2009 Ford F-150 Super Crew Lariat 4x4
Looking at the specs, the new Ford F-150 is a bit of a puzzle. Ford rates the F-150 to tow the most in the segment (up to 11,300 pounds, depending on configuration), but its 5.4-liter V-8 has the smallest displacement and lowest power rating of the trucks we tested. The flex-fuel 5.4-liter is rated at 320 hp and 390 pounds-feet of torque when running on E85, but we used regular unleaded fuel for our tests, which meant the truck ran at 310 hp and 365 pounds-feet of torque.
Ford’s all-new six-speed automatic transmission helped compensate for the V-8 engine’s shortcomings. We found it to be the smoothest, smartest shifter of the trucks we tested.
The F-150 Lariat’s interior split the difference between a work truck and a luxury cruiser. Textures and materials were very well-executed, and we liked the silver-brushed-looking plastic that broke up the tan surfaces and framed the driver, center stack and passenger zones. We did not, however, like the faux-wood appliqué around the instrument panel’s 55 climate, radio and information buttons and knobs. That was a lot of buttons, used to control a lot of features, like heated and cooled seats, entertainment, and to set up Ford’s hands-free entertainment and communications system, Sync, which was available even though the F-150 lacked a navigation system.
An interior feature we appreciated was the placement of the F-150’s optional integrated trailer brake controller. Ford placed it in the optimal position for frequent towers – on the driver’s lower right side, beneath the transfer case control.
It’s ironic Ford could do so well at setting up the trailer brake controller’s ergonomics, yet make it annoying to hook up a trailer. The F-150’s factory receiver was positioned the farthest back under the rear bumper of the trucks we tested, making it an “on-one-knee” operation to connect the trailer’s safety chains and wiring harness to the pickup. Adding to the annoyance factor were electrical hookups mounted 90 degrees off the trailer plug’s natural down position.
The F-150 was well-mannered on the road without a trailer, though it felt slightly more jittery than the Silverado and Sierra, and it was a long way from the Ram. We noticed more skittishness on interstates, but the F-150’s well-dampened, steady steering kept driver confidence high.
The F-150’s ride quality found its zone with a trailer attached. It was well-planted at all times. Again, the heavier steering — especially compared to the GM twins and Dodge Ram — contributed to a high sense of control over and confidence about the 6,500 pounds pulling behind us.