Owner’s Log: 2015 Ford F-150 Lariat (12/2015 – 3/2016)

OwnersLog2

Welcome to the first update on the newest addition to my driveway, a 2015 Ford F-150 Lariat SuperCrew.  The truck is just starting the break-in period, with 2,300+ miles driven this quarter.  I’m getting used to the laundry list of new features, so this will be a longer-than-normal update.  Catch up first by reading my review (opens in a new tab), and then continue reading for the details.

Stats:

Time Period: 12/20/2015 – 3/20/2016
Miles Driven: 2,354 / 2,707 (this update / total) (truck had approximately 350 miles on it when I bought it)
Average MPG: 16.0 mpg (reported by on-board computer)
Avg MPG for Year: 14.86 (hand-calculated)

Costs:

Maintenance Costs: $0
Repairs: $0.00
Total Cost (non-fuel): $0.00

Services Performed:

  • 2/18/16 – Diagnosis for several transmission-related issues.  All but one found to be “normal operating characteristic” of the truck, and one required a transmission adaptive learning memory clearing, as per Ford Hotline.  See below for more details.

Summary:

2015 Ford F-150 Drivers Side

The Blue Jean Metallic paint appears different under different lighting conditions, as shown here

Man, what a color!  I’ve gotten quite a few looks in the new truck, as apparently Ford doesn’t make a bunch of them with Blue Jean Metallic paint.  It’s an absolutely stunning color in the sunlight, when the metal flake pops.  On overcast days, it appears to be a darker blue, and almost looks black at night.  Not since my 2001 Mustang, which was painted in Ford’s “True Blue,” have I liked a color so much.

That said, it’s not all roses with the new F-150.  The transmission hesitates to downshift when at low RPMs (1,050 to 1,150, generally), and there are some other weird noises going on, but the truck hasn’t spit out parts or fluids, and every other new F-150 I’ve test driven exhibits the same symptoms.  I think part of the issues with the new truck stem from the new aluminum cab and bed.  The lighter-weight material makes the truck easier to drive (dare I say car-like?) but at a cost of not isolating the driver from noises and vibrations they normally wouldn’t notice.  I took the truck in to have the transmission looked at, and they said nothing was wrong with it, and opted to clear the transmission’s Adaptive Learning Memory.  All new computer-controlled automatic transmissions feature a learning mode, where it figures out how its driver likes it best and modifies its programming to accommodate.  This reset was done several hundred miles ago, and seems to have helped with most of the issues, for now.  I’ll let you know if any of them return en mass.

Those little issues are a drop in the bucket compared to the overwhelming pleasure it is to pilot Ford’s bread-and-butter vehicle around town and on the highway.  With the new truck, it’s the little things that all add up to a luxury-car-with-a-bed experience.  Things like the keyless entry/keyless go system, like the Lincoln MKS and Nissan Maxima sedans I owned back when Road Reality was first starting out.  It’s befitting of the tech-laden giant sitting in my driveway.  Another of my favorites is the heated steering wheel, which turns on with remote start – a real hand-saver on a cold morning.

Ford has redesigned their key fobs for 2015, including two-way remote start, which includes an LED to indicate the success or failure of a remote start operation.  The downside of the new fob is that the buttons are far too easy to be pressed by other items in your pocket, or even just your own leg.  I’ve hit the panic button several times by just sitting or moving around.  I’ll be ordering key jackets for the fobs in the near future, like I did for the keys of the aforementioned Maxima.

On to more tech, the Lane Keep Assist (LKA) and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) systems came in handy in February when I drove to Pennsylvania, the truck loaded down with 3 adults, 2 dogs, and a bed full of luggage and other detritus.  While these systems are normally stress-relieving, the snow-covered roads and whiteout conditions piled it back on.  Thankfully, the truck’s 4A (4-auto) mode, which engages the front wheels when steering angle allow or tire slippage require, kept things in check.  There was nary a tire out of place in almost 12 hours of driving.

I’ve used the LKA and ACC in many other situations, and it’s generally a great helper.  In a couple of instances, such as overpasses, the ACC system got confused by shadows and started braking, only to resume the set speed a split second later.  This has been the only malady thus far with the ACC system.  It works well, even in rush hour commuting traffic, where speeds vary from 15 to 65 MPH.  Note that the ACC system will disable itself when the speed falls to 10 or 12 MPH, giving you an audible and visual cue.  Once speeds get back up around 20 MPH, you can resume your speed.  As for the LKA, it generally works well, even at night on rain-soaked roads, where my own visibility has been reduced.  Very faint lane markings and snow-covered roads make the LKA inoperative, so you still have to keep an eye on the road.  The LKA system also has an “aid” mode, wherein it uses the electronic steering to keep you in your lane.  It works well, almost too well, as the truck made a moderate adjustment to my steering wheel’s angle when I took a highway off-ramp.  I hadn’t realized I was going to miss the corner by a couple of feet, but the truck knew, so it just handled it for me.  Nice.

Winter driving in inclement weather has its risks, which gave me a chance to put the Goodyears to the test on ice, which coated local roads during the area’s first snowfall.  While other vehicles were sliding everywhere, the F-150 simply went about its business as if the roads were dry.  The only time I ever slid was the last few feet before a stop light, but there were no white-knuckle moments.

Back to the road trip – I had recently installed my BAK Revolver X2 and BAK Box 2 cover and tool box, and both worked out great for the trip.  With the short bed (5.5′), the tool box, there’s about 4′ of usable space, but I was able to stuff luggage and other boxes underneath of the tool box, which helped.  I surely could’ve used more space, but we made it work.  The bed stayed 99% dry, with only a little water getting in at the tailgate, which is common.  I wouldn’t hesitate to put luggage or other items in there in the future.

Also, having driven through all that snow, there were plenty of wet shoes and boots getting into and out of my truck, and the Husky X-Act Contour mats worked perfectly to keep all the salt and wetness out of the truck’s carpet.  I definitely recommend getting a set of them for your own vehicle, as they are better than the WeatherTech floor mats I had in my last truck.  They’re made of a softer rubber, and include nibs on the bottom, the former preventing your shoes from slipping, the latter preventing the mats themselves from sliding around.  The WeatherTech mats I had in my last truck slid and gave no purchase for your shoes, which I didn’t care for.

Aside from the road trip, a lot of commuting has been done, and I’d say it’s about 80% city, 20% highway.  Given a reported 16 MPG (and hand-calculated 14.9 MPG), the truck is already getting 2-3 MPGs better than my last truck did in the winter time.  That’s commendable, and the 36 gallon fuel tank has come in handy, requiring less stops for fuel on the highway.  As the miles add up, the mileage should increase as the engine breaks in.  For the last several vehicles I’ve owned, synthetic or synthetic blend oil was used, which increases the amount of miles it takes to fully break in an engine, from about 5,000 with regular oil to 15,000 with full synthetic.  On the highway, I recorded 17-19 MPGs, most of which was in 4A and snowy conditions with lots of stop-and-go.

This winter, the mid-Atlantic region experienced a record snowfall, and the truck was able to plow through about 18″ of snow, leaving behind a trail from the rear differential and the front air dam.  I even went down a road that had a 4′ snow berm at the end, with a truck on the other side of it.  I rocked the truck to get a few feet of running room, and even without the electronic-locking rear differential, 4-Lo was enough to get the truck running back up the road.  Fun stuff!

Now that Spring is here and the temperatures are climbing, I’m seeing better fuel economy, as the engine and transmission warm up quicker, so look for my next update in June to see just how well the new F-150 is doing.  Hopefully by then it will have had its first oil change and I’ll have some new adventures to talk about.

Dated Notes:

  • none

General Observations:

  • none

by John Suit

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