Think about the classic car and truck commercials that were omnipresent on American TVs for decades. Now specifically when it comes to trucks, picture one of these ads in your mind’s eye. If you had to say, what brand of truck do you see in the commercial? Let me help you if you’re having trouble visualizing the style of this marketing production: a burly red pickup truck appears, with a shaded human obscured by the windshield and outsized tires that were possibly stolen from the Bigfoot or the Grave Digger. Suddenly this red truck veers off an incredibly dusty road and accelerates––it is now climbing straight up what can only be described as some sort of odd-looking hill. A 30-degree incline randomly placed in the middle of Flat Hay Plains, Middle America, with rocks and boulders haphazardly strewn about––that kind of hill. Suddenly a man with a bass-baritone voice begins to speak to us. Is that Johnny Cash we ask ourselves? In addition to driving steeply up a treacherous slope, it appears the protagonist is now towing yet another truck via thick metal chain (for some reason). But the truck still ascends the hill with ease, dodging boulders in the process, until it gets to the flat peak exactly the length needed to fit our hero truck and the towee. The deep voice is speaking to us again (he seems to have some sort of drawl by the way when he says): “Ford Trucks for Sale.” Ah, yes, of course! Of course, it was a Ford truck!
Team F-150 (Heck Yeah)
The pickup truck is a centerpiece of the Ford legacy, on the mantle with the model T, the Mustang, and the assembly line. The Ford truck is the quintessential American big rig, and there is quite a selection of models and trims to choose from in the Ford catalog. But of all Ford’s trucks, its flagship is the F-150. It is perennially a best-seller on the market, accounting for an impressively high proportion of Ford’s total annual sales.
Over the last twenty years, the F-150 has changed the name on some of its trim levels, but the number of trims has stayed consistent. There were six trims available in 2000, six in 2010, and the number has only increased to seven in 2020. But well before this time frame, the F-150 Lariat was already a staple for Ford, being first introduced in 1978. The Lariat is synonymous with truck enthusiasts as the “luxury” trim option in the F-150 line. In 2020 however, there are several F-150s that could fit this description, including trims that could be considered both sporty and luxurious (see the F-150 Raptor).
The seven F-150 trims in 2020 are as follows (ordered somewhat by price and availability, from introductory to exclusive): XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum, Raptor, and Limited. There are almost too many choices here for the discerning pickup truck fan, but since this is a comparison piece, we will compare two of the seven. This is all about the F-150 Lariat and the F-150 Platinum, a luxury trim level that was introduced only in 2017. Interestingly, from 2013 through 2016, the Platinum was an optional add-on package to the Lariat. Ford decided to let the Platinum separate from the Lariat and branch off on its own for the last few years. The Lariat comes standard with select XLT features plus mechanical, interior technology, and exterior features. The Platinum works the same way, except it comes standard with select Lariat features plus mechanical, interior technology, and exterior features. The MSRP difference reflects these upgrades to the tune of roughly $12,000, so the crux of the matter may just be: just how luxurious do you like your pickup?
Ford F-150 Lariat vs Ford F-150 Platinum
The 2020 F-150 Lariat comes standard with leather-trimmed, heated and ventilated 10-way power-adjustable front seats, dual-zone electronic automatic temperature control, and an 8-inch LCD productivity screen (to name a few interior features). It is available in the SuperCrew (4 doors and two rows), but the SuperCab is standard. On the outside, there are an incredible fourteen body colors to choose from, as well as a number of five different packages such as the sport or chrome package in addition to some of the capability packages such as the FX4 off-road package. This is an almost excessive number of looks and variations that could lead to a serious popsicle headache if you don’t have your wits about you. But with the Lariat, there is an almost endless variety of add-ons and upgrades that should thrill any F-150 lover.
The standard engine is a 2.7L EcoBoost V6 that produces 325 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque. An Ecoboost, as well as a turbo-diesel V6 engine are available, as well as a 5.0L V8 engine if you so choose. Ford’s proprietary driver assisted safety system, the Ford Co-Pilot360 package, is also included. Rear camera, lane assist, automatic emergency braking system are some but not all of what is included in the Co-Pilot360 package.
The 2020 F-150 Platinum’s standard package includes LED lighting for the headlamps, fog lamps, and taillamps, a satin-aluminum grille with silver mesh, 20” polished aluminum wheels, and power-deployable running boards. Front and rear luxury leather and heated seating (same goes for the steering wheel), and other cool safety features such as BLIS (Blind Spot Information System). BLIS accounts for trailer coverage and cross-traffic alert, so you can count on the driver-assisted system whether you’re towing something or not. The Platinum only comes in the 4-door SuperCrew, so the box in the trailer comes in at 6.5-ft in length maximum (5.5-ft standard). Conversely, since the Lariat comes standard in the SuperCab, its flatbed is a good deal lengthier at 8 ft long. Additionally, the option for the Lariat SuperCrew is available, in which case the flatbed matches the 6.5-ft Platinum.
There are seven body colors and four different capability packages, such as trailer tow package with pro trailer backup assist. The number of variations and add-ons for the Platinum are not as numerous since the Platinum leaves nothing to be desired. It can do just about everything except cook breakfast and serve it to you in bed.
The standard engine is a 5.0L Ti-VCT V8 FFV that produces an impressive 395 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque capable of towing 11,500 lbs. Other engine types, such as the High Output 3.5L EcoBoost V6 (450 hp) or the 3.0L PowerStroke V6 diesel, are available as well.
You Can’t Lose Either Way
At the risk of this reading like a cop-out or anti-climactic, this is a win-win situation for F-150 enthusiasts. It’s just a matter of style preference, and how many bells, whistles, and batmobile features you like in your F-150.
The price tag increases over 10K with the purchase of a Platinum trim, which is a significant difference. But once you step into the Platinum, you may not want to deprive yourself of some of its luxurious features. Didn’t this kind of decadence used to be reserved for sedans and SUVs only?
The F-150 Lariat gives you everything you would ever want in a pickup truck for a given price with a dizzying number of combinations to personalize your truck, and the F-150 Platinum gives you everything you would ever want in a pickup truck and more, for an increase in price. Just know that if you step into a Lariat, you are still in the best-selling full-size luxury truck on the market. And if you step into the Platinum, you may not want to make your beautiful new rig work dirty jobs on the regular, because this is definitely a beautiful luxury truck that leaves nothing out.
Ultimately there is only one sure way to settle the debate for yourself, and that is to see both the Lariat and Platinum in person and test drive them. Now try to read this last bit to yourself in the baritone-voiced celebrity of your choice: if you love yourself a full-size luxury truck, you simply can’t go wrong with the F-150 Lariat or the F-150 Platinum.