2024 Ford F-150’s tough Aussie welcome
Ford’s large 4x4 ute undergoes local durability testing; due mid-year
Nine laps of the Aussie map. That’s 135,000km, which is the distance Ford Australia reckons it put on its locally converted right-hand-drive F-150s that have undergone durability testing at the You Yangs proving ground in Victoria in preparation for the large 4x4 ute’s local launch later this year. Ford says the F-150 has been punished with extreme temperatures, trailer towing, water crossings, ultrafine sand, mud and corrosion tests.
“When F-150 hits Australian showrooms, customers can rest assured it has been put through the same local durability program as the Ranger and Everest which, of course, is the same program the left-hand-drive F-150 went through in the States,” says Dave Burn, Performance and Customisation Chief Program Engineer for Ford Australia. “We’ve torture-tested, tuned and re-worked the right-hand-drive F-150 so that Aussie customers know they’re getting the full factory F-150 experience.”
The F-150 has been punished with extreme temperatures, trailer towing and water crossings
The F-150’s durability program has been conducted at Ford’s Silver Creek Road track, while some of the world’s “most punishing roads” were replicated in the laboratory with the F-150’s driveline, steering, wheels and suspension tested on a kinematic and compliance rig.
Ford Australia has confirmed we’ll get XLT and Lariat spec grades when the big unit is launched locally, expected to be around the middle of this year. Both models will be powered by a 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 (which, in US spec, makes 294kW/680Nm), mated to a 10-speed automatic, and each will be available two configurations: 3683mm short wheelbase (SWB) with a 1676mm load box and 3987mm long wheelbase (LWB) with a 1981mm load box. The F-150 will be remanufactured to right-hand drive by RMA Automotive at a facility in Mickleham, Victoria.
Comparisons with the current Ford Ranger highlight the F-150’s advantages for towing and payload capability. Maximum braked towing capacity for the F-150 is 4500kg; the 2023 Ford Ranger is a full 1000kg down on this at 3500kg.
The US-spec F-150 has a payload capacity of up to 1508kg, compared to 951kg for the Ranger.
As for dimensions, the F-150 Lariat SuperCrew measures 6185mm long, 2029mm wide, and 1971mm high. For comparison, the Ranger’s measurements are 5370/1918/1884mm. We don’t know at this stage what standard equipment will be fitted to Aussie F-150s, but there is no shortage of notable options available in the US, including onboard scales, which allow the multimedia to display the total weight being carried in the vehicle. The system can even use the taillights to function as indicators to display when you’re close to nudging maximum payload in the tray.
So how does the F-150 compare to its ‘full-size’ ute rivals from Ram and Chevrolet? Both are also locally converted to RHD, and both are powered by atmo V8s. The Ram 1500 runs a 5.7-litre petrol V8 developing 291kW and 556Nm hooked to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Chevrolet Silverado is powered by a 6.2-litre V8 good for 313kW/624Nm, backed by a 10-speed automatic.
Will the F-150 be hamstrung by having only six cylinders and a relatively small capacity in a segment where image counts for plenty? Fact is, the Ford’s boosted engine makes comparable peak power to both its Ram and Chevrolet rivals, and, with around 680Nm (at least in US spec; Australian output TBC) is actually stronger than both in terms of maximum torque, and delivers the twist across a flatter curve.
Ford Australia is understandably bullish about the F-150’s prospects with Aussie buyers. It claims that its dealers are holding 8000 expressions of interest in the vehicle, despite no price guidance at this stage.
The strength of local demand for large 4x4 utes has been proven by Ram and Chevrolet, both of which achieved record local sales in 2022. At the end of November, Ram had sold 5520 vehicles, putting it on track to exceed 6000 for the year, while Chevrolet – sold by General Motors Specialty Vehicles (GMSV) – had delivered 2045 Silverados with one month remaining in 2022.
How strongly the F-150 sells in Australia will be crucial in dictating whether Ford can establish a local business case for other F-150 variants, like the electric Lightning and the performance-focused Raptor.