Nowhere in the automotive world are the differences between the bottom and top ends of a model range so pronounced as with pickup trucks. The most basic pickups have exactly zero frills, manual everything and interiors crude enough to be hosed out after a long day’s work.
On the other end of the spectrum is what some refer to as “city slicker trucks,” vehicles loaded to the gills with soft, French-stitched leather, shiny chrome wheels and as much advanced technology as your typical Mercedes-Benz.
Read on to see just how many features (and how much money) separate the high and low-end versions of the best selling pickup in America, the Ford F-150.
Base: The Perfect Work Truck
The cheapest Ford F-150 money can buy is the $22,790 XL model with a two-door regular cab, two-wheel-drive and a 6.5-foot bed. Not too long ago, most pickups resembled this bare bones truck: heavy-duty vinyl seating, roll-up windows and manual locks, steel wheels and bare plastic bumpers. Comfort features are limited to manual air conditioning, an am/fm radio (no CD player) and a digital clock.
However, the most basic of F-150s belies its low price with a potent powertrain: providing motivation is a thoroughly modern 3.7-liter V6 capable of 302 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, the motor hustles the truck to a zero-to-60 mph time in the mid-seven second range, which is fast enough to keep up with the V8-powered F-150 from only several years back. Fuel economy is also impressive, with its 17 mpg city and 23 mpg highway ratings tops among all full-size pickups. Towing capacity, at 5500 pounds, is merely adequate, but as long as hauling heavy boats isn’t a primary goal, the simple, rugged and powerful F-150 XL is a good choice for those seeking a minimalistic work truck.
Loaded: A $50,000+ Luxury Truck
Sitting at the pinnacle of the F-150 model range is the Harley Davidson model, which runs a staggering $53,856 with all available options. That price nets a four-door, four-wheel drive truck with a 5.5-foot bed and a mind-boggling amount of extras. On the outside, special graphics, badges and huge 22-inch chrome wheels pay homage to the truck’s namesake, while under the hood a throaty, 411 horsepower 6.2-liter V8 makes almost as much noise as a performance motorcycle when given the spurs. Zero-to-sixty mph flies by in a touch over six seconds and towing capacity is a useful 7500 pounds, but don’t ask about the fuel economy.
It’s inside the Harley Davidson model where things start to get truly hedonistic. Step into the cabin with the help of the power-deployable running boards and the first sign that this is a different kind of pickup are the heated and cooled leather bucket seats. Another indicator is the infotainment system, which includes (deep breath) a GPS-based navigation system, a premium Sony sound system, HD radio, 10 GB of music storage, real-time traffic updates and even the capability to play DVD movies. Helping the big truck back up is a camera system with a color display on the navigation screen, and once things are underway a power sunroof gives a feeling of being in the open air. Overall, the interior of the Harley Davidson model wouldn’t be out of place in a German luxury sedan.
The F-150 XL and Harley Davidson models bear so little relation to one another that they hardly even seem to be variants of the same truck. Separated by a $20,000 difference in price, one pickup is built for work and work alone, while the other is equally suited to impressing in-laws with its cosseting cabin or hauling a bed full of lumber. What the existence of these trucks (and the myriad models positioned between them) seems to indicate is that no matter what a customer’s needs might be, Ford has a F-150 to fit the bill.
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