Vail Valley: New F-150 a fulsome Ford |

Vail Valley: New F-150 a fulsome Ford

Andy Stonehouse
Vail, CO, Colorado

Back in pre-economic collapse America, the venerable Ford F-150 could always be counted upon to move about a zillion units a year – the country’s long-running, best-selling vehicle, hands down. But as Ella Fitzgerald said, nowadays “it ain’t necessarily so,” and we must observe the new F-150 in a slightly different light.

Much like the improved Dodge Ram and the newer generation of GM trucks (or the Toyota Tundra), the vastly reconfigured 2009 F-150 is a fulsome, handsome and powerful machine that gets a little spendy when loaded down with options. If your lifestyle, self-image or your accountant’s ability to write off your many business expenses allows it, the F-150 is a dandy choice for a new big honkin’ truck.

The new F-150 was launched a few months ago but my turn in the saddle came relatively recently. The wait was worth it.

This truck uses the generally angular, gigantic, imposing and chrome-heavy, futuristic look first floated a year earlier on the F-250. Order it as a crew cab and upscale it with the Lariat finishing package, and it turns into an almost bus-sized Lincoln, of sorts.

Compared to the other new versions of its longtime competitors, what the F-150 lacks is not size or stature, but raw power. The Hemi-powered Ram and the ridiculously powerful Tundra significantly outclass the F-150’s still-substantial 5.4-liter Triton V-8 – sad to say we’ve come to a point where 320 horsepower and 390 lb.-ft. of torque do not make you the biggest thing on the block, but such is the case.

You still get a calamitous noise when you floor it, but the power-hungry will feel a little let down. It would also be nice to have a fully sequential setup for the six-speed transmission; while trying to shave some speed off the beast, headed downhill, I could only jarringly shift it into a very low third gear.

What you do get, should you and your company fuel expense account actually care, is highway mileage that’s a consistent 18 mpg-plus, so that’s not too shabby, especially for 5,700 pounds of metal.

F-150’s major refresh job is quite nice, overall, from the walk-in-freezer-sized grille to the seemingly upside-down, chrome-rimmed tail lamps. Cut-outs in the side windows allow better mirror visibility, making it a bit easier to see the 20-plus feet of truck, and a back-up camera and rear beepers are also useful. Those gigantic, double-stacked trailering mirrors are great but make parking structure visits a bit challenging.

The hyper-styled makeover is more evident on the inside, where the leather-loaded Lariat package includes a massive, angular dash with a speaker and junk tray on the top, plus the plastic surrounds, faux wood paneling and round vents seen in last year’s Escape and other stablemates.

The leather-topped seating is broad, almost sporty and can be heated or cooled, depending on the season; the super-huge back seat cabin was literally wide enough for a pair of 164-cm skis on the floor and still had enough room for three passengers – I suspect you could comfortably sleep on the floor on a camping trip.

The pull-out step and pop-up, Fred Astaire-styled tailgate access stick is just a little goofy and, frankly, rattled like hell at highway speed.

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