The Ford F-150 pickup, the overt sentinel of masculinity, and the Toyota Corolla, the tiny titan compact sedan, have little in common with two exceptions, reliability and enduring success.
The Corolla, manufactured since 1966, is the best-selling car in history with more than 43 million sold. The Ford F-Series, introduced in 1948, has been the country’s best-selling vehicle for decades. It’s the second best-selling vehicle in history with more than 40 million sold.
While the sedan might be able to fit in the bed of the pick-up and cost one-third as much, driving either vehicle is experiencing automotive royalty.
There’s little out of the ordinary about the Corolla. It’s understated and remains increasingly popular because of its consistency. The F-150 has also retained its stature via familiarity. But the vehicles then suddenly advance on different roads.
Nothing about the Ford F-150 is understated. For 2018, it’s big, bad and expensive. A standard 3.3-liter V6 replaces a 3.5-liter V6 for more fuel efficiency. It weighs 5,320 pounds and tows 10,700 pounds. Six engine configurations are available, including my review vehicle, the 3-liter turbocharged diesel with 250 horsepower and a 10-speed automatic transmission. The MSRP is $47,300, with option equipment pushing the price to $63,435.
An improved forward collision mitigation system, revised front and rear styling and automatic engine start-stop are also new for 2018. The latter feature may take a new owner by surprise. But it further adds to one of the F-150’s best attributes — it’s quiet at traffic signals and stop signs and while powering along on the freeway.
The start-stop feature technology reduces emissions in city driving and improves fuel efficiency. Gas mileage averages are 22 miles per gallon in city driving, 30 miles per gallon on the highway and 25 mpg combined for two-wheel drive and standards of 20, 25 and 22 combined for four-wheel-drive models. It’s the most fuel-efficient pickup available.
With its four doors and cavernous overall interior space, the F-150 is as comfortable as any sedan. It’s a small, furnished apartment on wheels, with rear seat technology functions for independent thinkers.
Heated, cooled, massaging and 10-way power front seats and heated rear seats are standard in leather. The steering wheel is heated and also wrapped in leather. There’s ambient interior lighting and a Bang & Olufsen Play or Sony audio system add to the overall appeal.
Despite it luxury leanings, the F-150 built its legacy as a work vehicle. Its primary mission is evident upon entry. A sold effort is required by the average adult to climb into the truck. But the standard running boards, part of the Lariat trim, and the large doors help. Twenty-inch wheels add to the truck’s ruggedness.
Storage is a strong point. Bins large and small adorn the interior, including the center armrest bin. It’s large enough to serve as a built-in cooler. The 60/40 split rear seat provides more storage space. Anchor points are abundant to secure cargo in the bed.
Its list of useful rugged features further defines the F-150’s work persona: Active park, backup assist and blind spot information systems, three-prong power outlets and adaptive cruise control. A 360-degree camera helps if towing a trailer or boat is part of the truck’s responsibility. Hill start assist, gas-charged shocks and a class IV trailer hitch further assist.
Just like the Toyota Corolla, the Ford F-150 thrives on its enduring success. Given a choice, the Corolla’s practicality and economy always seemed like a better personal lifestyle selection. But the pickup now prevails.
It’s ideal for drivers whose lifestyles require a vehicle with as much ruggedness, versatility and comfort as possible. Adapting is appealing.
Article Last Updated: June 22, 2018.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.