2009 F-150 New Car Test Drive
Pickups are the automotive landscape for bragging rights, best-in-class superlatives, and sales volume. The Ford F-150 has often enjoyed bragging rights and is generally the single best-selling vehicle nameplate in the world.
Completely redesigned, the new 2009 Ford F-150 lineup aims to keep it that way.
The 2009 Ford F-150 lineup offers a plethora of models for virtually every occasion or occupation, starting at just more than $20,000 and climbing well beyond double that. The F-150 line offers something on the order of 65 permutations, more than many car companies' entire lineups. All are capable of work or play, even those models with luxurious interiors.
Three V8 engines of two sizes are offered, including a flex-fuel unit that will run on E85 (ethanol). All models use an automatic transmission of four or six speeds, and the majority are available with rear- or four-wheel drive. One exception: The FX off-road package is available only with 4WD V8 models.
The F-150 lineup runs the gamut from wash-off vinyl flooring and a two-door Regular Cab to leather-lined premium four-door models with as much rear seat legroom as the front of most luxury sedans: Within those extremes lies something for everyone. Yet even the least-expensive F-150 isn't boring; it leaves room for customization, does the work required and keeps overhead down.
2009 marks the introduction of the Platinum model, a further step up in fancy from the Lariat or King Ranch choices and bringing the total variety count to seven. Although that makes the total number of builds and choices mind-boggling, believe it or not it has been simplified.
With one of the deepest beds in the half-ton pickup segment, the F-150 has generous cargo volume out back and a maximum payload rating of 3,030 pounds. A properly equipped Regular Cab F-150 is rated to tow up to 11,300 pounds; other models max out in the 9000-pound range. (The 2009 Ford Super Duty range of heavy-duty pickups is covered in a separate New Car Test Drive review.).
The 2009 Ford F-150 comes in 67 configurations so it's easier to define which setups you can not get: No two-wheel-drive FX4 trim level, no luxury trim Regular Cab, no short-bed Regular Cab, and no long-bed SuperCrew. Everything else is split amongst five wheelbases, three cab sizes, three bed lengths (one of which is available in two styles), three engines, seven trim levels, and rear- or four-wheel drive.
Regular Cabs are offered in standard bed (about 6.6 feet) and long bed (8 feet) XL, STX, or XLT grades; the standard bed is also available in a Flareside style that harkens back to original pickup trucks where there was a side step ahead of the rear wheels. SuperCab trucks add higher FX4 and Lariat trim levels, and a 5.6-foot short-bed option on all but XL models. The Flareside bed can not be combined with XL or Lariat SuperCabs. A long-bed SuperCab is available only with the heavy-duty 5.4-liter package. SuperCrew F-150, which are all short or standard bed, drops the STX grade and adds King Ranch and Platinum derivatives.
The standard driveline is a 248-hp 4.6-liter V8 and four-speed automatic transmission; EPA ratings run 14/19 mpg City/Highway. Most higher-line trucks come with a three-valve-per-cylinder version of the 4.6-liter rated at 292 hp and a six-speed automatic transmission that gets slightly better mileage by one-half to one mpg. This package is used for the high-mileage SFE model, a 2WD rated at 15/21.
A 5.4-liter flex-fuel V8 is the largest offered and comes with the six-speed automatic. It is rated at 310 hp and 365 lb-ft on gasoline (EPA 14/20 mpg) and 320 hp and 390 lb-ft on E85 with mileage dropped to 10/14 mpg. In total, four axle ratios are offered to maximize work and efficiency, a locking rear differential is available on FX4, and 4WD may be electric or lever shift. Since it frequently adds other upgrades and a more powerful engine, 4WD adds about $4,000 to the most basic F-150 and $3,000 to the higher-trim trucks.
The base XL is for the fleet or first-time buyer where budget's a priority. The base F-150 XL ($21,095) is a standard bed, Regular Cab two-wheel drive. It comes with 17-inch steel wheels, black bumper/grille/mirrors, and vinyl upholstery and floor covering. On the plus side XL does include air conditioning, a V8, four-speed automatic, split front bench (and rear on four-door cabs), locking tailgate, tilt steering wheel, stability control, capless fuel filler and a stereo radio. Options are primarily mechanical or minor convenience upgrades.
STX (from $23,895) models add body-color bumpers over a black grille, CD player, and cloth seats with driver lumbar, More equipment is available, including 18-inch wheels, Sirius radio, SYNC, cruise control, fog lamps and power mirrors.
The top-selling model has traditionally been the XLT (from $25,065) which adds chrome for bumpers and trim, power mirrors, remote keyless entry, automatic headlamps, carpeting, cruise control, power windows and locks, better cloth upholstery and on longer cabs the 3-valve 4.6-liter V8 and six-speed automatic transmission. All manner of options are available on the XLT, including three sizes of wheels, tailgate step, cargo management and towing equipment.
For off-road enthusiasts the FX4 (from $33,630) returns to a black grille with body-colored bumpers, trim and mirrors. Electric-shift 4WD is standard, as are fog lamps, a locking differential, towing package, 18-inch wheels, sporty cloth split bench seat (power driver on four-doors), Sirius radio, and the 5.4-liter V8/six-speed auto powertrain. Options include infotainment and 17-inch (for more severe off-road use) or 20-inch wheels (if the ski lodge driveway is your four wheeling). With a mesh chrome grille leading the way the Lariat (from $32,185) is the mainstream luxury F-150 and hence is four-door only. Chrome trim and bumpers highlight monotone paint, and the Lariat adds heated mirrors with signal repeaters and auto-dimming on the driver's and inside, dual-zone climate control, heated power leather seats with driver memory, leather wheel with redundant audio controls, tow package, SYNC, trip computer, and power adjustable pedals. Options include 20-inch wheels, heated/cooled front seats, Sony sound and navigation, trailer brake controller, rear camera and park sensors, and moonroof.
The King Ranch (from $38,840) is like a Lariat with a different attitude. It adds two-tone paint and KR badges, unique wheels, mesh chrome grille, Chaparral leather heated/cooled power captains chairs with driver memory, running boards, and power folding, heated, signal outside mirrors with chrome caps. Options are essentially limited to a limited-slip differential, alternative axle ratios, 20-inch wheels, Sony sound and navigation systems, moonroof, chrome tube running boards and remote start.
At the top of the 2009 range is the Platinum SuperCrew ($40,440-$43,885). This gets a unique satin chrome front grille and the only one not styled as three sections, body-color bumpers and wheel lip moldings, 20-inch wheels, power-deploy/retract running boards, satin chrome tailgate trim, tuxedo-stitched leather power captains chairs, wood grain and brushed aluminum trim, rain-sensing wipers, power fold/heated mirrors, and unique console. Options are limited but you can get 17-inch wheels and all-terrain tires for luxury on the farm.
Ford's SVT division is planning to offer a Raptor version of the 2009 F-150 intended for serious off-road use. It will start with the 310-hp 5.4-liter V8 and later get a high-performance engine option, but it is the long-travel high-performance suspension, wheels and tires that set it apart. The only factory pickups that are remotely near the high-speed off-road ability of the Raptor are Dodge's Power Wagon and the Tundra Rock Warrior.
The option list has been simplified this year but still resembles tax code to the uninitiated; there are, for example, three codes for a sliding rear window and five for trailer towing mirrors. Most options are dependent on the model and other options, some standard on more expensive models, and listed below by price range. Packages like Decor and Luxury are not listed and, again, vary by model and range from $115 to $3420, with the SFE package up to about $1100.
Mechanical options include (but are not limited to) an upgrade to the 3-valve 4.6 engine for $895 or the 5.4-liter ($630-$1525), alternate axle ratios ($50), limited-slip differential ($300), larger tires and upgraded wheels ($195-$995), electric-shift 4WD ($160), skid plates ($160), towing mirrors ($140-$235), snow plow prep ($225), trailer brake controller ($230), 35-gallon long-bed fuel tank ($95), tailgate step ($350), heavy-duty payload package ($1200) and Ford Works systems like an in-dash computer ($1195). An engine block heater is available to fleet buyers and standard on Alaska and northern plain-state trucks.
Cosmetic and other upgrades include captain's chairs bucket seats with center console ($300-$695, $895-$1250 in leather), power sliding rear window ($250), rear-view camera ($450), reverse parking sensors ($245), dual-coat or two-tone paint ($250), moonroof ($995), Sirius radio ($195), sound systems ($300-435), remote start ($345), and navigation ($2430). A rear-seat DVD entertainment system is conspicuous by its absence.
Safety features that come standard include antilock brakes, stability control (AdvanceTrac RSC) with trailer sway control, frontal airbags, front side airbags, and side curtain airbags. Safety-related options include an integrated trailer brake controller, rear-view camera, and reverse park sensors.
All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSRP) and can change at any time without notice.