2010 F-150 New Car Test Drive
The Ford F-150 is the best-selling pickup in America. The F-150 lineup offers a plethora of models in dozens of permutations. All are highly capable trucks, even those loaded with luxury features. The F-150 was completely redesigned for 2009. So for 2010, changes are limited to packaging.
Smooth and quiet, the F-150 is comfortable on bumpy streets around town, over rugged terrain such as that found at construction sites, and on the open road. Its steering is nicely waited and requires little correction on the highway making it nice for long cross-country tows. The cabs are comfortable, whether ordered with leather or cloth.
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.
With one of the deepest beds in the 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 9,000-pound range. (The Ford Super Duty range of heavy-duty pickups is covered in a separate New Car Test Drive review.)
Three V8 engines are offered. A 248-hp 4.6-liter V8 is standard with four-speed automatic transmission, with EPA ratings of 15/19 mpg City/Highway. Most higher-line trucks come with a three-valve-per-cylinder version of the 4.6-liter rated at 292 horsepower and a six-speed automatic transmission that gets improved highway mileage, achieving an EPA-estimated 15/21 mpg.
A 5.4-liter flex-fuel V8 is the largest offered and comes with the six-speed automatic. It is rated at 310 horsepower and 365 pound-feet on gasoline (EPA 14/20 mpg) and 320 horsepower and 390 pound-feet on E85 with mileage dropped to 10/14 mpg. Four axle ratios are offered to maximize work and efficiency.
The 2010 F-150 King Ranch and Platinum models feature second-row heated seats, a power sliding rear window with defroster, and a Sony six-disc in-dash CD changer. The MyKey programmable vehicle key is standard on all models except the base XL trim level. Two-wheel-drive models with the 4.6-liter three-valve-per-cylinder engine have EPA fuel economy ratings of 15/21 mpg City/Highway.
Counting all the trim levels, cargo-bed lengths, cab sizes, and powertrains, the Ford F-150 comes in dozens of 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 6.5 feet) and long bed (about 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 short-bed option (about 5.5 feet) 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. The SuperCrew F-150, available with either the short or standard bed, drops the STX grade and adds King Ranch and Platinum derivatives.
The F-150 XL ($21,380) 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. XL includes air conditioning, split front bench (and rear on four-door cabs), locking tailgate, tilt steering wheel, stability control, capless fuel filler and a stereo radio.
STX (from $24,405) 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.
XLT (from $25,575) 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 three-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.
FX4 (from $35,090) comes with a black grille and 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 automatic powertrain. Options include infotainment and 17-inch (for more severe off-road use) or 20-inch wheels. Lariat (from $33,205) 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.
King Ranch (from $40,200) is like a Lariat with a different attitude. It adds two-tone paint and KR badges, unique wheels, mesh chrome grille, Chaparral leather heated and cooled power captain’s 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.
Platinum SuperCrew (from $42,075) gets a unique satin chrome 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 captain’s chairs, wood grain and brushed aluminum trim, rain-sensing wipers, power folding/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 offers the Raptor version, 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, a 6.2-liter V8 of about 400 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. But it is the long-travel high-performance suspension, wheels and tires that set it apart, and the assertive styling.
The F-150 option list is comprehensive and, although it has been simplified in recent years, it can still resemble the 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, and many features are standard on more expensive models. In addition, sometimes the prices of the options vary by trim level.
Mechanical options include upgrades to either the three-valve 4.6 engine or the 5.4-liter, alternate axle ratios, limited-slip differential, larger tires and upgraded wheels, electric-shift 4WD, skid plates, towing mirrors, snow plow prep, trailer brake controller, 35-gallon long-bed fuel tank, tailgate step, heavy-duty payload package, and Ford Works systems like an in-dash computer. An engine block heater is available to fleet buyers and standard on Alaska and northern plains-state trucks. Other upgrades include captain's chairs bucket seats with center console, power sliding rear window, rear-view camera, reverse parking sensors, dual-coat or two-tone paint, moonroof, Sirius radio, sound systems, remote start, and navigation.
Safety features that come standard include antilock brakes, stability control (AdvanceTrac RSC), 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.