By on October 16, 2008

This week, I went to Detroit on an all-expenses-paid junket extravaganza, where I drove the snot out of the new Ford F-150. What I took away from the experience, in addition to the F-150 (full review tomorrow) is twofold. First, Ford may have seriously lucked out on the 2009 F-150, because rather than focusing on peak horsepower, or acceleration, or size of wheels, or bling, or whatever else, it’s as though they’ve designed the truck pretty much directly for commercial users and heavy haulers. The people that actually need pickup trucks. Also known as “the only people that are going to continue buying pickup trucks in the forseeable future.” The F-150 performed extremely well in the proving grounds testing (Why wouldn’t it? Though I really liked the Chevy Silverado as well). Secondly, I’m not a fan of the Toyota Tundra. I drove it back to back with the Chevy Silverado, F-150, and Dodge Ram. The Tundra performed embarrassingly: TTAC has put in a call to Toyota to see if they want some kind of rebuttal.

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28 Comments on “Pre-Review: 2009 Ford F-150...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    Which level of Ram, Silverado, and Tundra did Ford supply for the comparison?

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    I assume this was also the new Ram with the coil suspension?

    I’m anxious to hear your review on the trucks tomorrow. I’ve always like the Fords, but there is something subtle that I’ve liked about the Chevy and GMC’s as well. Don’t really know what it is. Rams I’ve never liked much, except for the HEMI, which is a great engine.

    Always assumed that should I ever desire/need a pickup truck, I’d probably head straight to the Ford store. Sure the other guys make good stuff too, but the F150 is still THE truck…..though I gotta say, I don’t really like the front end on the 2009 model. My opinion, the current truck has great styling. Something just doesn’t look right on this new one.

  • avatar
    NickR

    I like everything about that truck, and glad that by chance or design they have a serviceable design. I hope that it is a success. But I really wished they had toned down that grill. Driving toward it with the sun at your back promises to be a retina searing experience. Is it available in body colour for those that want it?

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    @ajla:

    It depended on the activity, but they were apples-to-apples comparisons (i.e. mid-level engines for all the trucks, or top level etc). Over the course of the program, I drove the Tundra 5.7, Silverado 5.3 and 6.0, and Ram 5.7 Hemi.

    For towing, all were RWD. All had the tow package and comparable rear axles (I will look it up in my literature if you want to know what the axle ratios were).

    For hauling and driving on a slalom, they were all loaded with 850 lbs, and they had two categories of mid and top level engines. The mid level engine models were crew cab models with 18″ wheels; the top level engine models were all the super crew cab models with 20″ wheels (except the Chevy, which they were only able to get with 18″ers).

    For durability testing, they had basic regular cab and middle-engine crew cab models, though I didn’t drive any of the regular cab versions.

    To their credit, Ford was very concerned with making sure we only compared directly matched models of cars, so at one point when I went to get into a Tundra that wasn’t apples-to-apples, someone told me not to and that I had to drive the identical version for an accurate comparison.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Justin Berkowitz: Yes but how did the pate de fois gras and caviar nachos cloud up your vision?

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    @Jerome10:

    Yes, the Ram was the 2009 with the rear coil suspension.

    Very nice truck on road. Interior much improved since 2008. Just the transmission was awful and ruined the driving, towing experience. It’s called a 5-speed, but mechanically it is sort of a 4-speed with 2 overdrives. I was not a fan at all.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    The 09 F150 is more than a truck for “commercial users and heavy haulers”. I think the driving dynamics are outstanding for a vehicle of that size and unbalance. I’m looking forward to reading the review.

  • avatar

    Jonny Lieberman: Do you honestly think Ford can throw down on fois gras lately? I’m thinking cheese and crackers under a rental canopy on the skidpad.

    We should expect an honest review.

  • avatar

    I finally saw a ’09 XL work truck on the road today. Looked respectable. When I was at the NAIAS, I was amazed at the interior trimmings of the Platnium edition. The brushed aluminum was (maybe) good enough for an Audi. Every urban cowboy in my state’s gonna want one, even if gas soared back up again.

  • avatar
    RobertSD

    I agree that Ford lucked out on the 2009 F-150, but because of an interesting twist of product dev logic is my guess.

    My bet is that as Ford watched the Tundra get closer to launch and having watched enthusiasts, but not real haulers, move to Dodge the last several years, I think Ford realized they were toast in the purely recreational market and went straight for the contractor/construction/work fleet market. Their marketshare there is already very good, but it’s also fairly profitable and more immune to swings in demand and features. They probably figured they could get what fell off the tailgate – or the tailgate itself from the Tundra – from the Tundra/Ram/Silverado recreational shoppers and still sell a lot of trucks.

    The result was a truck that caters extremely well to fleet buyers who have high demands on their pickups. But they will look brilliant if/when the demand that really remains after the most recent swing in gas prices and shaking out of our over extended credit lines is the exact market that they built for because of their natural weakness on the other side.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    @jgholt:

    It was pretty nice. All buffet meals, but big spreads and very good stuff. Lunch, dinner on Tuesday, then breakfast and lunch on Wednesday. Lots of snacks. Highlight was bread pudding dessert.

  • avatar
    1996MEdition

    Everyone put away your “car” yardstick and pull out your “truck” yardstick, real (not foo-foo, “how many cupholders does it have?”) trucks are back!

  • avatar
    sean362880

    All buffet meals, but big spreads and very good stuff. Lunch, dinner on Tuesday, then breakfast and lunch on Wednesday. Lots of snacks. Highlight was bread pudding dessert.

    That 500 lb capacity step-in should come in handy.

  • avatar
    ZCline

    That fancy leather and wood trim on the center console really doesn’t look like the kind of thing a commercial pickup buyer would want …

  • avatar
    Stingray

    I want to hear how awful the Tundra was =)

  • avatar

    The F-150 styling continues to be somewhat terrible and bland. But at least it looks better than the Silverado which is downright vanilla hideous.

    The Tundra, Titan and all-new Ram are much more expressive and unique designs which I appreciate, especially if I were to own a vehicle that guzzles that much gasoline.

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    This “1/2″ ton truck is to darn big. And because Ford insists on making their truck bigger and bigger with every re-skin, they are getting credit for stupid gimmicks like a tailgate step. A person should never need a tailgate step because a 1/2 ton truck is supposed to be a manageable size. Does Ford realize that they make bigger trucks…for bigger jobs?
    And unless you order the navigation system…the interior looks horrid. There are randomly placed buttons everywhere. I hope the F-150 does not suffer from the dime store interior that the Super Duty does. Talk about hard, cold plastics.
    GM FOR SURE wins in the interior department. High quality materials, and even with tons of options, there are not tons of buttons.

  • avatar
    bumpy

    ^^^x2

    Is the bed accessible by anyone who isn’t a superstar NBA forward? Heck, I just put a tape measure to my old GMC, and even with the 31″ tires and 10-leaf spring sets the bed sides top out at 51 inches and the floor is 32″.

  • avatar
    Banger

    @ TriShield:

    Sometimes there are those of us who find “Vanilla Hideous” (TM) pretty appealing. I’m someone who values function over beauty, especially in trucks.

    …As my 06 Ford Ranger XL with her manual trans, crank-down windows, manual locks, factory AM/FM, vinyl seats, rubber floor, and cast steel wheels will readily attest.

    I’m anxious to see photos of the XL edition of this new F150. The last one wasn’t too bad, but could’ve looked a little more synonymous with it’s higher-priced bretheren if you ask me. But maybe that’s a perception gap of mine, since most XL F150s around here are regular cab/long beds with all the black plastic, while the XLTs and optioned-up trucks are a vast array of Supercab and Crew Cabs with the short bed and big, shiney wheels. I dunno.

  • avatar
    ajla

    @Justin Berkowitz:

    Thanks for the reply. I’m glad Ford brought along a 6.0 Silverado. It sounds pretty fair for a press junket.

    I’m suprised the Ram’s transmission gave you trouble. I’ve towed around 8000lbs with a 2006 Ram 2500 5.7L, and about 4000lbs with a 2004 Grand Cherokee 4.7L, and I didn’t notice any issues. I think the new Ram and the two vehicles I used have the same 545RFE 5-speed. Maybe it was redone for better fuel economy, or maybe you were towing more weight than me and taxed the transmission.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    P71_CrownVic : This “1/2″ ton truck is to darn big.

    Agreed. I wish Ford hadn’t “upsized” the current-generation F-150. I can vaguely understand giving the F-350 such a big body, but the 150? At least the previous-generation F-150 was a bit smaller.

    It will be interesting to see which Detroit automaker downsizes its pickup first. Or will they hand Toyota yet another opportunity to be a “trend setter?” I put that term in quotes because Toyota stupidly abandoned its mid-sized pickup in a vain quest to compete directly with Detroit. If Toyota had been more patient it could have saved itself a boatload of money.

  • avatar
    50merc

    I think the idea that in the future pickups will be bought only by those who “need” them is overstated. In my part of the country, there are lots of people who just love pickups. Hauling capabilities are irrelevant; they just prefer to drive pickups. Years ago, when the Japanese only offered small trucks, I joked “Someday I’d like to live in a state where people don’t think ‘imported sports car’ is a Toyota pickup.”

  • avatar
    obbop

    Somebody needs to chime in with this “blast from the past.”

    Trucks for rough tough manly men who use the critters on farms, construction sites, agricultural harvesting crews, commercial fishermen… those brawny rugged guys who after a day’s work in the heat and humidity, stinking to high heaven, reveling in going inside the fast food scarf-n-barf and ordering some grub while offending every air-conditioned-office worker’s dainty nose within 50 feet…..

    want and desire the trucks of yore (thinking of a 1972 Chevy the harvesting crew used) that allowed access to the dashboards innards by laying on the floor and looking upwards where groping hands could replace a clutch spring or replace a hose or electrical connection etc.

    No spending a horrid amount of time removing trim pieces that exist merely to make the trucks innards pretty for the girly boys and the non-boy girlies.

    A truck. Not some new-fangled dolled up plastic-coated French brothel.

    Lets get back to the basics… at least for the most basic work-type truck I believe many truck buyers would prefer.

  • avatar
    Banger

    obbop:

    “want and desire the trucks of yore (thinking of a 1972 Chevy the harvesting crew used) that allowed access to the dashboards innards by laying on the floor and looking upwards where groping hands could replace a clutch spring…”

    I’m thinking you’re thinking of the clutch pedal spring, but let me just say a hearty “Amen” to your entire post.

    And Re: Sizing– it’s sort of like the Cold War, if you ask me. You don’t want to be the one who “blinks” first and reduces your arsenal, else your product be the competition’s lunch in every buff book comparo, thus lowering its “street cred” with all those urban cowboys who drive them five miles each day, across town to their 9-to-5 office jobs.

  • avatar
    Sammy Hagar

    Alright, where in the hell is the review? It’s 7am, I’ve got my bathrobe on (don’t worry, it’s open), coffee in hand & yet no review. This is a let down…I’ve only got an hour to dick around before I have to run the kid to morning day care. And this afternoon is already jammed up w/harassing posts on Craig’s List R&R, not to mention four episodes of “WKRP” on the TiVo. Let’s go! I need to know, as a Mr. Mom, whether or not to pressure the Misses to give me a new truck.

  • avatar
    86er

    And Re: Sizing– it’s sort of like the Cold War, if you ask me. You don’t want to be the one who “blinks” first and reduces your arsenal…

    Or you don’t want to be another 1962 Dodge/Plymouth.

  • avatar
    tdoyle

    As the current owner of an ’05 F150, the problem is that it really isn’t THAT much different looking than mine. Much of the same sheetmetal with the same door and roof stamping with an fairly fugly-front and non-descript rear.

    It isn’t enough to make me trade…

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    @tdoyle:

    They’ll give you $2000 if you do want to trade it. Owner loyalty, or something.


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