HEELS ON WHEELS: 2011 FORD F-150 REVIEW


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HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE F-150 VEHICLE
At risk of sounding like a car salesperson; ladies, this is the truck for you. This four-door six-passenger full-size truck is spacious, easy to maneuver, and holds possibly the best connectivity technology on the market with Ford’s SYNC.

I drove a 2011 Ford F-150 with the 365-horsepower 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine and a 6-speed automatic transmission with 4WD. The F-150 comes in half a dozen different trims as well as several cab and bed configurations. My XLT trim represented mid-level offerings and was outfitted with the roomiest cab, the SuperCrew, along with the shorter 5 pickup box. Standard feature highlights included: an information display; rear door cup holders; MyKey; USB and auxiliary input jacks; six-disc CD player. Price for this configuration is $32,320. Optional equipment on my ride included the $750 EcoBoost engine; $300 limited slip axle; $940 trailer towing package; $495 XLT Plus Package (power sliding rear window, rear defroster); $950 XLT Convenience Package (power adjustable pedals, power driver’s seat); $450 rearview camera; and a $1,595 XLT Chrome Package (all-terrain 18-inch wheels, chrome rims, chrome step bar). Total price reached $41,225 with rebates.

No joke this truck handles and sounds like a smooth sedan. It will be a surprising pleasure to drive for women who feel intimidated behind the wheel of full-sized trucks. I was more at ease behind the F-150 than I have behind several mid and full-size SUVs. From parking spaces to transporting children, the Ford F-150 impressed me with every turn.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: Although Ford does put a price tag on just about every interior convenience option, unlike many competitors you get what you pay for – in other words, the best materials, technology and design layout. However, if you are looking to cheapen that $40k price tag, you could do without the power adjustable pedals and chrome step bar, the keyless entry key pad and the XLT Plus Package altogether (no need for that sliding rear glass and all the hubbub that comes with it). I highly advise the SuperCrew cab, which offers the most for rear passengers and cargo. A baby seat fits very nicely back here with room for another child and an adult – without any complaints for leg or elbow space.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The 2011 Ford F-150 is the only other full-size truck (aside of the Toyota Tundra) on The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick list for crash test ratings of “Good” in all areas. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the 2011 model an overall 4-star rating.

Cost Issues: A starting base price of $22,790 sounds nice; but keep in mind this just buys you the Regular Cab (three front passengers total), the smaller 5 pickup bed, and no turbocharged EcoBoost technology to that 3.5-liter V6 engine. And very little interior amenities. It will take a $35-40k F-150 for you to be impressed and comforted.

Activity & Performance Ability: There is a lot of love about the performance of an F-150 truck. From the gage cluster digital graphics to the integrated trailer brake controller, you’ll feel like this is a truck that works to keep you updated and in control of your driving experience. Ford is building some outstanding engines and the 3.5-liter V6 delivers smooth acceleration, cushiony suspension and spot-on brakes. The EcoBoost delivers a noticeable punch, too. The extent of the visibility over the hood is practically surreal for a truck this size, as is the turning radius that made parking in small spaces far more enjoyable than the trouble a lot of mid-size crossovers and SUVs (and some small ones, too) have been delivering me lately. Whoever came up with the idea to put the backup camera in the rear view mirror is a genesis and a must-have for the F-150.

The Green Concern: I’ve experienced the EcoBoost turbocharged direct-injection engine before on the Flex. The pitch is that one gets V8 engine power with V6 engine fuel economy. Estimations are 15 miles-per-gallon city and 21 highway for an average of 17. My driving garnered an average of 16.2 miles-per-gallon. This is about a 1 mile-per-gallon advantage over our Dodge HEMI V8 engine.

FINAL PARTING WORDS

The Ford F-150 is impressive on all levels, from performance to roominess, to comfort and interior conveniences like SYNC. It is also one of the safest trucks on the market according to IIHS testing. But be prepared that the many must-have optional packages will bump the price tag $5-7k higher.

2011 Katrina Ramser

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