The Ford F-150 offers a ride that's smooth and firm, with a minimum of body roll in corners, and a nice, plush ride over cobbled pavement, rutted dirt roads, and freeway slabs. We've found this to be true in all the models we driven. Among them: an XLT SuperCab 4WD, a Lariat SuperCab 2WD Styleside with a 6.5-foot bed, an XL with a standard cab, and an FX4 SuperCrew.
We were delighted by the ride of the FX4. It seems smoother than most off-road pickups. It offered a firm but comfortable ride around Los Angeles even with no weight in the bed to pre-load the rear suspension.
The power rack-and-pinion steering in the F-150 is exemplary. It's responsive, without hesitation or delay, and without being darty or overly quick or nervous. The truck tracks like a laser beam, turns in quickly, and recovers quickly even with no load in the bed.
The F-150's excellent ride and handling are benefits of a frame that's fully boxed with hydroformed front rails. The seven-crossmember skeleton is stronger, stiffer and heavier than any previous Ford pickup frame. The current frame is nine times more resistant to twisting and 50 percent more resistant to bending than the C-channel frame used up through 2003.
The front suspension is a double-wishbone setup for both 2WD and 4WD models. The rear suspension has outboard shock absorbers to control rear-end motions better in quick maneuvers. The outboard position literally gives the shocks better leverage against axle movement, providing better control on washboard surfaces, and reducing the tendency to skate around in bumpy corners. The rear leaf springs are three inches wide. Liquid-filled motor mounts and a long list of other measures keep vibration and noise to a bare minimum.
Brakes are smooth and responsive. They start slowing the truck just a little way into the pedal travel, and the more you push the pedal, the more acute the braking becomes. The absence of dead space in the pedal travel is a welcome relief from typical truck practice. All F-150s come with four-wheel vented disc brakes and ABS.
We found the big 5.4-liter V8 smooth and quiet. Rated at 300 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque, it delivers quick acceleration. The F-150's 5.4-liter V8 is part of Ford's Triton engine series, and features a single overhead camshaft per cylinder bank, three valves per cylinder, and variable valve timing. A 5.4-liter F-150 with 2WD rated 15/19 mpg City/Highway. The high-capacity 4R75E four-speed automatic transmission that comes with the 5.4-liter is smooth and responsive, downshifting quickly and crisply when you punch it, and shifting almost seamlessly when cruising.
Ford offers a flexible-fuel package for the 5.4-liter at no extra cost to the consumer. Flex-Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) can operate on gasoline or ethanol blends up to E85; that is, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.
The smaller, 4.6-liter Triton V8 also features aluminum overhead-cam heads, but with a more conventional two valves per cylinder. Upgraded to 248 horsepower for 2007, the 4.6-liter V8 offers a broad torque band, with 90 percent of its peak torque available at just 2000 rpm for strong towing performance and solid acceleration when hauling heavy loads. However, the main benefit of the 4.6-liter over the 5.4-liter may be price because fuel economy is not appreciably better.
The 4.2-liter V6 is an attractive option for work trucks. It's a nice, smooth engine of the traditional pushrod-overhead-valve kind, and we liked the XL model we drove with it, though performance is sluggish by modern standards. The V6 is rated at 202 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The V6 2WD automatic is rated 16/20 mpg; with a five-speed manual transmission, city mileage actually dropped to 15 mpg.
The Harley-Davidson special edition model comes as a SuperCrew Styleside for 2007--in Menacing Monotone Black with red and blue accent stripes.