- The Washington Times - Friday, March 20, 2009

If a truck is going to be this big, it should be used for doing big jobs.

But what does one do with a supersized luxury truck such as the Ford F-150 Platinum? If it’s going to be used for work, then I’m of the mind that it’s ridiculous to be so opulent.

I deliberately asked Ford to put me in the grandest of all Ford F-150 regular pickups - the Platinum - specifically to see how over the top you can get with the redesigned 2009 F-Series when the equation includes the most-powerful F-150 engine (5.4-liter, 320-horsepower V-8) and the roomiest body style/bed combo (SuperCrew/6.5 feet).

Back in the go-go 1990s, which were filled with supersized SUVs such as the Cadillac Escalade and Ford Excursion, this F-150 Platinum luxoliner would have had your neighbors clucking with envy.

But that was the ‘90s. Today is a different story.

Now the neighbor’s home equity is under water - along with the polar ice caps - and they sneer with the same contempt they reserve for the Hummer crowd.

The absolute size of this F-150 at 20 feet long - I kid you not - is the visible outrageousness that seems to cause most of the outrage. And don’t even let your neighbors see you get into the cab with the aid of the power-actuated running boards. Thank goodness the masses aren’t hip to the Platinum’s $46,000 price, or they’d be at my doorstep with pitchforks and torches to forever cleanse my home of consumptive depravity.

But I found plenty to like about the redesigned F-150, particularly inside with the Platinum trim level, which delivers all sorts of fine-looking wood and metal-looking inserts and a pair of leather-swathed, heated-and-cooled front captain’s seats so coddling and densely over-engineered they feel more like something Chuck Yeager would have been strapped into to test his capacity for G-forces.

Gotta like the thoughtful little details, too, such as the mini video that magically appears in the rearview mirror to aid reversing (teamed with backup sensors that give audible proximity warnings), the step just behind the rear door to assist reaching into the bed and slides in and out at the tap of your foot.

Ford’s exclusive Sync onboard integration for your personal electronic devices is always a treat, but considering the near-psychotic price of the Platinum trim, I was astonished Ford’s superb Sony-supplied navigation system/butt-kicker stereo remains an option.

Those big SuperCrew rear doors open to a rear seat with more leg room than a Mercedes S-Class. And this thing actually goes where you point it, a triumph of steering feel and linearity that’s never been a strong point of pickup driving dynamics.

The brake pedal feels spongy, though, forcing you to press much too far and insistently to achieve the deceleration to which you feel entitled in a vehicle that weighs nigh on 3 tons. Ford makes noise about the fancy “quiet” glass that makes up the windshield, but this test truck had a noticeable air “leak” somewhere in that area.

Look, we’re back to the original issue: All the luxury appointments in a $40,000-plus pickup such as the F-150 Platinum Lariat are great for taking care of you while you ride around. But that’s the point - you’re riding around, not doing pickup truck business. There are more effective and enjoyable ways to surround yourself in premium-ness than doing so in a 20-foot pickup that can tow 11,000 pounds.

Everyday versions of the re-engineered 2009 F-150 can do all sorts of useful pickup things. There was a time when combining that capability with limousine-like trappings seemed like a good idea. But times have changed. Lincolns should be Lincolns - and Ford pickups should be pickups.

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