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Ford F150 2015 review


World’s biggest selling pick-up, the Ford F150, isn’t coming to Australia despite a boom in ute sales. We get behind the wheel to find out what we’re missing.

The Ford F150 is the biggest selling ute on the planet, the top selling passenger vehicle in the US for 33 years, and the most popular pick-up for 38 years running.

This is the all-new model, and the first ute of its size in the world to be made from lightweight aluminium -- the same technology used in luxury Jaguar limousines and other prestige cars.

Ford has also replaced a number of its V8 engines with turbocharged V6s, for improved fuel efficiency.

Which is why, at first, I scrunched my nose at the prospect of such a small engine in such a big truck.

I was blown away by the performance

The 2.7-litre turbo V6 petrol is so small I had to stand on the tips of my toes to see the engine tucked away in the dark recess under the bonnet.

But my facial expression quickly changed as soon as I was blown away by the performance. It even delivered a slight chirp from the rear tyres, so sharp is the acceleration.

The other thing that was easy to get used to is the size: there are pockets everywhere in the F150. You’ll never find your phone or wallet again.

Visibility is surprisingly good, in part because of the recesses at the top of the windscreen and the cut of the leading edge of the driver’s and front passenger’s doors.

Next up was the turbo 3.5-litre V6 which Ford has ingeniously managed to make sound like a V8. And fast? Let’s just say the chirp from the tyres -- unintentional, honest -- sounded more like a flock of birds.

The only negative of the 3.5-litre V6 is knowing that it’s not a V8. But from the outside, no-one would notice, let alone care. And you get to pocket the savings in fuel in the meantime.

There is no doubt the F150 would be a winner here

But here’s the real tough pill to swallow: these trucks cost from $30,000 to $60,000 in the US. The same price range we pay for our one-size-smaller utes out of Thailand.

There is no doubt the F150 would be a winner here. It is so iconic that Australians fit fake grilles to their Thailand-made Ford Ranger pick-ups to try to make them look like its Big Brother from the USA.

Why can't Ford wave the same magic wand over the F150 as it did to get the Mustang to our shores?

Maybe it would be easier to get the Federal Government to allow left-hand-drive cars than it would be to convince Ford to bring the star of its line-up Down Under.

Unfortunately, there was sad news for Aussie Ford fans out of Detroit this week. The ‘blue oval’ brand has formally ruled out plans to sell the all-new F150 in Australia -- even though ute sales are at record levels.

Ford says the new F150 won’t make the boat because we won’t buy enough of them to justify the millions of dollars required to relocate the steering wheel from one side of the cabin to the other.

The last time Ford sold the mighty F-Series pick-up in Australia was in 2007, when the conversions to right-hand-drive were done in a Ford factory in Brazil.

Instead, Australians who want a US Ford pick-up will continue to be forced to buy vehicles that have been converted locally with hand-made, non-genuine steering systems, and which cost more than $120,000 -- more than double their US price -- even though they have not been crash-tested or redesigned to meet the same standards as a factory-built right-hand-drive car.

Ford says the Ranger ute more than meets the needs of Australian buyers and has closed the gap to the Toyota HiLux.

Arch rival, the Dodge Ram, is due Down Under by the end of this year

There is also a new Ford Ranger due in Australian showrooms in late July or early August with more safety features than any ute on sale today.

While Ford may be leaving the heavy-duty pick-up market alone, its arch rival, the Dodge Ram, is due Down Under by the end of this year after an independent distributor won the exclusive rights to buy the trucks from the US factory and have them converted to manufacturer standards by a sister company to Holden Special Vehicles.

Here’s hoping that Dodge Ram is so successful that Ford will reconsider its F150 decision.