By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 11/11/2011
Holding the title of America's best-selling pickup truck for 34 years running is no small feat, which is why the 2012 Ford F-150 pickup deserves every accolade it receives. With stiff competition from Ram and Chevy, not to mention Toyota and Nissan's full-size entries, Ford refuses to rest on its laurels, continuing to improve the F-150 full-size pickup with new features and better mechanical components. Last year, Ford gave the F-150 all-new engines and transmissions, and this year there's expanded use of an electronic locking rear axle replacing the old limited-slip unit. Yet, despite all its improvements, the 2012 Ford F-150 remains a tough workhorse designed to tackle big payload and towing jobs. With class-leading capabilities, impressive fuel economy and the only turbocharged 6-cylinder engine in the segment, the more than 30 different version of America's favorite pickup truck should continue to set sales records and send the competition scrambling to keep up.
"Built Ford Tough" isn't just an advertising slogan, it's the reason the Ford F-150 is the best-selling truck in the country. An impressive range of models and options permits the F-150 to be everything from a simple work truck to a super-plush family hauling machine.
With its strong resale and reliability ratings, about the only reason not to like the 2012 F-150 comes down to whether you like its bold and boxy styling.
The 2012 F-150 pickup receives a few important new features, beginning with the addition of Hill Start Assist and the inclusion of neutral tow assist on all 4x4 trucks. A new automatic 4x4 system is added to Lariat and higher trims, while a new FX Appearance package adds flat-black wheels and accents, black leather seats with red piping, and FX graphics. The FX Luxury package gains heated and cooling front seats.
Despite its impressive payload and towing ability, the 2012 Ford F-150 doesn't ride like a stiffly-sprung work truck. In fact, it rides more like a plush Lincoln SUV. Every version of the F-150 we tested was devoid of a rough ride, with no shudder or hopping over rough or unpaved roads and a level of quiet unheard of (no pun intended) in a full-size pickup. Each version also provided ample power, with the least-liked engine being the base V6, and the most appreciated being the new twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6. Thanks to the F-150's electric power-assisted steering (EPAS), we experienced a level of steering feel and control that belied the big Ford's size and heft. Perhaps most impressive was the towing demonstration in which we hauled 20-foot trailers with absolutely zero drama, thanks in large part to the pickup's trailer sway control, rearview camera and integrated trailer brake controller.
Designed to deal with the awkward and potentially dangerous chore of getting into the pickup truck's bed, the integrated tailgate step on the 2012 Ford F-150 scores big. It deploys easily and even offers a safety hand-hold.
Roomy SuperCrew Cab
The cab in the 2012 F-150 SuperCrew is so roomy it out-measures some full-size sedans. In fact, the rear-seat legroom is absolutely limousine-like, and the mechanically-articulated second-row seat flips up and out of the way, delivering an ample 57.6 cubic feet of space behind the front seats.
The 2012 Ford F-150 has a sophisticated yet practical truck interior. Knowing that the hands controlling the F-150 will often be clad in some type of glove, be it work or ski, the F-150's design team has created buttons, knobs and switches that are slightly oversized, widely spaced and easy to reach. A thoughtful center console design can swallow two or more laptops or tablets; there are even slotted ridges along the sides for holding hanging files in place. In fact, there are clever storage compartments throughout the 2012 F-150's cabin for holding everything from beverages to cell phones. There are even two 12-volt outlets, one on the dash and one in the console, for recharging portable electronics, and an available 110-volt outlet. As for overall comfort, we think the F-150's contoured front seats are among the most comfortable in the class. The same goes for the rears seats, at least those on SuperCrew models.
With the exception of one generation late in the 1990s, the F-150 has always had an easily-identifiable boxy shape. The 2012 Ford F-150 continues the tradition but adds a healthy dose of oversized ornamentation (think grille, bumpers and mirrors) usually covered in chrome on upper trims. The 2012 F-150 features a strong front end, powerful shoulders and a tall bed wall creating a nice, deep box. Those tall bed walls, however, can be a bit of a hindrance when trying to access a tool box or gear in the bed's center. Understanding this problem, Ford offers an extendable side step on most models. Ford's 3-bar grille receives varying styling treatments depending on the trim level, ranging from simple black plastic pieces on base trucks, to a black mesh grille with the Ford name spelled out in huge block letters on the SVT Raptor, to a chrome-slathered behemoth found on the King Ranch and Platinum versions.
The 2012 Ford F-150 full-size truck comes in flavors ranging from plain vanilla all the way to banana split with whipped cream, nuts and sprinkles, but one thing all levels share is a robust, hydro-formed, boxed-section chassis that offers superior torsional rigidity while actually being lighter than the old-fashioned ladder frames of the past. The level of standard safety equipment is truly outstanding, including AdvanceTrac with RSC traction and stability control, anti-lock brakes (ABS) and Safety Canopy side-curtain airbags with roll-fold technology for enhanced head protection in rollovers and side impacts. Safety is also enhanced by front seat-mounted side-impact airbags, "smart" airbags and seatbelts, a second-row center head restraint and integrated spotter mirrors.
For those who really use their pickup trucks as trucks, the 2012 Ford F-150 offers some exclusive options that are right on the money. Our two favorites are the integral tailgate step that makes clambering into the box easy and the spring-out box side steps that make reaching into the vehicle's deep cargo box much more convenient. Also earning high marks are the stowable bed extender and beefy cargo management system. And for those who have ever left a tool on a work site, never to see it again, the Tool Link radio-frequency identification tracking system enables you to maintain a detailed real-time inventory of the tools and/or equipment stored in the pickup box. When it's kick-back time, Ford's SYNC, SIRIUS Travel Link and a high-powered Sony brand audio system help you while away the time.
Do you want a gasoline engine or a gasoline engine? Perhaps the only shortfall with the 2012 F-150 is the lack of a diesel option, but the four available gasoline engines – two V6s and two V8s – offer reasonable fuel economy, aided significantly by the addition of a 6-speed automatic transmission. A twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 is offered, a first for this segment and an engine that promises both strong performance and good fuel economy. Both the 3.7-liter V6 and 5.0-liter V8 are fitted with fuel-saving twin-independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT) technology and, for towing needs, nothing can beat the two-valve-per-cylinder 6.2-liter V8's best-in-class 11,300-pound tow rating.
302 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
278 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/23 (2WD), 16/21 (4WD), 12/17 (2WD, E85), 12/15 (4WD, E85)
3.5-liter V6, Twin-Turbocharged
365 horsepower @ 5,000 rpm
420 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/22 (2WD), 15/21 (4WD)
360 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
380 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250
EPA city/high fuel economy: 15/21 (2WD), 14/19 (4WD), 11/15 (2WD, E85), 10/14 (4WD, E85)
411 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
434 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/18 (2WD), 12/16 (4WD)
With more than 30 different variants, the 2012 Ford F-150 pickup pricing chart covers a wide spread. Regular Cab XL models have a starting Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) right around $24,000, while a fully-laden Platinum SuperCrew can run well over $50,000. Somewhere in between those two extremes is where most buyers will find themselves. A look at the Fair Purchase Price on kbb.com shows the typical transaction price being paid for the 2012 Ford F-150 in your area, so be sure to check it out before you set out to buy. The 2012 Ford F-150 is expected to retain a better-than-average residual value, with the SuperCrew models at the top of the chart, followed by the Regular Cab and then the SuperCab. Over a 5-year period, the F-150's projected residual value is expected to be nearly on par with the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra, better than the Ram 1500 and Nissan Titan, but slightly below the Toyota Tundra.