Full 2012 Ford F-150 Review
What's New for 2012
The Ford F-150 gets a few minor changes for 2012. A 36-gallon fuel tank is standard on all four-wheel-drive F-150s with the turbocharged V6 engine. Other drivetrain upgrades include a new two-speed automatic transfer case for upper trim levels and an electronic locking rear axle that replaces the limited-slip option on many models. Also, all 4WD trucks now have neutral tow capability, meaning customers can flat-tow their F-150 behind a motorhome. Finally, the Sync system gains expanded capabilities (AppLink) for smartphones.
The Ford F-Series pickup has been the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. for several decades thanks to a wide selection of models, impressive capability and available features not always found on the competition. The 2012 Ford F-150 looks to continue that trend, as it offers nearly a dozen trim levels, special-edition models, impressive towing and fuel economy numbers and innovative new technologies.
A diverse engine lineup introduced last year exemplifies Ford's multifaceted approach to meeting customer needs. The base V6 cranks out more than 300 horsepower, yet is EPA rated at 23 mpg highway. Traditional V8 enthusiasts can get a 360-hp 5.0-liter V8 capable of towing up to 10,000 pounds in a properly equipped truck. Perhaps the most appealing is the new turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 rated at a stump-pulling 420 pound-feet of peak torque. Not only is it quite quick, but it returns 18 mpg combined, hauls more than 3,000 pounds and tows up to 11,300 pounds.
The 2012 Ford F-150 continues to offer a wide range of cab and cargo bed combinations in two- and four-wheel drive. Most are available in the base and midlevel trims, while the versatile and spacious SuperCrew dominates the luxury trims and special editions. Ford also offers a number of unique and useful perks, among these a flat rear floor, a deployable step that eases access to the cargo 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 more competitive than most segments because capability is easily compared with horsepower, tow rating and payload numbers. The Chevrolet Silverado, Ram 1500 and Toyota Tundra are formidable rivals for Ford, and all continue to push each other in offering more choices, features and power. Yet the F-150 is a perennial best-seller because Ford listens to suggestions and criticisms from consumers and critics alike. 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 a 2012 Ford F-150 with your name on it.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 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 and SuperCabs come with a 6.5-foot or 8-foot cargo bed, except the Raptor with its 5.5-foot bed. The SuperCrew can have either the 6.5-foot or 5.5-foot bed. Reverse-opening rear doors are standard on SuperCabs for easier cab access, while SuperCrews have four full-size doors.
There are nine trim levels offered: base XL, sporty STX, popularly equipped XLT, rugged FX2/FX4, luxurious Lariat, 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, full power accessories, cruise control and an upgraded sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. The volume leader XLT is similar but features chrome exterior trim and foglamps.
The FX2 (2WD) and FX4 (4WD) feature a towing package, 18-inch wheels, 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 telescoping steering wheel, 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 wheels, exterior trim, and interior materials and badging that are unique to a particular theme or interest. They typically have a few more features, too, like power-folding mirrors, heated/ventilated front seats and heated second-row seats. The SVT Raptor is tailored for off-road use with special tires and a heavily revised suspension. Other Raptor features include an electronically locking rear differential, sport seats and exclusive exterior and interior styling. The Raptor is available in either SuperCab or SuperCrew cabs with 5.5-foot beds.
Most of the functional 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, a premium Sony audio system, a hard-drive-based navigation system with Sirius Travel Link and a rear-seat entertainment system.
Powertrains and Performance
Depending on the model, the 2012 Ford F-150 can be had with one of four engines. Every engine comes paired 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 base 3.7-liter V6 generates 302 hp and 278 lb-ft of torque. In Edmunds performance testing, this engine propelled the F-150 from zero to 60 mph in a decent 8.2 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy stands at 17 mpg city/23 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined with rear-wheel drive. Opting for four-wheel drive lowers all such estimates by about 2 mpg.
Next up is a 5.0-liter V8 with 360 hp and 380 lb-ft. With four-wheel drive, an F-150 with this engine went from zero to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds. Fuel economy with rear-wheel drive stands at 15/21/17.
The available twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 is rated at 365 hp and 420 lb-ft. A rear-drive F-150 with this engine hit 60 in an impressive 6.5 seconds in Edmunds testing while returning an EPA-estimated 16/22/18. This combination of acceleration and efficiency is unmatched in the truck world.
The final engine (standard on the Raptor) is a 6.2-liter V8 making 411 hp and 434 lb-ft of torque. The Raptor accelerates to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds. Fuel economy stands at 13/18/14 with the 6.2-liter in the rear-drive F-150, but drops to 11/16/13 in the Raptor.
The F-150's tow ratings range from 6,100 pounds with the 3.7-liter V6 all the way up to 11,300 pounds with the 6.2-liter V8 and turbo V6 (when properly equipped).
Four-wheel 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. Ford also offers its SOS Post-Crash Alert System that helps draw attention and assistance to the truck should the airbags deploy.
In government crash tests, the 2012 Ford F-150 SuperCrew received an overall rating of four stars out of a possible five, with three stars for overall frontal impact protection and five stars for overall side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the F-150 SuperCrew a top rating of "Good" in its frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests.
In Edmunds brake testing, regular F-150 models came to a stop from 60 mph in between 125 and 132 feet. The heavier Raptor with its off-road-oriented tires stopped in a much longer 143 feet.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2012 Ford F-150 SuperCrew is nearly as spacious for cargo and passengers as the cavernous Toyota CrewMax. It offers superb backseat comfort thanks to abundant legroom, a flat floor and a seatback angle that's pleasantly reclined. 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 competitive Tundra Double Cab and Ram Quad Cab.
The F-150 is well suited to life as a work truck. It can be equipped to perform a variety of work- and recreation-related chores, and little details like tailgate steps, trailer sway control, box side steps and the Work Solutions options make life easier for its owner.
All F-150s feature simple controls and good-quality materials (by full-size truck standards). Of special note is the instrument panel on upper trims with easy-to-follow analog gauges and a very informative 4.2-inch LCD message-center screen. The navigation system includes an 8-inch screen, also 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. Ford also does a great job in differentiating the interior design on special models like the SVT Raptor and Harley-Davidson.
Thanks to a powerful engine lineup and rock-solid chassis, the 2012 Ford F-150 delivers excellent ride and handling dynamics for a full-size truck. Its reputation for low cabin noise at speed has almost become a trademark of the F-150. Specific passenger pampering depends on the trim level, but the overall comfort level is high, even when the cargo bed is unloaded.
Unlike other full-size trucks, it's hard to go wrong when selecting an engine. Even the base V6 produces strong acceleration, while the turbocharged V6 offers a compelling combination of power, capability and efficiency. The old-fashioned V8s are pretty strong, too.
Of course, the purpose-built SVT Raptor is the halo truck that off-road enthusiasts dream about. It can tame some of the toughest terrain around, but it's also a bit trickier to drive around town due to its wide body and higher ride height.