2009 Ford F-150 Pushes the Envelope, Forges Ahead in Refinement and Ability

Ford shows the 2009 F-150 to the world at the Detroit Auto Show

By Mike Mello
When I heard that the 2009 Ford F-150 was going to be unveiled at this week’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit, I was almost surprised at how quickly the new half-ton truck was developed. The light-duty truck market seems to me like the most rapidly evolving vehicle segment in the world, and after seeing the ‘09 F-150 up close, I’d bet it will continue to be a top seller in the ultra-competitive light truck class. A range of significant developments starting with the frame and extending into the interior has improved the F-150 from the ground up. At a recent preview event, I didn’t get to drive the ever-evolving half-ton, but I did get a good look at the features that should make the ‘09 F-150 a leader in its class.
Trucks are becoming more and more comfortable but they still need to be able to earn their spot in the yard. Trailer Sway Mitigation strikes me as one the coolest standard features ever developed for pickups because that’s what a truck simply must do well. This system from Bosch is standard across all ‘09 F-150 models, along with Roll Stability Control, which not only helps every ‘09 F-150 driver out there, it makes for a safer vehicle which is a benefit to everyone on the road.
What’s the foundation of the ‘09 F-150 like? Ford says the new half-ton’s frame is even stronger than the ‘04 F-150’s because it’s built from higher strength steel yet weighs less overall. Rear leaf springs measure three inches wide and are six inches longer than the current model’s spring packs. Another structural improvement is the increased use of Quiet Steel, featured when the ‘04 F-150 was introduced. Quiet Steel, which incorporates plastic laminates to help reduce noise and vibration has been employed in certain areas around the cab, specifically in the dash panel.
A quiet ride is one of the most desirable qualities in a pickup, whether you’re driving home from the job site or the office. Reduced noise from the outside world is just something customers have come to expect in modern trucks, and bigger engine mounts have been developed to help reduce vibration. However, safety is right up there with ride quality, if not more important, and the ‘09 F-150 has been engineered to better withstand the impact of a crash by utilizing a tubular rail structure that goes up the A-pillar and into the roof structure. Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes continue to deliver the stopping power.
When it comes to the heart of the ‘09 F-150, the all-V8 lineup of 4.6L 2-valve, 4.6L 3-valve and 5.4L 3-valve gasoline engines provides the horsepower. To help these trucks save on fuel, the RPM at idle has been lowered and all engines feature fuel shut-off during deceleration. A new six-speed automatic transmission will be offered in addition to the four-speed automatic.
Working our way from underneath the truck and into the box, the F-150 design team has pushed load management further than ever by installing a dual-channel cargo management system. Moveable 600-lb load rings allow more options when securing cargo and the cargo divider keeps gear in its place. An available bed extender is unique in that it’s hinged at each corner of the bed but latches in the center. The two halves of the bed extender fold out of the way when not in use to keep bed access wide open.
In terms of bed rail height, as with all contemporary pickups, it’s on the high side. This makes for awesome looks and a deep bed, but it can be tough to reach over the rail to grab a tool box. The ‘09 F-150 surprises you with two features that should improve bed access in a big way.
First, there’s a tailgate step which stows inside the tailgate. After pulling the tailgate step out of the top of the gate, the step folds down toward the ground. Next, the handle/post that also stows in the gate fits in a secure, upright position, perpendicular to the tailgate, providing a solid handle to help you step up into the bed.
Second, below the outer front corners of the 6.5 and 8 foot Styleside beds, a 500-lb capacity step is ready for you, even when carrying something that’s got your hands full. Kick the step, which is secured to the frame, and it drops down enabling you to step up and reach over the side of the box.
As any pickup owner knows, cargo is never limited to the bed, so the ‘09 F-150’s crew cab gained another six inches in length. With crew cab models, which make up over 50% of F-150 sales, drivers will experience better visibility from the B-pillar being moved back. What’s even cooler is that the rear seat floor is flat, with the rear seats folding up out of the way of cargo. Gear can be slid right into the rear cab area without getting hung up on the old transmission hump. This back seat cargo area measures an amazing 57.6 cubic feet.
Matching the ‘09 F-150’s work ethic and range load-managing capability is a new body that lets people know it comes from Super Duty genes. The proud hood sits above a broad, mainly horizontally-oriented grille with strong vertical sections on either side, resembling the cross-section of an I-beam.
Out back, check out the taillight assemblies, whose chrome details appear to flow into a stamped channel spanning the width of the tailgate. Details like these should help the ‘09 F-150 stand out when you’re waiting in line behind one at the dump. You certainly won’t be able to miss the blue oval Ford badge which owns the center of the tailgate, surrounded by plenty of chrome.
Lastly, after selling out of last year’s King Ranch F-150s, Ford has brought the ‘09 model to a new level of refinement. You’ll still find the richest, premium leather upholstery inside the available King Ranch model but the new Platinum trim level delivers actual brushed aluminum interior trim and 20-inch polished aluminum wheels. The word here is class – combined with all the expected F-150 ability.
If you’re not planning on sinking the maximum amount of bills into your ‘09 F-150, you’ve still got a total of seven trim levels, in ascending order: XL – the workhorse, STX – sporty with color-matched bumpers, XLT – plenty of available options, FX4 – tuned for off-road performance, Lariat – leather, luxurious, King Ranch – ultimate luxury with a country feel, and Platinum – all-new level of finish with an urban feel.
The advancements made to the new ‘09 F-150 will keep this truck in a commanding position in the marketplace. As design cycles go, I wonder what the next F-150 will look like and how soon it will arrive. Ford certainly didn’t wait long improve upon their best seller which keeps the light duty truck manufacturers on its toes and pushing each other to rule to road.
COPYRIGHT Autosavant.net – All Rights Reserved

Author: Chris Haak

Chris is Autosavant's Managing Editor. He has a lifelong love of everything automotive, having grown up as the son of a car dealer. A married father of two sons, Chris is also in the process of indoctrinating them into the world of cars and trucks.

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  1. Really looks like the Super Duty now on the outside. Lots of square stuff inside. Interior looks great, but it’s a very blocky design ethos.

  2. Can that figure for the cargo space in the crew cab be right? It seems like a really big increase.

  3. Ummmm….sure it looks quite flash but surely something the size of an F150 should be able carry more than 500lbs over the rear axle???

    The tiny Proton Jumbuck (which looks like the Subaru Brat and would nearly fit inside the tray of the single cab F150) can carry 500lbs!!

  4. seano, the 500 lbs, number refers to the weight the fold-out step to the rear bed can handle. I imagine it’s pegged at 500 pounds so that a 250-lb. guy carrying something that weighs over 100 lbs. won’t break the step as he uses it to get up to the bed.

  5. “It’s the product that drives the company’s results,” says John Casesa, partner in automotive financing company Casesa Shapiro Group. “In some years, it accounts for all of Ford’s earnings. In most years, it accounts for the bulk of the company’s earnings. You can’t overstate how important it is for Ford.”

    Ford’s F-Series trucks have been the best-selling vehicle in the USA for 31 years, and Ford needs to hang on to that No. 1 title to preserve its pride and keep a crucial marketing message. It managed to retain the mantle of best-selling vehicle in 2007, although F-150 sales dropped 13.2% while industrywide pickup sales fell 3.2%, according to Autodata.

    Staying No. 1 has become somewhat of an obsession. “We think about it every day. Every day,” says Matt O’Leary, chief engineer on the F-150. “There’s a legacy there. If we’re not No. 1, it means we haven’t been listening to the customer.”

    Being able to advertise as the top dog is crucial. “They need to have that marketing message of being the No. 1 model in the industry,” says Tom Libby, senior director of industry analysis at Power Information Network. “Right now, they’re in sort of a tough period, and they don’t have that many tough, powerful marketing messages they can rely on.”

    The financial picture at Ford has been shaky for several years, culminating in a 22-year-low share price earlier this month after Toyota replaced it as the No. 2 seller in the USA. The situation was so dire in 2006 that Ford mortgaged all its plants, patents and trademarks, including its blue oval logo, to borrow up to $23.4 billion in an attempt to fund a turnaround plan.


  6. john0966, I checked the press kit information again, which says: “Bigger Supercrew is stretched six inches and features a flat load floor and innovative fold-up rear seats, allowing up to 57.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the front seats.”

    seano, the box side step is rated to hold 500 lbs. ‘Big fat guy’ is correct; the step was designed to hold the combined weight of a person and gear, so a person could comfortably plant his/her foot on the step while holding something heavy.

  7. OK I stand corrected…I’ve had a hunt about and found that they can actually carry around 1800 pounds…which amounts to just 800 kilograms…which still isn’t much for such an enormous vehicle….even the much smaller Ford Ranger can carry that….the Australian spec Ranger 4×2 has a maximum payload of about 1300 kilograms….

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