2007 Harley Davidson F150 - To Hell & Back
2007 Harley-Davidson F-150
Ford told us to go to Hell, but we were okay with that. Ford invited us to check out their latest permutation of the Harley-Davidson Edition F-150. This one is powered by the same supercharged 5.4L V-8 that screams inside the Saleen S331 pickup truck that we cover elsewhere in this issue.
Dropping a blown V-8 into the Harley-Davidson Edition was a good marketing move for Ford. The Blue Oval hasn't had a performance-oriented pickup ever since the company yanked the Lightning from its lineup after the '04 model year. The supercharged Harley-Davidson Edition combines Ford's engineering know-how with the hammer-hard staccato of Harley-Davidson's bad-boy reputation. Harley-Davidson motorcycle owners care about the Harley brand with a passion that no full-line auto manufacturer can possibly evoke for anything other than a particular nameplate. Mustang enthusiasts primarily lust after the pony cars first, then the Ford brand second. Harley riders get a rise out of everything Harley...who wouldn't want a piece of that marketing mojo? America's best-selling pickup teaming with America's born-to-be-wild motorcycle maker is akin to the forming of a new rock 'n' roll band, with Ford ripping out guitar riffs and Harley-Davidson thumping adrenaline-charged bass lines.
So far, it's been a good gig for both brands. Motorcycles and pickup trucks play well together. That is, if you can't ride your custom chopper to Sturgis, you can always load it into your F-150 and drive. And the bad-boy Harley cachet gives Ford a tagline that it can now punctuate with a bad-ass 450hp 500lb-ft supercharged powerplant. It's engineered by Saleen-a performance icon that Ford horsepower lovers can rally behind.
We returned a couple of supercharged pickup trucks: Saleen's F-150-based S331 and a month with Roush's supercharged KTM Edition F-150-only a few days before we flew to Detroit to drive the supercharged Harley-Davidson Edition F-150. Our trip to Michigan was actually a great opportunity to get reacquainted with the Harley-Davidson Edition, in general, and this powered-up version, in particular. Our plan was to grab the keys for the truck from Ford, take it to the speed shop Livernois Motorsports in Dearborn Heights, Michigan-you can contact them at (313) 561-5500-for a dyno run, and then we hit the road. As for where that road would take us, we weren't really sure, so we took Ford's suggestion and went to Hell.
Hell, Michigan, is a tiny, unincorporated community that has become a Mecca of sorts for bikers, specifically Harley riders. We swung by there on a Monday, during our winding drive through the countryside, in hopes of seeing what kind of response the truck would get from the local Harley fans. However, Monday is apparently a slow day in Hell. We bought an ice-cream cone at Screams-which proved that a snowball does have a chance in Hell. Then, we took some photos and moved on. We used Hell as the epicenter for our explorations of the Michigan countryside as we navigated two-lane highways and the nearby freeway. The fact that traffic flows very... genteelly in Michigan made it difficult to really stretch the truck's legs on the open road, which forced us to fall back into a series of impromptu acceleration tests of stoplight-to-30, stop sign-to-40, onramp-to-50, pass-the-slowpoke-to-70 on the freeway.
In retrospect, this reflects a more realistic driving style, with a bit of muscle-car lightning and thunder rolling underneath the hood. The supercharger dished out the torque when we needed it and the four-speed automatic transmission shifted timely and decisively. That engine sounds more like a distant but closing storm front, thanks to the truck's moderately rowdy exhaust note. That may be a bit more fun than the exhaust on Roush's F-150, but hardly the screamer on the S331. The truck handled great on its 22-inch wheels and Pirelli P275/45R22 tires, thanks to the sport-tuned suspension. It didn't feel quite as sporty as the Saleen truck, but definitely didn't present the more frighteningly wallowy prospects of a suspension tuned to haul cargo rather than to haul ass.
Our time on the dyno was troubling. Our first power run resulted in numbers far lower than the 380 hp that we had expected at the wheels. We let the truck cool down and gave it another shot, getting only 337 hp. The guys at Livernois said they couldn't get any more out of it, without discarding the rather restrictive airbox or doing a custom tune. We did confirm on the dyno, not the street, that the speed limiter kicks in at 120 mph.
The truck's Dark Amethyst body color looks black, until the purplish sparkles were brought out by light that strikes it just so. Inside, the Harley-Davidson logo was incorporated subtly just about everywhere, and the limited-edition badging on the center console confirms the truck's model year, production number, and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). The seemingly textured, silver-faced instruments looked spot-on. The model that we rode was well equipped and cost in the neighborhood of mid $40,000. That's competitive with the other F-150-based supercharged pickups; Chevy and Dodge don't even offer a blown pickup right now. Short of next year's ground-up redesign of the F-150, the Harley-Davidson Edition and its supercharged version is probably Ford's best opportunity to present a fresh and compelling face to a very competitive 1/2-ton market.
2007FordExpeditionELWhen our Road Test Editor Mark Halvorsen, threw me the keys to our long-term '07 Ford Expedition EL, I was both excited and apprehensive. After I had some experience with the previous-generation Expedition, and having owned several Chevrolet Suburbans that I liked immensely, I really didn't expect much from the new, longer Expedition EL. I had already heard from other staffers that the EL was wonderful. Again, being the skeptic, I waited to make my own informed decision regarding the vehicle.
The first thing I noticed was how the leather seats seem to envelope you without being too obtrusive in the bolster or lumbar areas. Our tester was completely loaded with every conceivable option that drove up the as-tested price considerably from the base price of $42,575 to $50,260. However, the EL's interior is simply wonderful. It looks unlike anything currently on the market. Personally, I like it better than the new Cadillac Escalade, and it isn't even Ford's competitor vehicle-the Lincoln Navigator is. Chalk one up to Ford for that.
Chalk a second one up to Ford for the power-folding third-row seats that fold completely flat into the floor when operating the power button, either from the dash or the rear D-pillar. In fact, when all of the seats are folded flat, a 4x8-foot sheet of plywood lays flat, thanks to the EL's 131-inch wheelbase.
The Ford's 300hp 5.4L V-8 is weak, due to the push toward better fuel economy that is affecting all automakers. Simply put, unless you are running hard at 50-65 mph, these engines have no bottom-end torque. Ford is not the exception, it is simply one of the followers. The engine's powerband is in the upper rpm range, but this vehicle weighs 6,053 pounds. A heavy SUV like this needs to have its powerband come in earlier and down low. The much rumored V-8 diesel that Ford has been developing will cure that problem, but the gas motor version will continue to suffer from poor low-end torque.
The Expedition EL is rated to tow 8,750 pounds. I towed my nearly 7,500-pound speedboat with the vehicle, although the EL isn't equipped with an electric-brake controller. Consequently, my trailer brakes didn't work and the entire load was placed on the EL's 343- and 334.5-millimeter front and rear brakes. The Expedition EL effectively stopped both itself and the boat, but electric brakes would have added welcome stopping power. Fuel economy went out the window during towing, due in large part to a lack of low-end torque. That problem was replaced with its ability to comfortably sit seven fullsize adults, a welcome contrast from a pickup truck that seats five people.
So, did I like it? Yes and no. I love the interior, the power-folding rear seats, and the overall exterior look. I don't like the lack of low-end torque, nor the $80 fill ups at the pump. Overall, I would recommend this to a family looking to haul the toys to and from and also for general comfort. The EL doesn't drive like a really big fullsize SUV. Who knows, I may even buy one in the future when my own family outgrows the smaller Chevrolet Tahoe they currently tool around town in.