Ford’s King Ranch F-150 rules supreme |

Ford’s King Ranch F-150 rules supreme

Andy Stonehouse
Summit Daily Auto Writer
Special to the Daily 2011 Ford F-150 4x4 SuperCrew King Ranch Edition

The fundamental feelings I had after a week in the new Prius – those being, “gee, 55 miles per gallon feels sort of unpatriotic” – were quickly erased with a very fine, good-ol’-boy romp in the gargantuan Ford F-150 SuperCrew.

A behemoth in many ways that gets you so jacked up on testosterone that you end up challenging strangers to fistfights (for real, and probably the same for women who drive them), F-150 mitigates both its oversized physical and carbon footprints with an impressive 20 miles per gallon, even with a 5.0-liter V8. Not so bad when you consider that the truck, a 4×4 model, weighs 5,577 pounds, can pull 9,300 pounds of trailer and is 232 inches long.

To achieve that groundbreaking mileage, Ford’s played with a few things, including a new and largely seamless six-speed automatic transmission you can very easily run in manual mode, thanks to a thumb toggle on the baseball bat-sized shift knob.

I opted to test the SuperCrew out on Sunday with a trip up to Hot Sulphur Springs and then back to Eagle County via the Trough Road, and found that even with all of that tall and very substantial vehicle underneath me, it’s a smooth ride and relatively easy to maneuver.

You do have to get used to its sheer mass, especially when trying to park (a rear parking camera, audible parking assist and electrically folding oversized side mirrors with a convex inset on the driver’s side did make things a little easier). Mostly you notice that every second vehicle in Colorado is another F-150-sized truck, or larger, you briefly do the math about how much fuel is then being consumed by all those trucks, and you turn up the Outlaw Country much louder to forget. Luckily I am not on the hook for refilling that 36-gallon tank every week.

This particular F-150 was tricked out in King Ranch duds, meaning a vaguely Eddie Bauer-inspired dark blue exterior and an interior with more creamy, chocolate-colored leather than a sofa store. Even the rear cab is enormous – you could sleep two in the back seat, or something like that – and the seats fold up and back to allow a full load of furniture if you need it.

Mine had the shorter box but, thanks to the lift provided by the 4×4 system, the bed rails are about shoulder height and the tailgate’s the size of a ping-pong table. It’s not a small machine, whatsoever; the whalloping wall of chrome on the grill and a pair of chrome running boards, each longer than a normal car, just add to the impact.

Out on the road, the 5.0-liter-equipped F-150 provides plenty of easy power in normal circumstances but required many kickdowns to lower gears when rolling around at high altitude. I’d be interested to see what difference the new 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine might provide in those circumstances: my 5.0-liter generates 360 horsepower but the EcoBoost is rated at 365 and gets better mileage, though there’s a slight premium for the engine. Alternately, you might shell out for the 6.2-liter V8 and its awesome 411 horsepower. All of it vastly removes the truck from the $25,000 you might spend on a 4×2 stripper model; my King Ranch SuperCrew was pushing $50K, with most of the bells and whistles included.

At that price, you do get a vehicle so well equipped you could comfortably live in it if you wanted to. Seats are heated and cooled, and niceties such as a power-sliding rear window, a full moonroof and a leather dash cap that looks like a pair of ostrich leather boots just add to the sophistication.

The full MyFord Touch system really does respond to verbal commands such as “I’m hungry” (a list of nearby restaurants comes up) and is matched to a top-notch navigation system complete with traffic, weather and gas prices. The Sony-branded audio system’s great for cranking the Robert Earl Keen and Tanya Tucker.

Should you actually dare to get your machine dirty, off-road work is a snap with a shift-on-the-fly, three-mode 4×4 system. A new, color trip computer screen, larger than an iPhone, can display the pitch you’re traversing and even the steering angle of your wheels (as well as comprehensive details about your fuel consumption).

Not for the faint of heart, granted, but one nice truck indeed.

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