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Cars of Summer: The Ford F-150 King Ranch Goes to Camp

For most people, summer is driving season-- day trips, road trips, drives to the beach, festivals, fairs, visiting friends and commuting in the bright sunshine. This summer, U.S. News is putting the cars we test through their summer paces and giving you tips and advice for making the most of your summer driving. In this installment, the Ford F-150 heads to the ultimate summer destination: camp.

The Ford F-150 King Ranch is a beautiful truck inside and out. But 600 miles with this gentle giant made me wonder whether its coddled interior would interfere with its capabilities. Visiting the Maryland summer camp where I worked in college, I tiptoed across twisty gravel roads I usually race through, since this truck was so wide, so expensive and so not mine. Still, I was surprised at how well the King Ranch smoothed out the bumps in the washed-out back roads nearby.

I usually help out when I visit the camp by hauling tents around or moving picnic tables, but I didn’t this time. Besides not wanting to scratch the bed (the King Ranch didn’t have a bedliner), I was worried about getting it dirty. The carpet on the floor inside the cabin was a beautiful cream color that would quickly show signs of dirt, and the leather seats didn’t look ideal for people in their third week of living in canvas tents in the woods. Comparing this truck with the no-frills, extended-bed 2007 Ford F-250 the camp ranger drove was like comparing a tuxedo with a pair of overalls. No one wants to get down and dirty while wearing a bow tie and a cummerbund.

Instead of getting a $50,400 King Ranch, I could buy both a base Ford F-150 XL for work and an Acura TSX for comfort. But for those of us who love brawny trucks but secretly miss city comforts like leather seats and sunroofs, the Ford F-150 King Ranch is a great weekend warrior that meshes those alter egos.

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