The truck is impressive and that’s saying a lot for an avowed car guy. I drive the Infinti G 35, which is a stunning car, but driving the Ford F-150 EcoBoost V6 gave a new perspective to America’s motoring soul. America likes to build things on a grand scale, from shopping malls to bridges to automobiles.
The F-150 is an American icon in all its grandeur and a top-selling truck. So when Ford decided to downsize the engine to six from eight cylinders and turbocharge it, skepticism was natural. But a few days in the boosted F-150 shows it to be a capable automobile. The turbocharger makes the elephant dance.
Before we talk about the car, let us show you some of the contradictions that this scribe experienced with the F-150. Firstly, Indians in the US rarely drive big trucks. Most are IT folks, some doctors and accountants, other motel or gas station owners. The cars of choice for the desi crowd are the Camry, Corolla, Accord and Civic. The richer crowd chasing prestige usually goes for a Lexus, Acura or Mercedes-Benz. Now there are some who venture to BMWs.
So when we showed up at some Indian friends’ houses in the 150, I saw faces of disbelief. It was inconceivable that an Indian would drive a pick-up truck. I had already violated the desi code by buying an Infiniti instead of a Lexus. ‘Yeh Infiniti kya hai,’ is the question I often hear.
Even Americans have the impression that Indians drive sissy cars. When my neighbors saw me in the F-150, they were surprised an Indian would drive a truck. But Americans are sporting guys and all I got were compliments. ‘Great truck,’ ‘Wow’, etc. My son’s violin teacher said, ‘That’s a great truck. My father always wanted a truck and he’d be jealous if he saw this one.’
America at heart is big truck country. And after driving the 150, I know why. It’s big, powerful and dominates the road in a way that no Sumo or Range Rover would. The roar of the engine is deep and people get out of the way when they see the F-150 come down the road. The V6 engine does not sound as good as the V8, but exudes power nonetheless.
After driving the F-150, will I become a truck guy? Maybe. But one thing is sure – the F-150 will do well in the hinterlands of India, if Ford sells them Power Stroke diesel engines. And we can only pray Salman Khan doesn’t drive it on Hill Road in Bandra.
Trucking down the road
On a cold December afternoon the F-150 King Ranch model was delivered by Ford. Fitted with a 3.5-litre V6 EcoBoost engine, the truck had beautiful tan leather interiors. The other optional engine was the 5.0-litre V8, but we opted for the EcoBoost to see how the smaller engine with the turbo performed. The macho and utilitarian exterior might get one thinking that this is a bare bones truck. But the interior is loaded with great features such as navigation, 4.2-inch LCD cluster and heated and cooled front seats. The truck has a rear-view camera that turns on when backing. This is a helpful feature for a car guy like me, who finds it difficult to gauge the dimensions of a big truck.
The entertainment system sounds good, with the Sony six-disc CD changer. Another cool feature was the inverter in the back seat, that allowed me to connect and charge a lap top.
But the best part of the F-150 is driving it down the straight roads of the US. The truck eats up miles with quiet confidence. Most of the torque is available after just 1700 rpm. From start to cruising speed, one can see the transmission shift through the six gears pretty smoothly. While driving at 60 mph, if the pedal is floored, the transmission drops down to third, the engine gives a muffled roar and the truck surges urgently.
Driving the monster down the straight road is quite good fun. But the twists are quite another story. Remember this is a truck and not a car and hence has a lot of body roll. One has to slow down considerably on winding roads. If driving down winding roads is your passion, then the choice should be a car and not a truck.
We were lucky to get some snow when the truck was with us. By default the engine of the F-150 powers the rear wheels. The snow did lead to some traction loss and mild fishtailing when trying to blast off from standstill. A turn of the switch converted the truck to an all-wheel drive with the option of high or low. Since the road conditions were not severe, we chose the high option, which resulted in great traction.
Politically incorrect conclusion
The F-150 EcoBoost returned a mileage of 19 miles per gallon, which is pretty good for
a truck. When I retire and move to a ranch, I’ll surely buy it, if the green lobby has not succeeded in banning fossil fuels and the government still allows manufacturing big trucks.
America is a country built on the principles of freedom and personal responsibility – the freedom to succeed and bearing personal responsibility for one’s failures. Given this, I was hoping to get a Ford truck and not one made by GM or Chrysler, as Ford is the only real American company left standing. It is the only company among the big three that stood
by American principles and did not take a taxpayer bailout or gut the pension fund investors to survive.
The F-150 is just one of the products of Ford that Americans can own proudly. And to see the future potential of Ford, just look at the cutting edge designs of their concept vehicles.
MEET OUR EX…
George was more a BS guy rather than BSM! He was the head of, of all the things, the banking bureau of Business Standard, but was always passionate about cars. Despite his responsibilities, he found time to write for us. But this was well before BSM was a proper monthly magazine. In the years 1996-1997, we were just the weekend page in Business Standard and, an automotive quarterly that was distributed free to the newspaper readers. Only our early readers would have seen his reports on various cars, including the Indica when it was first introduced. George now lives in Chicago with his family and works in the financial sector.