Perfection. That's what we experienced over nearly 30,000 miles behind the wheel of our 2009 Truck of the Year, the Ford F-150 pickup. Nothing broke. No pieces fell off. No smells or noises or missteps from the drivetrain. Our hard-working F-150 simply did its job day in and month out, all the while racking up kudos from our drivers nearly as fast as it rolled on the miles.

It was early 2009 when we took delivery of our...take a good breath...F-150 4x4 SuperCrew Cab Lariat Styleside -- painted in Royal Red clearcoat and trimmed with tan leather captain's thrones. Total tab, including 310-horse, 5.4-liter V-8 and six-speed automatic: $46,135. Yours truly put on some of the little big rig's first miles, a blissful 300-mile trek from the snows of Mammoth, California, back to Los Angeles. "Cary Grant in overalls," I dubbed the F-150 then. "Handsome, soft-touch materials, clear gauges, and just the right amount of brushed-look accents create an ambiance that screams 'luxury sedan.'"

Apparently, other staffers shared my enthusiasm; the F-150's odo passed the 7500-mile mark within a month. "A majority of exterior noise and tire drone is suppressed in the F-150," wrote assistant Web producer Nate Martinez, "unlike in my brother's Chevy Silverado, which jounces over bumps and has numerous squeaks and squawks." The SuperCrew cab configuration earned thumbs-up for delivering "SUV-like interior space" and seating room for "three across in the rear without touching knees or elbows." Added assistant Web producer Carlos Lago: "My 84-year-old granddad found the doors a little heavy, but loved the truck -- saying he preferred its seats to any furniture in his house."

By now, nothing dramatic had happened in the F-150's sphere -- always a good thing for a long-term tester. In fact, nothing dramatic ever happened around our workhorse. Our entire dealership experience consisted of picking up our pickup, then returning it three times for routine oil changes and tire rotations. Total dent to our maintenance wallet: a mere $141.53. Never did the F-150 require warranty service or any other unexpected fix.

While the Ford's service record may have proved boring, the F-150 maintained an always-interesting existence. Towing? Effortless -- with caveats. "Rear backup camera made hooking up to my jet-ski trailer a breeze," penned managing editor Rusty Kurtz in the logbook. "But the backup sensors beeped constantly while backing down the boat ramp -- unnerving. You can turn off the sensors by toggling through a menu on the screen, but it must be done while the vehicle is in Park. A busy boat ramp is not the place to do this."

While using the F-150 as a "race team support vehicle," ferrying a load estimated at around 3500 pounds, associate editor Kirill Ougarov noted that "the engine felt labored up moderate grades. A manual shift mode would've been useful through mountain passes -- instead of having the transmission cycle through the gears like a Rolodex." One of Kirill's passengers suggested that the F-150's cabin was "more luxurious than my mom's 5 Series."

THE LESS-THAN-STELLAR BITS

  • Some staffers found the F-150's ride, when unloaded, "near unbearable." Others judged ride quality to be at least on par with a sedan's. Most agreed that loading the truck subdued any ride transgressions noticeably.
  • Fill-ups of 87 octane cost around $80. The capless EZ-Fill fuel filler occasionally balks at accepting nozzles from older filling stations.
  • The finish on the wood trim on the gear selector eventually began to wear off; so you felt a ragged edge every time you put your hand on it.
  • With tailgate open -- the time you most want a backup camera -- the lens is pointed at the ground. Needs a more useful mounting point.

ON THE PLUS SIDE

  • Ford's Sync system works well, and most drivers found the large nav screen easy to read and well designed.
  • Everyone loved the "man step" -- which allows quick, easy access to the bed's interior.
  • Despite its size, the F-150 proved quite maneuverable, even in congealed L.A. traffic.
  • The bed extender is a brilliant addition, allowing easy, secure transport of extra-long items such as sofas or -- for some of our staff gadget hounds -- JumboTron-size plasma TVs.
  • Over 28K-plus miles, we observed a 14.5-mpg fuel-economy average, not bad for a rig so large (and so often heavily loaded) but, clearly, you wouldn't want to buy and drive an F-150 unless you really need one. Just as clearly, though, huge numbers of Americans do indeed need a top-flight, roll-up-its-sleeves pickup. Ford's ever-popular F-150, we can say with complete confidence, is just such a machine.

From the Logbook

"Rear seat legroom rivals long-wheelbase 7 Series and S-Class sedans. In fact, it might even be more spacious. Very impressive."
- Rory Jurnecka

"The back seat has some ugly black marks, but I guess that's what they get for putting leather in a truck interior, something I'll never understand."
- Scott Evans


Our Car
Base price $38,965
Options Sony nav/radio ($2430), Lariat Chrome pkg ($1295), leather-trimmed captain’s chairs ($895), Lariat Plus pkg ($795), tailgate step ($350), 3.73 limited-slip axle ($300), pwr rear window ($250), pwr/heated chrome mirrors ($235), tailgate brake controller ($230), bed extender ($195), max trailer tow ($100), rubber mats ($95)
MSRP, as tested $46,135
Total mileage 28,366
Avg fuel econ/CO2 14.5 mpg/1.34 lb/mi
Problem areas None
Maintenance cost $141.53
Normal-wear cost $0
Three-year residual value* $20,760
Recalls None
* Automotive Lease Guide


2009 Ford F-150 SuperCrew Lariat
POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS
Drivetrain layout Front engine, 4WD
Engine type 90-deg V-8, iron block/aluminum heads
Valvetrain SOHC, 3 valves/cyl
Displacement 329.5 cu in/5400 cc
Compression ratio 9.8:1
Power (SAE net) 310 hp @ 5000 rpm
Torque (SAE net) 365 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm
Weight to power 19.1 lb/hp
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Axle/final/low ratios 3.73:1/2.57:1/2.64:1
Suspension, front; rear Control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar; live axle, leaf springs
Steering ratio 20.0:1
Turns lock-to-lock 3.7
Brakes, f;r 13.0-in vented disc; 13.7-in vented disc, ABS
Wheels 7.5 x 18-in, cast aluminum
Tires 275/65R18 114T Goodyear Wrangler SR-A M+S
DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase 144.5 in
Track, f/r 67.0/67.0 in
Length x width x height 231.7 x 78.9 x 76.2 in
Turning circle 47.0 ft
Curb weight 5913 lb
Weight dist, f/r 55/45%
Seating capacity 5
Headroom, f/r 41.0/40.3 in
Legroom, f/r 41.4/43.5 in
Shoulder room, f/r 65.9/65.6 in
Pickup box L x W x H 67.0 x 65.2 x 22.4 in
Width btwn wheelhouses 50.0 in
Payload capacity 1287 lb
Towing capacity 11,200 lb
TEST DATA
Acceleration to mph
0-30 2.6 sec
0-40 4.3
0-50 6
0-60 8.1
0-70 10.7
0-80 13.6
0-90 17.4
Passing, 45-65 mph 4.3
Quarter mile 16.2 sec @ 87.5 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 124 ft
Lateral acceleration 0.73 g (avg)
MT figure eight 29.2 sec @ 0.54 g (avg)
Top-gear revs @ 60 mph 1700 rpm
CONSUMER INFO
Stability/traction control Yes/yes
Airbags Dual front, front side, f/r curtain
Basic warranty 3 yrs/36,000 miles
Powertrain warranty 5 yrs/60,000 miles
Roadside assistance 5 yrs/60,000 miles
Fuel capacity 36.0 gal
EPA city/hwy econ 14/18 mpg
CO2 emissions 1.25 lb/mile
Recommended fuel Unleaded regular

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