The Truth About Cars » F150 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 26 Jul 2014 01:30:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » F150 Ford, King Ranch “Brownout” the Houston Rodeo Tue, 25 Mar 2014 12:03:07 +0000

Perhaps you haven’t lived in a flyover state where brown leather gear dominates your town during Rodeo season.  While the Ford+King Ranch press release celebrating the 15th Anniversary of those famous brown leather pickups reached the autoblogosphere, only a local writer with an internationally known knack for automotive snark both finds the sweet mochalicious lede and refuses to bury it in the dirt.

And what does that mean?  You gotta click to find out.

I’ve been blacklisted (brownlisted?) from Ford PR events as long as I remember, but I attended this shindig via the King Ranch side of the Ford+King Ranch love fest.  So I donned my cheap cowhide boots, my thrift store boot cut jeans and herded the Duratec Ranger’s 150-ish horses to the Rodeo…pardner.


As the massive complex–housing the once amazing Astrodome—filled up, I noticed how this Rodeo’s grown in the last 10-20 years.  Ford’s booth hawked their latest wares much like any auto show, complete with a “media only” area for us bloggers, social media influencers and local autojournos. There was the new aluminum F-150, the new-ish Expedition and the current Super Duty…all in King Ranch guise, ‘natch.

And yes, the King Ranch is actually a famous Ranch, much like Bill Blass was a name on Lincolns attached to an actual person. They sold cowboy grade stuff nearby at their Saddle Shop at the Rodeo, too. But I digress…


So what does a native Houstonian think of the aluminum cage’d F150? Pretty cool inside and out, as their design/engineering embodies continuous improvement, even if the rig is far too big for its own good. The doors close with less vault-like heft of the last-gen steel body, but it still feels great. And even the door card is all kinds of broughamy from the days of Ford LTDs with covered headlights and Ghia-clad Granadas.


Now, even more than before, Ford’s take on the American Workhorse is the unquestioned Audi of Pickups.


The new Expedition is a modest evolution, lacking the “WTF” face of the Tahoe’s buzz saw headlights. Its refined snout is a pleasurable throwback to the beard trimming grille of the UR-Fusion.

The hallmark all-wheel independent suspension and the massive fold flat 3rd row seat still bowl me over: shame on GM for not following suit.  But the interior feels distinctly cheap compared to the F-150. But every Ford product takes an R&D back seat to the almighty F-series, right? #pantherlove



The Super Duty (ever present on the Rodeo’s dirt floor) has a new oil-burnin’ motor for 2015, but the stuff you can touch looks about the same.  The new-ish center stack loaded with SYNC looks functional enough, but again, the interior lacks the refinement of the F150.  Ditto the exterior.  But the King Ranch trimming in all three models drove home the fact that this is the brownest lineup in the car biz. Or at least the truck biz…and it’s been that way for 15 years now?

And, as a founding member of the Brown Car Appreciation Society on Facebook, a tail-wags-the-dog group that made brown as “important” as diesels and manual transmissions to auto journos and to the PR flacks that do anything to get their attention, it’s nice to believe our mission adds to the King Ranch’s reach. Because brown makes the King Ranch a cut above, even if the leather isn’t as buttery soft as before: hopefully the lack of tenderness means it’ll hold up better than older models.

Ford also had a brief presentation, after most guests Frank Bacon-ized themselves with free food/booze in the luxury suite.  Succumbing to the urge I felt in 2011 when buying my Ranger, I asked the Ford F-series rep why Dearborn talked me out of an F-150 by making it impossible to configure what I wanted: a regular cab, XLT, short bed, 4×4, limited slip differential with the 6.2L Hurricane-Boss V8.  You know, a Ford Tremor without the poseur trim, the tacky console and a half-ton of big block V8 instead of that funny soundin’ EcoBoost motor.

The rep went into some detail about the cost-benefit of offering everything under the sun (a fair point for any corporation, to some extent) and then threw me a bone:

“You definitely know what you want, maybe we can accommodate you in the future.”

So if the BOSS V8 ever shows up in some twisted FoMoCo homage to the GMC Syclone…well…YOU ARE WELCOME, SON. For now, enjoy these chocolatey photos showing a time when Ford, King Ranch and a lot of brown joined forces to impress rodeo-going pistonheads.



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Wards Auto: Industry Analysts Unsure If Ford Gained Advantage With The Aluminum 2015 F150 Wed, 19 Mar 2014 18:32:20 +0000 2015-Ford-F150-Front
Ford dropped a heavy light weight military-grade aluminum gauntlet with a metallic thud when they announced that the aluminum-intensive F-150. With up to 97% of the body being made of aluminum, and with Ford’s claims that it has dropped 700 pounds off the truck’s curb weight, the industry took notice. So much so, that GM announced their plans for an aluminum Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra shortly after the North American International Autoshow, where the F150 was debuted.

According to WardsAuto reported that some analysts are not quite as impressed, and are unsure whether or not it will make as large of an impact as expected.

Part of the concern comes from recent advances in steel, with high strength steel seeing widespread use in the industry, and more importantly, Ford’s competitors. Craig Parsons, automotive-president of Nanosteel, told Wards, 

“If you look at steels out there years ago, you couldn’t lightweight; they weren’t strong enough and you couldn’t (form) the shapes needed. Aluminum has come a long way, as well, but I think technologies like nanosteel are going to give automakers alternatives to aluminum so they can do lightweighting with better geometries and thinner materials.”

Parsons points at the current 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra as an example of high strength steel’s effectiveness. He claims the ’14 GM trucks are 350 lbs lighter than the current generation F150. With Ford claiming a 700 pound weight savings from their current truck, the difference between the ’15 F150 and ’14 GM trucks would only be around 350 pounds, according to Parsons; a fairly negligible number when the difference in options on a truck can swing the curb weight by over 500 pounds, according to GM’s specs on the ’14 Silverado 1500.

“Each generation of truck is lighter. It’s always the most recent introduction that is the lightest in its class.”

Another issue is cost. David Cole, chairman of AutoHarvest and chairman emeritus for the Center for Automotive Research, touches on the issue

 “It’s a big roll of the dice. Whether it’s an advantage or not is yet to be determined. The trade off from the consumer perspective is, ‘What is it going to save me vs. what’s it going to cost me? That’s an important part of the discussion.”

Along with the higher material costs and production costs with sheets of heat-treated aluminum, Ford is also pushing for more advanced engines. The direct-injected and turbocharged Ecoboost engines have been pushed hard by Ford in the current generation F150. At the time of this writing, the EcoBoost V6 is $1,000 more than the 5.0L V8; and $2,000 more than the base V6. Only the rowdy 6.2L V8 costs more.

Richard Schultz, a project consultant at Ducker Worldwide, mentions that

“It’s more expensive, but you have to add in the value of scrap, which is very valuable. And when you save so much weight you can make suspensions and other parts smaller and thinner.”

Cole touches on anther key point, the 2017 review for the 2025 CAFE regulations. Specifically chosen to take place after the next election, the next president could cancel that F150‘s chance if he or she chose to relax the standards. Ford would have spent millions to push out the technologically advanced F150 only to have the goalposts moved. Ford may enjoy having the most fuel-efficient pickup in the market, but the extra costs of the new aluminum body and engines could alienate buyers, sending them to cheaper, more traditional pickups.


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New or Used? : I Loves My Truck Fri, 28 Feb 2014 13:00:14 +0000 f150

Thanks for your recent article about buying auto parts.

I recently bought a well used ’95 F-150 with the venerable 302 and Mazda five-speed.
When I say well used, I mean the engine has about 253,000 on the clock and sounds like it is on its last legs. I’m pretty sure I can hear the jugs rattling in the cylinders when I first fire it up, the idle hunts all over the place and it has about as much power as the Ukrainian president.
I’d like to put a new mill in it. The previous owner spent a lot of time and money doing everything but engine work. Where’s a good place to start looking for a used motor, or should I spill the coin to have this tired old unit rebuilt?

Steve Says:

I wouldn’t be sold on replacing the engine just yet.

For some reason, old Fords tend to have more idling issues than any other manufacturer I see at the auctions. They can be a pain to track down, but that that doesn’t necessarily mean that the engine is on it’s last legs.  It just means that you or your mechanic is going to have fun tracking down vacuum hoses and a long, long line of other diagnostic possibilities. If you want to do this yourself I would strongly recommend buying up the Alldata information for your F150.

As for the start-up noise, that can be a variety of things. However if the timing chain and guides haven’t been replaced at this point, that may very well be your noise at start-up. I see a lot of Explorers, Rangers and F150s with this issue, and it can require the removal of the engine in order to properly replace the chain and guides.

Let’s assume for now that you have a truck that now drinks, smokes and hangs out with the bad boys. If your engine is as wore out as an old mop then you definitely need to take a tour through the automotive scenery of the nearby auto recycling centers.

First go to Since the 5.0 Liter V8 was only offered for two years on the F150, you will only have about 1000 of them to choose from. The going price will be around $500. However, I would strongly advise that you buy a new water pump, a chain and guide replacement set, and take the time to replace any hoses that may be in need of attention. Especially in those areas where hoses can be near impossible to reach.

This engine is easy to install but time consuming. Would I rebuild it? Not unless you have the time and some serious achievements when it comes to DIY work. You can get a nice rebuild done that would give you more power. But you are looking at north of $1500 for it to be done right.

I prefer durability upgrades (a.k.a. relying on enthusiast forums for guidance and getting a transmission cooler) and stock engines instead of mods when it comes to older trucks. There also may be an opportunity to get the VIN number for the engine that interests you online and find out if it was regularly serviced at the dealership through a Carfax history. Ones that have been serviced at the dealerships will at least be given a quality oil filter and the recommended oil weight. Although with an older vehicle this information gets to be a bit scanty.



Good luck!



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Piston Slap: Dat Whining Azz! Mon, 06 Jan 2014 13:00:28 +0000

TTAC commentator EducatorDan/PrincipalDan writes:

Long time listener, comment-er, hanger-on with another question.

I have a 2004 F150 Heritage 4×2 that just cracked the 100,000 mile mark and recently I’ve noticed a distinctive rear differential whine. It has the 4.6 V8 mod motor, 4 speed auto, and (as you can see from the pics) an aftermarket flatbed.

I have owned it since 2006 and it is long since paid for and is currently my daily driver. When purchased it already had 68,000 miles on it and the only “receipts” I have for it was the insurance paperwork in the glove-box to show it was owned by a member of the AARP and registered in Sun City, AZ. It was never intended to be my daily driver, when it was purchased it was for household chores, truck type jobs, and a second vehicle. What changed was that in 2008 I got divorced and suddenly the truck was THE vehicle that I was left with.

I have replaced an alternator and battery, tires, minor AC repair, installed a Dynomax dual exhaust system, and regular oil changes.

Within the next year I will be purchasing another vehicle (some large comfortable used well depreciated sedan for racking up highway miles) and the F150 will be parked for extended periods of time only to be called on when it is needed. I intend to do the full 100,000 mile service very soon. But the differential whine bothers me. It occurs from about 10 mph to around 70 mph when it goes away, in any gear. I recall a mention in several forums about Panther platform cars getting a differential whine at higher mileages and have looked on F150 owner forms about differential whine but most of those posts are about newer generation trucks still under warranty.

So here’s the question. For a guy who intends to keep this truck until gasoline is no longer a legal commodity to be sold, is this whine an issue? Is it a case of something that will sound like that for another 100,000 to 150,000 miles before the diff finally blows up? Should I start saving money now for that Detroit Locker I always wanted for when they have to replace the internals in the axle anyway?


Sajeev answers:

Hey Dan, the mixed messages given by the aftermarket flatbed and chrome fender extensions are super rad.  On one hand, it’s a blingy street truck.  On the other hand, it’s got a booty that works hard for the money…but I digress…

Axle whine on Ford 7.5 and 8.8 differentials has been around almost as long as I’ve been around! And the problem is rarely bad enough to actually kill the axle.  Since yours is out of warranty AND you will be getting another daily driver, let it be.  If the axle ever fails, get another one (with the same gear ratio) from the junkyard, odds are it will last many more years, be cheap to buy and a breeze to install.

And labor is the big problem when it comes to differential (ring and pinion) work.

More importantly, rear axle work is not for the faint of heart.  Setting up a ring and pinion requires specialist experience, letting just anyone crack open your axle to fix the problem is asking for BIG trouble.   Which you do not have now…and you probably never will. So let it be, enjoy it as part of the truck’s charm. Yeah, charm.


Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Pre-Production Review: 2014 Toyota Tundra (With Video) Wed, 11 Sep 2013 20:02:31 +0000 2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior-002

We don’t just love pickup trucks in America, we practically worship them. The half ton pickup truck is an American icon embedded into our music, our entertainment and almost the core of our culture. If you haven’t owned or wanted to own a pickup truck, you’re probably a communist infiltrating American society and should be stopped. Despite inroads from the Japanese competition, the full-size truck market is a solidly American segment that isn’t just led by the big three, it’s dominated by them. In August, RAM took third place with 33,009 pickups sold in the US of A, more than three times the number four player: this week’s Toyota Tundra. Why is this gap so large when Toyota crushes the big three in so many other segments? Let’s explore that while we look at Toyota’s refreshed 2014 Tundra.

Click here to view the embedded video.

When it comes to trucks, we’re talking half-ton cargo haulers, not the compact truck market where Toyota arguably leads. The full-size truck market is about image and brand as much as it is about capability. Aside from men’s razors, no other product in America is marketed in such a completely-divorced-from-reality fashion. We buy trucks both because they haul and because they make us look cool. (Come on, you can admit it.) Truck advertising tells us that real Americans buy trucks, have cattle ranches, sing in country groups and get all the blonde babes. Real Americans also go muddin’, drink Bud and (most importantly) buy American. It is therefore no surprise that Toyota’s biggest market is California. (Make of that what you will.) It’s also no surprise the folks at the launch event were trying hard to sell the Tie-o-ter as the most American pickup on the market. With the highest percentage of American content, plus assembly in San Antonio, there is some truth to their assertions.


I think that part of Toyota’s tuck sales problem was the old T100 from 1993-1998. That truck was a half-step between the American mid-size and full-size trucks leading people to consider the T100 more of a mid-size competitor. Then came the 1999-2006 Tundra which grew but failed to keep up with the Americans in terms of styling and dimensions. In 2007 we got the all-new Tundra which yet again grew a half size and was finally competitive with the big three featuring two V8 engines and part-time 4WD. Sales were less than stellar. Why? Toyota believes styling was to blame and I’m inclined to agree. The “bubbly” theme of the old Tundra was fairly emasculating when you parked next to the “rugged” F-150 or RAM 1500.

2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

For 2014 Toyota has addressed this problem with an enormous new grille that comes in three flavors (you can see two of them in the gallery) and features a prominent Toyota logo and very upright styling. It’s so upright the front bumper hardly protrudes from the grille at all. The larger and “chromier” grill is flanked by new headlamps that pay homage to the daring big-rig style of the 1994 RAM. The new nose makes the Tundra look bigger and meaner even though the dimensions have barely changed at all. Mainstream looks? Check.

2014 maintains the Tundra’s three cab, two bed, two wheelbase product mix. Things start out with the three-seat, two-door SR and stretch up to the six-seat four-door SR5. In a nod to the large number of truck shoppers that buy for image, not payload, Toyota offers three premium trim levels: Limited, Platinum and 1794. 1794 is named after the ranch that used to operate on the property the Tundra factory was built on. Mainstream product portfolio? Check.

2014 Toyota Tundra Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes


Truck makers have finally read the memo that truck shoppers expect passenger car quality interiors. Toyota listened in 2007 but didn’t catch the all important detail “car quality interiors” not “car-like interiors.” Thankfully the 2014 refresh banishes the awkward Camry-esque of the old model for a more masculine design language. Like the competition there is plenty of hard plastic in this cabin, more fake tree than a 1970s suburban tri-level and plenty of bling. I can finally say with a straight face that the Tundra’s interior looks like a truck.

Unfortunately for Toyota, 2014 also brings a raft of refreshed, redesigned and tweaked trucks from the big boys. Compared back to back with the 2014 Silverado and the 2013 RAM, the Tundra’s interior looks a little too “try hard” with shapes that are discordant and not harmonious and parts quality that is a notch below the pack. The F-150 is getting a little old with a 2015 redesign widely expected, but I still find the Ford’s interior to be a better place to spend my time than the Tundra. Mainstream interior? Check.

2014 Toyota Tundra Interior, entune, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes


2014 brings a few changes to the Tundra’s infotainment head unit. The major change is that all Tundra models will come with Toyota’s 6.1-inch Entune system only. The 7-inch system that ran the high-end software shared with the Lexus brand is not available in any model of Tundra. Consider me pleased. Toyota’s low-end system still seems to suffer from a dim LCD but the software itself is slick, speedy and easy to use. As before navigation is optional as is smartphone app integration. If you want the detailed look, check out the video. Mainstream tunes? Check.

2014 Tundra 5.7L V8, Picture Courtesy of Toyota


Delivering a new truck with an old drivetrain isn’t new, Ford’s been doing that for years. Unfortunately Ford is known for refreshing the under-hood-bits the next year while Toyota is known for  maintaining the status quo until a redesign. Unless Toyota breaks from tradition, this puts the Tundra at a serious competitive disadvantage. The base engine is ye olde 4.0L V6 mated to Toyota’s tried-and-true (but also tired and behind the times) 5-speed automatic. The rated 270 ponies and 278 twists are competitive with RAM’s 3.6L V6 and Ford’s 3.7L V6 on paper where torque is more important than horsepower for towing, but in the real world Ford’s 6-speed automatic makes better use of the power and 2014 brings ZF’s 8-speed to the RAM 1500 giving Chrysler’s 3.6L engine three more 60% more gears to play with. Toyota claims the V6 exists for a low entry price and as a result doesn’t even list a rated towing capacity for the V6 SR model. (Toyota says it’s 4,400 lbs.) I think that’s a serious mistake when we take two things into account. First, many truck buyers, especially those in California where Toyota is making headway, have no idea what a trailer even looks like. Second, Detroit is changing their tune on the V6 models changing them from entry engines to fuel efficient options that can haul some serious loads. RAM’s 2014 V6 model will tow 7,450lbs. Toyota was quick to say that they are the only ones with SAE verified towing numbers but I’m here to tell you the Chrysler 3.6L V6 and ZF 8-speed transmission are a weekend warrior’s towing wet dream.

Because the V6 is the milquetoast discount engine, Toyota offers two different V8s to fill out the product portfolio. Because Toyota only offers the V6 on the base SR model with the regular cab, most buyers will have a V8 under the hood. Both V8s are closely related to the engines found in modern Lexus models and as such are buttery smooth with a rich V8 burble and a torque curve that’s higher and “peakier” than the American competition. The 4.6L V8 is good for 310 horsepower and 327 lb-ft of torque, only slightly higher than GM’s 4.3L V6 and well behind Ford’s fire-breathing Ecoboost 3.5L V6. Still, this is not going to be the most popular engine because most Tundras will have Toyota’s 381HP 5.7L V8 capable of cranking out 401 lb-ft. Both V8s are mated to a mode modern 6-speed automatic which is on par with GM and Ford but notably shy of the RAM’s new ZF 8-speed for 2014. If you need more power TRD will be selling the same supercharger kit as before (as a TRD accessory it is covered by the Toyota factory warranty) which bumps the 5.7 to a class blowing 504HP and 550 lb-ft.

2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Driving and hauling

If you are one of the few that tow with their pickup truck, you may be happy to know that Toyota is the only company that follows the SAE standard completely when determining tow ratings.  Or, like me, you may look at the situation more skeptically and say “OK, so Dodge, Ford and Chrysler fiddle with their numbers” but does that matter? Not to me. The big three’s 1500 series trucks all slot in around 10,000 lbs with Chevy currently claiming king of the hill. Big deal. How the vehicles behave while towing is more important to me than the numbers and with that in mind there is one clear winner: the 2014 Ram 1500. Why? It’s all about ZF’s 8-speed automatic. The octo-swapper is two gears ahead of the competition and as a result can better keep the engine in its respective power band. Towing with Chrysler’s 3.6L V6 and 8-speed automatic is an eye opening experience and even though Chrysler’s 5.7L V8 lacks the power of the larger GM and Ford V8s the extra gears make a huge difference. Still, most half ton truck owners in suburbia have a truck because they bought a Ski-Doo and can’t imagine towing a 500-pound jetski behind a crossover with a meager 5,000 pound tow rating. (Seriously, I know some of these people.) With that in mind we can just say everyone in this segment can tow more than you need.

Out on the road the Tundra drives just like a pickup truck. If you had hoped that Toyota’s badge on the nose would turn the full-size cargo hauler into a FR-S on stilts you will be disappointed. The Tundra tips/dives and leans just like a Chevy, RAM or Ford and like the competition the horizontal grip varies depending on the cab, bed and rubber you choose. Steering is accurate but numb amd cabin noise is well controlled for a pickup truck.

2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

With limited time behind the wheel of the pre-production models I must draw my V6 experience from a dealer provided 2013 model. The V6 is slow and thirsty, with the 5-speed automatic always a step behind what’s required. The 4.7L V8 is thirstier than the V6 but doesn’t drink anymore than the competition. Power delivery is smooth and  the 6-speed automatic shifts firmly with a relative eagerness to downshift when towing. The 5.7L V8 drinks like a college co-ed on spring break and has a somewhat high (3,600 RPM) torque peak which makes it feel out of sorts when towing compared to GM’s 6.2L monster.

After a day tossing the Tundra around Washington state and towing trailers with unknown weights inside (seriously, nobody seemed to know how much weight was in the demo trailer) I came to the conclusion that the Tundra is finally a solid middle of the pack contender. With the exception of ye olde 5-speed on the V6, there’s nothing about the Tundra that’s smaller, weaker, less masculine or less capable than the popular configurations of the Detroit trucks.

Everything about the Tundra is quintessentially middle of the pack, but does that make it the Goldilocks of the 1/2 ton truck market? Yes and no. In the pursuit of mainstream, Toyota has abandoned the attempt to be class leading. As a result, there is nothing extraordinary about the Tundra in a positive or negative way except, possibly, Toyota’s reputation for reliability. In a segment where brand is practically more important than payload and towing (just ask the Chevy vs Ford guys), that’s a problem for Toyota as it gives shoppers little reason to try something new. The 2014 Tundra is the best pickup truck Toyota has ever made and it’s a solid alternative to any of the American pickup trucks.  But, unless Toyota breaks out of their shell and does something radical, the Tundra isn’t likely to sway many shoppers in the heartland.


Tundra flew me to Seattle to sample the Tundra refresh.

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Next Gen F150 Will Ditch Caveman Marketing Fri, 14 Dec 2012 15:30:47 +0000

While GM is pushing its “evolutionary” styled  new pickups with tried and true marketing, touting brawn and toughness, Ford will go with a less macho approach. It will push fuel economy for its next-generation F-150 pickups. For that, marketing has to be preceded by engineering. Ford will make its trucks shed between 700  and 750 pounds of weight for a 15 to 20 percent better fuel economy, says a report by Reuters.

The 2015 Ford F-150, which will go on sale in late 2014,  “will be a game-changer that will alter the dynamics of the truck segment,” Reuters heard from an insider. “They’re shooting for best-in-class fuel economy.”

The weight reduction will largely come from an extensive use of aluminum for doors, fenders, cab and tailgate. Major chassis components will be redesigned to reduce weight.

The trucks will later be powered by a new family of highly efficient engines, currently being developed  under the internal program code Nano. Small-displacement V6 engines will employ Ford’s EcoBoost technology, including turbocharging and direct injection.

The first of the Nano engines, a 2.9-liter V6, will not appear until 2016 or later, the report says. A new family of hybrid gasoline-electric engines, jointly developed with Toyota, will help meet tougher emissions and fuel-economy standards.

The F-series and its SUV derivatives account for more than 90 percent of Ford’s global profit, analysts says.

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Ford Gets Sued Over Fuel Injection Patent Fri, 31 Aug 2012 09:50:16 +0000


If a Pennsylvania company will get its say, Ford needs to equip its F150 truck with carburetors. Or, at the very least, with something else than its current fuel injection system. TMC Fuel Injection System LLC of Wayne, Pennsylvania, sued Ford for allegedly infringing a TMC patent, Reuters says.

TMC says its 2008 patent covers a fuel flow process that improves fuel economy, cuts exhaust emissions and reduces idle speed. The system was invented in 2002 by an engineer that TMC employed, Shou Hou. He tried unsuccessfully to sell the system to Ford.

According to TMC, Ford decided against licensing the technology but has been incorporating it in its vehicles, including the F-150.

TMC is seeking a halt to the infringement, plus compensatory and triple damages.

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Junkyard Find: 1979 Ford F-150 Wed, 22 Aug 2012 13:00:40 +0000 Writing this series has made me start paying more attention to types of vehicles I’ve long overlooked. Say, the early Nissan 300ZX, or the Mazda-based Mercury Capri. Then we’ve got the beat-up work trucks that still roam the streets in large numbers but are finally dying out, e.g. the Dodge D-100 and the late-60s GM C-series. Today, it’s the turn of Ford’s workhorse from the darkest days of the Malaise Era.
The F-150 has evolved very slowly over the decades. The 6th-generation F-Series truck weren’t much different from those that came before and after.
These gauges should look familiar to anyone who has ever driven any American Ford product built between about 1975 and 2000.
This yard has plenty of older F-100s and F-150s, but something about this ’79 grabbed my attention first.

15 - 1979 Ford F-150 Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 01 - 1979 Ford F-150 Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1979 Ford F-150 Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1979 Ford F-150 Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1979 Ford F-150 Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1979 Ford F-150 Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1979 Ford F-150 Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1979 Ford F-150 Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1979 Ford F-150 Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1979 Ford F-150 Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1979 Ford F-150 Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1979 Ford F-150 Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1979 Ford F-150 Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1979 Ford F-150 Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1979 Ford F-150 Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 46
Is Ford Building Trucks As Solid As Coke Cans? Fri, 27 Jul 2012 15:09:52 +0000

The Wall Street Journal has a long article about Ford “working on one of the biggest gambles in its 108-year history: a pickup truck with a largely aluminum body.” Ford will make parts of its next generation F150 from aluminum to save some 700 lbs, which “would enable Ford’s trucks to go farther on a gallon of gasoline, and open the door to other changes, such as the use of smaller engines.” The fear is that some people will think Ford is building a truck for sissies.

In a world where weight is regarded as strength, aluminum is often associated with a beer soda can that any good old boy can crush with one hand and then toss it in an environmentally responsible manner out of the window and in the back of the truck.

Some automotive engineers will tell you that certain aluminum alloys can actually be stronger than high tensile steel. Most importantly, in addition to being lighter than steel, aluminum alloy allows you to build stiffer bodies, important for both driving dynamics and crash-worthiness.

Aluminum also has its drawbacks. It is a bitch to weld. Body repairs usually must be done by specialized shops that charge very special prices.

To get the full benefit of an all-aluminum body, it must be redesigned from the ground up, including completely redesigned production engineering. For instance, the article complains that ”a big headache is the lack of magnetism, requiring powerful and electricity-hungry vacuums to be used to pick up the aluminum sheets for transfer. Assembly plants now use giant magnets to move steel body panels around.”  This produces shudders at Volkswagen engineers. There, even steel sheets are moved via vacuum, simply to avoid the marring by the magnets.

The biggest problem is the PR problem. The public could be educated that aluminum can be better than steel – but then, comparisons would have to be made with steel. A company that still makes most of its cars from steel will avoid this comparison. And will have to deal with the misconceptions.

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Fake In China: More On The Faux F150, And Its Chevy Precursor Fri, 03 Feb 2012 18:06:05 +0000

Tycho, my Dutch friend in Beijing, scored the big one with his fake F150 story. After we wrote about it, everybody from  Motor Trend to wrote about it as well, taking the server on a shakedown tour. Tycho does what a good journo needs to do: Feed the beast. He found even better pictures of the pseudo Ford. And he found imagery of its older brother. Which is a Chevy copypaste.

JAC’s Ford-clone JAC 4R3 pickup truck is not available yet, and will be shown at the Beijing auto show end of April. JAC is headquartered in the village of Jingxin in Hebei Province. Villagers there are fiercely loyal to their largest employer, and when uncamouflaged preproduction models of the JAC 4R3 showed up — pictures of the truck appeared minutes later on the Internet.

Tycho has a whole collection, courtesy of the fiercely loyal villagers

On further digging, Tycho unearthed that the truck’s older brother also looks like a Detroit lovechild. According to a new report in Carnewschina, “the JAC 43R is based on another existing JAC pickup truck, the JAC Ruiling. The Ruiling, meaning ‘Lucky Bell’, is a copy of the 2003 Chevrolet Silverado, with a Ford-style oval on the grille.”

Some commenters think it looks more like a 2005 Chevy Colorado. Opinions?

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Fake In China: An F150 By Another Name Tue, 31 Jan 2012 13:58:51 +0000 Remember when Ford dragged Ferrari into the U.S. district court in Detroit, after Ferrari had the nerve to call their new Formula One racer the “F150”? Ford feared massive dilution of their F-150 truck mark and sued. Ferrari relented. Let’s see what Ford will do about this overdose of trademark and design patent infringement:

This is the new JAC 43R pickup truck. It looks “more than a little bit like the good old American Ford F150,” Carnewschina says.  Even the logo is a blue oval. The headlights look like a 3rd shift job from a producer of OEM Ford headlights. The semblance is so canny (or uncanny?) that even the Chinese interwebs are abuzz about the intellectual property infringement. You can rest assured that they have seen it all. The F150 lookalike is not even out yet, it exists only in spy photo form, and already causes a dust-up . The 43R will likely debut at the Beijing Auto Show in April, Carnewschina reckons. Ford will be there.

The F150 is not officially on sale in China, but there will be colossal likelihood of egregious confusion once the Chinese truck gets to Africa and South America. JAC and other makers of Chinese cheap pickups do brisk business there, filling the voids left by the now expensive offerings of GM, Chrysler and, yes, Ford.


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Review: 2012 Ford F-150 Platinum 5.0L V8 Fri, 06 Jan 2012 17:15:59 +0000 I live in the country, well outside city limits in the septic tank/well/propane tank kind of area. Like many that live out where the blacktop ends, we have some farm animals, over a mile of fencing and a pasture in need of TLC. Since I’m a DINK and have a day job that has nothing to do with my animal husbandry, I’m apparently the perfect demographic for a luxury pickup. True to form, the last 5 times I shopped, I wanted a pickup truck. Badly. Every time it came time to put money down however, I ended up with a sedan, station wagon or SUV. Still, I’m not ashamed to admit my loins burn for a “cowboy Cadillac”, and now that my GMC Envoy has 140,000 miles on the clock it’s time for a 6,000lb tow-capable replacement. Since the HD pickup trucks are honestly overkill for the majority of us, I hit Ford up for an F-150 Platinum to see if I should take the plunge.

The F-150 has been Ford’s best-selling nameplate and the best-selling vehicle for 30 years and the best-selling truck for 35 years. If you wonder how the F-150 manages to be all things to so many buyers, you have to look at the F-150 as if it were several different vehicles that share the same name. With 10 different models ranging from the $22,990 no-frills XL to a nearly $56,000 Platinum model, few other vehicles have a price spread like the F-150. Adding to your shopping dilemma is a line-up with four different engines, three cab sizes, four bed sizes and more axle options than you can shake a stick at. For our review we were given the high end F-150 Platinum 4×4 with the 5.0L V8.

In 2009 Ford released the 12th generation F-150 which was bigger in almost every way compared to the 2008 model, adding a taller hood, bigger cabs and a nifty tailgate spoiler. In typical Ford fashion, the powertrains were largely carried over and we had to wait until 2011 to get the full picture of the “completely new” F-150. Let’s shake up the typical review format by talking engines first: the 2009 and 2010 F-150s were V8-only trucks, with the old 4.6L or 5.4L V8 under the hood. 2011 brought not one but four new engines to the F-150; two V6 options and two hefty V8s. All engines for 2011, including the base V6, are mated to Ford’s six-speed automatic transmission and optional 4WD.

Platinum F-150s come with a standard “Coyote” 5.0L V8 (as our model was equipped) which delivers a healthy 360HP and 380lb-ft at 5500 and 4250 RPM. Our 4×4 equipped tester delivered a 6.75-second sprint to 60. If you have displacement envy, you can jump up to the 411HP and 434lb-ft 6.2L V8 for an extra $2755, but the ringer in the group is the 3.5L Ecoboost V6 model which delivers 365HP at 5000RPM and a whopping 420lb-ft of twist at a diesel like 2500RPM for only $895 more than the base 5.0L V8. If the bang-for-the-buck doesn’t pique your interest, the EPA numbers on the 4×4 models might: 14/19 for the 5.0, 12/16 for the 6.2 and 15/21 for the Ecoboost (eco is a relative term apparently). While the 6.2L V8 sounds incredible, a short towing demo I had in an Ecoboost V6 (and the larger payload capacity of the Ecoboost model) made me doubt whether anyone would be better off with the big-daddy V8. The only downside we noticed: slight turbo lag at the stoplights.

On the outside, Platinum models are distinguished with a revised grille that attempts to soften the bold lines worn by its blue-collar brethren with perforated bars. Unique wheels and an enormous brushed-aluminum panel on the tailgate tagged with “PLATINUM” complete the “I run the company” image. While the badging is more subtle than an Escalade, it still lets other F-150 drivers know how you roll.

GM’s pickups feature your choice of a “work-truck” interior, or a car-like dashboard borrowed from GM’s full-size SUVs while Dodge’s mantra seems to just be “cheap plastic”. Instead of taking either approach, Ford uses one interior theme for all models but as you climb the price-ladder, bits and pieces are swapped out for swankier duds. The base XL gets a rubbery steering wheel, mono-tone dashboard and a durable black plastic center console while top-end F-150s can be had with two-tone dashes, a stitched pleather gauge hood, and faux-wood trim or acres of brushed aluminum. Unlike some of GM’s attempts at “tarting-up” their work trucks, the F-150 feels comfortable all-dressed up.

Joining the new engines for 2011 is a tweaked instrument cluster which now sports a 4.2-inch LCD between the speedo and tach (not offered on the F-150 XL, optional on XLT and standard on other F-150s). The screen is used for the usual trip computer and vehicles settings as well as displaying off-road information like vehicle pitch and yaw. Joining the snazzy in-dash LCD on the Platinum model is a revised steering wheel, standard backup camera, ambient lighting, power-lowering running boards, integrated trailer brake controller, remote start, 110V power outlet, power folding mirrors, power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, backup sensors, heated and cooled seats, and dual-zone climate control. If you don’t plan on adding a lumber rack, an optional sunroof is available, as is Ford’s SYNC navigation. MyTouch critics will be pleased to note that the updates SYNC system hasn’t made its way to the F-150 just yet. The up-side is improved reliability and a snappier interface, the downside is the loss of WiFi connectivity and the second USB port, a small price to pay in my mind. While the build quality isn’t up to Audi levels, entry level luxury shoppers will find just about every creature comfort they could ask for.

The Platinum can only be had with the four-door “SuperCrew” cab and as a result, the payload suffers somewhat starting at 1,800lbs with the 5.0L V8 and 2WD, jumping to 2,000 with the Ecoboost V6, dropping sharply to 1,680lbs due to the added weight of the 6.2L V8. These are some serious hauling numbers that required a ¾ ton pickup truck to achieve not too long ago. Thisare a hair shy of the 3100lb payload capacity mentioned in some F-150 ads, possible in only two of the 57 axle/cab/engine combinations.  Compared to the Ram and Chevy, the Ford offers consistently higher payload capacities but more configuration options to wade through, so be sure to check the configuration and the door labels on your truck before you add a pallet of concrete to your weekend.

For the trailer-loving truck-buyer, the endless battle between the big-three for top-dog towing numbers has resulted in some impressive figures. Depending on your axle ratio and drive (2WD or 4WD) choice, towing tops out at a whopping 11,300lbs for the Ecoboost, 11,200 for the 6.2L V8 and a notably lower but still substantial 9,500lbs with the base 5.0L V8. Making towing easier, Ford includes an integrated trailer brake controller standard on the Platinum and a few other F-150 models. If you tow regularly and care about maintenance on your rig, there’s now an app for that. While Ford obviously ripped Apple with their “Truck App” name, it does provide some handy features like keeping track of the mileage on 10 different trailers and remembering the brake gain for each trailer. In order to keep your “distance to empty” figures more accurate, it also recalculates the averages when you have a trailer connected.

If you’re looking at the Platinum, you’d better have deep pockets Then again, if you’re the weekend warrior type, it’s cheaper than your comparable BMW X5. Our tester started with a sticker of $44,325 on top of which was added a $470 electronic locking axle, 6-1/2-foot bed, $325 folding side-steps and a $2,465 option package which included a sunroof and navigation system taking our tester to the nose-bleed section at $52,405. If that price frightens you, $27,670 buys you my personal favorite: the F-150 XL with the Ecoboost V6, 8-foot bed, 3.55:1 locking rear axle, cloth seats, power accessories, CD player and cruise control. Configured in this way the F-150 delivers 3060lbs of payload capacity and 9,800lbs of towing ability.

At the end of the week I found myself more in love with trucks than when I started. There was just one problem. The F-150 is huge. As with most vehicles these days the F-150 has been growing like the Stay Pufft Marshmallow Man. While I used to feel like a man when I was in college out muddin’ in my buddy’s F-150, the 2011 Ford makes me feel small, and adult-Alex has at least 40lbs on his former college self. With the CUV craze killing off SUV towing capacity, the day for me to finally take the truck plunge is rapidly approaching. The four-door luxury pickup truck may be the right truck for an Austin professional with a ranchette in the burbs, but I can’t shake the feeling that I would be best served lusting for the new Ford Ranger from afar and buying a diesel Touareg. I’d still dream pickup dreams in my sleep however.


Ford provided the vehicle for our review, insurance and one tank of gas.

Statistics as tested

0-30: 2.514 Seconds

0-60: 6.75 Seconds

Fuel Economy: over 555 miles, 17.0MPG

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Piston Slap: The Shroud of Torino? Mon, 08 Aug 2011 16:24:19 +0000 The Torino in Question.


Jeramy writes:

Here’s my dilemma: Bought a 1983 5.0 Cougar for my wife as her “weekend” car, but the TBI was problematic and the seats were terribly uncomfortable. Dumped the Cougar, and bought a loaded 1985 F-150 with 5.0 and power everything, then sprayed it in Mustang Redfire Metallic red, but she wanted something more “sporty.”

So I traded the pickup for a 1971 Torino coupe with a 351W and 3 speed auto (pictured here).

I’ve since upgraded it to power steering, but she still insists it’s hard to drive. I do have most of the parts to convert it to power disc brakes (it has manual drums), but I get the feeling that no matter what I do, it’s still going handle like a 40-year-old car. It gets driven less than 300 miles a year. I already have two other project cars in pieces, an ’83 CJ7 and a 1970 Torino Cobra, plus two reliable daily drivers. On the one hand, I’m tempted to just drive the ’71 Torino through the summer myself, except for the gas mileage. I don’t think I could realistically sell it for more than $5000, especially in the weak collector-car market, and to be honest I’ve been reluctant to sell it because I can use it as reference for reassembling my Cobra. On the other hand, it’s literally become a shelf in the garage.

My wife would love a new Mustang or maybe a Miata, and given my history in picking vehicles for her, it’s way past time to let her decide on the next one. So the question is, what do I do with the ’71 Torino?

Sajeev answers:

Funny you mentioned 1983 Fox Bodies and their trouble prone (EEC-III) EFI system, I just spent a few hours in the brutal heat removing that particular electro-vacuum nightmare from my 1983 Lincoln Continental.  Not that anyone really cares, just know that I understand where you’re coming from.

I know chronically single men (like yours truly) are pretty frickin’ oblivious to the dynamics of a healthy marriage, but weekend toy or not, did you really put your wife into three different project cars of dubious appeal?  Certainly appealing to me and you…but you catch my drift.

Having an assembled reference point for your Cobra project is good, especially since now is not the time to sell any classic machine, especially an especially not-unique, especially not-muscular Torino. Honestly, I’d be surprised if you can get $5000 for it, unless the interior is factory fresh and you find the right buyer. Speaking of…

Holy Cyclone, Batman!

You can make a 1971 Torino drive very much like a new car. That I do know.  Because, along with all of my brother’s insane vehicular exploits elsewhere on TTAC, he has a restomod 1970 Mercury Cyclone GT.  Yes, the purists are freaking out over that pedestrian Montego grille, but the change was out of respect to our parent’s former 1970 Montego in the same color.  Which explains how and why the Cyclone is a resto-mod of passion: nobody in their right mind would buy it for anywhere near the money in it.  Which is commonplace in the restomod business, unless it’s a C2/Midyear Corvette with a heavy dose of LS1-FTW.

You can do a Heidts front and rear suspension, EFI Windsor V8 swap, late model gearbox, big wheels/brakes and modern HVAC/Stereo/sound insulation to make a Torino a rather awesome daily driver, but you better not.  Sit on it and hope the economy gets better in the next coupla years.

Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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Ferrari To Ford: F You Sat, 05 Mar 2011 11:12:44 +0000

Ford and Ferrari finally settled their differences over the alleged trademark infringement by Ferrari. In cases like these, one lawyer usually tells the other: “What does it take for this to go away?” In this case, Ford’s lawyer must have answered: “Lose the F, or lose the case.”  And that’s what happened.

Ford had dragged Ferrari into the U.S. district court in Detroit, after Ferrari had the nerve to call their new Formula One racer the “F150”. Ford feared massive dilution of their F-150 truck mark, and sued.  Ferrari backed off and called the racer “Ferrari F150th Italia,” saying that “the choice of name stems from Ferrari’s desire to pay tribute to this year’s one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Unification of Italy.”

That wasn’t good enough for Ford. The effing F had to go. According to Reuters, Ford spokeswoman Anne Marie Gattari said the new name “still contained F and 150,” and that change “was not acceptable to us.”

Ffffollowing that, Ferrari announced in an article titled “The Horse Whisperer – The name changes but not the sense“:

“In order to avoid the slightest risk of anyone confusing a Formula 1 car with a pick-up truck, for their part, the men from Maranello have decided that the car will lose the F that precedes the number 150 and which stands for Ferrari, as it has done on numerous occasions when it’s come to giving a car a code name, be it for the race track or the road. It appears that this could have caused so much confusion in the minds of the consumer across the Pond that, at the same time as losing the F, the name will be completely Italianised, replacing the English “th” with the equivalent Italian symbol.

Therefore the name will now read as the Ferrari 150° Italia, which should make it clear even to the thickest of people that the name of the car is a tribute to the anniversary of the unification of our country. Let’s hope the matter is now definitely closed and that we can concentrate on more serious matters, namely ensuring that our car that already seems to be pretty good out of the box, becomes a real winner.”

The little circle behind the “150” is the Italian way to say “150th”. The websites “” and “” are also gone after Ford accused the scuderia of cyber-squatting.

And the winner is? Ferrari. Never in recorded history had a Formula One car so much exposure before it had finished a single race. A Google search for “Ferrari F150” produces 562,000 hits. It may even rub off on another Ferrari. What did Ferrari call their first 4seater, 4WD car? Ferrari Quattro Sede? Ffforget about it. It’s the Ferrari FF. They say it stands for “four-seater, four-wheel drive.” In Italian, fffor sure.

We know better.

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Ford Wins Over Ferrari In Formula One Sat, 12 Feb 2011 13:12:01 +0000

In the brouhaha over Ferrari’s alleged trademark violation, Ferrari did the smart thing and surrendered. Ferrari withdrew the “F150” name for its new Formula One race car. Ford had brought suit in federal court, alleging that “Ferrari has misappropriated the F-150 trademark in naming its new racing vehicle the ‘F150′ in order to capitalize on and profit from the substantial goodwill that Ford has developed in the F-150 trademark.”

Ferrari had maintained that the name had nothing to do whatsoever with Ford’s bestselling truck, saying that “the choice of name stems from Ferrari’s desire to pay tribute to this year’s one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Unification of Italy.”

Faced by an army of Ford lawyers, Ferrari went into reverse. According to IANS/AKI  (via Sify), Ferrari will now call the racer “Ferrari F150th Italia.”

Nevertheless, Ferrari continues to profess its innocence: “Ferrari retains that there can be no way to confuse the one-seater…or even think that there would be a link with another brand,” Ferrari said in a statement. “It seems really difficult to understand what has been expressed by Ford.”

Let’s see whether Ford’s legal pit bulls will let go, or whether they will lay claim to the number 150, especially in an f-word. Stranger things have happened.

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This Is A Ford Truck Thu, 10 Feb 2011 12:44:49 +0000

You think only China has a total disregard for intellectual property? Ford filed a trademark infringement suit on Wednesday against a foreign carmaker. The only thing this carmaker has in common with China is their love for the red color. Ford sued Ferrari for blatantly stealing the name of the world’s best selling vehicle, the F-150.

Ferrari named its 2011 Formula 1 racing car the “F150.” And Ferrari’s F150 logo bears striking resemblance to the one on Ford’s F-150 pickup truck, Ford said in a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

Ford alleges that “Ferrari has misappropriated the F-150 trademark in naming its new racing vehicle the ‘F150′ in order to capitalize on and profit from the substantial goodwill that Ford has developed in the F-150 trademark.”

Yes, Ford says that Ferrari’s Formula 1 car poses as one of their trucks. The cornerstone of all trademark litigation is customer confusion and the resulting dilution of the trademark. To win, Ford needs to make the case that customers are duped into thinking that this Formula 1 car has something to do with a F-150 pickup.

According to Reuters, “Ford is asking the court to bar Ferrari from using the name. The automaker is also seeking unspecified damages, including damages of $100,000 under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act.”

Fiat owns 85 percent stake in Ferrari. Fiat also is involved with Ford’s crosstown colleagues at Chrysler. According to the complaint, Ford and Ferrari have a “legendary history as rivals in auto racing.”

The cybersquatting stems from a website Ferrari set up:

There are two defenses against trademark infringement: Fair use and parody. Ferrari will most likely go the fair use route. “The choice of name stems from Ferrari’s desire to pay tribute to this year’s one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Unification of Italy,” Ferrari says in a statement on the website. F1 + 150 = F150, capisce?

If that doesn’t work, they can always try parody.  “Your honor, our drivers say, it drives like a truck. So we called it F150. Isn’t that funny?”

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(Plausible) Wild Ass Rumor Of The Day: Ford Trucks Going On A Diet? Mon, 15 Nov 2010 12:19:57 +0000

By 2016, federal laws will mandate that the fleet fuel economy of light trucks and SUV’s will be 30 mpg. Which means manufacturers will need to get their thinking caps on if they are to meet this standard. If they don’t, they’ll have to re-think their position in a very profitable area of the market. Ford, which is synonymous with trucks, is planning a diet. reports that Ford is toying with weight saving materials to meet these regulations for its F-150 range. Their sources say that Ford is looking at re-engineering a new platform which uses a magnesium-aluminum alloy. And gasp, to the abject horror of the “true truck” crowd, Ford could retire some of its body-on-steel ladder frame. To ensure stiffness, Ford is expected to have some elements of unibody construction, but will keep the cargo box and cab separate. Aluminum will be used in the body panels, but the interior of the cargo box will still be steel.

In combination with the all-new engines which Ford developed for the current F-150′s, the slim-fest should do something to the fuel economy. At the cost of another economy: Those space-age alloys sound awfully expensive.

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2011 Ford F-150: A Non-Truck-Guy Counterpoint Mon, 04 Oct 2010 18:28:05 +0000

Since we both live in Houston, and I have aspirations of writing more material for TTAC in my copious lack of free time, it only made sense that Sajeev Mehta and I should eventually get together and hang out, so that’s exactly what we did at Ford’s come-kick-our-tires event for the new F150 trucks, including their new EcoBoost (turbocharged) V6 truck engine. Since I’m the epitome of not-a-truck-guy, I thought I’d toss in some random thoughts from somebody coming to this experience completely unprepared for what I was getting myself into.

First, when did Ford start building decent car interiors? The last time I spent any quality time in the interior of a Ford was a long-term loaner of a 2002-or-so Ford Mustang Convertible with the pokey V6 (loaned to me for most of 2007). That car had no power, had radically inconsistent and ugly panel gaps, and had just no soul at all. Comparing that to a 2011 Ford F150 makes me want to reevaluate my opinion of the whole brand. Maybe Ford’s finally got it figured out.

Okay, these trucks have insane amounts of (unnecessary?) ground clearance, and different models have a variety of different devices to give you a step to get up. (Some fixed, some that fold down and fold back up again by themselves. I’m sure those things never break.) The seats are comfortable. Notably, the back seats of the crew cab models, with the front seat all the way back, yield excellent legroom. Stunning! Also impressive is that Ford seemed to do a decent job of human factors engineering. The dashboard isn’t quite as space-cadet-like as a modern Honda/Acura, yet there was some definite attention to detail. Buttons were, for the most part, suitably large sized.

This contrasts with the Chevy Silverado they had, for drag-racing comparison, which to my mind totally flunks any human factors test. Its radio and a/c buttons are unnecessary tiny and far away; somebody at GM needs to go read up on Fitts’s Law. Furthermore, the Silverado’s door handle is colored the same as the panel it’s mounted in, and mounted below the arm rest, giving me a few seconds of bemusement before I sorted out how to get the damn door open. I also tried the Dodge Ram Hemi thing they had for comparison. Its interior wasn’t as tricked out as either the Chevy or the Ford, but there was at least some evidence that usability engineers had input into the design.

I tried plugging my Android phone (a Droid X running the latest Froyo) into the SYNC connector. It “connected”, but the car failed to see any of the music on my phone; it did at least give power to charge my phone. Some web pages I’ve read seem to indicate that Ford will be coming out later with something called Ford SYNC AppLink that will fix this problem. For now, you can still use the analog audio jack.

From my car-centric worldview, these monstrous trucks have a bouncy ride on uneven pavement, although I suspect that’s part of the compromise you make. Aside from that, they drive, accelerate, brake, and handle quite reasonably. I was also impressed with the gas mileage. On the maybe two-mile loop they let us drive, the EcoBoost model got me 16.3 mpg, driving in a “normal” fashion (i.e., neither hoontastic nor hypermiling). From my 2005 Acura TL, I’d expect maybe 18 mpg doing the same thing, which is all the more impressive given that a Ford F150 is radically larger and heavier than my TL.

Would I buy an F150? I don’t think it would even fit in my garage! No, this isn’t the car for me, but if I was shopping for a full-size truck, I’d certainly consider it. (Note to Ford: next time, bring along some Japanese competition. I’d like to see an F150 side-by-side with Nissan and Toyota’s latest.)

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Review: 2010 Ford F-150 XLT SuperCab 2WD Fri, 18 Dec 2009 15:11:28 +0000 f150

If “the truth will set you free,” as both the Good Book and the founder of this website maintain, then I should probably take this opportunity to come clean: When it comes to trucks, I’m seriously prejudiced in favor of substance over style – which means that most modern trucks are, for my tastes, too light on the former and too heavy on the latter.

f1501For this reason, I purposefully chose to review the two-wheel-drive, XLT SuperCab version of the 2010 Ford F-150. It sits third-from-the-bottom in Ford’s nine-step F-150 model line and seems to represent a greater value than its more up-market siblings. Mainly, though, I was attracted to the fact that it wasn’t drenched in gratuitous glitz like some other prominent members of the F-150 family (I’m stink-eyeing you, Platinum Edition).

That’s not to say the XLT is a shrinking violet, as illustrated by the hardest working grille in show(-off) business (“Say it loud…I’m bright and proud!”). Overall, though, the current F-150 seems a little less coherent in design than F-Series past. Chalk some of this up to the chunky proportions created by higher bed rails, a larger extended cab area, and a shorter rear overhang, all hallmarks of modern pickup design. There are sound engineering reasons for these elements, though, and I can live with the frump of functionality. But other aesthetic anomalies escape explanation: for some reason, the three horizontal creases running the width of the tailgate (terminating into the taillight lenses) appear only at the rear and aren’t continued down the sides of the truck (a la the Ford Flex). Also, the polished proboscis stands up so high that – from some angles – it makes the front of the truck look taller than the rear. Still, I loved my tester’s two-tone Dark Blue Pearl/Pueblo Gold paint scheme, which reminded me of the tan-on-the-bottom Ford trucks and SUV’s of the early 1990’s.

Speaking of the 1990’s, a goodly number of reviewers assail the XLT’s interior for being cheap, plastic, and reminiscent of an earlier, less refined era. And they’re right, but I didn’t see a single excessive panel gap or feel a single not-soft- enough surface that would in any way hinder the truck’s utility or comfort. The 40-20-40 split front bench seat was supportive (if not sumptuous), and useful storage was omnipresent throughout the cabin. Mostly, I’m just happy to see a truck with a bench seat: fixed center consoles seem like such a waste of space. Also, there’s a certain “romance inherent” to bench seats in pickup trucks (and I’m not just speaking metaphorically). But, throwing ice water on the whole affair, the cheap, artificial-feeling ratchet mechanism tries to replicate (on a weirdo miniature scale) the feel of a conventional automatic transmission column shifter. If the transmission’s range selection is fully electronic (which I’m pretty sure it is), then Ford should devise some type of push-button arrangement or something (anything) more positive-feeling than this nervous little pretender. Picture 64

Out back in cargo land, things are nice and practical, with a six-and-a-half foot bed that can accommodate a best-in-class 1,680 lbs. The XLT I drove was equipped with the polarizing $350 optional tailgate step. Say what you will, it doesn’t diminish a thing (except for maybe your ego) and makes getting into and out of the bed less strenuous on several body parts that you might (k)need later on.

Know something else you might need later on? Torque. Too bad, because the XLT is S.O.L. This is at least a little surprising, because the extended cab model comes standard with Ford’s relatively competitive 3-valve 4.6 V8. Although its 320 lb.-ft. looks okay on paper, it doesn’t all show up until 4,000 RPM (and the curve only wishes it were as flat as Ford’s latest domestic sales figures). By contrast, the Toyota Tundra’s 4.6 V8 (admittedly, a much more sophisticated 4-valver) makes 7 lb.-ft. more at 600 RPM less than Ford’s smooth, but aging, mill. Even the Ram 1500’s 4.7-liter V8 makes slightly more twist and seems to have a flatter, more truck-friendly torque curve.

Thankfully, the XLT is equipped with a rev-helping 3.55:1 rear gear to mitigate the F-150’s sloth – it’s good for towing (9,500 lbs), it’s good for acceleration, it’s good for America. (Or maybe it’s just a bad compromise delivering adequate acceleration, a decent tow rating, and lousy fuel economy.) Regardless of your take on the engine or the rear axle ratio, the new six-speed automatic that connects them is class-competitive (despite its pesky gear selector) and light years ahead of the XL model’s yester-decade four-speed Slushie Picture 65dispenser.

What’s neither old nor slushy is the F-150’s chassis. Compared with the damn near indestructible early ‘70’s Ford trucks I grew up with, every underbody component has grown up to be more robust and refined than ever (look, Ma, no I-Beams!). Not only will this truck outlast your mortgage, it’ll do so with more poise than any of its predecessors and most of its modern competitors. Though the ride isn’t as smooth as the current generation of full-size GM trucks or the rear coil spring-equipped Ram 1500, it is generally well-controlled and nowhere near as ponderous as its F-Series Super Duty cousin. Per Ford truckdition, the steering is a low-effort affair and, even though feedback is far from what you might wish for, the F-150’s steering rack seems to benefit from a tighter, more confidence-inspiring ratio than other contemporary full-sizers.

Without a doubt, the F-150 is one of Ford’s most powerful and profitable nameplates, which is probably why the company has pimped the brand out to such a profit-wringing extent over the past decade. Yet, the time I spent with this back-to-basics XLT model was wholly reassuring: underneath what at first seemed like a stage for vacuous frivolity stood an honest, dependable, and most of all, functional full-size pickup. Sure, it’s a series of compromises in several areas, and yeah, I’d want more torque and a better interior for $31,770, but despite the market’s (and the critics’) pressure for Ford to make this vehicle “all things to all people,” it’s nice to know that somebody in Detroit still understands the importance of core truck competencies. In these areas, the F-150 remains, as usual, a serious competitor.

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