I’m “rig-pigging” down a pea-gravel coated back road in an arrow straight blast, 30km southwest of Houston, BC (more on this adventure). Behind the Ford F-150 XTR 4×4‘s is an opaque brown-white plume of industrial proportions. I use the term rig-pigging advisedly; the 2012 Ford F-150 is a staple of the ranching, lumber and mining industries in Northern BC, as much as it is in the Alberta oil fields and tar-sands. Bombing towards my destination, an informational picket setup by a First Nations, I realize this is the F-150’s natural environment; massive long gravel-road straights, moderate curves, and resource industry destinations.
Intuiting a vein of country-boy deep in my urban-gay psyche, the Budget lady upgraded me to the Ford F-150 XLR with XTR package, helping me go undercover in BC’s north. That’s worked out fine, because to test an F-150 XTR elsewhere would be context-less folly. As an experiment I bite the front tires into flanks of a grater created ridge of gravel and dust in the road’s middle. The 4×4 simply digs in bit and continues on un-flummoxed, hardly upset. Better to test it now than in an emergency making room for an oncoming concentrate truck barreling outbound from Huckleberry Mine some 50km southwest ahead. On roads like these, you make room.
Visually, the proportions of this mid-shelf F-150 are epic, the last time you saw something like the slick-rock slab quad-cab (Super Crew in Ford speak), “short box” design, there was a national park wrapped around it and “Monument” in the name. To drive the truck it is big, but in the context of the north’s long straight highways and wide boulevarded towns it is utterly proportional. Plowing through traffic, the shifts are utilitarian. Thundering along the highways, the handling is more adroit than excepted. A heavy tillered feel, but solid tracking and featuring only moderate body roll at highway speeds through the turns. Let’s face it though, you don’t buy something like the F-150 for the handling — it’s a bonus. On rough road, potholed highway or dirt road, and the frost-heaved infrastructure surrounding Prince George, Burns Lake and Houston, the ride proves comfortable with the supple suspension soaking up the jolts and wallops and isolating them from the cab. This beast is hugely comfortable to drive, except for a couple details resultant of its sheer dimensions.
The cab moves beyond spacious to cavernous; conversations between occupants are held at shouting distance, and seating is build for the XXXL Oshkosh-by-gosh set. I am broad shouldered, and my arm couldn’t comfortably reach the armrest between the two bucket seats. The center console, blissfully free of Microsoft Sync on this slightly budgeted rental model, a distant stretch – though switches and dials are affirmative and manly solid to the touch. Ford has also ended a red-neck right, hanging an elbow off the window as arm-rest, with a split level sill design. And you don’t buy big and bad-ass just to drive. On a Saturday night cruising “the Sev”*, it’s see and be seen casual if my small town upbringing is anything to go by. For me, my country boy cover would be blown though – blame the blaring dance music thudding from the Sirius Satellite Radio and suitably robust sound system, a dead giveaway of my city-fication… and my use of the backup camera.
The BMP channel sets a suitable soundtrack for highway passes, the F-150 XTR’s twin-turbo 3.5L V6 pounding out 365 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque at a low 2,500 rpm – crushing FX4’s standard-issue 5.0L V8. This F-150 is quick, and can tow – the 3.5L EcoBoost can pull up to 11,100 lbs when coupled with the Max Trailer Tow Package. That’s more than Ford’s 411-hp, 6.2L V8 can handle. The EcoBoost, a fancy name for twin-turbo, offers up an average of 12.1 L/100km over the course of highway and 4×4 flogging according to the fancy trip computer’s color LCD display between the speedo and tach. I suspect this is more representative of real world usage than most city based reviewers will have a chance to generate. Tromp the pedal, and the whine and roar is the sound of the need for a national energy plan that gives Canadians preferential oil prices over selling off our resources cheap to our southern neighbors.
And yet, tromp it I do, indeed I nearly blow by the informational picket at Owen Lake and my reason for charging through and roosting the back roads. The lady at budget has correctly intuited, that if you put me in a big truck and it seems I revert to my farm boy roots; the box must come preloaded with a heap of big belt buckled, red-neck, swagger. The F-150 XTR 4×4 in the end is solid as Utah slick-rock, and practical as a cowboy’s Wranglers… in two wheel drive it also burns out nicely. Not practical, but fun. My disguise is complete, till I open the door and the music spills out.
|Transport and PDI||$ 1,600|
|Engine||3.5L V6 EcoBoost DOHC 24-valve|
|HP (hp@rpm)||360 @ 5500|
|Torque (lb.ft@rpm)||420 @ 2500|
|Transmission||6 speed automatic|
|COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE|
|Air Conditioning||Manual A/C|
|Remote Keyless Entry||Std|
|Adjustable Steering||Manual tilt|
|12 L/100km Highway/FSR|
|DIMENSIONS, CAPACITY AND WEIGHT|
|Trunk Size (L)||1,569|
|Fuel Tank Capacity (L)||136|
|Towing Capacity (kg)||3,493|
|Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (kg)||3,334|
|General (years / km)||3 / 60,000|
|Powertrain (years / km)||5 / 100,000|
|Perforation Corrosion (years / km)||5 / Unlimited|
|Roadside Assistance (years / km)||5 / 100,000|