2015 Ford F-150: Don't Worry, Mom - I've Got a Truck
by Dan Frio, Automotive Editor on April 1, 2016
It's easy to feel over-confident when you're driving a full-size truck like our 2015 Ford F-150. A big truck can lull you into a false sense of security, potentially leading you into tricky or embarrassing situations. But in this case, a late-afternoon drive back to the southern California coastal region from the Palm Springs desert area, the F-150 earned its stripes as an unflappable highway shuttle.
The winds picked up around 3:00 p.m. and when we left mom and dad's house for the two-hour drive back home, winds were blowing a steady 20 mph, punctuated with 35 mph gusts across the desert floor.
Mom was worried, fretted that we should've left sooner. Wondered if we shouldn't stay a few extra hours until the winds tapered off as the forecast predicted. "Relax, Mom," I said. "I've got a truck. A big one."
True to form, the F-150 had no problem pushing through the cross-winds. I kept a tense grip on the wheel for the first few minutes of the exposed highway drive, but relaxed soon enough. Even big sideways bursts only required minor steering corrections. Though it's hard to feel much of any road contact or friction through the F-150's soupy steering, it didn't matter in this situation. Keep the hands loose, but ready.
Had to catch myself from getting too cocky and steering with just one hand at 6 o'clock. Sharing the road with too many wiggling semis to get that cavalier.
We didn't get caught in a sandblast like Mark did recently in the Miata, but we did pass through a handful of sand sheets crossing the interstate. I worried a bit that the truck might sustain similar paint damage, but a thorough wash the next day revealed nothing. No headlight or windshield damage, no obvious paint dulling.
Felt bad for the guy driving his possibly Cobalt Blue 911 through the same conditions, though. Wrong day and time to be hauling around in that pretty machine.
In no time, we'd risen from the desert floor, through the San Jacinto mountains and into Riverside, and finally back home to inland Orange County. I was convinced the F-150 could've forded a flash flood if it had to.
The only complaint? Travis pointed it out awhile ago and it was only too apparent on this drive: the whistling mirrors. You could also add fuel-efficiency, or lack thereof, to the list, I suppose. I used most of a tank driving out there and back, to home and to the office, and a few errands around town, averaging about 16.6 mpg.
I'll accept whistling mirrors and a thirsty V6 as a small price for the satisfaction of peaceful, buffeting-free bulldozing through a desert windstorm.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor @ 33,104 miles