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Polite, kid-friendly with a 2009 Ford F-150

Posted by Bill Griffith  April 3, 2009 02:07 PM

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When is a truck not a truck?

Griffith's grandson on a Ford F-150

The author's grandson, Jack, atop the unlined bed of the 2009 F-150. (Bill Griffith)

When it's a loaner that you can't use the way a truck should be used.

That was the case with this week's test vehicle, a Ford F-150 regular cab RWD pickup. It's the smallest cab size available and medium trim level among the almost limitless configurations for the company's signature vehicle. Sticker price, depending on options, would range from $25,000 to $30,000. Ours was $26,905.

There was plenty of yard debris to haul to the compost dump. There were several sections of old wooden fencing to cut up and dispose of and a trip to the fencing company for replacement posts and fencing.

However, the test truck didn't have a bed liner, and the decision was made to instead deliver a used child's train table to my grandson.

On the road, the F-150 offers car-like handling and a stable, comfortable ride. The on-board computer delivers trip mpg. We started out at 19.2 miles per gallon and by feathering the gas where possible got it up to 19.9 by the end of the 250-mile trip; however, we couldn't nudge it to 20.0.

The 4.6-liter V-8 (248 horsepower), mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission, was fine for our purposes, but those who do more hauling or towing likely would opt for the higher-output version (292 horsepower) or the available 5.4-liter (310 horsepower).

After a winter of driving by dealerships that seemed overstocked with trucks and SUVs, it was a pleasure to have a truck to drive. The only regret is that we were too polite to really put it through its hauling paces and scratch up the bed.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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17 comments so far...
  1. Is this article intended to be a review???

    Posted by Tom Frederick April 4, 09 08:37 AM
  1. You would have gotten over 20 MPG with the other engine choices. The 4.6 3 valve and 5.4 both come with a 6 speed auto tranny. The base 4.6 you drove was a 2v and only comes with a 4 speed auto.

    Posted by 323alaska April 4, 09 06:49 PM
  1. And we wonder why THE GLOBE is going away.

    Posted by tahos April 4, 09 07:03 PM
  1. Cute kid.

    No wonder The Globe is gonna shut down. Some guy rewrites what is on Ford's website?

    Posted by Have you written an article lately??? April 4, 09 08:36 PM
  1. if this is what the globe passes as an article than they deserve to be shut down

    Posted by no April 4, 09 08:50 PM
  1. Yikes...the best it can get for mileage is 20mpg??? Really? That stinks.

    Posted by Rick April 5, 09 03:33 AM
  1. what? I have an F-150 and could write a much better review than this...

    Posted by Mike April 5, 09 05:42 AM
  1. Tom,

    Exactly! the Globe has historically never had a clue when publishing car/truck oriented reviews and articles - this one is stuck somewhere between an advertisement and a bed time story....

    At least this isn't as bad as the drivel that "writer" Royal Ford subjected us to for years...


    Posted by Kevin O April 5, 09 08:26 AM
  1. Articles like this are why the Times is shuttering the Globe.

    Posted by Wizard April 5, 09 08:53 AM
  1. its a "blog", so no tom , thanks for sharing bill

    Posted by Anonymous April 5, 09 12:48 PM
  1. No bed liner?! Can't they spray a Rhino lining on these trucks nowadays before they sell them?

    I know trucks in the $14k-$17k range are basic and can't expect them to have the extras but for $25k liner, hmmm.

    My dad on the other hand wouldn't mind as he ripped up his plastic liner off his Ram and now his truck's bed is a nice and rusty with exposed primer.

    Posted by Andy April 6, 09 09:20 AM
  1. It is a blog entry and likley subject to heavy editing by the Globe staff. Why would you write to complain about a car review article - did the article in any way negatively affect you? Lastly, comments like this is why the Globe is not going to be around make little sense in light of the fact that these are the types of article (blogs) that will continue to exist online while the actual paper dies.

    Posted by time to get real April 6, 09 10:50 AM
  1. at least they provided lots of pictures and a solid outline of specifications on the vehicle.

    Posted by Dan April 6, 09 02:05 PM
  1. If this is a blog article, it still stinks. Check out or for decent automotive blogs.

    If this is supposed to be an article --- wow.

    Also, the NY Times auto section has decent articles.

    I really don't know what this is supposed to be. It's like a rough draft made it out the door.

    Posted by K April 7, 09 04:05 PM
  1. I thought the new f150 came with a plastic liner made from recycled plastic!!

    Posted by paul April 8, 09 07:46 AM
  1. Who is dumb enough in New England to buy a two wheel drive pick-up? Who buys a pick-up and doesn't put some form of the endless varieties of a bed liner in it, or expect the bed to look like the inside of a work area? What next, bed doilies? Good God, buy a vowel from Vanna and get a clue. But worst yet is the Globe rating this as worthy of space. It's not surprising considering half the articles are written by authors who do not know the difference between there and their. Folks, Spellcheck is not a replacement for an education. What's next if the Globe survives...outsourcing it's articles to India?

    Posted by The Old Guy April 8, 09 11:50 AM
  1. "Yikes...the best it can get for mileage is 20mpg??? Really? That stinks.
    Posted by Rick April 5, 09 03:33 AM"

    1. It weighs just south of 5000 lbs empty
    2. It's a pickup truck and can't ever have the aerodynamics of a car.
    3. It hauls 2000-3500 # depending on specific options.
    4. It pulls 8000-11,000 #, depeding on options.

    So, scaling evently a 2700# Civic with an 800# payload should get at least 60mpg, handle at least a small snowplow and tow about 5000#. Check what happens to the Civic's warranty after you weld on a plow and trailer hitch, then drive off hooked to that 5000# trailer .

    20mpg from such a vehicle with the cheapest, lowest tech driveline option is quite an engineering feat. If YOU designed it the result would be around 12mpg since you seem to have complete disdain for reality.

    Posted by Common Sense April 8, 09 12:44 PM

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Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
In the garage: 1995 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (by association)
Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
In the garage: 2006 Subaru Baja
AAA's Car Doctor, John Paul John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England, a certified mechanic, and a Globe columnist. He hosts a weekly radio show on WROL.
In the garage: Hyundai Sante Fe, Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible
Craig Fitzgerald has been writing about cars, motorcycles, and the automotive industry since 1999. He is the former editor of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car.
In the garage: 1968 Buick Riviera, 1996 Buick Roadmaster, 1974 Honda CB450
Keith Griffin is president of the New England Motor Press Association and edits the used car section on He also writes for the Hartford Business Journal and various weekly newspapers in Connecticut.
In the garage: Mazda 5, Dodge Neon
George Kennedy is a senior writer for WheelsTV in Acton, which produces video reviews for Yahoo, MSN, and other auto websites.
In the garage: Lifted 1999 Jeep Cherokee
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