Road test: 2011 Ford F-150
Ford’s F-150 with the EcoBoost engine has been hogging all the attention lately, but the base F-150 with a blue-collar V6 shouldn’t be ignored, and can, in many cases, be as much truck as most will ever need.
While it was a little shocking to see crank handles for the windows, leaving my 11-year-old son oblivious as to how to open them since they were literally the first he’s ever seen — and reaching over the seat to unlock the passenger door due to the lack of power locks was just plain silly — our 2011 F-150 4×4 Supercab was completely versatile, easily towing a 3,600-lb. boat and trailer and getting decent fuel economy as well for a large pickup.
Sure, our base truck came without a fancy chrome grille or splashy interior, but the rugged contours of the F-150 remained. The F-150 really is one of best-looking pickups on the market. And because it can be configured in so many different ways, it’s best to spend some time on Ford’s website before going anywhere near the dealership in order to get a sense of what’s available.
Our press truck still had more than $5,000 in options to push the $36,799 base price well north of $40,000 before tax and freight, but Ford continues to offer serious incentives on the F-150 (in many cases as much as $10,000), making it possible to get a highly optioned 4×4 F-150 off the lot for less than $40,000, including taxes. For a truck as comfortable and capable as this, that’s impressive value.
Our Blue Flame metallic tester came with 40-20-40 cloth bench seat that couldn’t quite be raised high enough for my liking, and I’m only over an inch short of six feet, requiring me to sit on a cushion to reach the right height. The lesson here is to be sure an order the power seats, no matter how tall you are. The rear seat was also a bench, which employs fold up seat bottoms to provide more floor storage space. The Supercab half-doors still require a main door to be open first.
The interior, like that of more expensive F-150s, still uses too much plastic, but the materials seem durable enough. Controls were simple and logical and front, side-curtain and seat-mounted K-bags made for a cushioned cab in the event of a crash.
Switching to 4×4 mode required shifting a lever on the floor instead of a switch on the dash, and getting into 4Lo wasn’t easy, but there’s something satisfying about the more mechanical control.
Easily the biggest plus of this F-150, however, was its 3.7-litre V6 engine that can run on E85, gasoline, or any combination of the two. The V6 delivers 302 horsepower and 278 lb.-ft of torque at an appropriate 4,000 rpm. Full throttle acceleration can produce a hint of coarseness, but for the most part this engine is as smooth as a hand-sanded cedar canoe.
Pulling the 3,600-lb. boat and trailer required such little effort that more power never felt necessary. When empty, a stomp on the pedal produces a surprisingly swift response that will light the tires if you’re not careful. At highway speeds, cruising with the boat and trailer was a controlled affair, and even passing slower vehicles with the boat out back was accomplished without drama. In short, the base V6 seems more than able to handle the majority of tasks we ask of a standard pickup.
Better still was the fuel economy, which hovered around 15L/100km while towing on the highway, but a respectable 11L/100km when not loaded. Around the city, the average was close to 19L/100km. Those figures are still off the manufacturer’s estimated fuel economy, but, overall, they’re fairly decent for a full-size pickup truck, and slightly better than the EcoBoost model I tested earlier in the year.
The F-150 was also remarkably quiet and free of any squeaks or rattles, feeling utterly sound and secure. Wind noise was minimal; braking was solid and steering accuracy quite good. All of which left me thoroughly enjoying this truck not only for its capability, but as a daily driver too.
Sure it can be difficult to manoeuvre a full-size pickup in town and in tight parking spaces, but out in the country or open road the F-150 feels as tough as they come — crank-handle windows or not.
Type of vehicle: Four-wheel-drive, full-sized pickup
Engine: 3.7-litre V6
Power: 302 hp @ 6,500 rpm; 278 lb.-ft. @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manumatic
Brakes Four-wheel disc with ABS
Price: base/as tested: $36,799 / $42,320
Destination charge $1,450
Transport Canada fuel economy L/100 km: 13.4 city/9.7 highway
Standard features: AM/FM stereo with six-disc in-dash CD & MP3 player, air conditioning, tilt steering wheel, anti-theft system, pickup box tie down hooks, spare tire lock, lockable-removable tailgate, tow hooks, engine block heater, heavy duty shocks, tire-pressure monitoring system.
Options: 18-inch wheels, floor carpet, adjustable pedals, chrome step bar, sliding rear window, sync voice-activated systems, cruise control, towing package, premium audio, fog lamps, box extender, box access step, tailgate step, trailer-brake controller.