A while ago trucks had a much simpler mission. Owners only demanded two things from their trucks: the steering wheel is connected to the wheels, and that the owner died before the truck did.
Now truck ownership has reached the premium levels. The previous requirements are still the same, but now there are more items added. Trucks are no longer just on the farm and the job site, but they are also in the corporate parking lots used for the do-it-yourself crowd who has learned how to build an addition on the house in a few weekends. So while a truck still has to be tough enough to carry the rocks and gravel in the back, it has to make sure it doesn’t wrinkle the suits up front.
A place where this is really evident is in the 2009 Ford F-150 SuperCrew Lariat that joined our fleet. Ford has almost 60 years experience assembling F-Series trucks, so there is no doubt about it’s tough as nails ability. We just didn’t expect to be so comfy in a workman’s truck.
Yes this is still TopSpeed. We test big trucks like this because we have toys, and the 8900 lbs towing capacity means we don’t think twice about our racecars and trailer queens (ok, and boats too.)
First thing we need to get out of the way is that this is a big truck. It’s over nineteen feet long, and more than five and a half feet of that is just the truck bed (without the SuperCrew cab the bed can be over eight feet).
But the F-150 doesn’t quite feel as large as it looks. When the tides began shifting, and trucks started to become more mainstream, the truck makers borrowed a lesson from luxury cars. There is a lot of power assist in the steering, which means maneuverability isn’t lost in the F-150s size. The steering is light, and it’s only a little over three turns to go lock-to-lock, but unlike performance cars, road feel isn’t a priority here. If keeping about twenty feet and 5200 lbs of vehicle on the road feels relatively easy, then it’s mission accomplished.
The ride is another area that was copied from luxury cars. The trucks of old time didn’t worry much about ride comfort, so the driver relied on the coils in the seats almost as much as the coils in the suspension for luxury. Instead, our F-150 has an independent suspension in front for passengers and coil spring in the rear for payload. The result is ride that feels less like a Mustang and more like Lincoln Town Car. We were not taking the corners too hard on our F-150, but once again, its size already discouraged us from taking it racing.
While we really are only using the F-150 to bring other vehicles to the track, it’s somewhat of shame we don’t race the F-150. The 5.4-liter V8 makes 310 hp, which is almost as much as a 2010 Mustang GT. What it really means on the road there’s no lack of power, and we get plenty of the V8 grunt we like. The downside is the fuel economy; it’s rated at 14 MPG city, 20 MPG highway. When we went easy on the accelerator and drove long distances, we could get it around and above the 20 mpg mark.
The Ford F-150 starts at about $21,500. Our Lariat SuperCrew starts at under $35K, but with a bunch of extra options, we were out the door for $42,605. A lot of the extra money went to adding civility to the basic tough truck design of the interior.
The inside reminded us of the line topper King Ranch F-150. There was plenty of wood, chrome and a lot of leather. Other options that made us cowboys and cowgirls go soft included a sunroof, power heated/cooled seats, touch screen sat nav/climate control/command center. Yup, life wasn’t exactly rough with the truck.
We can’t stress enough the size of our F-150. Ford knows not everyone will live out in the country with this. It’s added enough engineering to make sure that it can work in a city, but it defiantly feels more comfortable when it’s give wide open spaces to roam. If you’re the kind of person who lives in the city, and just likes trucks because of appearance, then Ford would be happy to put you in a Ranger or Escape. Our F-150 was meant for people who need a truck... someone needs to haul the camper and the whole family, or someone who need to haul the fishing boat and four buddies.
Overall the engine and the large bed make us feel like we can do any farmhand job; the comfy seats and climate control makes us feel like we own the ranch.