 XLT Sport Interior

Interior of the 2016 F 150 XLT Sport

Comfort
The F150 XLT Sport provides a comfortable ride when there is some weight to settle the rear leaf spring and shock absorber suspension. Unloaded, this F150 is not quite as comfortable. Other options included the multi adjustable and heated “unique sport cloth” seats; twin panel moonroof; side-mirror spot lights; box side steps as well as a tailgate step. The new Sync 3 infotainment system (including the optional Sirius radio) is logical and easy to use. I also quite like the Sync 3 voice command system for telephone and media controls. The SuperCrew body style provides excellent rear seating space and the additional benefit of a large interior storage space with the seats folded. I think this is the best layout for rear comfort and storage flexibility. I struggle to get in and out of the rear box of a pick up when trying to load and adjust loads. Ford’s integrated rear step in the tailgate is a comfortable and practical addition that I found very helpful.

Safety
The F150, like many of the Ford products, comes with lots of good standards safety features including Ford’s AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability and Curve Control and the Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS). My test F150 included the reverse sensing system; rearview camera; cruise control; blind spot monitor and inflatable rear safety belts. Many more options for both safety and comfort are available on the Lariat, King Ranch and Limited versions. A personal safety negative was the large center pillar between front and rear doors that I found blocked my view to the right of the truck when entering intersections. I also found the truck’s large turning radius a challenge at times.

Things to consider
The F150 is obviously a popular truck with many excellent features and available options for both comfort and use. There are significant differences in capability across the F150 line so becoming aware of and realistic about the actual use of the truck will help guide you to the right engine and model choice. The maximum payload and conventional towing/weight ratings for each of the engine/body options need to be carefully evaluated especially when larger/heavier trailers are involved. For payloads and occasional towing experienced by the typical cottager, homeowner, or truck enthusiast, the Ford XLT with the 2.7L EcoBoost is a reasonable choice. The new aluminum alloy body and bed construction provides for less overall truck weight resulting in improved fuel consumption but may result in higher costs to repair aluminum body damage.

Fuel consumption for this XLT Sport 2.7L EcoBoost vehicle is rated at 13.1 L/100 km city, 10.1 L/100 km hwy. After more than 1,100 kms and a week of driving in both city and highway conditions, I managed to average 13.5L/100km. without payload or attached trailer.

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