The closest vote in Motor Trend Truck of the Year history." That was our summation in February when handing the Golden Calipers to the 2009 Ford F-150 instead of the superb new 2009 Dodge Ram. Both trucks presented compelling cases for victory, but the Ford's greater load capabilities and broader range of models edged it into the winner's circle.

Now, with a recently delivered F-150 Lariat in our long-term test fleet, we'll live with our decision and see how it holds up as the months and miles roll on.

What's clear after barely a month in our fleet is that this is one sophisticated truck. "Cary Grant in work overalls," is how I described our new arrival in an online blog after a 300-mile trek from Mammoth Mountain back to L.A. The flight deck is downright gorgeous, as if Audi had designed its first pickup. Handsome, soft-touch materials, clear gauges, and just the right amount of brushed-look accents create an ambiance that screams "luxury sedan."

The SuperCrew cabin has the roomy feel of a circus tent. Rear-seat passengers have space to stretch out their legs, and with those seats folded up there's enough cabin volume to store...a Shetland pony would probably fit if you could lure it aboard. Out back lies a 5.5-foot-long bed with optional flip-down extender ($195) for all the stuff (or friends) you deem unworthy of the palatial cab. Up front, the 5.4-liter V-8 serves up 310 horses, good for sprightly if not outstanding acceleration (0 to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds). It's exceptionally quiet, though; on the highway, you almost can't hear it running. A standard six-speed automatic handles shifting chores as deftly as a manservant pouring brandy.

Equally impressive is the F-150's ride-fluid, poised...almost cushy. Yes, this is a rig that, in 144.5-inch-wheelbase form, can transport 1510 pounds of cargo and, with the available 3.73 rear axle, tow up to 11,300 pounds. Yet the thing rides like a Benz.

Among the optional features: a Sony nav/audio system, a power-sliding rear window, the Lariat chrome package, leather captain's chairs, and an excellent rearview camera that makes backing up a breeze. The Sync voice-activated-systems control is standard-and works swimmingly.

Stay tuned for updates. A truck this capable and accommodating will get a real workout around here; the photogs are already fighting for it. Say, Brian: While you're out snapping, how 'bout you fetch us some nice manure?


Our Vehicle
Base Price $38,965
Price as tested $46,135
Vehicle layout Front engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door pickup
Engine 5.4L/310-hp/365-lb-ft SOHC 24-valve V-8
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Curb weight (dist f/r) 5913 lb (55/45%)
Wheelbase 144.5 in
Length x width x height 231.7 x 78.9 x 76.2 in
0-60 mph 8.1 sec
Quarter mile 16.2 sec @ 87.5 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 124 ft
Lateral acceleration 0.71 g (avg)
MT figure eight 29.8 sec @ 0.48 g (avg)
EPA city/hwy econ 14/18 mpg
CO2 emmissions 1.25 lb/mile
Total mileage 6391
Average test mpg 15.0
Unresolved problem areas None