2009 Ford F-150: Make or Break

This is About as Simple as It Gets-It's All on the Line

Angus MacKenzieJan 31, 2008
For truck guys Matt O'Leary and Pat Schiavone, P415 was just another assignment. To their bosses in Dearborn, though, P415-the internal codename for the 2009 Ford F-150-was almost certainly Ford Motor Company's single most important new-model design and development program this decade. Last year, one in three vehicles carrying the Blue Oval badge sold in America was an F-Series. On a world scale, the F-Series accounts for 13 percent of global Ford Motor Company sales.
Chief engineer O'Leary and chief designer Schiavone seem remarkably relaxed about it all, however, as they walk us through the detail of the new F-150. That's because they're old hands at this game: They and their teams worked together on the F-150 that launched in 2004. O'Leary's spent 30 years at Ford, most of it working on truck programs. Schiavone grew up around trucks-his father was in the construction business-and has helped design three generations of F-150.
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The Backbone
Both men also understand that full-size-pickup buyers are among the most conservative consumer groups in the auto biz. Which is why the 2009 F-150 is a carefully considered study in evolution, not revolution. It starts with the fully boxed frame, which is 25 pounds lighter and 10 percent stiffer, thanks to hydroformed high-strength-steel side rails. The double wishbone short- and long-arm front suspension with coil-over shocks shares components with the 2008 Expedition. The 36mm front stabilizer is hollow and eight pounds lighter than the previous component. At the rear are six-inch-longer leaf springs, the extra length forward of the axle centerline to provide better lateral compliance and reduced rear-axle steer.So far, so truck. But O'Leary's engineering team has delved into Ford's electronic goody bag to give the new F-150 a level of refinement, security, and user-friendliness unheard of in a pickup truck a few years ago. Ford's traction- and stability-control systems are now standard on all F-150 models, from the base work truck up. In addition, Ford's software geeks have figured out a way of using these systems to detect trailer sway: By tracking the yaw motions of the truck, the system can sense whether a trailer is swinging and then use a combination of braking and engine torque control to bring it back under control. If the F-150 is fitted with Ford's optional Trailer Brake Controller, the system also will use the trailer brakes to bring things back under control. Additionally, the new six-speed automatic transmission includes a towing mode that not only holds a lower gear for hauling up hills, but cleverly works to hold the rig to a constant speed on a downhill stretch.
Brute Strength
Pickup-truck buyers brag about two things: towing performance and payload capacity. O'Leary claims the new F-150 has class-leading towing capacity across all cab configurations and the industry's highest payload capacity. But the fact the new F-150 will be available only with V-8 engines under the hood makes a strong statement on paper. Base powerplant, even for the pool guy's regular cab XL, is the 4.6-liter two-valve V-8, which makes 248 horses at 4750 rpm and 294 pound-feet of torque at 4000 rpm. O'Leary claims the engine, though still hooked to a four-speed automatic, delivers the same fuel economy as the 4.2-liter V-6 that serves as the base engine in the current F-150.An all-new 4.6-liter three-valve engine, based on the Mustang small-block, will be the new F-150's volume-selling powerplant. This engine makes 290 horses at 4750 rpm and 317 pound-feet of torque at 4000 rpm and drives through the new six-speed automatic. O'Leary says despite the extra power, the new engine returns better fuel economy (about one mpg on the highway, and two mpg in the city) than the base version.The top-range engine (at least until the hush-hush 6.2-liter Hurricane V-8 makes its debut in the next-generation Harley-Davidson edition) is the familiar 5.4-liter Triton V-8. Power is up 10 horses to 310 at 5500 rpm, and torque has been boosted to 365 pound-feet at 3750. The revamped Triton is E85 capable. Look for a diesel in the F-150 in 2010.
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Design Cues
Like the mechanicals, the new F-150's design is evolutionary as well, picking up cues from its bigger Super Duty brothers. The dip in the side window-first seen on the HN80 Louisville heavy truck before migrating down through the Super Dutys-is the most obvious piece of Ford truck DNA on the new F-150.While it might look familiar, parked next to the current model, the changes are obvious, most notably at the front, where the nose has been raised four inches and the grille reworked to echo the "girder" themes of the Super Dutys. Along the body side, big undercuts emphasize the wheel openings, and at the rear is a tailgate with stamped moldings that echo the classic stainless-steel cladding of old F-150s. The taillamps feature a lens within a lens. The windshield is a carryover item from the current F-150, but the roofline has been raised 1.5 inches to meet tougher rollover standards and to package the optional side-curtain airbags without intruding on headroom. As before there are three basic cab configurations: regular cab, SuperCab, and SuperCrew, the last with a whopping six-inch stretch over the current model that gives it class-leading interior room. The most notable thing when you slide in behind the wheel of a crew cab is that the B-pillar is no longer forward of your shoulder. The front-door aperture is much longer (instead of the door from the regular cab, the SuperCrew uses the front door from the SuperCab) yet there's an acre of room for back-seat passengers.
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Big Improvements
With crew cabs now comprising 60 percent of the pickup-truck market, it's not surprising Ford has spent a lot of time and money on the SuperCrew. To improve cargo-carrying capacity, the floor behind the front seats is completely flat (which meant big engineering changes to sills and moving crossmembers on the frame, among other things). The rear-seat cushion cantilevers out from the rear of the cab and has gas struts that allow you to fold it up against the backrest with one hand (or with the nudge of your knee, if your hands are full). Unlike the current F-150, there is no jack or premium sound-system subwoofer in the way, either. Schiavone claims the SuperCrew has more useable space inside than its Dodge or Toyota rivals."We took the same logic with the interior as we did with the exterior-toughen it up," says Schiavone. "We think we now have the right mix of 'truckiness' and elegance." The new dash features strong architectural elements, a modern integrated audio system, and new gauges. There are new seats-more sculpted and more comfortable-and new center consoles.
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Dressed to Impress
When the new F-150 hits Ford dealer showrooms, buyers will be able to choose from no fewer than seven distinct trim levels (see sidebar). One of the new additions to the lineup is the truck you see on these pages, the Platinum, an ultralux F-150 positioned above the King Ranch. "King Ranch has kind of a southwest feel," says Schiavone. "This is more Chicago." The Platinum gets a unique grille, unique 20-inch polished alloy wheels, and two unique interior environments-the stone and brown you see here, and a stunning black with dark brown seats that almost makes a Lincoln Navigator look dowdy-plus dark wood and real brushed stainless-steel trim on the dash.The success of the upscale F-150 King Ranch, which started out as a 1500-unit-a-year feature vehicle and is now a highly profitable 30,000-unit-a-year series all its own, proves the point. Cowboys like fancy clothes. But that doesn't mean they've forgotten how to shoot.
The Range
With three cabs, three beds, three engines, five wheelbases, two transmissions, the option of two- or four-wheel drive, and seven basic trim levels, Ford claims the new F-150 can be built a trillion different ways. Here are the basic building blocks:
Regular cab:6.5-ft bed (126-in wheelbase); 8.0-ft bed (145-in wheelbase)
SuperCab:5.5-ft bed (133-in wheelbase); 6.5-ft bed (145-in wheelbase); 8.0-ft bed (163-in wheelbase)
SuperCrew:5.5-ft bed (145-in wheelbase); 6.5-ft bed (157-in wheelbase)
Click the images below to see the full options that come with that model.
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XL
Base engine: 248-hp, 4.6L 2v V-8. Four-speed automatic. Black bumpers, mirrors, and door handles. No foglamps. Dark interior environment with gray seats. Hose-out rubber floormats. 17-in steel or alloy wheels.
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STX
Base engine: 248-hp, 4.6L 2v V-8. Four-speed automatic. Body-color bumpers, grille surround, foglamps. Same dark interior environment as work truck. 17-in alloy wheels standard; 18s optional.
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XLT
Base engine: 248-hp, 4.6L 2v V-8. Four-speed automatic. Chrome grille, bumpers. Black with gray (cool) or chocolate brown with tan (warm) interiors. Silver paint on dash, dark finish on center stack, upgraded instrument cluster. 17-, 18-, or 20-in wheels. SuperCab and SuperCrew feature 4.6L 3v V-8, six-speed automatic.
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FX4
Base engine: 310-hp, 5.4L 3v V-8. Six-speed automatic. Body color bumpers, door handles, and on mirrors. Black interior, optional light gray seats. Full-length center stack and center console with carbon fiber look trim. Silver gauges. 17-in wheels for off-roaders. 18s and 20s available.
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Lariat
Base engine: 310-hp, 5.4L 3v V-8. Six-speed automatic. Two-tone with Pueblo gold lower. Chrome grille with mesh instead of bars. Body-color "skull caps" on mirrors. 18- and 20-in wheels offered. Wood on center stack, console, and doors.
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King Ranch
Base engine: 310-hp, 5.4L 3v V-8. Six-speed automatic. Basically a Lariat with King Ranch leather on seats, console and steering wheel, different wood trim, and pale carpets. 18- or 20-in alloy wheels with premium paint trim.
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Platinum
Base engine: 310-hp, 5.4-liter 3v V-8. Six-speed automatic. Body-color bumpers with thin chrome trim. Chrome on mirrors. Unique interior environments with brushed stainless-steel accents. Wood on steering wheel. Unique polished 20-in alloy wheels.


2009 Ford F-150
GENERAL
Body styles Regular cab, SuperCab, SuperCrew
EPA size class Pickup
Drivetrain layout Front engine, 2WD/4WD
Airbags Front, side, curtain
POWERTRAIN
Base engine V-8, iron block/alum heads
Bore x stroke, in 3.55 x 3.55
Displacement, ci/L 281/4.6
Compression ratio 9.4:1
Valve gear OHV, 2 valves/cyl
Fuel induction SFI
SAE horsepower, hp @ rpm 248 @ 4750
SAE torque, lb-ft @ rpm 294 @ 4000
Opt engine V-8, iron block/alum heads
Bore x stroke, in 3.55 x 3.55
Displacement, ci/L 281/4.6
Compression ratio 9.8:1
Valve gear SOHC, 3 valves/cyl
Fuel induction SFI
SAE horsepower, hp @ rpm 290 @ 4750
SAE torque, lb-ft @ rpm 317 @ 4000
Opt engine V-8, iron block/alum heads
Bore x stroke, in 3.55 x 4.16
Displacement, ci/L 330/5.4
Compression ratio 9.8:1
Valve gear SOHC, 3 valves/cyl, variable cam timing
Fuel induction SFI
SAE horsepower, hp @ rpm 310 @ 5500
SAE torque, lb-ft @ rpm 365 @ 3750
Base transmission 4R75E 4-speed automatic (4.6L 2V)
1st 2.48:1
2nd 1.56:1
3rd 1.00:1
4th 0.70:1
Reverse 2.32:1
Opt transmission 6R80 6-speed automatic (4.6L 3V, 5.4L)
1st 4.17:1
2nd 2.34:1
3rd 1.52:1
4th 1.14:1
5th 0.87:1
6th 0.69:1
Reverse 3.40:1
Available axle ratio 3.15:1, 3.31:1, 3.55:1, 3.73:1
Transfer-case model B-W 44-19
Low-range ratio 2.64:1
Max crawl ratio (1st x axle gears x low range) 41.1:1
Recommended fuel Regular unleaded
DIMENSIONS/CAPACITIES
Wheelbases, in 125.8, 132.6, 144.5, 156.6, 163.2
Bed lengths, in 66.0, 78.0, 96.0
Track, f/r, in 67.0/67.0
SuperCrew headroom, f/r, in 41.0/40.3
SuperCrew legroom, f/r, in 41.4/43.5
SuperCrew shoulder room, f/r, in 65.9/65.6
SuperCrew cargo volume, cu ft 56.7
Base curb weights, lb 4743 (reg), 4985 (SCab), 5156 (SCrew)
Max payload capacities, lb 3457, 3215, 2044
Max GVWR, lb 8200, 8200, 7200
Max GCWR, lb 11,100 (4.6L 2V), 15,100 (4.6L 3V), 17,100 (5.4L)
Max towing capacity, lb 11,000 (est)
Fuel capacity, gal 26.0
CHASSIS
Construction Hydroformed ladder frame
Suspension, f/r Independent, double A-arm, coilover/solid axle, anti-roll bar
Steering type Rack-and-pinion
Steering ratios 20.0:1 and 17.0:1
Brakes, f/r 13.0-in vented disc/13.7-in vented disc, ABS
Wheels 17x7.0-in steel (base); 20x8.0-in alloy (lgst)
Tires P235/70R17 All Season (base); 275/55R20 All Season (lgst)

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2015 Ford F 150

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Basic Specifications
MSRP: $25,800
Mileage: 18 / 25
Engine: 3.5L V6
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