Saturday, December 17, 2011

camel trophy

Ford F-150 XLT Review

This pickup truck is about as long as a Kansas freight train. Also nearly as tall. As you climb into the cab, you hang briefly from the steering wheel, twisting rings off your fingers. Although mechanically similar to the Expedition, the F-150 offers a longer wheelbase, a different weight bias, and a suspension better suited to rock hopping. Off-road, the F-150 is to the Expedition what Dale Jarrett's racer is to Aunt Hattie's leased T-Bird.

The F-150 has a leg up. Actually, four legs up. Its colossal 9.0-inch ground clearance is equal to the Land Rover Defender 90's and a full inch better than the Expedition's. And, as we all know, an inch doesn't sound like much, but it leads almost immediately to gutter talk that we don't want to get into right now.
Bounding up Hell's Steps, this full-size pickup - all 18.5 feet of it - was a dervish. Why so good? Partly because of the wheelbase (138.8 inches), easily the longest in this group. We could usually traverse a hole or boulder with one axle while the other was pulling or pushing from more or less flat, stable terra firma. The F-150 often straddled the scary stuff. "The leaf-spring rear suspension somehow flexes and articulates a whole magnitude better than the Expedition's air-sprung suspension," noted Mark Williams. Throughout, throttle tip-in was gentle; it was a snap to inch the F-150 over rocks the size of typing tables. Traversing the dunes, it was equally simple to keep the 4.6-liter V-8 churning within its power band.
As the rigors of our Day Three boulder trail intensified - eventually devolving into a kind of bridge-building Camel Trophy fest - the F-150, the Wrangler, and the Defender were the only vehicles so casually competent that they were entrusted to the amateurs among us. In a backhanded way, it is difficult to compliment an off-roader more highly.
There was some carping, though. "On the dunes," said John Stewart, "this thing is hurt by a transmission that won't give you the gear you want. Not right away, anyway. It's often bogging in a gear too high. The Expedition does the same thing." Off-road, the potential consequence of being in the wrong gear at the wrong moment is like missing a shift during an F1 qualifying lap. Moreover, on downhill traverses, we'd have preferred a lower low-range ratio, even with the transfer case locked in low. Headed downward, engine compression alone was not sufficient to slow the F-150 to an amiable velocity, and we were riding the brakes like Sun City retirees, hoping not to lock a front wheel when steering was most urgently required.
Not surprisingly, the F-150's exterior dimensions sometimes worked against it. It is the widest vehicle in this group, as a swell set of tree-limb-inflicted scratches down both of its formerly pristine flanks amply proved. On trails, making U-turns with the F-150 required a chain saw. Backing up required a prayer to the Sisters of Mercy. And we quickly learned not to stand behind this brute, either. With its iron-stiff suspension and towering ground clearance, the F-150 showed a predilection for lobbing stone bombs rearward once it got to scrabbling about in dry creek beds. Review of Ford F-150 XLT are based on the material from Auto Repair Guide blog.

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