What it Is
2009 Ford F-150 Preview – Detroit Auto Show: When you’re the best at something, especially for multiple decades, there’s a lot of motivation and pressure to maintain that ranking. That mentality keeps Ford continuously improving its most important vehicle, the F-150 pickup. Taking center stage at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show, the redesigned 2009 model will debut style that’s “a touch more civilized” than the Super Duty and features designed to keep competitors at bay, such as a new side step for the tall bed, added safety features, and a top-of-the-line Platinum trim. Look for the complete package to hit lots later this year.Why it Matters
At this point, it appears things can only get better in Dearborn. With 2007 sales figures in, Toyota has officially displaced Ford as the U.S.’s second-best selling automotive brand, a point that won’t likely be rectified by vehicles such as the redesigned Focus. The Blue Oval brand needs not only hot new products but also solid updates to existing models, the most crucial being the 2009 F-150. While its cars and SUVs have gained and lost favor over the years, it has been Ford’s full-size light-duty truck that has invariably rallied the troops with consistent best-selling status. For a brand fighting to right itself, that kind of positive momentum is more important than ever.
What's Under the Hood
For 2009, the Ford F-150 gets a fully-boxed, hydroformed frame, a double-wishbone front suspension, and a Hotchkiss rear setup with leaf springs offering six inches of added length. Three engines will be available: a 24-valve, 5.4-liter V-8; a 24-valve, 4.6-liter V-8; and a 16-valve, 4.6-liter V-8. The larger engines will be mated to a six-speed automatic, whereas the smallest engine will be paired with a four-speed auto. The V-6 has been scrapped from the F-150 lineup, and as far as engine and towing capacities, well, Ford is remaining extremely tight-lipped for now.
What it Looks Like
From a profile perspective, little has changed between the outgoing 2008 and revised 2009 Ford F-150. Look close and you may notice new badges and, in the case of the SuperCrew, front doors that have been stretched six inches to improve over-the-shoulder visibility. Up front is the familial bar grille done in a variety of finishes, with the exception of the Platinum which gets a grille composed primarily of metal mesh. Blocky headlight housings mimic those of other update Fords and 12 wheel designs are available depending on the trim chosen. The tailgate has been contoured to differentiate the F-150 from other full-size trucks.
From the base XL to the all-new and luxurious Platinum, Ford promises an improved interior for all F-150 buyers. Upper trims get top-notch leather and every truck will offer improved materials, though we found an interior still fraught with its share of hard-touch surfaces. SuperCrew models get six inches of added rear leg room and a flip-up bench seat that avails a truly flat cargo floor. There’s also a console capable of storing two laptops and standard front-side and side-curtain airbags. Features include SYNC, Sirius Travel Link, a voice-activated and touch-screen navigation system, and a 700-watt Sony sound system.
What Ford Says
Chief engineer Matt Leary says, “Ford has spent years listening to our F-150 customers, and as the truck leader we take our responsibility to deliver the right tools for them very seriously. Before we started working in the new truck, we continued the conversation with people who use these trucks everyday for work and play. We went to their ranches, their job sites and their homes, making sure we crafted features that would improve their ownership experience and, really, their lives.” Says executive Mark Fields, “With Ford’s product-led transformation in full swing, the new F-150 could not have come at a better time – for Ford and for our customers.”
What We Think
Ford has made some necessary improvements to the F-150, including the side step for the bed, a tailgate step, interior convenience features, styling, and standard items such as front-side and side-curtain airbags. Without technical specifications, we’re left to speculate how well the ’09 truck will fare against the competition. The 5.4-liter V-8 has supposedly been tweaked, but it’d be a big leap to suggest power would come close to that of competitors’ biggest engines, and that puts a big question mark on payload and towing capacities. Unless the secret figures are unexpectedly impressive, the 2009 F-150 might be facing an uphill battle.
Photo credit: Ford Motor Company