Built Ford Tough demonstration (video)
UAE event claims toughest trucks mantle for Ford range
By Shahzad Sheikh
We spent a day up in the Hatta Hills recently with Ford to discover why the US giant insists its trucks are tougher than any of it rivals.
Special guest Rick Titus and his very special claims
There were two things that stuck in the memory at the end of a long hot day, and both involved a special guest the people from Ford had flown over. Rick Titus has his own Wiki-entry, and according to that he is a racing driver turned motoring journalist and hosts the ‘Drivers Talk Radio’ show. He’s also been head of engineering at an automotive accessories company.
Having written extensively for magazines such as Motor Trend, Popular Mechanics, Road & Track and amongst others, he is also listed as ‘a spokesman for Ford Motor Company’. Hence his presence at the Ford event in Dubai.
‘Toyota Tundras are crap’
So what were the two things? First that the ‘Toyota Tundra was the worst truck of all’, and that the Silverado had very poor crash safety structure at the front. These were quite some claims and required further investigation.
Titus explained that the frame of a Tundra used a C-Channel structure, which meant it was prone to flexing and rust. A quick search on the interweb reveals that Toyota did indeed have huge problems with the frame, and at one point were recalling and replacing frames on Tundras at a huge cost of $10,000 per vehicle. But this seems to have affected mostly first generation Tundras from 2000-2003.
Is the Silverado unsafe?
Far more serious perhaps was the claim that there was no crash structure behind the front fenders of the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and in fact that the only thing they did was ‘hold up the radiator’. When I specifically asked if he was suggesting that the Silverado had no accident crumple zone he replied ‘you are the crumple zone’.
In fact it appears that in the crash safety testing by the IIHS in the States (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), the safety for the Frontal Offset Test (which is what Titus was referring too) was indeed judged as ‘Marginal’ – which is only one up from ‘Poor’.
It found that the there was footwell and instrument panel intrusion and the driver’s seat also came loose and pitched forward. Having said that it also stated ‘Measures taken from the dummy indicate a low risk of any significant injuries in a crash of this severity.‘
However, and this is a big HOWEVER, this report refers to the 1999-2006 Silverado. The same test on the 2007-2012 model year vehicle obtained a ‘Good’ rating – the best achievable. Something Titus neglected to mention.
Admittedly he did state that the tests and analysis that Titus carried out date back several years, but the fact that he was pointing at and referring to a current generation Ford F-150 certainly gave the impression he was talking about current generation vehicles.
Anyway, here’s the full series of videos based on the tests he did on 2009 model year trucks:
2012 F-Series powertrain overhaul
So what of the Ford trucks themselves? Well I’m not so sure it was necessary to highlight faults in other brand trucks to illustrate the superiority of the Ford trucks. In fact there’s no question that F-series is just about one of the toughest, most durable of the American full-size pick-ups. It comes in an incredibly extensive range of flavours, is hugely versatile and unsurprisingly, is America’s best-selling truck for 35 straight years (15 million sold in the past decade alone)!
With powertrain updates for the latest model year, the F-series gets both the Mustang engines, the 3.7-litre V6 and the 5.0-litre V8, as well as a monster 6.2-litre V8. All engines now come with six-speed automatic transmissions.
The V6 gives 302bhp at 6500rpm, 278lb ft of torque 4000rpm and is capable of 2767kg maximum trailer tow; the 5.0 produces 360bhp at 5500rpm, 380lb ft at 4250rpm and is capable of 4535kg trailer tow; while the 6.2 producing 411bhp at 5500rpm and 434lb ft at 4500rpm is capable of 5125kg trailer tow.
Trailer towing and payload
Why am I mentioning Trailor tow weights? We don’t normally talk about that sort of thing, do we?
Well because Ford were keen to demonstrate the trucks’ abilities claiming best in class towing, payload, horsepower and fuel-economy across all engines. So first up, we drove out onto the roads towing a load of stuff. Interesting because I’ve never actually towed a trailer before, and also completely useless at the same time because I’ve never actually towed a trailer before. So I had no frame of reference to compare it.
What I can tell you is that it’s got some pretty clever kit on it that helps with towing including Integrated Trailer Brake Control and Trailer Sway Control. Basically it manages the braking on the trailer (if it’s hooked up properly); also handles the engine braking, slipping down a gear with a mere stab of the brake pedal; and the Sway control uses a combination of ABS, EBD and stability control systems to keep from everything getting a little too unsettled if, for example, the trailer gets hit by a strong gust of wind.
We also got to drive them around with one-ton loads in the back. Again it’s hard to know how well they performed because we didn’t try the trucks without the loads first and also we had no rivals to compare them against. But even the Ranger did alright with that load, only really feeling it on the inclines. But then these trucks are meant to be able to haul loads.
Ah yes, the Ranger
They also laid on manual base-model Ranger pick-ups in the driving sessions, it was the 2.5-litre 166bhp petrol but also available are a 2.2 (150bhp) and 3.2 (200bhp) Diesel engines which can also be had with six-speed automatics in two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive.
Interestingly Rangers are being pitched at both ends of the market, both as fleet fodder to take on the likes of Hilux (which it’s claimed it undercuts pricewise) and as a leisure lifestyle vehicle with all the bells and whistles.
So for the off-road test, basically through gravel and over rocks, it was the first car I jumped in. And with its more compact dimensions, good ride height, more feelsome chassis and frankly less drivers’ aids, it was both entertaining and satisfying to take into the rough stuff.
But whilst the F-150s were bigger and perhaps a little more daunting on the same route, the smoother ride, greater power, tougher feel meant you could put your foot down a little more, bounce about and generally have a laugh without risk of injury to yourself or damage to the vehicle.
If the regular truck is this good, wonder what the legendary F-150 Raptor is like? Sadly we didn’t get to find out because, whilst there were two there (looking magnificent in white and blue), we weren’t getting to drive them.
Sob, sob… Just why do you think I dragged myself out of bed at 5:30 in the morning to get all the way out to Hatta, hey Ford?!
Verdict… sort of…
So there you have it, at this event no opportunity was missed to drive home Ford’s message that they make the toughest, most powerful and best trucks of all. Since we weren’t able to test them against rivals or even drive them in normal conditions, we’d have to take their word for it. Truth be told both Ranger and F-150s acquitted themselves very well all day, and there is definitely a huge desirability factor with the F. The mighty-looking Super Duty F-350s were also on display, but we didn’t get to drive them either, though they really are gargantuan!
We’ll try to bring you real world tests of the Ranger and F-150 (hopefully the Raptor) very soon, in the meantime, here are some prices (all prices in UAE Dirhams) and specs for you:
F-150 2012MY (Prices in UAE Dirhams)
5.0L V8 4×4 XLT Crew Cab (Style Side) 145″ Clth AT (Fleet basic spec) 115,000
3.7L V6 4×4 XLT Regular Cab SYNC (Style Side) 126″ Moto-X Cloth AT 119,000
5.0L V8 4×4 XLT R/Cab SYNC (Style Side) 126″ Moto-X Hi Rider 20″ Black Alloys Clth AT 160,000
5.0L V8 4×4 XLT R/Cab SYNC (Style Side) 126″ Moto-X Hi Rider 20″ Chrome Alloys Clth AT 160,000
5.0L V8 4×4 XLT Crew Cab SYNC (Style Side) 145″ Cloth AT 125,000
5.0L V8 4×4 XLT Crew Cab SYNC (Style Side) 145″ + Chrome Package Cloth AT 135,000
5.0L V8 4×4 FX4 S/Cab SYNC (Style Side) 145″ Hi-Rider 20″ Black Alloys Lthr AT 175,000
5.0L V8 4×4 FX4 S/Cab SYNC (Style Side) 145″ Hi-Rider 20″ Chrome Alloys Lthr AT 175,000
5.0L V8 4×4 Lariat Crew Cab SYNC MR (Style Side) King Ranch 145″ Lthr AT 170,000
6.2L V8 4×4 Lariat Crew Cab SYNC MR (Style Side) Platinum Pkg 145″ Lthr AT 195,000
6.2L V8 4×4 Harley Davidson C/Cab SYNC MR Style Side 145″ Lthr AT 195,000
6.2L V8 Raptor Super Cab MR SYNC (Style Side 133″) Full Option Lthr AT 260,000
6.2L V8 Raptor Super Crew MR SYNC (Style Side 145″) Full Option Lthr AT 270,000
F-350 2012MY (Prices in UAE Dirhams)
6.7L Diesel 4×4 XL Crew Cab 172 SRW Cloth AT 185,000
6.2L Diesel 4×4 XL Crew Cab 172 DRW Cloth AT 190,000
6.2L Petrol 4×4 XL Crew Cab 172 DRW Cloth AT 185,000
F-550 2012MY (Prices in UAE Dirhams)
6.7L Diesel 4×4 XL Reg Cab Ch 201 DRW Cloth AT 190,000
Ranger 2012MY (Prices in UAE Dirhams)
2.5L Petrol 4×2 Base Single Cab Cloth MT 60,000
2.5L Petrol 4×2 Base Double Cab Cloth MT 71,000
2.5L Petrol 4×2 Base Double Cab Hi Rider ABS + Air Bags Cloth MT 77,000
2.5L Petrol 4×4 Base Double Cab Hi-Rider ABS + Air Bags Cloth MT 79,000
2.5L Petrol 4×4 XLT D/Cab Hi Rider ABS + Air Bags Sport Bar + Side Steps Clth MT 92,000
2.2L Diesel 4×4 Base Double Cab Hi Rider ABS + Air Bags Cloth MT 82,000
3.2L Diesel 4×4 XLT D/Cab Hi Rider ABS + Air Bags Sport Bar, Side Steps Cloth AT 100,000
3.2L Diesel 4×4 WildTrak Double Cab Cloth MT 112,000