After several engine updates last year, the Ford F-150 receives only minor changes for 2012. Among them is a larger, 36-gallon fuel tank standard on all 4-wheel-drive EcoBoost F-150s, which increases range to 750 miles. A new FX appearance package is available on FX4 and FX2 models that includes black and red fender and tailgate badges, 20-inch black wheels, chrome exhaust tip, blacked out exterior trim and decals and a red-stitched steering wheel.<p><p>On 4-wheel-drive Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum models, a 2-speed automatic 4-wheel drive system replaces last year's electronic shift-on-the-fly transfer case. In addition to 4-high and 4-low, the new system offers a full-time all-wheel-drive instantly transfers torque to the front wheels if the rear wheels lose traction. The system also includes a neutral position, which means the F-150 can be flat-towed if required.<p><p>Finally, in the performance-oriented F-150 SVT Raptor, Ford has added a new locking front Torsen differential, a front camera to allow drivers to see what's happening directly in front of each tire, and subtle exterior and interior changes to further separate the model from the rest of the F-150 lineup.
There are four different engines offered on the F-150: a 302-hp, 3.7L V6; a 360-hp, 5.0L; a 411-hp, 6.2L V8; and a 365-hp, 3.5L turbocharged V6. All four come hooked to a 6-speed automatic transmission with tow/haul mode and they can be had with either 2- or 4-wheel drive. There are also several bed lengths as well as Regular, SuperCab and SuperCrew cab styles.
The newest of the four engines 'the EcoBoost turbo V6' is the star of the lineup. It produces V8 levels of power, but with V6 fuel efficiency. Peak torque for the EcoBoost V6 is 420 pound-feet, which starts as low as 1,700 rpm, and models with this engine are rated at a best-in-class 11,300 pounds and a best-in-class payload of 3,060. What's more, this engine, which Ford will be promoting as an alternative to step-up V8 models from competitors, runs just fine on regular unleaded gas.
Both the new 3.7L V6 and 5.0L V8 engines incorporate Ti-VCT variable valve timing, which harnesses oil pressure, directed with electronically controlled solenoids, to quickly change engine timing as needed for more power or better fuel economy. As a result, they produce impressive power and torque while also posting fuel economy improvements over the engines they replace. The base V6 returns EPA ratings of up to 16 mpg city, 23 highway, while the 5.0L 'Coyote' V8 is rated at 15 city/21 highway. The 6.2L V8--still the likely choice for those who have to tow heavy loads for long distances--gets 12/17 mpg.
F-150 trucks are purchased for an array of uses, ranging from simple construction work to weekend hauling to cowboy commuters and those who use their rigs as a family vehicle, so Ford offers a wide range of cab, bed, and trim levels to fit almost everyone.
Ford's SYNC interface is available throughout the lineup; the feature allows an easy Bluetooth-based, voice-command-driven interface with phones and smartphones, and allows other features such as traffic reports, news, and weather. For those who truly work out of their trucks, Ford is again offering a Ford Work Solutions in-dash computer with, among several noteworthy features, a tracking system for tools.
The F-150 lineup includes ten different models, including XL, STX, XLT, XLT Custom, FX2/FX4, Lariat, Lariat Limited, King Ranch, Platinum and Harley Davidson F-150. Base XL models have vinyl seats, manual windows and wind-up windows, but they do include air conditioning and an AM/FM stereo. The STX adds keyless entry, cruise control and power accessories, while the XLT gets a little more of a dress-up, with fog lamps, a chrome grille and upgraded wheels. On the XLT, you can option up to the V8, but the Lariat includes it, along with some of the features of a luxury vehicle, including power-adjustable pedals, leather upholstery, SYNC and Sirius Satellite Radio. Lariat Limited and Platinum models add even more luxury, including remote start, power seats, ventilated seats, and wood and leather trim. The Lariat Limited also gets huge 22-inch wheels. Harley-Davidson and King Ranch models put it over the top in luxury, with a moonroof, heated second-row seats, a navigation system and special badging. The Harley Davidson model of course bows to its motorcycle namesake in appearance, while the King Ranch's interior is swaddled in top-caliber hides.
If you want a truck that's equipped more for sport, you should go for the FX2/FX4 models, which include a power driver's seat, SYNC, telescopic steering adjustment, blacked-out trim, 20-inch off-road wheels, and a power inverter. There's also a separate, even more intense off-road machine: the F-150 SVT Raptor--featuring the 411-hp, 6.2L V8 plus a long-travel off-road suspension, skid plates, wide fenders, a new locking front differential and special electronic off-road controls.