Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor
Will Ferrell wouldn't be caught dead in a 2007 Roush Performance Stage 3 F-150.
On the other hand, Ricky Bobby, Ferrell's on-screen stock car-driving alter ego, would find the lowered sport truck a classy ride. The protagonist of Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby would appreciate the pickup's unique 20-foot-long racing stripes, shin-frying side-exit dual exhaust pipes and a hood scoop that doesn't actually scoop anything. And after winning a Food City 500 or two, Ricky wouldn't flinch at our test truck's nearly $56,000 price tag either.
So what could be more appropriate than driving the Roush F-150 to an actual showing of Ferrell's Southern fried mockery? If there are people in L.A. who will appreciate this truck, we figured they'd be inhaling popcorn while watching Ferrell run around in his underwear. And the fact that Ricky Bobby was playing at one of the few remaining drive-in movie theaters in Los Angeles -- the Mission Tiki located in picturesque Montclair -- made our little field trip a can't-miss.
If you're aware that Dick Trickle is a man and not a medical condition, then you already know the name Roush. A former Ford engineer, Jack Roush is one of NASCAR's most successful team owners, winning two Nextel Cup championships in the last four years.
Despite owning Roush Racing to manage his racecars, Roush Industries to design parts for them and Roush Manufacturing to build them all, Jack wanted to get into the street-legal side of the business so he opened Roush Performance in 1995. Early projects focused on modified Mustangs, but in 2001 Roush Performance introduced its first performance package for the F-150. A subsequent round of upgrades followed in 2005 for the current F-150.
At the most basic level there's the Stage 1 package that includes decorative changes like wheels, tires and body kits. To get an actual improvement in performance you have to step up to the Stage 2 kit, which adds revised springs, Roush tuned shocks and a thicker front sway bar.
If you really bleed blue, the Stage 3 package adds all the Stage 1 and 2 equipment along with a Roush-designed supercharger, redesigned intake manifold, air-to-water intercooler and a reprogrammed engine management computer. When added to Ford's 5.4-liter V8, Roush claims a total of 445 horsepower at 5000 rpm and an even 500 pound-feet of torque at 3750 rpm. Total cost for the kit is nearly $16,000, but installing it won't void the factory drivetrain warranty and Roush adds its own three-year/36,000-mile coverage.
We pile into the extended-cab F-150, fire it up and rumble out of the office parking garage. The optional side exit exhaust pipes look cool but the sound of the high-flow system is mellow. We make it through the entire garage without setting off a single car alarm.
Getting on the highway we flat-foot the gas to see what 500 lb-ft of torque feels like in a 5,329-pound truck. The four-speed automatic transmission drops a gear and the Roots-type blower sends 6 pounds of boost through the reworked manifold with an industrial whine. The tires don't exactly light the pavement on fire, but the truck takes off with a solid snap of the rear end and we're doing 85 mph by the time it kicks into 3rd gear.
Easing off the throttle, the supercharger whine subsides and the truck gets as quiet as any other F-150. Despite sitting 2 inches lower on revised springs, the ride quality isn't compromised either. It bucks a bit over freeway joints and the blower noise returns as soon as you get back into the throttle, but it cruises smoothly without any pinging or other undesirable aftermarket hiccups.
Since our test truck started out as a top-of-the-line Lariat model, the interior was already about as nice as a pickup gets. The Stage 3 package builds on it with a new set of white-faced gauges, metallic pedals and silver-accented leather on the black sport seats. Only the most die-hard Ford fans are likely to notice the upgrades, but it's a nice change of pace from typical aftermarket kits that try too hard to look different.
Arriving in Montclair well before the movie is scheduled to start, we hang out and watch various SUVs and minivans jockeying for position in the parking lot. We're contemplating whether to go for Goobers when the owner of an Expedition full of kids comes over to take a look.
His first question: "What's Roush?"
Apparently the name isn't as well-known as we thought, so we give him a little background on all the modifications. We point out the unique 20-inch chrome wheels and high-performance BFGoodrich G-Force tires. As he walks around the truck he's digging the optional stripes and side skirts, but when he notices that the hood scoop is pure decoration he scoffs and heads back to his SUV.
A few minutes later a slammed Toyota Tundra rolls in and immediately pulls alongside to size our truck up.
"Supercharged 5.4 huh? What's it run?" the driver asks.
Having track-tested the truck the day before, we tell him it'll do zero to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds and the quarter-mile in 14.9 seconds at 93.3 mph.
He breaks out laughing. "Is that all? Jeez, my mom's Camry will show that thing its tailpipe."
We shrug him off as a Toyota tool, but we check the numbers later and it turns out a V6 Camry would get the best of the Roush by a few tenths. Ouch.
And with its slalom speed of 57.9 mph, the Roush would get left behind by the Camry through the cones, too. No surprise there though, as you can only do so much with a solid rear axle and body-on-frame chassis. Since Roush didn't touch the brakes, the truck stopped like a stock F-150 in a respectable 134 feet.
The ride home
After two hours of good clean country fun and a thorough humbling by the locals, we head home wondering if this F-150 is the real deal. There's no doubt it looks good, even with the goofy $513 wing on the back, but getting gutter-balled at a stoplight by a Japanese family sedan is a sobering thought.
We stop for gas, filling up with premium to keep the supercharger happy. To its credit, the Roush charger hasn't misfired once all week, and that includes a broiling midsummer test session at the California Speedway in Fontana. After topping off, a quick calculation reveals fuel economy of around 12 mpg, yet another reason to wonder if this whole Roush thing is such a good idea.
Back on the road again, we're tired and anxious to get home when a typical L.A. idiot in a Mercedes SL convertible starts riding our bumper as he yaps away on his cell phone. After a few blocks we've had enough and decide there's only one prudent thing to do.
At the next stoplight we give the Roush F-150 one last chance to redeem itself. Left foot on the brake, right foot on the gas, the supercharger builds to full boost as the 285/55 tires spew a cloud of smoke so thick, Mercedes guy is going to have to fire up the SL's navigation system to find his way out.
The Roush finds redemption and we get a good laugh. Ricky Bobby would be proud.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
System Score: 7.0
Components: Our Roush F-150 test truck had a stock audio system upgraded with an in-dash six-disc CD changer. The system consists of four full-range speakers and a fairly straightforward head unit. The optional CD changer is a $300 option.
Performance: Given the fact that this system is essentially a completely stock unit, save the CD changer, we considered its performance slightly above average. You don't get the crisp, clear highs that separate tweeters deliver, and the woofers fail to keep up much past two-thirds volume, but keep it to moderate volume levels and the door-mounted speakers manage to produce a solid dynamic range that most buyers will find satisfying. But to get that acceptable sound quality, the bass and treble need to be turned almost all the way up.
The head unit is nicely spaced, but could use a little improvement in the labeling department. It's not readily apparent which set of arrows controls "disc change" and which move up and down through individual CD tracks. We also missed having a tuning knob and could do without the retro green LED readout.
Considering the extra money the Roush package costs, it would be nice to have a stereo that matches the rest of the truck -- like the Ram SRT-10's 500-plus-watt sound system.
Best Feature: Solid sound for a stock system.
Worst Feature: Head unit lacks labels and a proper tuning knob.
Conclusion: Not a bad setup for a stocker, but if you're going to spend this much money upgrading your truck, an aftermarket system would be worth adding to the mix. -- Ed Hellwig
Senior Road Test Editor Josh Jacquot says:
I'm not a truck guy. Never have been. For me, trucks are utilitarian devices. Tools for hauling and moving. They're a means to an end. And like cops, it seems they're never there when you need them and always there when you don't. Like I said, not a truck guy.
So finding something nice to say about Roush's hot-rodded F-Series is a little like finding something nice to say about my lawnmower. If it had a turbo. You see, both seem rather pointless to me, the non-truck guy.
But, much like my theoretical boosted lawnmower, Roush's hotted-up pickup serves a singular need: burnouts. What my boosted mower is to hyper-speed grass-cutting, Roush's F-150 is to burnouts. Its spectacular execution of this fascinating requisite of enthusiast life has me wondering why I'd never tried to do a burnout in a truck before. After all, if my mower had a turbo I'm sure I'd be cutting my lawn every day.
So there it is. The one reason to absolutely love this truck lies in its ability to turn rubber into smoke. And it's awfully hard to find anything wrong with that.
Road Test Editor Brian Moody says:
I'm not sure I need a 445-hp Ford pickup. The Roush F-150 is completely irrational, illogical and in some ways just plain silly. For the extra money shouldn't I at least get more comfortable seats and maybe a real hood scoop? Thankfully, there is a hood scoop delete option -- I'd check that box for sure.
Still, I have to admit the side stripes and side exit exhaust are pretty cool-looking and the truck does turn its fair share of heads. I wish I could say I don't get it but I get the point of this truck. I just don't think I'm in the market for such an obvious cry for attention. However, if you're sold on this kind of performance vehicle, this F-150 is a lot easier to live with and feels much more civilized than a Dodge Ram SRT-10. The same was true when we compared the F-150 Lightning to the Ram SRT-10 a couple years ago.
Of course a Ram SRT-10 also has the option of the Uconnect hands-free phone system, Sirius Satellite Radio plus a 508-watt Infinity stereo at no extra charge and even offers the option of a navigation system -- features the F-150 does not offer. Choose those options on the standard-cab Ram SRT-10 and you're still about $5,000 less than our Stage 3 Roush F-150 as tested. I don't think anyone needs a 500-hp pickup any more than they need a 445-hp pickup. But if you must have a hot-rod truck it seems like the Ram is top dog.
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