I admit that I have a great job. On average, every year I get to drive between 125-175 new vehicles.
Granted, some of those I only get to drive a couple of laps around a test drive during a special event. Others I drive for a day or two during a product launch while others I get to drive for a full week.
Occasionally, I’ll have an opportunity for an extended test drive that provides an extended look at not only the vehicle, but also a chance to test in depth many of the vehicle’s features that a short test drive doesn’t allow.
This is one such week as I was able to log more time in the 2009 Ford F-150 4X4 SuperCrew Lariat.
In prior reviews I’ve written about the capability, performance, safety and numerous options the F-150 offers for full-size pickup buyers.
But due to limited space, only a short mention was made of some of the features that make this a very impressive truck.
After a week of performing “honey do’s” for my Master Gardener wife, I really had a chance to test out some of those features.
While I know the F-150 has a limit on payload capacity, much to my chagrin, I haven’t come close to reaching it. Name something used in a garden and odds are I’ve hauled it this week.
I would have tested out the F-150’s towing capacity and new trailer sway control, but thank God, our neighbors were out of town and my wife, the Master Gardener, didn’t have access to their trailer.
I very much appreciate the flexible rear seat cargo area in the SuperCrew that allows you to fold up the rear seat for lockable, internal cargo storage.
I had a chance to use that feature a few times this week when I needed to stop by the local gardening center before heading to the farm to pick up and load organic material my Master Gardener wife said she absolutely had to have.
I’ve also had to unload it.
Which brings me to two features I have gained a significant appreciation for during the past week.
Thank you, Ford, for designing and building the Box Side Step that allows you to easily step up and reach into the truck bed from the side. Likewise for the Tailgate Step that pulls out and folds down from the tailgate allowing you to easily climb into the truck bed.
While simple in both design and function, you really have to wonder why no one thought of this before. It is absolutely ingenious, and as I can personally attest, a great time and labor saver for anyone who uses the truck bed.
The Ford design team responsible for these two step systems deserves recognition because if I had to do garden duty every week, I wouldn’t have survived without them.
While the new Ford F-Series is the most sophisticated, high-tech pickup ever made, the new step systems have earned my vote for most innovative feature because they have a tremendous impact on day-to-day use.
That’s not to take away from some of the other “gee whiz” features, like the navigation system with Sirius Travel Link.
While navigation systems have pretty much become commonplace among today’s vehicles, this one is head and shoulders above the rest.
It not only provides step-by-step directions to where you tell it to go (yes, you actually give it voice commands), it does so much more. For instance, it shows (and tells) you where there is a traffic delay or road construction while offering an alternative route; provides up-to-the-minute weather information; provides sports scores; offers suggestions for nearby restaurants and entertainment venues; and, it lists nearby fuel stations and even shows you how much each station is charging for fuel.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Ford Sync. Please, go to your nearest Ford dealer and ask for a demonstration.
You push a button and tell the system what you want it to do, such as play a song from your iPod, change the radio station or dial a number from your cell phone to place a hands-free call using the vehicle’s audio system. It will even respond to a text message received over your cell phone — without ever needing to take your hands off the wheel.
This week has provided the chance to fully test and verify these features on the new Ford F-150.
My wife, the Master Gardener, extends her appreciation for my opportunity.
The next time I receive an extended test drive, I sincerely hope it’s in the Mustang GT convertible — or anything that doesn’t have a pickup bed.
Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for 20 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association and the Midwest Automotive Media Association. Comments may be sent to Neal at firstname.lastname@example.org.