Auto Review: How to be a best-seller

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Feature Article - posted Fri., Apr. 22, 2011
Contributed
- Contributed Photo

How do you become popular? Well, it helps if you are a hard worker, reliable, easy to live with and have a generous amount of charm. In the case of mechanical devices, a lot of these qualities are hard to express, especially in something as arguably utilitarian as a pickup truck. But Ford’s F150 pickup has been the best-selling vehicle in these United States year after year because it has the kind of qualities mentioned above, and still manages to improve as the years roll by, both in terms of capability and refinement. Oh, and the fact that Ford spends a fortune arming this truck with the latest technology certainly has helped, as well.

For 2011, Ford has taken a very bold step in expanding this truck’s capabilities by creating four all-new engines. These powerful, advanced mills include a 3.7-liter V6 with 302 horsepower, a 5-liter V8 with 360 horsepower, a 6.2-liter V8 with 411 horsepower, and a 3.5-liter EcoBoost turbocharged V6 with 365 horsepower. All of these engines come with a six-speed automatic transmission, which has identical ratios with each engine – with the exception of the EcoBoost, that has a slightly different top gear. We tested an F150 4X4 SuperCrew with the 5-liter V8, that I’m willing to bet will be the most popular choice for most applications. The extensive engineering Ford has put into this new drivetrain is obvious the first time you drive it off, for it is smooth, quiet and powerful, with crisp shifts from the transmission and a robust exhaust note. Not that there was anything really wrong with the previous iteration, you understand, but I always felt the old 5.4-liter V8 had to work pretty hard compared with some of the competition, and this new 5-liter not only delivers better fuel economy, but really does feel much stronger. 

Our SuperCrew tester was rated to haul 1,560 pounds of payload and tow up to 9,300 pounds. Trailer Sway Control software was part of the overall AdvanceTrac stability system, as a tow package on our Lariat trim level is standard. Despite the substantial payload and towing capability, the ride is never punishing and suspension compliance is impressive, even when you’re not hauling any cargo over a rough road.

Inside, the F150 displayed not only elaborate creature comforts ,but the latest high-tech goodies – including Ford’s Sync voice-activated audio/climate/phone/navigation interface and a gauge cluster that included an 4.2-inch LCD Message Center screen that is navigated using a five-way button on the steering wheel. As you might expect for such a sizable vehicle, interior room is excellent (a good thing when you’re so popular) and the full-size rear doors and 60/40 split bench seat are very commodious. You can raise the rear seat up to create a sizable area for in-cab storage for tools and other valuables, too.

The 2011 Ford F150 4X4 SuperCrew Lariat is EPA-rated 14 MPG city/19 highway and has a base price of $39,615. With options, our sticker came to $47,050. www.ford.com


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