It’s been a year or two since I’ve taken a full-size pickup truck for a road test. With the Ford F-150 being all-new in 2009 and having major improvements over 2008, I thought it would be a good time to test one. Some of the improvements over the 2008 model are things like improved torsion rigidity in the ’09 trucks by 10% and Ford have used laser-edge welds that are 5 times stronger than other trucks’ traditional spot welds.
Added to the 4-channel ABS is AdvanceTrac with RSC (Roll Stability Control) with Trailer Sway Control along with an available integrated trailer brake controller. Maximum towing capacity is up to 5,136 kg and there’s a payload of 1,377 kg throughout the range across all cab configurations. SuperCrew trucks benefit from a 153mm stretch of the cab, improving legroom and cargo capacity. This sounds good – but what’s it like to live with on a day-to-day basis? Let’s find out…..
Climbing into the F-150 using the step bar is easy – and the bar is mandatory unless you’re a 3-metre tall basketball player. Don’t even think of trying to get by without it!
This is a big truck and you don’t realize it until you actually get in and sit in it. Everything is over-sized, from the outside mirrors to the huge centre armrest/console to the big captain’s chairs and the large pistol-grip transmission shifter. This is a man’s truck – no doubt about it. With power everything it’s easy to get into a comfortable position in the big 10-way leather seats that are heated and cooled! For those of us that are shorter but don’t like sitting right up against the steering wheel, there’s power pedals that really help out.
There’s plenty of storage areas littered throughout the cabin, but surprisingly the glove box is tiny. With the owner’s manual and the thick SYNC manual in it there was no room for anything else – not even a pair of gloves. The huge lockable centre console/armrest that divides the front occupant’s makes up for it somewhat, because there is more than enough room there to store a small child!
With an optional 4.5 cm (18”) Sat-Nav screen dominating the centre stack; it’s conveniently sized for both front occupants to read it even though the screen shared space with the audio system and the climate control info. The system also incorporated the Sony AM/FM/MP3/single-disc CD changer audio with DVD-Audio, DVD-Video, a 10-gig hard drive and Ford’s SYNC as well as auxiliary points for portable MP3 players.
The Sony audio system is amazing with crystal clear highs and deep deep bass. I’d had the experience of using the Sync in a previous Ford vehicle and didn’t like it much – this time I just didn’t bother using it. The audio controls are perfect in their simplicity with clearly labeled knobs and buttons. In a world where the audio systems are getting overly complicated, this was a treat!
Weighing in at 3,727 kg, the F-150 Lariat is obviously not a sports car and anyone owning one of these behemoths doesn’t care about 0-100 km/h times. Entering the freeway is quite brisk however, and not a sluggish as I expected it to be. I didn’t put my foot all the way to the floorboard to get it to get up to freeway speeds – I just pressed harder and harder until we were there. It’s quite refreshing for me to take a leisurely approach to freeway driving – usually I’m all about the speed, but this truck brings out the best in me and makes for a much more relaxing experience.
Even with the large mirrors, I found on several occasions a bad blind spot. I had the mirrors set up exactly as I do for every vehicle, but several times an entire car was hidden in my left mirror and I almost side-swiped a couple of cars while changing lanes. Fortunately, I always do a shoulder check before making my move. I’d highly recommend getting one of those little convex mirrors available at any auto parts store.
The 3-stage heated and cooled seats work a charm. The cooling feature was particularly refreshing during a couple of warm days. It makes me wonder why more manufacturers don’t offer this. The automatic climate control is as useless as just about every other auto climate control in any vehicle save Volvo’s. Although it has separate controls for the driver and front passenger, it wouldn’t let me choose where to blow the hot or cold air! On one occasion I wanted it cooler than my wife, but her side was cold instead of hot – pretty much useless as far as we were concerned.
The ride quality of the F-150 was a mixed-bag. On the freeway it was exceptional, but around town it was inconsistent. Going over some railroad tracks it was unaffected, while on other occasions it skipped sideways or sent vibrations throughout the cabin. Road imperfections and manhole covers upset the smooth ride to an extent that it felt like a bad case of cowl-shake (the vibration you feel from a poorly designed convertible car). With a very long 3,988mm wheelbase, this type of feeling is completely unexpected.
Entry is easy thanks to the large opening doors and the step bar. Without the step bar it would be virtually impossible. The rear seat flips up and out of the way, giving you a flat floor with a height of 1,219mm (enough to transport a 52” HDTV (132 cm) according to Ford). The total cargo capacity in the rear is a whopping 1,631 liters (1,473 mm W /1,219 mm H /737 mm D) – larger than many SUV/CUV’s.
With the seats in their regular position there’s plenty of under-seat storage too. One thing of note however: if you go with the optional sound system with the subwoofer, the 40 part of the 60/40 split bench doesn’t move – it’s fixed to the floor because the subwoofer resides there. It still leaves plenty of space though. The leather-clad seats are comfortable and thanks to the extra large cabin the legroom is literally limousine-like.
The test truck was very well appointed with extras such as (Canadian dollars): power sliding rear window $170; Sony Navigation Radio $2,300; pick up box extender $350; access step $300; tailgate step $300; trailer brake controller $240; rear-view camera $500 and the Lariat chrome package $1,090 which includes chrome step bar, power/heated mirrors, 18” chrome wheels and leather captain’s chairs.
The only option I’d question purchasing if it were my money would be the pickup box extender – I just couldn’t figure out how to use it and therefore found it intrusive and a waste of money. Everything else is a must-have in my opinion.
The side access steps and the tailgate step were used constantly and helped immensely with loading and unloading as well as climbing in and out of the bed. With a truck this long, the rear view camera was invaluable when reversing into parking spots and backing up to garage doors for loading unloading. Although I think the price of the rearview camera to be a bit high, it was invaluable in our week with the truck and would highly recommend it.
If you need a truck this big, it can’t be used for just driving around town – this is a work truck (luxurious as it is) and should be used as such. It’s a lot of money – but you get a lot for it! It’s far more capable of doing so much more than your average SUV, with a price that’s similar or even cheaper.
With 35 different F-150 combinations to choose from, there’s one for just about everyone. Ford is proud of the fact they’ve improved fuel economy in the 2009/10 model – up 8 – 12% over the 2008 model. Ford is also bragging about a new engine with 9.6 L/100km that will be arriving in the very near future – something to consider.
Materials fit and finish is terrific
Fuel mileage getting much closer to Chevy now…
So huge it turns parking lot maneuvers into an ordeal – think ocean liner
Dodge Ram, Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra, Toyota Tundra
By The Numbers…
Please visit your local dealer for the latest prices and incentives.
For more details and options go to: www.Ford.com or www.Ford.ca
Powertrain: 5.4 Litre, 3-valve Triton V-8; 6-speed automatic; 4-wheel drive
Horsepower (Kw): 310 (231) @ 5,000 rpm
Torque (N.m.): 365 (494) @ 3,500 rpm
0-100 km/h: N/A
Curb Weight: 3,727 kg
Cargo Capacity: 1,631 liters (Inside Cabin)
Maximum Towing: 5,136 kg [11,300 lbs]
Fuel Consumption: [Unleaded – 87 Octane]
City: 15.6 L/100 kms // Highway: 11.2 L/100 kms
According to the on-board computer I was averaging 15 L/100km during freeway driving. However, on fill up it was actually 17.6 L/100km. On the second tank with virtually all freeway driving it worked out to 17.1 L/100km.
NOTE: All prices quoted are in Canadian Dollars
Copyright © 2010 by Iain Shankland. All rights reserved.
Text / Images: Iain Shankland
Also Published at: Flagworld.com & Automobilsports.com