DETROIT -- The 2009 Ford F-150 Lariat was an extraordinarily great pickup truck. It’s hard to believe that it was meant to haul anything.
Let's see, my test vehicle had heated and cooled front seats, USB and auxiliary jacks, satellite radio, a rearview camera with the screen in the rearview mirror, a power sliding rear window, chrome step bar, 20-inch aluminum wheels, leather trimmed captain's chairs, an in-dash six disc CD changer with W/MP3 capability, a reverse sensing system and a garage door opener for good measure.
And that wasn't all the equipment. It was also equipped with adjustable pedals, power folding heated side view mirrors with puddle lamps, dual climate controls, a tire pressure monitoring system, trailer sway control and trailer towing package as well as Ford's sync voice activated control system which included Bluetooth that turns compatible cell phones into hands free car phones.
Oh, my test vehicle was also a super crew which meant that it had second row seats. When I got back there I found more head, leg and hip room than would be in the back seat of a full-size sedan.
However, make no mistake; the F-150 Lariat could pull truck duty. It had a 320 horsepower V8 that made 390 pound-feet of torque. The engine was mated to a six speed automatic transmission. This truck could tow 9,800 lbs. But since it was a 4X2, I don't think it was meant to do heavy lifting on a regular basis.
The Lariat, it seems to me, was meant for folks who want to use a pickup truck as a personal vehicle. And it was good. The truck was very impressive on the road. Acceleration on expressways was quick. Power was effortlessly put to the wheels. Several times I looked up and I was doing 80 mph on the Davidson Freeway.
Pickup trucks have come a long way. The F-150's ride wasn't sedan like but it wasn't the rough and tumble bump and grind that you'd normal associate with a pickup. It was relatively smooth on the pavement.
Handling was relatively easy; although I had to remember that I was driving a pickup truck and make sure that I didn't cut corners short with the 5 ft. 5 in. bed. The F-150 was also equipped with a memory driver's seat.
There was no navigation system. Still, I found the controls a bit confusing. There are a lot of buttons in the F-150 Lariat. It makes sense to read the owner's manual. Ford says more than 30 storage areas are built into the interior, ranging from a bin on the top of the instrument panel to a number of small spaces designed to accommodate tools like cell phones, MP3 players, PDAs and gate access cards.
A redesigned, more ergonomic shifter remains on the console. The interior also retains the circular air vents that have become a hallmark of F-150 design, but they now feature a small tab mounted inside to help more easily direct air flow.
New, larger buttons and switches are ergonomically designed and within easy reach and view of the driver. The USB port and auxiliary MP3 player input are conveniently mounted on the dash. Two 12-volt outlets are easy to reach: one on the dash and one in the center console.
The point is that the F-150 is designed for the owner who is wants to haul passengers in comfort and cargo with ease. My test vehicle was $39,935.