Ford 1150 Fx4

Weighing in at 5,406 pounds with a 320hp 5.4L V-8 engine for an overall power-to-weight ratio of 1 hp to every 16.8 pounds, here is the '09 Ford F-150 FX4. Ford trucks, like all fullsize trucks, are in a fight for survival these days, and this new F-150 is the automaker's knockout punch. A swing with a well-known club, the F-150 has been the bestselling pickup for years, so the redesign team wanted to keep everything the truck had and add features that would push it ahead. The F-150 has a fully boxed frame, three different V-8 engine options, a new six-speed automatic transmission, and a selectable locking differential.

Underneath, the truck amazed and bewildered us. The big front tow hooks were well received, and we liked the skidplates, though there were some large rock-grabbing holes in the skidplate. The low-hanging parking-brake cable, trailer wiring plug, and wire loom routed outside the framerails and under the sharp body mounts were just plain ridiculous. Where we like to play, stuff like that gets torn off or cut. We're not sure why someone signed off on that design.

The exterior styling was considered busy-clutter on the grille and tailgate ends—but just right from the sideview. Speaking of view, we love the F-150 front-window door cuts and wish Hummer would copy this visibility-enhancing feature. From the front seats the visibility was good and the big HVAC vents appreciated. The seats were given mixed reviews. Some judges just couldn't get comfortable in them, and the driver seat had an annoying random reset, when it would move all the way toward the steering wheel, requiring readjustment. Also, the in-tailgate step and handle that originated in the Super Duty and crossed over to the F-150, though it works, seems like a gimmick that any farmer would break off or not want to use anyway with manure-covered boots.

On the road the truck felt like a truck. It was big, powerful, and quick. It wasn't as cushy a ride as the Dodge, but it wasn't extremely harsh either.

In the dirt the F-150 was a jack of all trails, but master of none. It made the hillclimb, but had a very weird throttle response: The truck would continue to fuel after you lifted your foot from the throttle. In the rocky section, the rear locker worked great and the high rocker panels came out unscathed as compared to the banged-up Ram.

High speed should have been the truck's strong suit, but serious axlewrap issues and a jarring ride had judges shaking their heads. The sand pit also revealed the axlewrap to a point that after just one lap, most judges were ready to get in another truck.

In addition to these results, the F-150 also had one major hiccup that we are assuming was merely a stroke of bad luck for Ford. On our first long climb on mountains roads, we noticed the engine temp climbing. The truck would need to sit with the hood open to cool back down. As the week progressed, the temp would run so high that the air conditioning would shut down, which wasn't exactly fun when testing in the desert where the temperatures were in the 90s. By the end of the week the truck would get warm just sitting and idling with the air conditioning on in a parking lot on a 70-degree day, and we deduced that something was majorly screwed up on this test truck. We were later told by a Ford engineer that it had been run through mud holes on previous PR trips and the radiator just needed to be cleaned out. We've had that same issue in our own project trucks, but it's really just too bad we didn't get a better-prepped truck.

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