Ford F-150 King Ranch Review

Jonny Lieberman
by Jonny Lieberman

On my way to breakfast in the F-150 King Ranch, a box fresh Rolls-Royce Phantom cut me off. The similarities between the two vehicles are striking. Both are enormous rigs; BMW’s high-end Roller is one of the few vehicles on the road not dwarfed by Ford’s biggest ever F-150. Both machines are gas-guzzlers sold on image and luxury. Sure the prices are several hundred T-bills apart and the Ford’s a lot less dirt aversive, but the most important difference is that the Roller is an aristocrat by birth. The F150 King Ranch is Horatio Alger on wheels, an affordable icon. Or is it?

Make no mistake: the new F-150 is a beautiful vehicle, easily the best looking pickup truck crafted by hand of man. Head on, it laughs at the Rising Sun’s weedy take on aesthetic intimidation and shakes its head in disbelief at the overwrought big-rig wannabe nonsense peddled by The Dodge Boys. The General’s new GMT900s are (still) the F-150’s only competition, but they are just evolutions of older, uglier vehicles; the F-150 is a modern, clean-sheet design that simply nails it. If Carl Jung were alive, he would designate Ford’s brot-und-butter pickup the archetypal pickup.

A leisurely stroll around the behemoth confirms the sentiment. With bed’s walls that rise to the level of my neck (I’m 5’11”), the gargantuan machoness cannot be denied. In fact, any small design missteps that might exist are rendered moot by the sheer scale of this handsome monster. For instance, the aluminum wheels are gorgeous, but you would never know that the King Ranch rolls on 20” Dubs. They wheels appear pint-sized beneath this giant’s fenders.

Much ink has been spilled by journalists fawning over the F-150’s luxurious cabin. I’m saying it here and now; they’re all high, every last one of them. The quality of plastics found within is exactly the same as the hell-hole cockpit of the lowly Focus. It’s the same radio– in a $40,000 vehicle! Besides being cheap, most of the controls are hidden behind the Texas-sized steering wheel or literally out of reach. With my shoulders planted against the back of the chair, I could get a finger on the volume control, but not a thumb.

Of course, worrying about achieving a proper driving position in a vehicle of this magnitude is a waste of energy. Besides, the King Ranch’s pre-worn leather captains’ chairs are big enough to seat two. With your left hand holding the tiller at 9 O’clock, there’s nothing for your left elbow to even touch, let alone rest upon. Within five miles your arm will be dangerously on top of the wheel, gangsta/moron style. The situation is even worse for your left foot, which has no option but to flail about.

The F150 King Ranch drives like a… big truck. Everyday bumps make the pickup’s chassis shudder so badly you’ll swear it’s epileptic. The steering offers drivers less feel than a leper’s fingers. Even with a 5.4-liter V8 kicking out 300 horses @ 5,000-rpm and 365 foot pounds clocking-in @ 3,700-rpm, gunning the F-150 does little except increase oil companies’ stock values. Yes, you could tow your house around town if you wanted to– provided your double-wide weighs 9,500 pounds– but serious schleppers will opt for an F-250 with a turbo-diesel and 570 ft. lbs of torquey delight.

The King Ranch’s configuration could be its greatest drawback. As a SuperCrew four-door, the bed is only 5’5” long. Even if you can get your tall, power lifting buddies to load it, you can’t haul much. Those much heralded 8’x4’ sheets of plywood? It ain’t gonna happen. Unfortunately, KR’ing the kiddies to the mall for Justin Timberlake’s latest presents its own set of problems. Chief among them: parking.

The King Ranch stretches the tape at over 18’5”. Maneuvering the behemoth into a tight spot is a task I would gladly wish upon my worst enemies. Luckily, is comes with back-up sensors. Unfortunately, there are no sensors up front. Seated as high an elephant’s eyes, the parking ain’t easy. Get used to leaving your Ranch a few blocks (counties?) from your destination. (XXXL drivers should consider the exercise a benefit, but won’t.)

Let’s be honest. The F-150 is America’s Camry, outselling every other vehicle in the nation for three decades straight. Not because Americans lead active, outdoor lifestyles, but because we’re too damn fat. Both physically and mentally. However, the permanent reality of $3 a gallon unleaded and a 30-gallon gas can are already changing things real fast. Call me an out-of-touch left-coast elitist, but going for donuts in a 5281-lbs. passenger-vehicle is irresponsibly idiotic. Unless you use the F150 King Ranch for work, you– we can’t afford it.

[Ford provided the vehicle reviewed, insurance, taxes and a tank of gas.]

Jonny Lieberman
Jonny Lieberman

Cleanup driver for Team Black Metal V8olvo.

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  • Pbarnes Pbarnes on Oct 03, 2009

    I have worked on and owned Fords since I was 12 yrs old- I have owned new ford trucks since 1977 Bought - first ford f150 4x4 in 1996/ it was the 97 new body style- still have it with 300,0000 miles on it new - explorers had 3 of them new - expeditions had 3 of them 04 f150 crew cab 4x4- and now the 09 F150 4x4 king ranch- Bad- 1. Terrible acceleration from -0- to 40-mph// it feels like the transmition is geared to low and you have to wait for the gears to change before you can get any speed// I have had to pull over to the shoulder to get speed up before I can get back in the traffic—this is really bad 2. Steering wheel is not as easy to turn as my 04 –f150 3. Front door will swing Wide open before you can stop it- the hinge stop is not strong enough, it can easily get away from ya—no problem with the 04 f150 4. Low profile tires-20in- 4x4-do give you a little bit of a rough ride/ not to bad The worst of these is the terrible loss of power from the tranismition at take off- so much so compared to my 04 that I had to show my wife before she started driving it— I have had this discussion with other people who have purchased same truck- this situation can be dangerous , be careful not to get yourself in a position where you need it—it won’t be there 5. Obstruction under dash driver side has scratched/ bruised my left leg- be careful moving your legs around under dash 6. Navigation system software needs up date 7. Step side bar is nor worth anything to help you get out- you end up sliding off the seat to the ground- same problem with our -04 8. Dash light for gauges does not come on when there is still light out// problem sometimes you can’t read gauges because you can’t see them just before dusk 9. Front brake dust still blackens wheel- we have black spots on our driveway from the -04- / stains can’t be removed// looks like this 09 will be just as bad Great- 1. Blue tooth – this is by far the best option 2. Very roomy 3. USB enabled sound system is great/ lots of uses 4. Microsoft software system is also great 5. Very quiet, more so than our - 04

  • Robyn Robyn on Oct 22, 2011

    We own a black 03' King Ranch F150 4x4 To everyone talking about how it isn't worth it, fine, don't buy it. Obviously it is NOT what YOU are looking for. But if you can lookpast some of the "cheap plastic" you will see where the money was spent. The king ranch has an upgraded suspension and frame, giving it a better tow capacity. And to say it is "slow" baffles me... I have owned and worked on several different types of trucks, SUV's, and cars, and this truck will really get on it. GRANTED we bought it used, with a few "tweaks" (it was formerly a metro DTF truck, so it has a performance exhaust and computer upgrades, along with black-out tint and a fiberglass bed cover). The upgraded exhaust lets the world know it's ass-hauling power too. Maybe we are just tall (I'm 5'9 and my husband is 6'2) but everything fits us perfectly from the pedals and step sides, to all the controls... I think you people just need to stop whining about a real truck or just start walking. (we use the truck for family and work purposes...ironically our other vehicle is an expadition since it's big enough for two tall parents and three kids in carseats.)

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  • AMcA My theory is that that when the Big 3 gave away the store to the UAW in the last contract, there was a side deal in which the UAW promised to go after the non-organized transplant plants. Even the UAW understands that if the wage differential gets too high it's gonna kill the golden goose.
  • MKizzy Why else does range matter? Because in the EV advocate's dream scenario of a post-ICE future, the average multi-car household will find itself with more EVs in their garages and driveways than places to plug them in or the capacity to charge then all at once without significant electrical upgrades. Unless each vehicle has enough range to allow for multiple days without plugging in, fighting over charging access in multi-EV households will be right up there with finances for causes of domestic strife.