Ford F-150 Performance
Test drivers say that the Ford F-150 is a great performer for work or play. The Ecoboost engine is miserly on gas but capable, while the SVT Raptor is an off-road beast. A few test drivers wish for more steering feel, and some mention that the Ram 1500 rides a bit smoother thanks to its more-advanced suspension, but overall, it’s hard to beat the F-150 for its engine lineup, towing capacity and ride.
- "If anything, the EcoBoost F-150 feels lighter and quicker on its feet than a comparable 6.2-liter V-8 pickup.” -- Automobile Magazine
- "Instead, each and every version of the F-150 we've driven offered exceptional ride quality - no shudders, hops or hiccups - and a level of quiet that was startling.” -- Kelley Blue Book
- “Raptor excepted, we remain disappointed that Ford still doesn't offer a 4WD system that can be left engaged on dry pavement, though a new all-wheel drive setting on some models addresses this somewhat.” -- Consumer Guide
Acceleration and Power
The 2012 Ford F-150 stands out because of its excellent engine lineup. Test drivers say that even the base 3.7-liter V6, which makes 302 horsepower, accelerates with authority. Consumers looking for some added oomph can move up to the optional 5.0-liter V8 or 3.5-liter Ecoboost V6, which offer 360 and 365 horsepower, respectively. The top-of-the-line 411-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 is only available on the off-road-oriented SVT Raptor or more luxurious Lariat, Platinum and Harley-Davidson edition F-150. Though the Ecoboost V6 and the 5.0-liter V8 both have similar horsepower, their biggest difference is torque: the Ecoboost has 420 pound-feet of twist, compared with the V8’s 380 pound-feet.
All engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with an electronic gear selector. While most cars feature a manual mode to enhance sportiness, the F-150’s manual option is intended to give the driver more control while towing and hauling.
According to the EPA, the base V6 engine gets 17/23 mpg city/highway with two-wheel drive and 16/21 mpg city/highway with four-wheel drive. Two-wheel drive Ecoboost V6 models net 16/22 mpg city/highway, while four-wheel drive models net 15/21 mpg city/highway. The 5.0-liter V8 engine gets 15/21 mpg city/highway when paired with two-wheel drive and 14/19 mpg city/highway with four-wheel drive. The 6.2-liter V8 gets a dismal 13/18 mpg city/highway in two-wheel drive models, and an even worse 12/16 mpg city/highway when paired with four-wheel drive.
Test drivers say that even the base engine is capable, and that there are enough choices for consumers to decide whether they want to prioritize fuel economy or towing capacity. However, one reviewer notes that while the Ecoboost engine strikes a good balance between being brawny and miserly, its fuel economy doesn’t quite live up to the hype that Ford launched it with.
- "The base 3.7-liter V6 has enough muscle to move a 2WD crew cab truck and two passengers, but it never quite manages to feel quick. The 5.0-liter V8 is notably stronger in any situation, with satisfying grunt. The available 3.5-liter turbocharged EcoBoost V6 is impressively strong.” -- Consumer Guide
- "EcoBoost doesn't deliver on fuel-economy promises.” -- Car and Driver
- "The low-end torque means you can keep your revs down and there's no such thing as turbo lag with the (Ecoboost) truck's performance. Ninety percent of the engine torque kicks in at 1,700 rpm and holds until 5,000 rpm. Most engines need much higher rpm to reach their full potential.” -- The Detroit News
Handling and Braking
The 2012 Ford F-150 handles competently for a full-size truck. Some reviewers say the Ram 1500 offers a more compliant ride, though most agree that the F-150 is comfortable. Critics also have mixed feelings on the electric power steering system which they say lacks road feel. F-150 trucks with the 6.2-liter V8 continue to use a hydraulic steering pump, which may help the steering feel a bit more communicative. Test drivers note that the F-150’s brakes are strong and effective, though not as linear as they might like.
- "Like other big pickups, F-150 is ponderous. The steering is nicely boosted at low speeds with firmer action on the highway. The brakes can be touchy to modulate.” -- Consumer Guide
- "This truck needed only 176 feet to stop from 70 mph, although it needed a few tries to get heat into the brakes and tires before performing its best. Note to those who will need to perform a panic stop: It will behoove you to practice panicking a couple of times immediately before you do so for real.” -- Car and Driver
- “Instead, each and every version of the F-150 we've driven offered exceptional ride quality, no shudders, hops or hiccups, and a level of quiet that was startling." – Kelley Blue Book
- "While all-around ride quality is good, the F-150’s still don't top Ram pickups equipped with well located coil-sprung rear axles." – Automobile Magazine
- "While we generally liked the new steering, in some of the trucks we drove, such as the 3.7-liter V-6, the steering felt too light and overboosted during low-speed driving around tight turns until we got used to it.” -- PickupTrucks.com
The reviewers who took the 2012 F-150 off the beaten path were impressed with its capabilities. Four-wheel drive is available on all trims, and the F-150 SVT Raptor is expressly designed for off-road use. The Raptor comes with special bodywork and more than 11 inches of suspension travel front and rear, and is meant to be a turn-key desert-racing truck.
- “It's in off-road driving where Raptor truly shines. It can tame the most severe conditions, inspiring even novice drivers with high levels of confidence.” -- Consumer Guide
- "Not only will the [Raptor] cruise over rocky terrain, but Wal-Mart parking islands and slow-moving Smart cars shouldn't pose a problem either. Will it be able to outrun homeland security and bound over a border fence? We'll just have to wait and see!" -- Maxim
Consumers looking to tow will likely want to bypass the base V6 in favor of the optional 5.0-liter V8 or 3.5-liter Ecoboost V6, which offer 10,000 pounds and 11,300 pounds of towing capacity, respectively. The top-of-the-line 6.2-liter V8 can also tow 11,300 pounds, but is only available on the Lariat, Platinum and Harley-Davidson edition F-150, as well as the off-road-oriented SVT Raptor.
- “In towing demonstrations organized by Ford, EcoBoost-powered F-150s navigated rolling sections of freeway with ease while pulling 6900-pound trailers.” -- Consumer Guide
- "Pulling a 10,000-pound trailer, the EcoBoost powered F-150 never hesitated up big hills at Ford's Michigan Proving Grounds in Romeo. (It's rated to handle up to 11,300 pounds.) Maybe the eco-part of the boost happens every time you find yourself pulling your foot off of the accelerator because you think you're going too fast.” -- The Detroit News
- "We drove several F-150 models, as well as competitive trucks, both unladen and towing trailers weighing up to 6700 pounds, and the EcoBoost felt noticeably strong and never seemed to run out of breath." – Car and Driver
- "Perhaps most impressive was the towing demonstration in which we hauled 20-foot trailers with absolutely zero drama, thanks in large part to the pickup's trailer sway control, rearview camera and integrated trailer brake controller." – Kelley Blue Book
- "The EcoBoost V-6 lived up to its expectations of V-8 like pulling performance towing trailers, but in our opinion it felt more like a small-displacement V-8 instead of large-displacement engine.” -- PickupTrucks.com