Ford pickup truck fans may know “King Ranch” as the F-150’s luxury-level Western-themed trim. But as a northern Yankee, I was this many years old when I learned that the King Ranch isn’t a marketing term–it’s a real place. Not only is King Ranch very real, but it’s larger than the entire state of Rhode Island. And the European country of Luxembourg. I guess everything really is bigger in Texas.
What is the Ford F-150 King Ranch?
King Ranch is a top-level F-150 trim. It is Western-themed and decked out in extravagant amounts of wood and leather. It even comes with a premium engine–the 5.0-liter “Coyote” V8–standard.
The King Ranch’s V8 makes 400 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque. Paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission, it can tow 9,600 pounds. The King Ranch also claims a 3,280-pound maximum payload capacity, the best in its crew cab class.
Don’t let the King Ranch’s towing and hauling capabilities fool you. It is still very much a luxury vehicle. In addition to its fully leather seats and wood trim, it has a unique sound system. Ford partnered with Bang & Olufsen (the company that builds stereos for Aston Martin) for the King Ranch’s 640-watt system with eight premium speakers.
And of course, Ford charges a luxury-level price for its 2023 F-150 King Ranch. The truck is advertised to start at $63,225, plus destination charge. If this trim has an Achilles heel, it might be that it costs almost as much as two entry-level Ford F-150 XLs.
But if you drove around in an F-150 XL, you wouldn’t get a trim with its very own logo. Ford has emblazoned a rounded “W” shape throughout the King Ranch. This isn’t a made-up logo, but the traditional brand of the King Ranch.
Welcome to the King Ranch
Texas is huge. Let me put it in perspective this way: the state of Texas is larger than any single country in Europe. And near its southern tip, “King Ranch” is a working cattle ranch stretching across four counties.
This ranch’s name may sound like a superlative. It is, after all, the largest ranch in the United States and the “king” of ranches. But it gets its name from one of its founders: Captain Richard King. Captain King was a veteran and riverboat captain on the Rio Grande.
Captain King, along with a Texas ranger named Gideon Lewis, founded the ranch in 1853. Perhaps Gideon wanted the farm to bear his surname as well, but let’s be honest, “Lewis Ranch” doesn’t sound nearly as cool. Six years later, Lewis was killed by a jealous husband (no, I’m not making this up), so Captain King had to run the ranch without him anyway.
Since the 1850s, King Ranch has been owned by King’s heirs and run with almost no major incidents. There is a slight issue of the unsolved mystery of a couple of locals who were trespassing on the ranch to hunt ducks in 1936 disappearing without a trace. Though mostly a cattle ranch, the King Ranch raised a racehorse named Assault (born 1943) who went on to win all three races of the American Triple Crown.
Why are Western-themed pickup trucks so popular?
Most automakers who build full-size pickup trucks offer a western-themed trim. Many of these are unabashedly Texas-inspired. With 49 other pretty cool states in the union, this seems suspicious.
In 1999, Ford launched the King Ranch F-150–one of the first Texas-themed trucks. Since then, the automaker has branched out to a King Ranch Super Duty, Explorer, and Expedition.
Toyota also offers a Texas-themed truck: the Tundra 1794 Edition which is decked out in its own style of wood and leather. In Toyota’s defense, it actually builds all of its full-size trucks at its San Antonio plant, which is on the grounds of an old ranch that was founded in 1794.
But Ram builds its 1500 in Detroit. Its Western-themed trim is the Limited Longhorn. But Ram didn’t stop there. It rebadges thousands of its Ram 1500 Laramie trucks as Ram 1500 Big Horns for the Texas market. And that is a big clue as to why everyone makes a Texas trim: Texas is the biggest full-size truck market in the country.
As of 2019, the Department of Transportation recorded 5,659,909 pickup trucks registered in the state of Texas. That’s enough pickups for every resident of Chicago to have two! Only two other states (Florida and California) even have more than two million registered pickup trucks. So if building a special Texas-themed truck can win an automaker a slight higher percentage of that market, it is probably worth it.
Next, meet the “Alaskan”–a pickup truck engineered in Japan, built in Argentina, and sold in Colombia by a French company, or see the King Ranch reviewed in the video below: