If you talk to pickup enthusiasts, these are not just folks who like the image of the hard-working utilitarian vehicle, but individuals who rely on the modern workhorse to get the job done every day. You will see extreme loyalty to brands. Since 1948, there have been millions of Ford trucks sold and they have performed more tasks than you could imagine on farms, construction sites and for park districts across America. Sounds like the kind of thing that creates legends. If not, it sure comes close in my book.
Talking to Ford about the F-150 is like talking to the Bulls about Michael Jordan or to the Bears about franchise quarterbacks. On one hand you knew when you were at the top who got you there, and when things were not going so well you knew where you had to put your attention to go to the next level.
Painfully, if ignored, your franchise players can slip away, leaving you wondering what might have been if you had only made the decisions that would have kept you at the top. Well, the folks at Ford decided to be proactive and head out to talk to F-150 owners across the country to get their feedback on what customers wanted from their next truck.
What they wanted is what you see in the new 2009 Ford F-150 pickup.
One of the great things about the Ford F-150 is also one of the maddening things that drives me crazy (in a good way). Going in to shop for an F-150 reminds me of shopping for a new computer. There are so many options and variations, looks and designs. You have to start out with what suits your day-to-day requirements, add some fun special bells and whistles and always be sure you have enough power to do the things you must do every day. The same goes for the F-150 - and it is so much prettier (in a tough, take-no-prisoners way, for sure).
The 2009 Ford F-150 comes in three cab styles: Regular, SuperCab and SuperCrew; in three V-8 powertrain options; in 6.5-, 5.5- and 8-foot boxes; and in 4x2 and 4x4 configurations. Base prices for the 2009 F-150 start at $21,095. That's a great price to instantly buy you a little cred and a lot of opportunity to turn yourself into one tough cowboy.
I love the styling on the new F-150. It is contemporary without being un-trucklike. That simply means it looks tough, a really important part of any pickup that takes itself serious. My tester had an impressive chrome package ($1,420) that really amped up the class factor. This may not be the look for the rancher or the park district, but for the road warrior that may never hit the dirt it is a great option.
The engine on my 4x4 SuperCab was the brutish 24-valve 5.4-liter Triton V-8, which delivered 320 horsepower and 390 lb.-ft. of torque. The powerplant was mated to a flawless 6-speed automatic. The EPA mileage per gallon ratings was 14/18, not great, but par for the pickup class at this size. The good thing is the 36-gallon fuel tank will help minimize stops.
When you are talking pickups, you have to talk engine ranges and F-150 has several options in the 16-valve, 4.6-liter 248-horsepower V-8 linked to 4-speed automatic with 294 lb.-ft. of torque; and the 24-valve, 4.6-liter V-8 coupled to a six-speed automatic with horsepower ratings of 292 and torque of 320 lb.-ft.
I found the big Triton powerplant to be extremely responsive in city driving situation and more than capable getting around in highway traffic. I cannot speak for having a serious payload weighing me down, but I get the sense this F-150 is up for anything you can throw at it.
Inside the cabin of the F-150 I found great room and much thought put into the design and arrangement of gauges and control centers. The dash is thoughtfully laid out in front of the driver. Power adjustable pedals and driver's seat make getting the perfect seating position a breeze. You sit high in the F-150 and sightlines are very good. My tester had a nice rear view camera option ($450) that made maneuvering the big truck a lot easier.
A long list of options made the interior a great place to be. From the really nice power-sliding back window ($250) and the upgrade 6-disc stereo ($300) to the Sirius Satellite Radio ($195) to the amazing (a $395 must-have) SYNC system that allows you to link up your command center in the truck to your cell phone and iPod, the new F-150 has really earned all those awards it has garnered so far this year.
The automaker boasts that its all-new 2009 F-150 has a class-leading towing ability of 11,300 pounds and a cargo-carrying rating of 3,030 pounds. According to Ford, improvements to the chassis have helped with torsional rigidity and make delivering the additional payload and towing abilities possible.
Some features worth mentioning are the thoughtful capless fuel filler that automatically opens with the fuel door and seals shut to reduce fueling emissions and a great tailgate step that allows the buyer to easily access the cargo bed with a integrated step ladder, a lot easier than trying to launch yourself into the truck's bed.
Ford made sure they had all the information they needed about their franchise player, they got feedback on what their customers wanted and responded with a great truck. The new F-150 shows it can help Ford stay at the top of the pickup heap for some time to come.