- The Washington Times - Friday, July 13, 2007

Saddle up and we’ll take a ride in the King Ranch, which is an upscale version of the Ford F-150. And please, clean your boots before climbing aboard.

The rugs have an imprint that reads “King Ranch 1853,” which is an 825,000-acre ranch in Texas. But this report is not about a horse ranch, this is about the five- to six-passenger SuperCrew Cab truck with 300 horsepower.

Under the hood of the 2007 Ford F-150 King Ranch 4x4 is a 5.4-liter Triton V-8 engine that’s connected to a four-speed automatic transmission. The engine features three-valve design for optimal power and efficiency. It uses electronic throttle control, charge motion control and variable cam timing. The result is a powerful, smooth engine with great low-end torque, resulting in excellent acceleration.

I could have been towing a boat or hauling a load of dirt and still be able to enjoy quick acceleration. Yet I was seated in an environment that resembles a luxury limousine with an attractive instrument panel and easy to reach central control panel containing the navigational screen and sound system. On the outside were two power-folding heated mirrors.

The King Ranch 4x4 tester’s cargo bed was 5.5-foot-long and had a maximum loaded trailer weight rating of 8,200 pounds with the 3.55 rear axle. The trailer hooked up to a seven-pin hitch.

The captain’s chair front seats were covered with high-quality Costano leather with memory driver’s seat and manual lumbar control. Entrance through the rear door provided access to 60/40 split fold-up rear bench seats. To make entry easier, the King Ranch had Arizona beige running boards.

In spite of the upscale surroundings, this is a genuine F-150 work truck. It’s equipped with tow hooks, fog lamps, rear privacy glass, cruise control and a tilt steering wheel. It also features electronic automatic temperature controls, heated front seats, outside temperature and compass display.

It has four-wheel disc brakes and keyless entry, and the base price is $38,365. But the test truck had a load of options that brought the bottom line up to $44,945. Options included a power moon roof, sliding rear window, 20-inch six-spoke aluminum wheels, reverse sensing system and satellite radio, plus a navigational/audiophile system.

Gas mileage was nothing to brag about: 14 miles per gallon city and 18 mpg highway, but this mileage rating is to be expected of a truck that is a genuine workhorse.

Ford’s F-Series has a best-in-class payload of 3,050 pounds and towing of 11,000 pounds. The F-150 lineup also boasts of being the best-selling full-size pickup for the past 29 years, which is the culmination of “Built Ford Tough” reliability and power.

However, a more important concern is the safety and security. I was informed that the truck is built on strong hydroformed front frame rails to help manage crash forces in an impact. These areas of the frame are designed to collapse in accordion fashion, dissipating energy before it reaches the passenger compartment.

As a result, the F-150 is the only pickup in its class to earn the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s five-star rating in driver and front passenger frontal-crash testing and receive a “good” rating in frontal-offset-crash testing, performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

With this truck you’ll always be ready to go to a Friday night social dressed in tuxedo or a rugged day of work on the trail.

Regardless, one thing is for certain — you’ll always ride tall in the saddle.

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