The story of the Ford F-Series is a long one with several chapters in it. It started back in the late 1940s. Since then, Ford has written several chapters in the saga. We were there when Ford was about to send the 13th chapter to print.
In late 2014, Ford invited us to a regional media drive of the all-new 2015 F-150, part of the 13th generation of the F-Series. We went out to San Antonio, Texas to learn all about the revolutionary pickup and its lighter aluminum alloy skin which shaved several hundred pounds of weight, thoughtfully designed and well-executed interior ergonomics, impressive safety and infotainment features, and updated powertrains.
We recently got a chance to not just read one of the subplots of the 13th chapter of the F-Series story, but live it. Ford loaned us a two-wheel-drive 2017 F-150 XLT for a week. The 2017 model has the same basic look of the 2015 truck, but benefits from a number of improvements. Most of them are mechanical, such as enhancements to the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 and the availability of a fuel-saving and class-exclusive 10-speed automatic. (And let’s not forget about the second-generation Raptor, which came out as a 2017 model.)
We immersed ourselves in the 2017 F-150 XLT, driving it more than 1,100 miles from Austin to El Paso, Texas to visit family and back to the capital city of the Lone Star State. Our only complaint was about the length of the trips. Our test truck had all the equipment we needed to travel in comfort. Thanks to its generously sized fuel tank, we were able to spend more time on the highway flying toward our destinations and less time at gas stations. However, there’s more to the story of the 2017 F-150 than just its travel range, so keep reading.
2017 Ford F-150 XLT 4X2 Exterior
If the current generation of the F-150 is a chapter in a book, it certainly has some nice pictures to go with it. The 2017 model looks crisp and modern – especially in the Lightning Blue Ford applied to our review rig – while retaining its undeniable truck-ishness. The large six-sided grille gulps in air to feed the powerful engine behind it. Tabs jut into the chiseled casings for the headlights, which were halogen units on our review vehicle. In profile, the F-150 is a classic three-box design, one of which was 5.5 feet long and equipped with the second generation of Ford’s innovative tailgate assist step and grab bar combo. The tailgate itself is a multi-angle piece of metal sculpture flanked by LED tail lights.
Our tester’s optional XLT Sport Appearance Package added two-tone 18-inch wheels, a black grille with a body-color frame, body-color bumpers and exterior handles, Sport decals on the bed sides, and a chrome exhaust tip.
2017 Ford F-150 XLT 4X2 Interior
The 2017 F-150 is available in seven trim levels. Those range from the base XL to the Texas-inspired King Ranch to the high-performance Raptor to the top-of-the-line Limited. The XLT is near the entry level of the F-150 trim hierarchy. Standard equipment includes SYNC with AppLink, a cloth front bench seat, and power locks. Ford was kind enough to outfit our tester with options such as voice-activated navigation, LED side-mirror spotlights, and SYNC Connect. Although we weren’t surrounded by total opulence, we had everything we needed for our long trips out west and back. Our cloth bucket seats were comfortable. The navigation system kept us headed in the right (or is that left?) direction. Using SYNC 3 to input our destination was a snap. So was pairing a phone to the truck through Bluetooth.
After all of these years of making trucks, Ford knows a thing or two about what’s useful to people who drive pickups. One particular area which clearly demonstrates that expertise is the radio and climate control knobs. Their massive diameters make them easy to grip and rip without even looking at them.
Occasionally, we encountered rough pavement, which revealed how light the aluminum F-150 feels on its feet. It’s a 4,629-pound truck, but it doesn’t necessarily feel that heavy. The trade-off is that it doesn’t feel as planted as a heavier, four-wheel-drive F-150, whose ride quality this particular writer prefers.
The SuperCrew cabin’s massive amount of second-row space kept our guests in the back comfortable as we ate our way through the restaurant scene of El Paso.
2017 Ford F-150 XLT 4X2 Performance
Ford engineers made the already powerful 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 even stronger for the 2017 model year. They supplemented the direct fuel injection system with port fuel injection and added new twin turbos with more boost. Their work paid off to the tune of 375 horsepower and 470 lbft of torque – increases of 10 and 50, respectively. The blue oval’s tech wizards paired the juiced-up engine with a 10-speed automatic. Once or twice when we needed to pick up our pace in a hurry it kicked down gears a little too slowly for our liking. Other than that, the gearbox knew what to do and when to do it – especially when we had it set to Sport mode.
Those changes are great, but our main concern was highway fuel economy and cruising range. There are long stretches of almost nothing between Austin and El Paso. No gas stations, no stores, only a game of waiting for a friendly motorist if your vehicle runs out of gas. Luckily for us, the EPA rated our particular F-150 configuration good for 18 city, 25 highway, and 21 combined mpg.** On a full extended-range tank (36 gallons) of regular gas, we had well north of 600 miles of stop-free driving ahead of us. We didn’t haul heavy things with the F-150, but we could’ve carried a 1,720-pound payload in its 5.5-foot bed or pulled up to 11,800 pounds behind it.
2017 Ford F-150 XLT 4X2 Safety
Thankfully, our trips to and from far-west Texas were accident-free, so we didn’t need the F-150’s front, front side impact, head curtain, and rear seatbelt airbags. Curve Control, AdvanceTrac stability control, and a tire pressure monitoring system did their jobs to make sure we stayed shiny side up.
2017 Ford F-150 XLT 4X2 Overall
The useful options on our handsome, comfortable, powerful, and modestly but practically equipped 2017 Ford F-150 XLT media loaner brought its base price up from $32,480 to $48,215.* To start your personal story of owning a 2017 Ford F-150 XLT, visit an an AutoNation Ford dealership.
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2017 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.