By far, the new 2009 Ford F-150 pickup is stronger and bolder than ever before. With an entirely new look, more power, and a beefier yet lightweight frame, the F-150 seems well equipped to handle heavy-duty towing jobs and a rugged work load. But aside from the new front fascia, sporting a three-bar grille, a power-bulge hood and a very clean body line, the engineers of the ’09 F-150 added more agility and stability to the truck. They incorporated Ford’s Advanced Trac with Roll Stability Control, a system that constantly checks on the vehicle’s balance, keeping it as level as possible under various conditions. Although this is done to improve handling and driving stability under load or while towing, we also wanted to find out if it would help the vehicle maintain a level stance and improved traction on the trail.
Our XLT 4x4 Super Cab test model was not the FX4 version that comes with specially valved shock absorbers, but it did feature the Advanced Trac and Stability Control. Right away, we could feel how well the truck handled tight highway curves at speed, as we headed up several winding mountain roads to reach our destination. While we enjoyed the F-150’s ability to remain flat and level during hard cornering, we wondered what properties the truck would have once we got it on the dirt.
The 2009 F-150 sports a new look, 18-inch wheels and plenty of upgrades, including Roll Stability Control and Advance Trac, which we definitely put to the test during our review.
Arriving at the trailhead of our off-road destination, we drove up a narrow path that ascended up to 9,000 feet above sea level. Along the way, we put the F-150 on some steep inclines and declines that, at times, would drop one of the front tires into a rain-eroded ditch. We expected the opposite rear tire to lift off the ground, but to our surprise, the ’09 F-150 remained level. Throughout our test, the truck actually performed well above our expectations, showing the abilities of the vehicle’s traction and stability controls in these situations. Further along our trail, the F-150 offered plenty of ground clearance to manage most moderate trails, and it was easy to shift from 2WD to 4WD-High and 4WD-Low with the Shift-On-The Fly knob located on the dashboard.
The F-150 maintained a level stance on uneven terrain to achieve as much articulation and traction as the stock ride height would allow.
In addition, the ’09 F-150’s stronger frame, that’s fully boxed and features additional cross members that go through it, really keep the vehicle’s flex to a minimum. As we maneuvered over deep ruts and rocky ledges along our path, the F-150 continued to maintain a level stance. While the shocks on the FX4 models would have dampened the ride a little more, we doubt the difference would be one that average truck owners would notice. Yet, the extra traction that the FX4-equipped suspension can provide would be helpful in more rocky conditions and reduce the chance of shock failure (cavitation).
The front suspension on the F-150 uses a coil-over shock system that’s standard issue on most full-size pickups. At the rear, a Hotchkiss-style solid rear axle with leaf-springs is used. In this case, however, the rear springs are 6 inches longer and are installed so that they extend forward on the rear axle. This gives the F-150 noticeably improved control, adding to the stability of the vehicle in more precarious, off-balance situations, like the ones we encountered on this trail.
The 5.4L V-8 on the '09 F-150 makes 320 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque. Ford claims that a 5.0L, 400 hp V-8 or an EcoBoost gas turbine engine may be in the F-150's near future.
Under the hood, our F-150 was equipped with the 5.4L V-8 that for 2009 makes 320 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque. Acceleration is good and you feel more of the top-end horsepower than a seat-of-the-pants push. The six-speed automatic transmission allows the power to flow gracefully along the engine’s rpm range, making acceleration smooth and without any hesitation. While we felt confident with the F-150’s power, it only managed to average 15 mpg during the course of our test. We would have thought that the combination of the 5.4L V-8 with the 6-speed automatic would have delivered better fuel economy, especially when it’s a prime concern for many truck owners these days.
Equipped with Sirius satellite radio, a 6-disc CD changer and Shift-on-the-Fly 4X4 controls, our XLT test model was well equipped with a price tag of $37.395.
Inside, the F-150 does boast a redesigned interior that, in this XLT model, included lots of electronic upgrades such as satellite radio, a six-disc CD player, rear view camera, reverse sensing system, Ford’s trailer brake controller and voice-activated SYNC. Outside, the addition of an optional stowable bed extender really proved to be a great one to consider. Not only is it simple to operate, it’s great for hauling a dirt bike or ATV. Just make sure to turn off the reverse sensing system or it will sound an alert when you place the gear selector in reverse if you are driving around with the tailgate down.
The 2009 F-150 4X4 definitely proved itself as a worthy pickup that can handle its own both on and off the highway. Our test model, an XLT Supercab 4x4 (Preferred Equipment Package #507A), had an MSRP of $37,395 making it relatively affordable among a sea of expensive trucks on the market that feature the same amount of electronic options and bed accessories. Besides, it’s a cool-looking truck that with a few more inches of ride height and some 35-inch-tall tires will easily fit in with any off-road crowd.