Ford's 2014 F-150 Falls to 3rd Place -- for Now

Ford's F-150 still has plenty of loyal fans. But Consumer Reports likes the new Chevy better -- at least for now. Photo credit: Ford Motor Co.

The latest update in the full-sized pickup wars came from Consumer Reports on Tuesday. The venerable consumer magazine has tested General Motors' (NYSE: GM  ) all-new Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups – and it rates  GM's new trucks as the new top dogs.

But as the magazine's testers point out, it was a close battle: Not between the Chevy and the Ford (NYSE: F  ) F-150, America's top-selling pickup, but between the Chevy and Chrysler's Ram 1500, which got a big update for 2013.

The Ford? It fell to third.

A tough showing for Ford's flagship product
Technically, if you look at Consumer Reports' rating page for full-sized pickups, the Ford fell to fifth – behind the Sierra, the Silverado, GM's Chevy Avalanche, and the Ram 1500. That's a dim showing for the Blue Oval, and it's at odds with many buyers' perceptions. What's the deal?

Well, the deal is pretty simple: Fresher products usually win in these kinds of comparisons. The Chevy is all-new. It was just released a few months ago – in fact, dealers are still selling down the outgoing models. But already there are signs that it's gaining ground on Ford.

And while the Ram isn't all-new, it got a major refresh for the 2013 model year, and reviews have been very positive. Consumer Reports' testers think the Ram is the most comfortable pickup to drive, with a "smooth ride" and a "whisper-quiet cabin".

Meanwhile, Ford has soldiered on with its F-150, which gets a nip and tuck almost every year but which hasn't had a major refresh since 2011 – and which hasn't been all-new since 2009.

That is expected to change soon, of course. It's widely believed that Ford will show an all-new F-150 at the North American International Auto Show in January, and will roll it out to dealers next spring. Given the success of Ford's other recent new products, that new F-150 is likely to be a very strong contender – but meanwhile, the Chevy and the Ram are the top dogs, at least in Consumer Reports' eyes.

So how much does this matter?
Probably not all that much.

The F-Series is still a very strong product line. Ford's fuel-efficient powertrains are favorites of many fleet managers, and Ford pickup customers tend to be very loyal as a group. And of course Ford has a big incentive to protect its pickup franchise -- the F-Series is its most profitable product line anywhere in the world.

It's unlikely that the F-Series' lead in overall sales in the booming U.S. pickup market will be dented very heavily. GM's new pickups are a clear improvement over the old ones, but GM took a relatively conservative approach to their redesign: The new Silverado and Sierra are very nice, but they're not game-changing products – and they weren't intended to be.

But Ford's new pickup could be a big leap forward. Will it be enough for Ford to grab and hold top-dog status in these kinds of reviews as well as in the marketplace? We'll find out in a few months.

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Read/Post Comments (9) | Recommend This Article (5)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On September 18, 2013, at 9:16 AM, ABN2nds wrote:

    And Ford will still sell more than the other two for the over 30th time.

  • Report this Comment On September 18, 2013, at 9:19 AM, picquay wrote:

    Consumer reports suck.

  • Report this Comment On September 18, 2013, at 10:58 AM, TMFMarlowe wrote:

    @ABN2nds: Seems likely. There have been times when the Chevy and the GMC combined outsold the Ford, but not recently. Even with an older product, Ford has so much momentum and strength in this segment.

    Thanks for reading.

    John Rosevear

  • Report this Comment On September 18, 2013, at 11:04 AM, AmericanFirst wrote:

    Yep,

    Ford will be fine and not at the expense of bondholders, creditors, and taxpayers.

  • Report this Comment On September 18, 2013, at 1:40 PM, AcuraT wrote:

    GM's Chevy Avalanche is not newer.... it is older than dirt. Why it was discontinued in 2014. So Ford's product is going to move to fourth automatically since one of the products is not made anymore. Not sure why Ford did worse than the Avalanche - does anyone know why?

  • Report this Comment On September 18, 2013, at 5:33 PM, AmericanFirst wrote:

    Rosey / AcuraT,

    See the attached review from Car & Driver, which you are "in business." ...................no stereo / fridge reviews here. Yes, GM has the newest truck and scored well, Ford was the oldest, but the Ford Eco-Boost / transmission smoked the Silverado / Ram.

    The 2015 Ford will be a game, wait and see.

    92197535

  • Report this Comment On September 18, 2013, at 5:35 PM, AmericanFirst wrote:

    Rssey / AcuraT,

    The link for my previous comment:

    http://www.caranddriver.com/comparisons/final-scoring-perfor...

  • Report this Comment On September 19, 2013, at 12:24 PM, SkepikI wrote:

    There is one thing and ONLY one thing I look at Consumer Reports for- their reported reliability/repair data. I even take that with a grain of salt. Their reviews involving "opinion ratings" and "taste" I generally ignore and find at worst, laughable and at best curiously odd. This is on things I have a lot of personal experience on like wine and my own personal vehicle- 99 Subaru outback 400 miles shy of 400,000. No fooling (pun intended). I've had a jaundiced view of them ever since they tried to scam my 95 year old father-in-law out of a 5 year subscription....

    All that said, I found this tidbit and the commentary very illuminating. How about the line on 2014 Focus and Fusion JR? Good for a long article I reckon...

  • Report this Comment On October 03, 2013, at 9:41 PM, Bordo45 wrote:

    I am in the market to buy a truck and read the Consumers reports article.

    I owned a Chevy before and experienced first hand the interior falling apart, radio not working, and buttons not lasting. That was 15+ years ago, so I thought I would try them again.

    I went to the GMC dealer in Dublin California, was shown a truck with lots of bells and whistles.

    Sitting in the drivers seat after starting the vehicle, I was trying to turn the fan down which was blowing air in my face as I attempted to talk to the salesman. No luck, the fan knob was not working, the frantic salesman couldn't get the fan speed to go down, and I told him this was a deal breaker. End of story, I brought a Ford F-150.

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