Here at MotherProof.com, we try to dispel gender-specific stereotypes and identify the best vehicle for every kind of mom and her lifestyle. As I slid behind the wheel of the 2009 Ford F-150 4x4 King Ranch Lariat SuperCrew, I knew there was plenty to make nearly any mom happy.
The F-150 King Ranch Lariat impressed me with its unexpected agility and phenomenal turning radius. It drove like a dream and was easier to maneuver than I ever would have expected. This F-150 is the top of the line and has oodles of upgrades.
One of my only beefs with the King Ranch Lariat is I spent a lot of time looking at it from the gas station. The 36-gallon tank paired with a powerful 5.4-liter V-8 engine means it sucked down the gas. This truck gets an EPA-estimated 14/18 mpg city/highway, and I swear you could hear the gallons flowing to the engine. Ford will add a V-6 EcoBoost engine, which they say will improve fuel economy, to its F-150 lineup in late 2010. However, I certainly wouldn't recommend this V-8-equipped truck as a commuter vehicle unless you have a small fortune just for buying gas.
Being somewhat vertically challenged, I appreciated the F-150's height and felt secure with the visibility it offered. I'm pretty sure I saw the gentle curve of the Earth from high atop my driver's perch, but that might be a slight exaggeration.
On looks alone, the F-150 is a shining star. The massive chrome grille boasts both horizontal and vertical lines and fanciful fog lights are snug within a massive front bumper.
The F-150 was a magic show for my kids. With fun features like the tailgate step with handrail and the pop-out box side steps just behind the cabin that help give a boost for easier access to the cargo box, my boys called it a real-life Transformer.
I liked the huge side mirrors and extra-large automatic headlights, which gave me a clear view of my surroundings. The optional running boards were anything but for me and my kids - without them I have no idea how we'd have gotten into the cabin.
With the running boards, my kids were able to get into the F-150 on their own after I opened the heavy door for them. One of my pet peeves with the truck is the heft of its doors. It took a lot of muscle to open and close them, and I got a few bruises that week from not getting out of the door's way fast enough. I had to ask my husband to help me open and close the tailgate, which is really heavy because of the built-in step; I probably could have done it myself if I was either really mad or trying to prove a point. It gave me a new respect for all the gals I know who own trucks. Atta girl!
One thing about trucks that's always boggled my mind is where to put the groceries if it's raining or snowing. The simple solution is to get a hard cap for the bed or a soft retractable tonneau cover. My test truck, which had a 5.5-foot bed, didn't have either; fortunately, we had good weather during the test drive. The truck comes with a bed extender, which has folding plastic arms to enclose the extended truck bed when toting lengthy items. However, I found a more practical use for them. I wrapped them around my groceries to keep the bags from slipping about the bed. It worked like a charm. How's that for some maternal ingenuity?
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Excellent
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Groove-On
When I opened the F-150's driver-side door, it was like opening the best present ever. I never expected to find such a luxurious interior in a truck. The F-150 King Ranch Lariat is upholstered with gorgeous, thick leather and had the added touch of a King Ranch logo branded, not embroidered, into each seat. The interior is outfitted with a lot of wood accents, too. I'd consider keeping wood polish in this truck if I owned it.
The F-150 is roomy and comfortable with tons of headroom and legroom in both rows. I bet the designers took into account the height of the cowboy hat when they designed the F-150. My family could've busted out with "Y.M.C.A." and had plenty of room to make the "Y."
The second row reminded me of a large auburn-colored leather sofa with plenty of room for a middle passenger. The kids had enough legroom to host their own rodeo in the second row - at least that's what it sounded like they were doing back there. Another complaint is the second-row cupholders are at the rear of the center console and inside the rear door bins, both positions are difficult to reach for kids who are strapped into child-safety seats.
Just in case your clan does get a little too rowdy and makes a mess, the F-150 had removable and washable rubber liners inside the cubbies and cupholders. Does it get any better than this?
Other frills in the F-150 include heated and cooled seats; a backup camera; and an audio system with a six-CD changer, MP3 player capability and Sirius Satellite Radio. Perhaps a pickup truck isn't just for hauling heavy loads anymore.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore
The F-150 has been named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. To earn this award, vehicles must receive a top score - Good - in front, side-impact and rear crash tests. It also must have standard electronic stability control.
The F-150 also comes with antilock brakes, traction control and Roll Stability Control, which uses a sensor to detect the start of a rollover and attempts to stop it. It also has side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags for both rows.
The visibility in the truck is great, and the backup camera helped me feel safer about backing up in such a sizable vehicle.
In the second row, the Latch connectors are easy to spot; they stick slightly out from the seat, which means no digging for them. The backseat is bolster-free, which made for an easy fit, and there's plenty of room for rear-facing infant-safety seats. I'd happily carry my kiddie-cargo in this F-150, but I'd be even happier if Ford could improve its fuel economy.
In Diapers: There's room in the back for bulky child-safety seats and tons of storage in the bed.
In School: Young kids might have trouble opening and closing the doors, but they'll love all the cool things this truck can do.
Teens: The safety features on this truck will help keep inexperienced drivers safe.
Cars.com Expert Reviews
|Cars.com Staff||Cars.com National||April 29, 2008|
|Sherrice Gilsbach||Mother Proof||October 7, 2009|
|Steven Cole Smith||Orlando Sentinel||December 21, 2008|
|Tom Strongman||KansasCity.com||December 19, 2008|
|Dan Neil||Los Angeles Times||November 28, 2008|
|Jim Mateja||chicagotribune.com||November 23, 2008|
|Scott Burgess||The Detroit Newspapers||October 22, 2008|
|G. Chambers Williams III||Star-Telegram.com||October 19, 2008|
|Mike Levine||PickupTrucks.com||August 17, 2008|
|Mike Levine||PickupTrucks.com||January 13, 2008|
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