Americans love the underdog, yet also admire top performers. The Ford F-Series truck line is clearly in the latter group. These trucks have been the nation’s bestselling vehicles since 1982 and the best selling trucks in this country for 35 years.
The F-Series lineup is anchored by the F-150. This is the traditional lighter duty model and it is the one most buyers choose.
Last year, Ford added four new engines to the F-150; a 302-horsepower 3.7-liter V-6 replaced the 248-horsepower 4.6-liter V-8 as the base motor while a new 5.0-liter motor, good for 360 horsepower, became the base V-8. Ford also began offering a powerful turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 that has proven to be popular with buyers, outselling the V-8 models. At the top of the engine lineup is a 6.2-liter V-8. All engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Ford didn’t make any significant changes to the F-150 for 2012. Why should they? Based on the 5.0 V8 Lariat we had for a week, Ford has the design and manufacturing of pickup trucks down pat.
It was a crew cab model – Ford calls it the SuperCrew – which features four doors for easy access and a large back seat that can comfortably accommodate three burly men. The back seat bottom cushion folds up to produce a surprising amount of lockable and weather tight storage. Highlights include a flat floor and grocery bag hooks. The front seats were even better, with exceptionally good support and ample room.
Our Lariat is one of the F-150’s upscale models. Base trucks come in XL trim, with buyers also able to choose the sporty SXT, off-road tuned FXs, the mainline XLT and the upper trim levels: our Lariat, the King Ranch and the Platinum.
In the Lariat, the interior had all the touches that were once considered exclusive to luxury cars. Included on that list are all the expected power assists, heated and cooled front seats, dual zone automatic climate control and a power sunroof.
Luxuries aside, this F-150 is meant to work. The ride is firm and a little truck-like. It can turn busy over rough pavement and the rear wheels can chatter off line during turns on broken surfaces when the cargo bed is empty. Still, the F-150 is also surprisingly comfortable for a pickup truck.
Handling is predictable and competent. Steering feel is above average while braking turns in a solid performance. The 5.0-liter V-8 is also surprisingly quick; zero-to-60 takes just 7.8 seconds.
Buyers of the F-150 have an almost bewildering number of choices. In addition to all the trim levels and engines, there are three passenger cabs, a choice of cargo boxes, rear- or four-wheel drive and a host of options that can tailor the truck’s performance. Towing ratings are impressive, too: 6,100 pounds with the 3.7-liter V-6, 10,000 pounds with the 5.0-liter V-8 and 11,300 pounds with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 or 6.2-liter V-8.
This F-150 Lariat demonstrates conclusively that a hard working truck can be luxurious. One look at the sales figures proves there is a substantial market for this blend of brawn and comfort.
Engines: 3.7 3.5 5.0 6.2
Horespower 302 365 360 411
Torque (lb-ft) 278 420 380 434
EPA RWD 17/23 16/22 15/21 13/18
EPA 4-WD 16/21 15/21 14/19 12/16
Starts at: $22,990