By KBB.com Editors
It is hard to imagine a more inauspicious time to introduce a new full-size pickup truck – with the possible exception of the Eve of Destruction – but the all-new-for-2009 Ford F-150 is shouldering its way into the U.S. market on a crest of increased capabilities across the board. With credit tight and leasing options for new pickups shrinking, Ford figures that the bulk of its sales will come from buyers who genuinely need the unique aspects full-size pickups offer – big payload and towing capacities among them – instead of those who simply want to be seen in a pickup. With this in mind, Ford engineers built in class-leading capabilities in both those areas while, at the same time, boosting fuel economy across the board. But don't think they skimped on creature comforts, as the F-150 offers increasing levels of luxury from among its 35 variants.You'll Like This Car If...
If you want a truck with serious towing and payload capabilities, yet as quiet and comfortable as many luxury sedans, then the F-150 should surely be on your shopping list.You May Not Like This Car If...
For the short-term the F-150 doesn't offer a diesel option, so if you are a firm believer in diesel you must shop elsewhere, at least until next year.What's New for 2009
Though it utilizes a great deal of what has made the F-150 a perennial bestseller, the 2009 model is all new. Key changes include rugged "big-truck" exterior styling, a roomier and more refined interior and a new top-of-the-line Platinum trim level.Driving It Driving Impressions
Ford is so proud of the F-150's payload and towing capabilities that it might be natural to assume the new version would "ride like a truck." The surprising news is it doesn't. Instead, each and every version of the F-150 we've driven offered exceptional ride quality – no shudders, hops or hiccups – and a level of quiet that was startling. Each version also offered ample power, good acceleration and a level of steering feel and control that belied its 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, a segment first. Our off-road excursions in the well-equipped four-by-four versions of the truck demonstrated it has the goods to get it done in muck and mire as well.
Designed to deal with the awkward and potentially dangerous chore of getting into the pickup truck's bed, the integrated tailgate step scored big. It deploys easily and even offers a safety hand-hold.
Roomy SuperCrew Cab
The cab in the 2009 SuperCrew has been stretched six inches compared to the 2008 model, and the interior is transformed. 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 F-150's interior is both attractive and functional. Knowing men's hands would most often be using the controls, Ford designers made the knobs, buttons and switches brawny and put them within easy reach of the driver. The center console was lengthened from the previous version by two inches so it can easily accommodate two or more laptops, and it even has ridges so it can accept file folders. It is just one of more than 30 storage areas built into the interior for things like cell phones and music players. We especially appreciate the dash-mounted USB port and auxiliary music player input, plus the two easily accessible 12-volt outlets – one on the dash and one in the console. Ford also paid special attention to the seats, which are some of the most comfortable in our experience.Exterior
Two generations ago Ford designers penned a swoopy, almost Ferrari-like F-150 that bowled over critics but didn't play as well with truck buyers. In the two generations since, Ford has made the F-150 much huskier, with an imposing front end, strong shoulders and a deep, deep pickup box. The three-bar grille is the most important element of the design and if you're paying attention you can tell an F-150 trim level simply by the grille treatment – ranging from simple in the more work-oriented versions to more luxury-car-like looks for the up-level Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum versions.Notable Standard Equipment
The F-150 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 10-percent greater torsional rigidity while actually being lighter than the previous frame. The level of standard safety equipment is truly outstanding, including AdvanceTrac with RSC traction and stability control, anti-lock brakes and Safety Canopy side-curtain air bags 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 and new seats and restraints for superior performance in low-speed rear-end collisions.Notable Optional Equipment
For those who really use their pickup trucks as trucks, the 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.Under the Hood
Do you want a gasoline engine or a gasoline engine? Perhaps the only shortfall with the 2009 F-150 is the lack of a diesel option, but the three gasoline engines available – all V8s – offer slightly better fuel economy than before, aided significantly by the addition of six-speed automatic transmissions in many of the truck's trim levels. A 4.6-liter two-valve V8 takes the place of the previous six-cylinder, a 4.6-liter three-valve V8 uses open-valve injection and the 5.4-liter three-valve is E85-capable. Ford promises that diesel and new EcoBoost high-fuel-efficiency engines will be available in the 2010 model year.
4.6-liter V8 (2-valve)
248 horsepower @ 4750 rpm
294 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/19 (2WD), 14/18 (4WD)
4.6-liter V8 (3-valve)
292 horsepower @ 5700 rpm
320 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/20 (2WD), 14/19 (4WD)
5.4-liter V8 (3-valve)
320 horsepower @ 5000 rpm
390 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20 (2WD, Gasoline), 10/14 (2WD, E85), 14/18 (4WD, Gasoline), 10/13 (4WD, E85)
With 35 different variants, the 2009 Ford F-150 is priced across a wide range. Regular Cab XL models have a starting Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) right around $22,000, while a fully laden Platinum SuperCrew can run well over $45,000. Somewhere in between those two extremes is where most buyers will find themselves. A look at the Fair Purchase Price shows the typical transaction price being paid for the F-150 in your area, so be sure to give it a look before you set out to buy. The 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 Super Cab. Over a five-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 Dodge Ram and Nissan Titan but slightly below the Toyota Tundra.