Critics’ Notebook: 2016 Ford F-150 Platinum
Forget about owning a Cadillac, this F-150 is plenty luxurious.
Remember riding around in your grandparents' huge Cadillac? Well, I don't, because my grandfather's a foreigner and always drove funny little foreign cars. But my more Anglo friends' grandparents had Caddies—big, floaty barges with seats more cushy than any overstuffed sofa. Road feel? If you wanted to feel the road you had to open the door, lean out, and put your hand on the pavement.
Those days are long-gone, but cushy luxo-yachts have found an unlikely successor in modern-day pickup trucks. I know the commercials for them always feature ranchers, construction bosses, and other masculine types driving through dust clouds, but after spending a couple of weeks behind the wheels of a few new pickups I'm convinced this segment is where the spirit of grandma's Caddy now lives. In particular, it seems to reside within the aluminum walls of the Ford F-150 Platinum.
That's not to say it's a bad thing. And it's also not an indictment of Cadillac making its cars smaller and more fun to drive. It's just that luxury has taken on a different form. (Sorry, Goodfellas!) In most ways, plush pickups are much better than the big cruisers that came before them, particularly since they combine comfort with utility. Ever try to carry concrete blocks and ready-to-plant trees home in the back of an old Cadillac? I hope not, because it sounds like a nightmare.
The Ford F-150 Platinum crew cab is available with comfortable heated and cooled leather upholstery, a cavernous rear seating area, and a giant, sliding roof window that makes the interior of an already roomy truck seem even larger. It's exactly what anyone who's looking for a really nice big car probably wants. It rides as smooth as the dream behemoths of old, and with all the present-day infotainment gadgets anyone can ask for. Only it's a truck, and a capable one at that, able to carry more than 2,000 pounds in the bed or tow more than 10,000 pounds behind it. Plus, it looks damned intimidating to the driver in front of you who doesn't want to move his ass out of the left lane.
If rich people don't already love these things, they should. You can tow a pretty big boat behind it and drive right up to the red carpet gala on the same day. Those wincing over their finances after paying nearly $63,000 for a pickup (a pickup!) will appreciate the fact that Ford's turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 turns in decent power numbers and even better fuel economy. Boasting 365 horsepower, 420 foot-pounds of torque, and 23 miles per gallon on the highway—not to mention a pleasing growl when you hit the gas—it offers a compelling option for someone who could also afford a really nice sedan.
Perhaps in the future, when pickups have been regulated enough that no one can afford to use them as cars anymore, we'll find ourselves driving luxury dump trucks and buses. Until then, this thing is pretty great.
2016 Ford F-150 Platinum
PRICE (as tested): $62,720
POWERTRAIN: 3.5-liter turbocharged V6; six-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
MPG: 17 city/23 highway
Cadillac Plushness: 8/10 (Grandma would approve except she can't climb in.)