Understanding Ford Truck Trims

February 21st, 2020 by

A close up of the front grille of a Ford F-150 is shown in red.

When you’re shopping used Ford trucks, you’re going to see a lot of different specs, terms, and descriptions thrown around to differentiate one vehicle from another. While it can be easy to tell the general difference between two models, like the Ford Ranger vs the Ford F-150, distinguishing between two versions of the same model can get a bit more complicated. That’s where the trim level comes in, and understanding the trims of different used Ford trucks can make your life a lot easier.

It would be exhausting to try to go through every available model and trim over the last 30 or 40 years of Ford trucks, so instead, we’ll focus on a few of the most common ones that you’re likely to see. Just remember that some trims are available only for a limited time or as part of a special limited edition of a vehicle. For the most part, however, these are the standard trims that you’re going to find when looking at different used Ford trucks.

Basics of Trim Levels

First things first: let’s talk about what a “trim” or “trim level” is, exactly. In the auto industry, “trim” essentially refers to a collection of features offered on a particular vehicle. Rather than picking and choosing every individual aspect of the inside and outside of a truck, you can choose a trim when buying a new truck and get all the associated features that come with it. Of course, there are also other packages and available options you can choose, but each trim represents a new ground-floor for that model.

A blue 2020 Ford Raptor is doing donuts in the dirt with mountains in the distance.

You can choose between different trims of the same model when buying a new truck. When looking at used Ford trucks, you are going to see what someone else chose. Because these trucks are so popular, however, you can find pretty much any trim that was available when new, as long as you’re willing to do some looking. With used Ford trucks, you won’t find all of these trims available on every model, but the hierarchy or order is the same on each model.

The XL

In general, no matter what used Ford truck you are looking at, the XL will be the starting trim for it. In other words: think of something like a Ford Ranger XL as the standard model that includes the barebones for that truck. Whether you’re interested in a Ranger, a Ford F-150, or one of the Ford Super Duty models, the XL is the starting trim on all of them. That makes it pretty easy to remember and lets you know exactly where you stand.

On any used Ford truck, an XL trim will have pretty basic options overall. Depending on the age of the truck, it will usually have a small Infotainment screen and basic safety features, which will vary from one model year to another. This will often have the standard engine included, though more powerful engines are frequently available, so you might find a used XL model with a more powerful engine in it than you would expect.


A blue 2020 Ford F-150 XLT is parked on a dirt path next to side-by-sides.

Next up is the XLT, which is the first trim level up from the standard XL. An XLT model will often have some nicer features inside and out, including a more powerful standard engine in some models. This means that you will more-often find XLT used Ford trucks that offer more power than an XL, though this is not always the case depending on options the original buyer might have chosen.

Interior features are typically nicer on the XLT, giving you some better and more sophisticated details overall. While you won’t find serious luxury features on an XLT, it would have had nicer standard and available options when sold as new.

The Lariat

From the XLT, the Lariat is the next trim level up and one you should definitely watch for when looking at used Ford trucks for sale. For one thing, if you’re interested in a Ford Ranger, then the Lariat is often the highest trim level available for it. This keeps things pretty simple overall – with a used Ranger, you will usually find either XL, XLT, or Lariat, and the features on them typically go up according to which you see.

With the F-150 and the Super Duty models, however, the Lariat is not the top trim. On those models, it is typically seen as a mid-level trim, offering nicer features overall than the XL or XLT, but not the nicest possible. That being said, a Lariat model can come with a more powerful engine than the lower trims and typically has excellent interior features to really round it out as a great mid-luxury trim.

The King Ranch

A white 2020 Ford F-150 King Ranch, which is a popular trim option among used Ford trucks, is towing a boat out of a lake near Albany, NY.

On the F-Series of trucks, the King Ranch is the higher of the two mid-tier trims available and is quite popular as a middle option for excellent luxury without going overboard. These models provide a terrific blend of performance and sophistication, and they have been popular for decades. That means you will find a lot of used Ford trucks with the King Ranch trim out there to choose from.

Keep in mind that the prices on these models, even used, are usually higher than the lower trims. But you get a lot of great features at that higher price, not to mention that with a used model you are still saving money overall. In fact, a late-model used Ford truck of the King Ranch trim could’ve been on a lease, which means it will be in excellent condition.

The Platinum

The Platinum is the first of two premium trims for the Ford F-Series of trucks and is often seen as the highest trim a lot of people will go for. Features on a used Ford truck with the Platinum trim will be among the best available for any given year. They often include very powerful engines, sophisticated interior options, and the best safety features offered at the time. Just like the King Ranch, a Platinum-trim used Ford truck is likely to have been on a lease and in great condition.

The Limited

A side view of the 2020 Ford F-150 Limited's leather interior is shown.

Although the Platinum trim is an excellent model, there is actually one trim level even higher available, and that is the Limited. While the name might suggest that the Limited trim is exclusive or restricted in number, they are only restricted by the willingness of people to splurge on them as new models. These are significantly more expensive brand-new than even the Platinum trim, but include terrific features for the money.

The Limited trim of a Ford F-Series truck usually has the most powerful engine available, and it might only be available on the Limited. The interior options are incredibly luxurious, at the same level as the high-end luxury trims of Ford’s competitors, plus the Limited includes incredible safety features every year. These are likely to be the most expensive used Ford trucks you will find, but they can be well worth the investment.

The Raptor

Finally, we come to a special trim that is not available on every used Ford truck out there: the Raptor. Typically only found on the F-150, the Raptor is Ford’s dedicated off-road trim and gives you terrific features and technology for hitting the trail. For example, a Ford F-150 Raptor will usually have a powerful engine, off-road terrain and traction features, and shocks and suspension designed to handle the trail. They usually have 4WD and tend to come with large, all-terrain tires for the best overall handling and control when going off-road.

Still have questions? Or are you ready to find the right used Ford truck for you? Then you should come visit us at DePaula Ford in Albany, NY, and we’ll help you find the perfect model.

Posted in Used Ford Trucks