New 2012 Ford F-150 XL Reviews
Overview:Smooth and quiet, the Ford F-150 is comfortable on bumpy streets around town, over rugged terrain at construction sites, around farms and over utility roads, and on the open highway.Its steering is nicely weighted and requires little correction on the highway making it nice for long cross-country tows.The cabs are comfortable, whether ordered with leather or cloth.
The 2012 Ford F-150 lineup offers a plethora of models in dozens of permutations.All are highly capable trucks, even those loaded with luxury features.The F-150 was completely redesigned for 2009.For 2011, the F-150 received a new engine lineup and electric-assist steering on all but 6.2-powered Crew Cabs.For 2012, the Lariat Limited model is no longer offered, but one of the nine F-150 versions should be close enough.
A new FX appearance package is for 2012 F-150 FX2 and FX4 models that includes 20-inch wheels and lots of flat-black trim inside and out.The FX Luxury package adds cooling to the heatable front seats.
Other noteworthy changes include electric shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive for 2012 F-150 XL up to Lariat models, while 2012 F-150 Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum offer a 4x4 auto mode that requires no driver action and hill start assist.All 2012 F-150 4WD models can now be flat-towed behind another vehicle, like a motorhome or larger construction truck.And a new locking rear differential for 2012 is offered on more axle ratios and 2WD models than the old limited-slip was.
The F-150 lineup runs the gamut from wash-off vinyl flooring and a two-door Regular Cab to leather-lined premium four-door models with as much rear-seat legroom as the front of most luxury sedans: Within those extremes lies something for everyone.Yet even the least-expensive F-150 isn't boring; it leaves room for customization, does the work required, and keeps overhead down.
With one of the deepest beds in the segment, the F-150 has generous cargo volume out back and a maximum payload rating of 3,060 pounds; most versions carry 1,550-2,100 pounds.Any cab model F-150 can be optioned to tow more than 11,000 pounds; the range varies from 5,500-11,300 pounds.(The Ford Super Duty line of heavy-duty pickups is covered in a separate New Car Test Drive review.)
Two V8 and two V6 engines are offered, all with 6-speed automatic transmissions.Standard on 2WD is a 302-hp 3.7-liter V6.Other choices include a 360-hp 5-liter V8, the only engine offered on every cab/bed combination, a 411-hp 6.2-liter V8 on SuperCrew short beds, and a 365-hp twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 on all but regular cab short beds.Each engine except the 6.2 offers multiple axle ratios.
Many years the best-selling pickup, the F-150's had a target on it for those same years.So it has to stay competitive: The standard V6 is more powerful than any other pickup V6 and the same horsepower as Chevy's 1.1-liter-larger V8; the 6.2 offered in Crew Cabs and Raptor is more powerful than any half-ton pickup engine; it's the only pickup that comes with a 6-speed automatic in every model.And its maximum payload and weight ratings are competitive in a world where numbers and rankings often change monthly.
Like any full-size pickup, the key to an F-150 is assessing your needs accurately and choosing the best one among all the permutations.Also like any pickup, remember that maximum payload and maximum trailer weight don't go together, are available only on a few of the 50-plus versions, and often decline as soon as you check an option box other than paint or aluminum wheels.Also remember the EPA ratings are only that, for empty trucks, and you are moving around at least 5,000 pounds.Do that, and you should be quite happy with any F-150.
What stands out most driving the F-150 is the relative refinement.Ford attributes much of this to the Quiet Steel laminate used in some body panels.
The standard F-150 engine is a 3.7-liter V6 with contemporary technology like variable timing for the four cams and four valves per cylinder.This engine was in service in front-drive platforms and the new Mustang before it came to F-150, so it's not unproven.In the F-150 it's rated at 302 hp at 6500 rpm and 278 lb-ft at 4250 rpm, just 8 hp less than the 2010's biggest engine.You have to get the revs up to get the best work from it but the transmission is well calibrated, so it's a realistic choice where cost or fuel economy are paramount and work is limited to relatively light towing or hauling on fairly level ground.
Also adapted from the Mustang but not revving as fast in the truck application is the 5-liter V8 of 360 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque, more than GM's 4.8 and 5.3, Ram's 4.7, Titan's 5.6 and Tundra's 4.6; the Ram Hemi and Tundra 5.7 rate higher power.The highest-payload F-150s use this workhorse, it can tow up to 10,000 pounds, and it sounds like a muscle-car, more authoritative than even the 6.2-liter.
The 6.2 debuted in the SuperDuty pickups, that's why it's the only iron-block engine (and hydraulic steering assist) in the line.In F-150 applications it rates 411 hp and 434 lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm, the most powerful half-ton pickup engine, but is available only in short-bed SuperCrew trucks and the Raptor.GM's 6.2 is rated slightly lower and also limited to certain configurations.
The most impressive engine choice is the twin-turbocharged, direct injection EcoBoost 3.5-liter V6.Horsepower is 365 and torque is 420 lb-ft at a nice low 2500 rpm so unless you need the rumble of a V8 it's by far the best combo of performance and economy.There is no lag waiting for power to come up, it's the quietest engine with just a hint of whistle at moderate throttle (talk-radio would mask it), its at-altitude performance will be better than the others and it often carries more than 6.2 V8 trucks because the engine is lighter.You can't use boost and get good economy at the same time, but you can have both to work with in the same truck.The only negatives are it costs more than the 3.7 or 5.0 and it's grunt sometimes overwhelms rear traction when towing resulting in axle-tramp, a rough up-and-down motion of the rear axle until traction control intervenes or the driver lifts off the throttle.On 4x4 models it comes with a 36-gallon fuel tank but 4x2 are limited to a 26-gallon tank.
The 6-speed automatic works smoothly, and is not overly anxious to get into that fuel-saving top gear as soon as possible; engaging Tow/Haul mode will stretch out the shift points, not require a mat-flattening mash of the pedal to affect a downshift and provide some engine braking on descents.
The F-150 has a fully boxed frame, which is quite stiff and resistant to both bending and twist.The front suspension is a dual ball-joint design pioneered and still used by BMW and found on the Expedition sport-utility, while the rear suspension has long leaf springs and outboard shocks.
Electric-assist steering is used on all F-150 except those with the 6.2 V8.It makes for lighter effort at low speeds, better weighting at road speeds, never loses assist in extensive maneuvering as when backing a trailer, and is programmed to reduce fatigue from crowned roads or crosswinds.It should simplify engine service, requires no service of its own, and can add up to 4 percent in highway fuel economy.However, the electric-assist steering is not rated for snow plowing, and the hydraulic-steering 6.2 V8 is only in Crew Cabs also not recommended for plowing.
The sheer mass of the F-150 combines with the suspension to deliver a very good ride (by pickup standards) and quiet composure.Sure, it will skip on bumpy corners and move around over dry wash scrabble at speed but it doesn't get upset or noisy.Longer wheelbases will bob or pogo-stick on some expansion joints and expressway surfaces but it never becomes fatiguing.As is often the case, the standard-size wheels produce better ride quality and less road noise than the 20- and 22-inch packages.
Brakes get the job done with their ultimate performance based as much on tire choice and weight in the bed as anything else.Electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes are standard across the board.A locking rear differential is optional for the best traction and available even on some 2WD models, and in many cases the suspension tuning on an FX produces the best ride quality over marginal roads and city potholes.
Some of the factors that aid visibility also hinder it.The high stance of a pickup is good for more distant views but hides things behind the tall tailgate and this is a wide piece of equipment.Extendable towing mirrors include a flat upper element and separately adjustable wide-angle element for a superb view rearward and safe towing but they are big and will be easily smacked off if you forget they're extended or don't leave space for that motorcyclist.
The rearview camera is good for the view behind the tall tailgate and on the navigation screen has colored lines to indicate the width of the truck and centerline for hitching a trailer; however, this display is not predictive and does not move the colored lines with the steering wheel so it applies only in straight reversing.Rear park sensors also aid maneuvering in tight quarters, raising the frequency of audible beeps as you move closer.You'll want to turn that off when backing up to a trailer or in other situations, but that involves going through a couple of menus on the information screen, more tedious than the simple defeat buttons used by Toyota and others.
The payload rating for the F-150 models varies from about 1,560 pounds to 3,060, but that includes occupants other than the driver.A construction crew of four 200-pounders in a SuperCrew might have just 700 pounds of rated capacity left for tools and materials.The highest gross combined rating (truck, trailer, cargo, passengers) for any F-150 is 17,100 pounds and these pickups are among the heaviest half-tons.
Maximum tow ratings for most F-150 cabs range from 11,000-11,300 pounds.These highest ratings are similar to the Ram 1500 HD which uses heavy-duty components including stronger (but more common 8-bolt on the Ram) wheels.Remember these maximums apply to an unloaded pickup; if you foresee towing more than 7000-8000 pounds behind a loaded F-150 you should consider stepping up to Super Duty.
The integrated trailer brake controller option is the ideal choice for smooth braking.We've tested it and it works much better than aftermarket systems.But verify that the integrated controller will work with the brakes on your trailer; some electro-hydraulic trailer systems are not compatible.
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