It’s not often that you get a chance to drive a press car twice. Well, that’s not actually true… in most cases, it’s as easy as asking. But, I’ve always been a firm believer that variety is the spice of life, so I typically pursue as many different cars as possible as the year progresses. But when Christmas rolled around and visions of oversized boxes and Christmas trees started dancing through my head, it occurred to me that I might need a pickup truck. So, I hung my head in professional shame, and called Ford. Having already enjoyed a week behind the wheel of their top-rung, loaded to the hilt, EcoBoosted F-150 Platinum, I knew what to expect… and if I’m honest, that precisely why I wanted it. I came away without a single significant complaint after a week’s worth of diligent and rigorous testing during the summer, and I figured its commanding seating position, supremely comfortable cabin, heated seats, commodious cargo bay and available 4x4 system would be useful features for Vancouver’s temperamental December weather systems.
Of course, as is so often the case, an ounce of prevention precludes the occurrence of a problem, and Vancouver saw little more than dismal rainfall throughout the Christmas season. The visions of happily bounding from snow drift to snow drift in my twin-turbocharged pickup truck melted into a rain-soaked reality filled with puddles and wet feet. But, in between lustily stabbing the heated seat switches and using the powered side steps to avoid the rising flood waters, I found myself looking at the F-150 in a slightly different light.
First off, having previously tested the EcoBoost in dry conditions, I found myself somewhat surprised by the frequency with which the traction control light appeared upon the dashboard. Although I’d revelled in the engine’s prodigious torque curve in the dry, I soon found myself caught unawares by its ability to kick the back end sideways at such low RPMs. With so much grunt available at just off idle, Vancouver’s rain-soaked and slick streets meant a wary right foot was required, lest some very slow slides occur. They’re more embarrassing than hair-raising though; the extremely long wheelbase, easily accessible torque curve, and traction control conspire to ensure that any accidental tail-out antics are abbreviated, to say the least.
This brings me to the next observation that Vancouver’s piss poor weather illuminated: that not all Pirellis are created equal. Sure, the Scorpion brand may have been born to shoe the incredibly desirable Lamborghini LM-002, but the Scorpions that come on the Platinum package F-150's giant wheels are not exactly ideal. They’re certainly wide, and they definitely seem to have a beefy tread pattern… but they suck. It’s pretty surprising, as manufacturers develop their suspension systems around the tires they intend to use, but the 275/55R20 tires wrapped around the truck’s pretty chrome wheels just don’t have the wet weather traction you’d expect. Furthermore, when faced with sand, snow, mud, or just about any other surface that isn’t pristine, dry macadam, they positively curdle. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to put such tires on a pickup truck, but then again, the market isn’t exactly full of sensible and quiet all-purpose tires to fit around 20” wheels.
On the other hand, the Platinum version of the F-150 isn’t exactly the workaday pickup truck. With gorgeous interior trim, fantastic leather, and a feature set that’d show up more than a few luxury sedans, it’s not quite equal parts practicality and indulgence. I found the aforementioned power-retracting side steps to be particularly worthy of praise. Having endured more than a few “side steps” that are too narrow to actually step on, the powered ones allow Ford to use side steps that are wide enough to be useful without throwing into harms way. Combined with the incredibly useful backup camera, doing business around Vancouver is almost elegant in the big truck, since you can park it in impossibly small curbside spots thanks to the camera (and a well deserved amount of confidence in the tires’ ability to keep the chrome wheels a healthy inch or so away from the curb) and get out with as much grace as one can ever expect while ejecting from a pickup truck.
Also, I found myself appreciating the truck's interior design much more than I had previously as well. Although the optional Sony stereo system means one third of the space underneath the rear seat is occupied by a subwoofer, the folding rear seat remains a huge boon when it comes to hiding mid-size objects from the prying eyes of nefarious passersby, while the completely flat floor makes for a particularly commodious dry stowage space for surprisingly large boxes. And when your cargo goes from inanimate objects to people, the crew cab configuration got plenty of compliments for its downright ridiculous amount of space. You could legitimately stack 'em in three deep on the rear bench without complaint.
Although it might not be quite the flawless product I initially thought, the additional two weeks I spent behind the F-150's wheel did teach me that the flies are so miniscule as to be nonexistent within the F-150's prairie-sized ointment of capability. In short, there's a very good reason the F-150 continues to dominate the market, and to be honest, I'd be incredibly surprised if that changed any time in the next decade. Becoming a Canadian icon of the same ilk as the beaver and maple syrup (and with a fair amount of integrity than the Mounties can lay claim to, at least these days), the F-150 has become the truck adopted by more Canadians than any other, and spending a further two weeks aboard this one has simply served to better demonstrate precisely why that's the case.
|Test model||2012 Ford F-150|
|Trim level||Platinum 4x4 Super Crew cab (5.5')|
|Price range||$21,599 - $61,299|
|Price as tested||$55,499|
|Warranty (basic)||3 years / 60,000 km|
|Warranty (powertrain)||5 years / 100,000 km|
|Competitive models||Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, Nissan Titan, RAM RAM 1500, Toyota Tundra|
|Value for price|