Full 2011 Ford F-150 Review
What's New for 2011
For 2011 the Ford F-150 gets an all-new, all-powerful engine lineup, effectively addressing the one main weakness in this best-selling pickup. There's also a new Lariat Limited trim level, revised feature availability and the adoption of electric-assist power steering. The SVT Raptor variant is now available as a crew cab.
For the better part of three decades, the Ford F-Series has been the best-selling vehicle in the United States, with the F-150 being the most popular model within the line. Obviously, Ford has been doing a lot of things right with this truck, including giving it solid towing and hauling capabilities, respectable reliability, plenty of customization possibility and, with more recent generations, an easy-to-drive demeanor. Our only main complaint last year was a lack of power compared to its burlier rivals.
Well, the 2011 Ford F-150 suffers no such weakness. This year there's a completely new and robust engine lineup for America's favorite pickup. Starting things off is a new 302-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 that replaces last year's entry-level 4.6-liter V8. From here, there are three upgrades to replace last year's 320-hp 5.4-liter V8: a 360-hp 5.0-liter V8, a 365-hp twin-turbo V6 (dubbed "EcoBoost") and a 411-hp 6.2-liter V8 only seen late last year in the Raptor variant. All come matched to a new six-speed automatic to optimize performance and fuel mileage.
The added muscle and fuel economy for 2011 is a nice complement to an already impressive truck. Folks with typical pickup requirements (such as hauling the family and/or a bed full of lawn mulch) will find that the F-150 still offers a wide range of body styles and trim levels. But the Ford also offers a number of unique and useful perks, among these a flat rear floor, generous passenger room in crew cabs, a deployable step that eases access to the bed and Ford's Sync multimedia voice command system. For commercial-grade use, Ford offers the contractor-oriented lineup of "Work Solutions" options.
The full-size truck market is very competitive, and rivals from Dodge, General Motors and Toyota are certainly capable. Yet the F-150 is a perennial best-seller because Ford listens to suggestions and criticisms from consumers and critics alike, and the 2011 Ford F-150 epitomizes this philosophy. Whether you're looking for a basic work truck, a plush family hauler, a rig you could run the Baja 1000 with or something with four wheels that proudly announces your allegiance to Harley-Davidson, there's bound to be an F-150 with your name on it.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Ford F-150 full-size pickup truck is available in three body styles: regular cab, extended cab ("SuperCab") and crew cab ("SuperCrew"). Cargo box size choices vary as well: Regular cabs come with a 6.5-foot or 8-foot cargo bed, while SuperCabs can have either of those or a garage-friendly 5.5-footer. The SuperCrew can have either the 5.5-foot or 6.5-foot bed. Reverse-opening rear doors are standard on regular and SuperCabs for easier cab access, while SuperCrews have four full-size doors.
No fewer than 10 trim levels are offered: base XL, sporty STX, popularly equipped XLT, rugged FX2/FX4, luxurious Lariat, Lariat Limited, leather-saddle-inspired King Ranch, blinged-out Platinum, bad-boy Harley-Davidson and extreme off-roader SVT Raptor.
Geared toward commercial use, the bare-bones XL comes with 17-inch steel wheels, vinyl seating, an AM/FM radio, air-conditioning and not much else. The STX is similarly equipped but adds body-color trim, cloth seating, cruise control and an upgraded sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. The volume leader XLT features chrome exterior trim, foglamps, an upgraded cloth interior and full power accessories.
The FX2 (2WD) and FX4 (4WD) feature a towing package, 18-inch wheels, black-framed headlights and taillights, front bucket seats, a six-way power driver seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, the Sync multifunction voice-command system (includes Bluetooth and an iPod/USB audio interface), a trip computer, a 110-volt power outlet and satellite radio. The FX4 also includes underbody skid plates and retuned springs/shock absorbers. The Lariat offers upscale interior trim, leather upholstery, heated eight-way power driver and passenger seats with power-adjustable lumbar, power-adjustable pedals, a power-sliding rear window and dual-zone automatic climate control.
The King Ranch, Platinum, Harley-Davidson and Lariat Limited are all similar to the Lariat but feature their own specialized wheels and exterior and interior trim. They typically have a few more features, too, like power-folding mirrors, heated/ventilated front seats and heated second-row seats.
The off-road-ready SVT Raptor hits the trail with a 6.2-liter V8, special off-road tires, a revised suspension (with wider front and rear tracks, enhanced wheel travel and specialized shock absorbers), an electronically locking rear differential, sport seats and exclusive exterior and interior styling.
Other than the Raptor's off-roading bits, most of the features found on the upper trim levels can be added to the lower trims as options. Aimed at those who work out of their trucks, Ford's Work Solutions options include an in-dash computer with Internet access, a Midbox storage system (a lockable compartment located between the cab and bed) and Tool Link (a system that keeps tabs on tools stored in the truck's box via radio-frequency tracking). Other option highlights include a sunroof, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, a cargo management system, a stowable bed extender, a trailer brake controller, premium Sony audio system, a hard-drive-based navigation system with Sirius Travel Link and a rear-seat entertainment system.
Powertrains and Performance
This year brings an all-new engine lineup. The base engine is now a 3.7-liter V6 that generates 302 hp and 278 pound-feet of torque. Next up is a 5.0-liter V8 with 360 hp and 380 lb-ft. And then there's the biggest dog, the 6.2-liter V8 with 411 hp and 434 lb-ft. Later in the model year, a twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 will debut with 365 hp and 420 lb-ft. All engines are matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. Buyers have a choice between two- and four-wheel drive on all versions of the F-150 except the Raptor, which has four-wheel drive as standard equipment.
The 5.0-liter V8 comes standard on the FX2/FX4, XLT 4WD, the long-bed versions of SuperCrew XL and XLTs, the Lariats, the King Ranch and the Platinum. The 6.2-liter V8 comes standard in the Lariat Limited, Harley-Davidson and Raptor trims.
Thanks to the more powerful engines, the F-150's tow ratings have gone up and range from 6,100 pounds with the 3.7-liter V6 all the way up to 11,300 pounds with the 6.2 V8 and EcoBoost V6.
Antilock disc brakes, stability control, trailer sway control and a full complement of airbags (including front seat side and full-length side curtain) are standard across the board.
The F-150 has not been rated using the government's new, more strenuous 2011 crash testing procedures. Its 2010 ratings (which aren't comparable to the new ones) were exemplary, as the F-150 earned a perfect five stars in the government's front- and side-impact tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the F-150 a top rating of "Good" in its frontal-offset and side-impact tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
In SuperCrew form, the 2011 Ford F-150 can comfortably seat four people, and you can squeeze in up to six in a pinch. Backseat comfort is superb thanks to abundant legroom, a flat floor and a seatback angle that's pleasantly reclined. Cargo-carrying capacity in the SuperCrew's cab is also excellent. The SuperCab is still fairly roomy, but legroom is noticeably less generous. Its rear-hinged clamshell doors are also less useful than the traditional front-hinged doors of the Tundra and Ram.
All F-150s feature simple controls and good-quality materials (by full-size truck standards). The navigation system includes an 8-inch screen with impressive clarity. Lower trims have a standard 40/20/40-split bench seat with a column shifter, while the upper trims feature captain's chairs and a console shifter. Special models like the SVT Raptor and Harley-Davidson feature unique interior design elements.
The 2011 Ford F-150 delivers solid ride and handling dynamics for a full-size truck, and it's remarkably quiet at speed, a trademark of recent F-150s. The potent new powertrains more than silence complaints we've had in the past about Ford's performance deficit. Off-road fans should be thrilled by the purpose-built SVT Raptor, as it is an immensely capable treat to drive off-road, although its wide body and atmospheric ride height make it hairy to drive around town.