The Ford F-150 is one of those American trucks that people love or loath on Aussie roads.
And fair enough - it’s huge!
However, there is no doubt that if you are looking for the best example of a right-hand drive converted American truck - competing against the Chevrolet Silverado, RAM 1500 and upcoming Toyota Tacoma - it’s impossible to look past the Ford Australia engineering backed F-150.
It’s big, it’s immensely powerful, and its ability to do jobs mid-sized ute’s simply cannot compete with is undeniable.
How is the Ford F-150 converted (re-manufactured)?
The F-150 lands in Victoria, Australia as a left-hand drive vehicle, however, it does have an Australian specific VIN.
It comes in two-trims, both heavily optioned for Australia: the XLT and LARIAT.
The vehicles then make their way to RMA Group in Mickleham, Victoria. RMA Group won the competitive tender Ford released to partner in converting (or re-manufacturing as Ford prefers) the F-150.
Once it arrives, all F-150s go through a photo documenting process to ensure they all leave as they arrived - i.e., in perfect factory condition.
They are then all disassembled for the process of re-manufacturing. When touring the RMA facility, the amount of effort that goes into each truck was truly fascinating.
This isn’t as simple a process as moving the steering wheel over, there is some extremely complicated works going on, including:
Installing a bespoke HVAC (air-conditioning system), which performs better than the Left-Hand Drive F-150;
Replacing the structural bar behind the dashboard;
Disassembling the lights (for the LARIAT) and CNC’ing them back together to fit Australian Design Rules (ADR);
Replacing the entire truck’s wiring harness for RHD (this is a huge process that required Ford Engineers to re-design. Other converted Trucks usually splice and extend wires, which is often thought to be less reliable.);
Replacing the steering rack with Ranger Raptors rack (yes, that makes a huge difference to how it handles);
Remanufacturing seats and seat motors;
Replacing software in the infotainment to make sure it is RHD specific;
Replacing towing controls so they are in reach of driver, and all other imperative driving controls;
Much, much more.
Upon completion of conversion, the trucks then go through a ‘rattle and squeak’ test loop around the RMA facility, with more checks completed.
If there are any issues, the F-150 will then go through the re-manufacturing process again.
Assuming there are no issues, the F-150 then gets shipped off to the respective dealer for sale.
Speaking to the Australian engineers, their goal was to develop something “at least as good” as the LHD F-150. In off-record chats though, as part of their testing, they told CarSauce that in many ways it performed even better than the LHD F-150.
I will say, having driven the F-150 for an extensive amount of time in the US this year, the Aussie spec F-150 performs better. We’ll talk more about that though in the drive segment.
How much does the F-150 cost?
Don’t expect a bargain when buying the F-150, the R&D for engineering and remanufacturing costs a lot.
Not to mention, the standard of features in the Australian F-150 is high because the cost of remanufacturing is so high, you might as well make it fully loaded.
The Ford F-150 is available as a Short-Wheel Base (SWB) with a 3683mm (145-inch) wheelbase and 1676mm (5.5-foot) styleside box or Long-Wheel Base (LWB) that extends the wheelbase to 3987mm (157-inch) and styleside box to 1981mm (6.5-foot) for an extra $995 AUD.
Ford F-150 XLT SWB ($106,950 AUD before on-road costs)
Two-bar style grille with chrome surround and black accents
20-inch six-spoke machined faced alloy wheels
Chrome front and rear bumpers
Black platform running boards
Tailgate with flexible step and work surface
Tough Bed spray-in bedliner
Boxlink cargo management locking cleats
12-way power (including lumbar) driver cloth seat
10-way power (including lumbar) front passenger cloth seat
Column mounted gear shifter
SYNC 4 with eight-inch centre touchscreen
Satellite Navigation system
Seven-speaker sound system
Eight-inch multiview digital instrument cluster
Dual zone automatic climate control
Power adjustable foot pedals
Foldout office workspace
Rear view camera
Rear parking sensors
Ford Pro-Trailer Back-Up Assist
Pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking (AEB)
BLIS with cross-traffic alert and trailer tow coverage
Lane-keeping aid and driver alert system
F-150 LARIAT SWB ($139,950 AUD before on-road costs)
Additional features over XLT:
Premium mesh insert grille with chrome surround
Chrome appearance package including mirror scalps, door handles, belt moldings, tow hooks, and running boards
Powered twin-panel moonroof
LED headlights, fog lights, and taillamps
Power release and close tailgate
Power sliding rear window
Heated and cooled front seats
Heated rear seats (excluding middle seat)
12-way power (including lumbar) driver seat with memory settings
12-way power (including lumbar) front passenger seat
Floor console mounted shifter
12-inch centre touchscreen
12-inch digital instrument cluster
B&O unleashed sound system by Bang & Olufsen with 18 speakers
Power adjustable foot pedals with memory settings
Front parking sensors
Intelligent adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go
Speed sign recognition
Evasive steering assist
Wireless phone charging
Oxford White is the only standard paint colour, with Agate Black, Iconic Silver, Antimatter Blue, Carbonized Grey and Rapid Red (LARIAT only) being cost options.
What’s the interior and connectivity like of the Ford F-150?
The first thing I did when getting into the Ford F-150 was poke and prod every surface I could looking for manufacturing imperfections.
I struggled to find anything.
In fact, sitting in the Ford F-150, you’d be hard pressed to notice this was ever delivered with the steering wheel on the opposite side, which is no easy feat.
Starting with the obvious, the interior space of the F-150 is HUGE. It’s almost not an exaggeration to say your passenger is sitting in another postcode.
Although on the launch program I spent about as much time in the XLT as the LARIAT, for this review we will focus on the LARIAT (though the XLT will be mentioned, don’t worry!).
If you’ve spent much time in any Ford product, the interior will be familiar with you - just obviously, on a grand scale.
The 12-way adjustable seats provide an incredibly comfortable ‘lounge’ like experience, with plenty of support whilst also allowing for plenty of space. Let’s just say, it’s clearly designed with the consideration of BMI.
The upgraded 12” infotainment display is running Ford’s SYNC software, and is very responsive to the touch. I will say, if you are using any of the towing features, the XLT’s smaller 8” display is far more difficult to use.
It’s impressive to see that Ford Engineers have actually gone through the effort of redesigning the software for RHD, for example when changing the balance of the speaker system, the driver's seat is on the right side. Small attention to detail like this is not something you find in competitors.
Speaking of speakers, the 18 speaker Bang and Olufsen sound system has also been re-tuned for RHD - with Ford telling of the story where the sound engineer from B&O flew in to tune the speakers but ended up leaving Australia with COVID. Sorry!
They do sound fantastic, and with speakers in the headrest of the LARIAT, you really do get to appreciate the sound.
Storage space is a given, being literally everywhere. In the LARIAT, you do get a wireless charger as well, with 2 xUSB-A and 2 x USB-C ports up front.
The LARIAT also comes with the T-Bar shifter, which has a nifty trick of mechanically folding away to allow for the iconic work table to fold down from the centre armrest.
Ford Engineers told us they have to remanufacture 30 individual parts on the shifter - which is LARIAT exclusive - just to make it RHD compatible.
Interestingly, the XLT get’s a column mounted shifter, so it doesn’t have this issue - whilst also getting the factory optional workstation.
Up in front of the driver is another 12” display - similar to that found on the Ford Ranger Raptor - which shows plenty of information and has cool graphics when switching between the plethora of driving modes.
In reality, it doesn’t show any more information than the XLT’s 8” digital instrument cluster, but it certainly does look impressive.
Another cool party trick of the F-150 is its power adjustable pedals. So if you or your partner are vertically challenged, you can quite literally move the brake and accelerator pedals to ensure that quite literally anyone can drive the F-150 no matter their size.
Even the leather steering wheel is noticeably big, with plenty of buttons which are thankfully very logically laid out.
Sitting in the Ford F-150, there is no doubt you get that cliche ‘King of the Road’ feeling - but you quite literally are, it’s BIG.
What about the back seats of the F-150?
Again, the back seats are comically large.
They do have an easy lift system, where you can raise up the base and get a useable space that would out-rival most hatchback’s boots.
In the LARIAT, the enormous panoramic sunroof really does help to brighten the interior, and as you would expect, at 5’11” I have acres of legroom, headroom and toeroom.
In the LARIAT too, the outboard seats are heated, however there is no third zone of climate control despite the air vents. That’s a small loss at this price point, but a loss nonetheless.
Kids will be happy there, however, with a USB-A port, USB-C port and 12v socket to keep devices charged.
How much can it fit in the tub of the Ford F-150?
The F-150 LWB tub has a length of 1,981mm, width of 1656mm and height of 543mm.
The F-150 SWB tub has a length of 1676mm, width of 1656mm and a height of 543mm.
Although size wise, the F-150 outdoes all mid-sized Utes in Australia like the Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux, payload is not great.
The best payload is on the XLT LWB at just 794kg, with the worst payload being on the LARIAT SWB at just 685kg.
This is similar across the large American truck competitors in Australia, with the Chevrolet Silverado LTZ managing 757kg and the RAM 1500 Big Horn managing 878kg.
Getting into the tub of the F-150 is incredibly easy, with a fold out step and handle within the powered tailgate of the LARIAT, or gas strut tailgate of the XLT.
What’s under the bonnet of the Ford F-150?
In the US, the Ford F-150 is offered with six different engines. However, in Australia, we only get one - the most popular US choice, however.
Powering both the XLT and LARIAT is a 3.5L twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 petrol engine, which pumps out 298kW of power and 678Nm of torque.
Although both the XLT and LARIAT come with a 10-speed torque converter transmission, arguably the biggest difference between the two are the 4-wheel drive systems.
The XLT comes with a part-time 4wd system that can only be activated off-road. That sends power to the rear wheels when on paved surfaces (i.e. roads).
Alternatively, the LARIAT comes with a permanent 4wd system which operates most of the time in RWD however can send power to the front-wheels when it detects slip, even on sealed surfaces.
How does the F-150 drive?
Although some may be disappointed by the lack of a V8, I’m very willing to say don’t be.
The power and torque of the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 is mighty and is enough to pin you back in your seat when you floor it.
It also sounds remarkably good, although you can thank the 18-speaker Bang and Olufsen sound system for helping to pump in some engine noise into the cabin.
In fact, the XLT trim in SWB comes in lighter and more powerful than the Ranger Raptor, meaning it can achieve 0-100kmh times faster than the Ranger Raptor.
I actually timed the 0-100kmh sprint of the LARIAT LWB - supposedly the slowest F-150 in Australia - at just 5.70 seconds, which is 0.18 seconds faster than what I timed the Ranger Raptor at.
Although the LARIAT does come in substantially more expensive than the XLT, the added benefit of the permanent 4wd system is almost a must.
When driving the XLT, I noticed enough wheel slip even while pottering around to make me a bit on edge. It was never dangerous - the traction system would kick in and bring the XLT back in line - but it was enough that it was always in the back of my mind when turning corners or driving at highway speeds on windy roads.
The F150 in Australia comes with the American suspension tune, which has a surprisingly dynamic feeling. Usually American suspension is unbearable on Aussie roads as they have to deal with concrete highways and expansion joints, so they make suspension incredibly soft.
Whilst definitely being comfort focused, around a corner the F-150 handled surprisingly well. That could also be put down to the Ford Ranger Raptor steering rack they put into Aussie F-150s.
When you change the drive mode into Sport, the steering wheel feels nice and heavy in the hands, and the handling of the F-150 becomes almost unnaturally good. It stops feeling like a big American truck, and starts feeling half its actual size.
It's a strange phenomenon, but a real hats off moment for the engineers. As I said earlier, they wanted this to be at least as good as LHD and with this engineering, they’ve made it better.
Sure, there is still plenty of body-roll when you really push the F-150, but it’s the most agile American truck I have certainly driven.
And there is also no doubt that you do get that ‘king of the road’ feel. Even the Ranger Raptor looks laughably small compared to the F-150 when side-by-side, and you do really sit at the height of most commercial trucks on the road.
But it never felt too big on the road, which was a pleasant surprise I wasn’t expecting.
I will say, however, driving the F-150 around suburban streets and the city would be no easy feat so it’s a tough recommendation for inner-city dwellers.
Also fuel economy was surprisingly good, averaging around 12L/100km (unladen, to be fair) on mostly highway but some urban driving.
Having spent quite a lot of time driving both the Chevrolet Silverado and Dodge RAM 1500, I’m confident in saying that the Aussie spec Ford F-150 is the best driving large American truck on our roads.
Is the F-150 Safe?
Currently, the Ford F-150 hasn’t undergone evaluations by ANCAP, Australia's vehicle safety authority. However, in its home turf of the USA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has lauded the vehicle with a five-star safety distinction.
Standard safety inclusions for the Ford F-150 are:
Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
Blind-spot monitoring with trailer tow coverage
Rear cross-traffic alert
Driver alert system
Ford Pro Trailer Back-Up Assist
The Lariat adds:
Evasive steering assist
Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
Speed sign recognition
Front parking sensors
How much can the Ford F-150 tow?
For most people, the major reason to buy a Ford F-150 over a Ranger is the 4,500kg braked towing capacity - 1 tonne more than any other mid-sized Ute.
We did some towing tests for the launch with a bobcat excavator and large campervan and the F-150 towed both as if they weren’t there.
The F-150 also comes with Ford’s Pro Trailer Backup Assist, which replaces the steering wheel controls with a dial next to the infotainment display. This allows the driver to keep their eye on the high definition trailer facing cameras with guides for reversing, and the steering wheel moves independently.
How much does the Ford F-150 cost to service?
The Ford F-150 comes with a 5-year, unlimited kilometer warranty.
Ford have not finalised their servicing costs as of writing this review, however we will update this as soon as they send them through sometime next week.
298kW + 678NmWhat's CarSauce's take on the 2024 Ford F-150?
Being honest, most people DO NOT need the Ford F-150 over a Ford Ranger.
Unless you are towing often, or want the final word in the biggest Ute race, the F-150 is not going to be an ideal choice for you considering its sheer size.
However, I cannot fault the incredible engineering that has gone into the F-150, making it the best American truck in our market at the moment.
It has an effortless powertrain, an immense amount of standard equipment, space galore, and a ride quality that is unparalleled in this space.
Whether that’s worth the asking price is up to you, but if you’ve got a lot of cash to splash, perhaps the Ford F-150 is right for you.
Matt Brand, the esteemed car critic from Car Sauce, offers unparalleled expertise on all things automotive. From new car releases to pre-owned options, he provides in-depth analysis and honest evaluations to guide readers through the car-buying process. Join us as he delves into the exciting world of motoring.