2007 Ford F-150 Expert Review:New Car Test Drive
New Car Test Drive
Smooth ride, sharp handling, serious capability.
The Ford F-150 comes in a broad range of models, yet they all seem to have nicely balanced suspensions that make them enjoyable to drive and well-designed, comfortable cabs.
They offer a quiet and refined ride over dirt roads, rough pavement and freeway slabs. Yet they also offer controlled handling, with a minimum of body roll in corners. The steering is responsive for cornering and these trucks track like a laser beam on the highway. Brakes are smooth and responsive. The big 5.4-liter V8 is smooth and quiet, and delivers quick acceleration. It's rated at 300 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque and 15/19 mpg City/Highway. The 4.6-liter V8 and 4.2-liter V6 engines perform well, also.
The F-150 comes in six distinct variants to meet the different needs of a wide range of owners. Within those variants are three cab choices, three bed lengths, three bed styles, and a choice of powertrains. Ford claims more than 60 possible variations. All are thoughtfully designed to address the distinct needs and wants of individual buyers. The F-150 is known for its toughness, strength, and cargo capacity, while offering interior design and comfort. Its amenities show attention to detail.
The base XL is surprisingly nice inside. The FX4's optional captain's chairs are comfortable. The Lariat is classy and nicely equipped, with every known amenity. The King Ranch has a western feel that's very inviting. The SuperCrew features a back seat that's roomy and comfortable for adults. The SuperCrew offers 39.0 inches of rear legroom, compared with 32.7 inches for the SuperCab.
Ford redesigned the F-150 for the 2004 model year. Since then, the model lineup has expanded with new trim levels, variations, and specialty models. The 2007 models feature more than a dozen subtle improvements inside and out. Among them:
Seat comfort has been enhanced for 2007. A tire-pressure monitoring system now comes standard. Lariat and XLT models get new grilles for 2007. A 5.4-liter E85 flexible fuel V8 is available, and power for the 4.6-liter V8 is increased for 2007. A new DVD navigation system and Sirius satellite radio are available, and an auxiliary audio input jack is now standard on most models. Power folding mirrors are now available on 2007 FX4 and Lariat models, a useful feature for parking in tight quarters.
Towing and hauling capacities have been increased for 2007, and Ford claims the F-150 is the most capable truck in its class. Properly equipped, a 2007 Ford F-150 can tow 10,500 pounds or haul more than 3,050 pounds in the bed.
The 2007 Ford F-150 is available in six distinct trim levels: XL, STX, XLT, FX2/FX4, Lariat, and King Ranch. Each boasts its own interior style and features. Engines, suspensions and cab configurations are designed to meet specific needs.
Engines include a 4.2-liter V6, a 4.6-liter V8, and a 5.4-liter V8. The V6 offers a choice of four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission, but comes in only the most basic Regular-Cab models. The 4.6-liter V8 comes standard in the popular models. Both V8s come with four-speed automatic transmissions, although the 5.4 comes with a heavy-duty unit. The flexible fuel version of the 5.4-liter V8 can run on E85 ethanol.
The XL ($18,220) is the budget-priced F-150 with a work-truck interior: vinyl-covered 40/20/40 bench seats with manually adjustable lumbar support for the driver, black vinyl floor covering, and an all-plastic dashboard housing a basic AM/FM radio. A tire-pressure monitor comes standard for 2007. XL is readily identifiable by its black grille and fascia, painted silver bumpers and 17-inch steel wheels. Regular cab and SuperCab (extended cab) styles are available, and the latter comes with air conditioning. Popular models include the F-150 XL Regular Cab 2WD short wheelbase model with a 4.6-liter V8 and automatic ($20,635) and the V6 and manual gearbox ($18,790); a SuperCab long-wheelbase 4WD with a V8 and automatic is also available ($27,275). Chrome bumpers and cloth seats are optional.
The STX ($22,765) is sportier than the XL, with body-color bumpers and body-color trim for its black grille, and 17-inch cast aluminum wheels. Cloth seats, air conditioning, and a CD player with an auxiliary audio input jack come standard. STX comes in Styleside and Flareside body styles, in regular cab or SuperCab, with either a 6.5-foot or a 5.5-foot cargo box. An audiophile sound system with subwoofer and six-disc CD changer is optional.
The XLT ($25,065) is the most popular model, nicer and better-equipped than XL or STX. It comes with chrome bumpers and a chrome-trimmed black honeycomb grille that set it apart from the other models. XLT comes in regular cab, SuperCab or SuperCrew; depending on cab style, buyers can choose 5.5-, 6.5-, or 8-foot bed lengths, in Styleside or Flareside body styles. Carpeting is standard, as is premium cloth upholstery on the standard bench seats or optional captain's chairs. The XLT instrument panel gets more flash than either the XL or STX dash; and power windows, mirrors and locks with remote keyless entry are standard. The XLT features an overhead rail console system that the owner can tailor to his or her needs. Fog lamps come standard on 4WD XLTs.
The FX4 ($30,515) is a special off-road model. The interior features a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a floor shifter, chrome accents, and black rubber off-road floor mats; while the exterior is distinguished by a unique bar-style grille, wheel-lip moldings highlighting 18-inch cast aluminum wheels, and body-color or Dark Shadow Gray bumpers, depending on paint choice. FX4 is available in regular cab, SuperCab, and SuperCrew body styles, but the long (8-foot) bed is not available. The standard engine is the 5.4-liter V8. The FX4 has its own instrument package with carbon mesh accents on the metallic dashboard. Captain's chairs in cloth or leather are optional, and the standard bench seat adds manually adjustable lumbar support for the passenger. Among the models is the F-150 FX4 SuperCrew 4WD ($35,495).
The new FX2 is a 2WD model that comes in SuperCab ($28,570) or Super Crew ($30,970) versions with a Styleside box. It includes a dark accent billet-style grille insert with body color grille surround, unique 18-inch aluminum wheels, available 20-inch aluminum wheels, a chrome exhaust tip, fog lamps, unique captain's chairs with center console and floor-mounted shifter, and a body color front bumper, rear bumper, door and tailgate handles.
The Lariat is the luxury model, di.
In the late 1990s, F-150 went aerodynamically curvy, and although it remained number one in sales, not everyone liked the look. So for 2004, Ford returned the F-150 to its square-shouldered roots, with a more utilitarian look that continues essentially unchanged for 2007.
It's a functional look, but in its own way it's at least as stylish as the much-heralded Dodge Ram. In fact, the F-150 has a unique image, no small feat when designing within the hard parameters imposed by a pickup. It's at once crisp, bold, and sturdy.
In short, we think the F-150 is a great-looking truck.
The F-150 shares styling cues with Ford's handsome Super Duty pickups, including the sharp downward drop in the forward part of the door windows, allowing a clear view of the massive outside mirrors. A high beltline gives the truck visual strength and makes occupants feel more secure.
The nose is square in concept, with a large, bold, big-rig grille opening. Yet the front fascia wraps around to the fenders for a precise, sophisticated appearance. The bodyside and cargo box sheet metal is chiseled, though it looks slab-sided at the same time, a theme that carries through to the tailgate. F-150 is both upscale and utilitarian, a look that's very appealing.
The different trim levels are quite distinctive. Just one example: XLT and Lariat have a honeycomb grille (black on XLT, Arizona Beige on Lariat), while XL, STX, FX4, and King Ranch wear bar-style grilles.
Practical considerations are a big part of the design, and some of this can be easily seen. Every bed, no matter which length or style, is more than 22 inches deep, for a generous margin when hauling larger cargoes. All models, including the regular cab, have four opening doors on the body with storage room and/or seats behind the front seat. The SuperCab (extended cab) doors are larger than the vestigial doors on the regular cab, while, as mentioned, the SuperCrew has four full-size doors.
The Ford F-150 features six distinctly different interiors. Your take on each will vary according to how you think your pickup should be outfitted and how much you want to spend. The basic XL is surprisingly nice. At the other end of the spectrum is the King Ranch, which has a western feel that's very inviting. We love the King Ranch, but it's not for everyone.
In recent years we've found the F-150's front bench seats flat and unsupportive. The seats have been improved for 2007 models, however, and Ford says they provide more support and comfort. The front bench is still split three ways: The center section flips down to reveal a console with storage and cup holders. The console is flat, so you can put a clipboard on top of it and it won't immediately slide off.
Radio and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) controls are plain but straightforward and easy to operate. Delayed accessory power means you can turn off the ignition, remove the key, and continue to operate the power windows and run the radio until you open the door, a nice feature.
The SuperCrew features a roomy back seat where adults should find comfortable and convenient accommodations. The big difference in the back seats between SuperCrew and SuperCab models is rear legroom: 39.0 inches for SuperCrew, 32.7 inches for SuperCab. The rear seat bottom flips up for carrying cargo behind the front seats.
The FX4's optional captain's chairs are comfortable, with decent support for the hips and back. They also look great, trimmed in black leather with light gray stitching. Adjusting the power seats may be a little awkward for drivers with big arms, however, because the clearance between the door armrest and the seat is a little tight. Rake adjustment on the power driver's seat is manual, and raking it forward can be a bit awkward. The center console between the captain's chairs is deep, holds a lot of stuff, and features a pair of big, solid cup holders. The floor shifter for the automatic transmission works very well.
The Lariat has one of the classiest, quietest, most completely equipped pickup truck interiors we have spent time in. Lariat comes with every known amenity. In Lariat trim, an F-150 rivals luxury cars in terms of design, materials and completeness, with beautiful, rich wood trim, both shiny and matte metallic finishes on major panels, and a lovely three-pod instrument panel behind the multi-function steering wheel. One of our few gripes is that the clear plastic over the instrument panel is too reflective in bright sunlight, making the instruments hard to read.
At every level, attention to detail is obvious. Giant mirrors afford an excellent view rearward. There's a hook for your dry cleaning. Optional rear park-assist helps greatly when parallel parking one of these big rigs. Its alarm beeps ever more rapidly as you back toward something and it even turns down the radio to make sure you hear its warning. A set of overhead storage bins is available that snap into rails; Ford offers five different sets of these bins, and the aftermarket offers overhead entertainment systems and other specialty items for this rail system. All of these details make this truck more pleasant to own and operate. Everything else inside functions very well and looks good.
The Ford F-150 offers a ride that's smooth and firm, with a minimum of body roll in corners, and a nice, plush ride over cobbled pavement, rutted dirt roads, and freeway slabs. We've found this to be true in all the models we driven. Among them: an XLT SuperCab 4WD, a Lariat SuperCab 2WD Styleside with a 6.5-foot bed, an XL with a standard cab, and an FX4 SuperCrew.
We were delighted by the ride of the FX4. It seems smoother than most off-road pickups. It offered a firm but comfortable ride around Los Angeles even with no weight in the bed to pre-load the rear suspension.
The power rack-and-pinion steering in the F-150 is exemplary. It's responsive, without hesitation or delay, and without being darty or overly quick or nervous. The truck tracks like a laser beam, turns in quickly, and recovers quickly even with no load in the bed.
The F-150's excellent ride and handling are benefits of a frame that's fully boxed with hydroformed front rails. The seven-crossmember skeleton is stronger, stiffer and heavier than any previous Ford pickup frame. The current frame is nine times more resistant to twisting and 50 percent more resistant to bending than the C-channel frame used up through 2003.
The front suspension is a double-wishbone setup for both 2WD and 4WD models. The rear suspension has outboard shock absorbers to control rear-end motions better in quick maneuvers. The outboard position literally gives the shocks better leverage against axle movement, providing better control on washboard surfaces, and reducing the tendency to skate around in bumpy corners. The rear leaf springs are three inches wide. Liquid-filled motor mounts and a long list of other measures keep vibration and noise to a bare minimum.
Brakes are smooth and responsive. They start slowing the truck just a little way into the pedal travel, and the more you push the pedal, the more acute the braking becomes. The absence of dead space in the pedal travel is a welcome relief from typical truck practice. All F-150s come with four-wheel vented disc brakes and ABS.
We found the big 5.4-liter V8 smooth and quiet. Rated at 300 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque, it delivers quick acceleration. The F-150's 5.4-liter V8 is part of Ford's Triton engine series, and features a single overhead camshaft per cylinder bank, three valves per cylinder, and variable valve timing. A 5.4-liter F-150 with 2WD rated 15/19 mpg City/Highway. The high-capacity 4R75E four-speed automatic transmission that comes with the 5.4-liter is smooth and responsive, downshifting quickly and crisply when you punch it, and shifting almost seamlessly when cruising.
Ford offers a flexible-fuel package for the 5.4-liter at no extra cost to the consumer. Flex-Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) can operate on gasoline or ethanol blends up to E85; that is, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.
The smaller, 4.6-liter Triton V8 also features aluminum overhead-cam heads, but with a more conventional two valves per cylinder. Upgraded to 248 horsepower for 2007, the 4.6-liter V8 offers a broad torque band, with 90 percent of its peak torque available at just 2000 rpm for strong towing performance and solid acceleration when hauling heavy loads. However, the main benefit of the 4.6-liter over the 5.4-liter may be price because fuel economy is not appreciably better.
The 4.2-liter V6 is an attractive option for work trucks. It's a nice, smooth engine of the traditional pushrod-overhead-valve kind, and we liked the XL model we drove with it, though performance is sluggish by modern standards. The V6 is rated at 202 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The V6 2WD automatic is rated 16/20 mpg; with a five-speed manual transmission, city mileage actually dropped to 15 mpg.
The Harley-Davidson special edition model comes as a SuperCrew Styleside for 2007. And in addition to Menacing Monotone Black with red and blue accent stripes (of course), buye.
The Ford F-150 delivers a strong combination of style, interior comfort, performance, ride and handling. With six major trim variants and a choice of drivetrains and body styles, there's an F-150 for every type of pickup owner.
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent Jim McCraw reported from Dearborn, Michigan, with Mitch McCullough reporting from Los Angeles.
Ford F-150 XL regular cab 2WD ($18,790); STX SuperCab 2WD Flareside ($28,855); XLT SuperCrew 4WD ($33,160); FX4 SuperCab 4WD LWB ($33,495); Lariat SuperCrew 2WD ($32,995); King Ranch 4WD ($39,615); Harley-Davidson 4WD ($38,130).
Kansas City, Missouri; Norfolk, Virginia; Dearborn, Michigan .
Options As Tested
5.4-liter V8 ($895); electronic shift-on-the-fly 4WD ($160); 255/70R17 tires ($325); limited-slip rear differential with 3.55 axle ratio ($300); trailer tow package ($350); platform running boards ($250); AM/FM/6 CD stereo ($300); keyless entry keypad ($75); reverse sensing system ($245); power driver's seat ($285); two-tone paint ($300).
Ford F-150 4WD Flareside SuperCab XLT ($31,850).
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