Second Place: Ford F-150
The 2009 F-150 doesn't look markedly different from the 2008 model. If you're not looking at it front-on, it doesn't look different at all. Do not be deceived. There's some serious structure beneath the new body. The F-150's full-length fully boxed frame rails are bridge-girder stout, and the body and box-support crossmembers are welded in place.
Ford's basic goal in the F-150 makeover was increased capabilities — bigger payloads and more towing capacity. Make that biggest payloads and most towing capacity among half-ton pickups. The F-150's 3030-pound max payload is tops in this class, and the same goes for max towing: a resounding 11,300 pounds. That's a lot of turnips, dude. However, the ratings for our crew-cab F-150 with a 3.31:1 axle ratio (1320 pounds of payload and 8200 pounds towing) drop it to second behind the Chevy.
Like its opponents, our F-150 test truck was far from basic. You could get these same capabilities in a rear-drive cloth-upholstered F-150 SuperCrew XLT for $34,855. This one, with the King Ranch package, carried a base price of $42,960 and an as-tested price of $46,065. The King Ranch interior, highlighted by beautifully stitched saddle-tan leather seats, is absolutely gorgeous and drew top grades for comfort, but it's not the sort of interior an owner would likely subject to the abuse that goes with ranching or construction work.
Similarly, that short cargo bed — at 67 inches, the shortest in a short trio — doesn't lend itself to the four-by-eight-foot building material standard. Your sheets of drywall will sit between the wheel wells, but even with the tailgate down, you'll have a bit of overhang.
We weren't hauling drywall down there in Texas, of course. And in any case, the Ford's interior was pure pleasure to occupy. Space behind the front seats was best in our test, ditto door-pocket storage, and the F-150 design team created a flat rear floor, albeit at the expense of under-floor stowage. Opinions varied regarding the Ford's dirt-road dynamics, but all crew members found it to be a smooth operator on pavement, with the best steering feel, as well as quiet operation, recording the lowest sound-level numbers at idle and freeway cruising speeds.
Based on the foregoing, the new F-150 might look like best in class. But this omits one critical factor from the equation: power. Ford has improved output of its 5.4-liter, 24-valve V-8 — 310 horsepower versus 300 — and a slick new six-speed automatic replaces the previous four-speed, adding more zip: 7.9 seconds to 60 mph versus 8.8 last time around. This becomes more impressive when we consider increased curb weight (at 5880 pounds, the test's heaviest) and the tallest rear-end ratio.
Nevertheless, the Ford was the slowest in almost every acceleration category, which calls into question those big work ratings. Having towed a 7000-pound load behind this new truck, we were impressed with its trailering stability but can only wonder how deliberate towing would be with 11,300 pounds hitched up.
There are other demerits. At 47 feet, the Ford's turning circle is just behind the Chevy's in terms of parking-lot unhandiness. Brake-pedal feel is mushy, and the stability system is overassertive. But power is the key limiting factor. The 5.4 is Ford's top light-duty truck engine — one of two F-150 V-8s (no V-6 until the EcoBoost comes along next year). In this application, it's rated for 14 mpg in the city and 18 on the highway — we averaged just over 15. Not too impressive in a test that involved a lot of highway driving.
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The Chevy pulls more, is faster, cheaper, handles the best, and got the best gas mileage.
But C&D doesn`t like the interior... not enough pockets? WOW...ridiculous.
A TRUCK review?...Really?