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Review: The 2019 Ford F-150 Limited offers seriously impressive capability and luxury

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Key Points
  • Despite being older than trucks from Fiat Chrysler or GM, Ford's volume-selling truck still handily outsells its chief rivals.
  • After a week with one, it's not hard to see how this is the best-selling motor vehicle in the world.
  • We think the top-trim Ram trucks are still the best luxury truck values, but the F-150 is so good that it's hard to find substantive faults.
The 2019 Ford F-150 Limited pickup
Mack Hogan | CNBC

The Ford F-Series is huge. It outsells every other car and truck in the world, despite being sold in only a handful of markets. And despite going up against all-new trucks from General Motors and Fiat Chrysler, the older Ford trucks are having no issues maintaining a healthy sales lead.

Its truck business is so robust Ford felt comfortable giving up on mainstream passenger cars altogether, pivoting to only trucks, SUVs and the Mustang. After a week with the company's volume-selling truck, it's not hard to see why.

The 2019 Ford F-150 Limited pickup
Mack Hogan | CNBC

The good

The F-150 last received a full redesign for the 2015 model year, while Ram, Chevy and GMC all gave their trucks full overhauls for 2019. In the hotly competitive full-size truck market, you'd expect the high-budget newcomers to massively upstage the older F-150. You'd be wrong.

Despite all of the advancements, Chevy and Ram have made, the Ford F-150 still offers industry-leading towing capacity when properly configured with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost motor. Opt for the EcoBoost high output engine, like our $74,595 Limited tester had, and you get a best-in-class 450 horsepower rating.

The 2019 Ford F-150 Limited pickup
Mack Hogan | CNBC

And despite being a generation older, Ford's interiors are still a step ahead of Chevy and GMC in terms of design and premium feeling. We found our Limited tester to be a great place to spend serious seat time, with a cavernous cabin and easy controls. Leather covers almost every surface you touch, while ash swirl wood serves accents the dashboard and doors.

You can also get a ton of technology for a truck. We had massaging seats to play with, a massive panoramic sunroof and an adaptive cruise control system. Considering GM omitted adaptive cruise control — a must-have feature for road trips — from its brand new 2019 trucks, it's impressive to see Ford offering it on the older platform.

Since the Ford matches or beats trucks from Ram, Chevy and GMC in terms of technology right now, we wouldn't be surprised if Ford took a big step in front of the competition when it redesigns the F-150 in the next year or two.

The 2019 Ford F-150 Limited pickup
Mack Hogan | CNBC

We were also impressed by the comfortable and controlled ride. It wasn't quite as subtle as the Ram 1500 Laramie we drove earlier in 2019, but it's still plenty nice for a truck. And since that EcoBoost high output motor comes straight from the Ford F-150 Raptor, it's darn quick too. You almost never have to use all of that power, which keeps the truck quiet and composed in pretty much every daily situation.

Much like we said with the Ram 1500, we're impressed by the ability to get a truly luxurious experience in a massively capable truck. $74,595 is a lot of money, but you're getting two very competent packages in one.

The 2019 Ford F-150 Limited pickup
Mack Hogan | CNBC

The bad

The F-150 costs a lot more than the $66,370 Ram 1500 Laramie we reviewed in March.

To be sure the F-150 has a few things the Ram didn't, like massaging seats, but expect to pay more for the top-trim Ford than for a Ram or Chevy. And while you're getting the best towing and engine lineup out there, the Ram is still the class leader in comfort and interior quality.

The 2019 Ford F-150 Limited pickup
Mack Hogan | CNBC

Plus, while engine noise is well suppressed, you're still going to hear a lot of wind rushing over the big blocky Ford on the highway.

How we'd option it

The Limited is a great truck, but we're still not sold on spending that much for one. Instead, we'd go for a SuperCrew 4x4 Lariat model. We'd add the 502A package for a hefty $6,765 to add a lot of luxury features, like blind-spot monitoring, parking sensors and an upgraded audio system.

It's also $1,600 to get the EcoBoost 3.5-liter V-6, but we think that engine is well worth it. It's got great power and extremely good fuel economy for a truck.

As configured, our truck has most of the tech niceties that you need without the expensive whiz-bang features like massaging seats or 360-degree cameras. With a $57,890 price as optioned, it isn't cheap, but it's a seriously good truck.

The 2019 Ford F-150 Limited pickup
Mack Hogan | CNBC

Final thoughts

Toward the end of its product cycle, the F-150 still offers a compelling case for most buyers. Whether you're looking to maximize capability or luxury, you can get an F-150 that perfectly fits your needs.

We'd still give the nod to Fiat Chrysler's Ram 1500 as our go-to luxury truck value, but the F-150 is so capable and refined that we'd happily recommend it if you're willing to pay up for a fantastic truck.

The 2019 Ford F-150 Limited pickup
Mack Hogan | CNBC

Ratings:

Exterior: 4

Interior: 4

Driving Experience: 4.5

Value: 2.5

Overall: 3.8

Price as tested: $74,595

The 2019 Ford F-150 Limited pickup
Mack Hogan | CNBC