I’ve known women who love driving a full-size pickup truck, such as this Ford F-150, on a daily basis. I salute them.
There were several hurdles I had to overcome driving this gigantic truck. The first was getting in. The optional four-wheel drive system raised this truck to the point where access was a problem for me. The running boards helped, but didn’t eliminate the challenge of getting behind the wheel. It takes a big step up.
Life is easier once you get in. This truck, for all its size and bulk, drives quite nicely. New for 2012 is hill start assist, which locks the brakes for up to two seconds when you start on an incline. This eliminates rolling backwards. Once limited to cars and trucks with a manual gearbox, this feature is beginning to show up on vehicles with an automatic transmission.
The turning circle is huge. The specifications say it’s 47 feet, though the extended cab model with an eight-foot cargo box can take over 53 feet to complete a full circle. Passenger cars typically take 33 to 37 feet, so tight parking lots are best avoided. I parked away from other vehicles at the supermarket. And visibility, when backing, can be a problem without the backup camera, which is optional in some – but not all – F-150s.
Road, wind and engine noise are very low. Combine that with the high seating position and traditional indicators of speed are absent. You could go much faster than intended in this F-150.
While getting into the passenger compartment was a real challenge, climbing into the cargo bed was not, thanks to the optional steps and grab handle that pull out of the tailgate. The tailgate was also counterbalanced, making opening and closing it easier than I had expected.
I don’t need a pickup truck, so I’m not inclined to accept the lack of maneuverability, the difficulty getting in and out and the low fuel economy, 14.5 miles per gallon in our case, that this Ford imposes on its driver. But if I needed a truck, this is a pickup I could live with.