It's official: Pickup trucks and luxury cars are now interchangeable. There was a time when buying a truck meant sacrificing comfort for utility, but those days are long gone. Take the Ford F150 Platinum 4x4 SuperCrew, for example. It boasts power running boards, heated and cooled leather seats and a cavernous interior, all in an aluminum-bodied package that can tow a horse trailer if it needs to.
I should also mention that the model we tested had a sticker price of nearly $63,000.
But, you get what you pay for. Adding to the improvements Ford introduced with the 2015 F-150 - chief among them being a revolutionary aluminum cab and bed - the automaker improved its Sync infotainment system, making it more accessible to the average human being. Ford apparently listened to the early detractors of the then-buggy system and streamlined its functions when it fixed the problems. It was easy to use; almost pleasant. The entire truck has a premium feel.
The F-150 looks good from a ways off, and the high-end Platinum trim adds bits of brushed aluminum to the exterior to make it look even better. As you approach the truck, its hugeness becomes palpable. It's still attractive, but the draw is more akin to what you'd feel looking at a particularly nice building. Clambering up a step that had automatically folded down as soon as I opened the door, I settled into the big driver's-side easy chair, feeling a bit like Lily Tomlin's Edith Anne character (you know, the kid in the giant chair). I didn't stop feeling small when I put my hand on the truck's Louisville Slugger-sized shifter handle to put it in Drive.
Once the vehicle was in motion and I settled into the seat, though, I lost consciousness of my own diminutive size. I became part of the truck and was huge, too. Parking lots were a challenge to navigate, even in the suburbs north of Miami - the F-150 is wide, but the four-wheel drive model also has a vast turning circle. Tight turns ceased to exist in this gigantic new world, and I once made the mistake of driving down the wrong alley. Well, thank goodness there was a rearview camera in the back.
None of this is meant to denigrate the F-150, and certainly not the sparkling, uber-comfortable Platinum line. It's just a statement about trucks in general. They're big, and the tastes of today's consumers dictate that pickups look the part. No modern truck is complete without the requisite bulges and general weightiness you see in every model that is now on the market.
On the open road, the truck's towering grille really came in handy when left lane-hoggers were doing their worst. There's nothing quite like seeing an imminent chrome cliff in the rearview mirror to make one realize that it's time to get out of the way. At highway speeds, the F-150 felt smooth, and it glided along with the sure-footedness provided by its nearly 5,000-pound curb weight. The six-speed automatic transmission shifted without complaint, and the turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 delivered a throaty growl and gobs of torque with only moderate accelerator pedal pressure.
The EcoBoost engine also turned in decent fuel economy numbers when I wasn't mashing my foot to the floor in childish attempts to provoke the beast into roaring. When my right foot wasn't in 13-mile-per-gallon mode, the truck got closer to 20mpg around town. Not bad for something the size of a spacious gardening shed.
Like most vehicles in its class, the F-150 platinum comes with a center console with features aimed at a successful general contractor. The hanging file folder bin was thoughtfully arranged so that the folders could be installed facing the driver. A number of power and USB points were available as well. In fact, there was a place for everything you'd rather not keep in your pockets.
Perhaps the truck's nicest feature was one that made it seem even more building-like: the sliding panoramic roof glass. As an architect would add skylights to create an atmosphere of airy openness, Ford's designers gave F-150s the option of having a nice view of the heavens. The big sunroof transformed the truck's interior from living room to solarium with the touch of a switch that withdrew a shade from the glass.
At its essence, the F-150 Platinum is still a truck, and as such, it offers plenty of utility. Although the owner of an F-150 Platinum might never actually need to drag around something that weighs 10,000 pounds (or carry more than 2,000 pounds in the bed, which is also an option), it's nice to know that a vehicle that costs so much is capable of towing something that costs even more - by that I mean a big boat.
By the numbers: 2016 Ford F-150 Platinum 4x4 Supercrew
MSRP: $62,720 (estimated price as tested, includes $1,195 destination charge)
Power and drive wheels: turbocharged 3.5-liter, 365-horsepower (net) V6; four-wheel drive
Transmission: six-speed automatic
EPA fuel economy: 17/23 city/highway mpg
Safety: http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/ford/f-150-crew-cab-pickup IIHS Top Safety Pick; Five-star government crash test rating
In showrooms: Now