While the demand for full-size trucks has decreased a bit over the past couple of years, Ford is hoping to lure more shoppers back this year with a greater number of models than ever, along with enhanced safety and some nifty new tech features. Most notably, 2010 brings improved fuel efficiency to base F-150 models, more safety and tech features available across the line, and a new Ford F-150 SVT Raptor model that promises a complete off-road-honed high-performance package.
From the outside, the 2010 Ford F-150 looks big, strong, and macho from just about any angle. Along the sides, a classy looking undercut defines the wheel wells, while in back the tailgate has been made a little more aerodynamic, with an integrated spoiler and character lines. Ford continues to improve the F-150's interior; last year's redesign brought a slightly more upright instrument panel, punctuated with round climate control vents.
Here's where it gets complicated; like the other full-size trucks from Ford, Chevy, GMC, and even Toyota, the 2010 Ford F-150 is offered in a host of cab, bed, powertrain, and suspension variations. There are three cab configurations with multiple wheelbases and box lengths each, providing choices to satisfy just about any trucker's need with the F-150. Worth pointing out is that four-door Super Crew models get a wheelbase that's six-inches longer, with nearly all of the extra room going to the rear seating area (keep this in mind if you're worrying about parking space, though). Ford made some significant packaging improvements with the last redesign; the floor of the rear seating area is now completely flat, and when the rear seats fold up (they nest effortlessly into a compact package against the rear cab wall), a huge parcel can be accommodated behind the front seats.
V-6 models are no longer offered in the F-150 model line. All 2010 models, as in 2009, come with either a 248-horsepower, 4.6-liter two-valve V-8, a 292-hp, 4.6-liter three-valve V-8, or a 320-hp, 5.4-liter three-valve V-8. Six-speed automatic transmissions are standard on the top two engines, while the base 4.6-liter two-valve engine gets a four-speed automatic. All models with the three-valve V-8 engine for 2010 now get the fuel-economy improvements that were exclusive to last year's Ford F-150 SFE (Superior Fuel Efficiency) model. With rear-wheel drive, the Super Crew model as such achieves 15 mpg city, 21 highway while maintaining the ability to tow 7,500 pounds.
On the road, there's no way you're going to confuse the ride and handling of the 2010 Ford F-150 with that of a sports coupe--or even that of a sedan--but the F-150 handles relatively well for a pickup. Steering has been improved over previous versions, and the seats afford a good forward view along with good long-distance comfort.
New to the lineup this year is the 2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor, a high-performance version of the F-150 that's configured for challenging off-road situations such as off-road racing or desert treks. Although the appeal for everyday commuters might be limited, the SVT Raptor does come with some unique design elements, including a very distinctive grille with the Ford name carved into it, special side-marker lamps, various body-panel and fascia changes, and brush guards that are hard to miss.
Initially the SVT Raptor will be powered by a 320-horsepower, 5.4-liter V-8 and six-speed automatic, but later in the year it will be offered with a new 6.2-liter V-8. The SVT Raptor rides high and includes internal-bypass FOX Racing Shox, with the suspension designed for 13.4 inches of usable travel in the rear suspension and almost as much in front. Huge BF Goodrich All-Terrain tires with tall sidewalls are intended for rocky and irregular surfaces. The SVT Raptor is also Ford's first vehicle to get Hill Descent Control, which helps maintain control on steep, loose downhill grades.
In any of its trims, the 2010 Ford F-150 now offers a complete safety package, front side airbags, full-length side-curtain bags, anti-lock brakes, and stability control all standard. Trailer sway control, a very useful safety feature for those who frequently tow on the highway, is also standard. The F-150 gets top five-star ratings from the federal government in all test categories except rollover likelihood (three stars), and top 'good' ratings from the IIHS in front, side, and rear categories.
The 2009 Ford F-150 is now available in eight trims--nine if you count the new SVT Raptor--ranging from the basic, very affordable XL all the way up to swanky Platinum, King Ranch, and Harley Davidson editions. Since the F-150's size is a challenge to some, it's inherited a number of features that were previously only offered on the Super Duty trucks, including an integrated tailgate ladder and box side step. Premium Sony sound systems are available, as are SNYC (Ford's voice-activated media and phone interface) and Sirius Travel Link (that provides navigation plus real-time traffic, weather, and fuel prices among other features). For 2010, the top King Ranch and Platinum models get even more standard equipment, including second-row heated seats, a power-sliding window with defrost, and the Sony system, including a CD changer. Newly offered is the MyKey programmable vehicle key system, which is standard on all models but the XL.
The Bottom Line:
The 2010 Ford F-150 leads the light-duty full-size pickup class for serious truck buyers, though ride and handling are still not strengths.