It has been Americans favorite pickup
truck since Carter was in the White House, and has been the best selling vehicle in
America for 22 years. So, when Ford redesigns their superstar, they do it right.
The all-new F-150 banishes the late 1990 s windswept, softly
contoured look for the appearance of a giant Tonka truck. Standing tall, the F-150 sports
a massive grille, flanked by multi-lens headlamp clusters. The fender flares stand out
boldly from the body, and the window line drops in the front for better visibility and
eye-catching street presence.
The new truck looks tough, and has the structure underneath to back
it up. The fully boxed frame is about nine times stronger than the previous model for
torsional rigidity. The front and rear tracks are 1.5 inches wider, contributing to the
solid stance. Larger wheels and tires help complete the macho look.
The F-150 may be tough on the outside, but inside you will
experience its softer side. While the old interiors featured large, undulating panels of
monochromatic plastic, the new truck gets new colors and textures, in bands along the dash
and doors. In my highline test vehicle, the doors created a Neapolitan three-flavor
feeling, with tan plastic, wood grain, and a perforated gray section over the speaker
areas. Metallic accents, including chrome air vents that can be folded closed, add upscale
Ford engineers made numerous changes to keep noise and vibration out
of this classy cabin. Liquid-filled engine mounts isolate the powerplant. The front
suspension uses advanced double wishbones with cast aluminum lower control arms, and
specially designed bushings in the suspension help filter out roughness and add precise
control. Rack and pinion steering replaces the old recirculating ball system. It all adds
up to a satisfying feeling of control and quiet.
My Lariat SuperCrew 4X4 SS arrived in Aspen Green/Arizona Beige
two-tone. This top-of-the-line truck was loaded, including several handy options, such as
a power rear window (the first Ive ever seen), a reverse sensing system (great for
safety, especially with a huge vehicle), heated seats (always nice), and a rear seat
entertainment system. The optional running boards were handy, but my wife found them to be
slippery in the rain. With its power accessories, leather seating, flow-through center
console, and chrome-ringed gauges, the big truck felt more luxurious than some luxury
The F-150 comes with two engine choices, both V-8s. The big one is
the new 5.4-liter Triton model, with 300 horsepower and 345 lb.-ft. of torque. The smaller
engine, not really so small, is the 4.6-liter Triton. It puts out 231 horsepower and 293
lb.-ft. of torque.
The 5.4-liter is loaded with high-tech features, including three
valves per cylinder, variable valve timing, variable camshaft timing, and other electronic
controls. Both engines have torque-based electronic throttle control, for better engine
response and improved fuel mileage. My big Lariat model with the 5.4-liter engine earned
just 13.6 miles per gallon (EPA ratings are 15 City, 19 Highway).
Ford offers five specific models, so you can create a truck that
works for you, whether you are a weekend mountain camper or a professional plumber. You
can get a regular (2-door), SuperCab (extended 2-door), or CrewCab (four-door)
configuration. There are also three box lengths 5-1/2 foot, 6-1/2 foot, and 8-foot, in the
straight-sided Styleside or old-fashioned Flareside styles. Both boxes are two inches
taller than last years, adding to carrying capacity. Lastly, you can order two or
four-wheel drive, depending on model.
The XL model is the base vehicle, available with a vinyl or cloth
interior. You can even get it with rubber mats instead of carpeting. The STX is the next
level up, with nicer cast-aluminum wheels and body-color bumpers.
The XLT is the middle, and probably most popular, model. You can get
it in all 3 box lengths and in both box styles. The SuperCab and SuperCrew models have
power second-row windows, a first in this market segment.
The FX4 is the offroading F-150, with plenty of box and side style
combinations. It has its own optional 18-inch wheels and distinctive grille.
The Lariat, like my test truck, is the top banana, with stitched
style instrument panel and console with slabs of artificial woodgrain and unique
cream-colored gauges with fat numerals. It sports luxury car features like steering wheel
audio and climate controls, information computer, full climate control, and
power-adjustable memory seats and pedals. I especially liked the sliding ceiling console
and the outside mirror turn signals.
With options, my test truck came in just shy of $40,000. XL models
begin at just $22,160. This new F-150 shows every indication of keeping its dominance in
the first decade of the new millennium. It is Motor Trends Truck of the Year winner.
Visit www.ford.com and my fellow journalist, Rick Titus, will give you a personal tour.