Base Camp: 2020 F-150 XL
Every week, wheels.ca selects a new vehicle on sale in Canada and takes a good look at its entry-level trim. If we find it worthy of your consideration, we'll let you know. If not, we'll recommend one that earns a passing grade.
The only thing most Canadians love more than a good bargain is a good pickup truck. This helps to explain why the Ford F-Series sits solidly in first place as this country’s most popular vehicle. In fact, Blue Oval shoppers drove away with 28,515 new trucks in the first quarter of this year.
While the vast majority of them were SuperCrew or SuperCab models loaded with options and features, base model F-150 pickups are not impossible to find on dealer lots. Starting at $32,339, the rear-wheel drive XL trim features a single bench seat in the cab and an 6.5-foot box out back, just the way nature and Henry Ford intended it.
Under the hood is a 3.3-L V6 mill making 290 horsepower just five ponies shy of the 5.4-L V8 offered for years as the truck’s top engine. The transmission is a six-speed, though, not the silken ten-cog unit found hooked to other F-150 engines. Its rear-wheel drive layout is equipped with AdvanceTrac and Trailer Sway Control to keep things on the straight and narrow. Speaking of, this trim can tow about 5000 pounds.
Inside is a mix of modern and throwback features. Air conditioning and a rear view camera with handy built-in hitch assist joins retro touches like a black vinyl floor covering and manual door locks. Yes, you’ll have to reach across the truck and pull up on the lock plunger to let your spouse in the cab just like you did back when you started dating. To adjust your side mirrors, roll (yes, roll) down the window and put a thumb print on the reflective surface.
It’s easy to spot a bog standard F-150, given its black plastic front fascia and 17-inch steel wheels. Those manual side mirrors are flat black as well. Ford does permit the selection of interesting colours, including zoomy Race Red and Velocity Blue. Agate Black hides the base trimmings.
What We’d Pick
It isn’t the vinyl floor, nor the roll up windows, that we’d choose to change in the cheapest of Ford half-tons. The dandy 2.7L EcoBoost, with 325 horsepower and a shocking 400lb.-ft of torque is just a $700 upgrade, making it a no-brainer option to select. It brings with it the 10-speed automatic and a 7500lb towing rating, too. No matter what engine you choose, splash out $500 for an electronic-locking rear axle; otherwise, you’ve essentially bought a one-wheel drive truck.