Ford F-150 Harley Davidson — Driving the four-wheeled 'Hog'

By Al Vinikour

Ever since I was a nine-year-old kid and saw the movie The Wild Ones with Marlon Brando I’ve been a big fan of Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Also, ever since I was a nine-year-old kid I’ve been something of a “girly man.” I’ve only ridden on two motorcycles in my life (both times when I was in high school) and both times I had no need for a laxative.

However, when I had the opportunity to test-drive Ford’s 2011Harley-Davidson F-150…I WAS THERE!!! (After all…wouldn’t it have four wheels and an enclosed cabin?) When this mean-looking tuxedo black metallic “monster” was delivered to me I was as excited as Sonny Barger of Hells Angels fame must have been the day he was released from prison.

There is no mistaking the Harley-Davidson F-150. Even a burn-out could sense its power and hear its rumble blocks away. Harley-Davidson’s bar & shield logo is found on everything from the wheel ornaments to inserts on the premium leather heated and cooled seating.

This is not old Farmer Armstrong’s pickup. New graphics on the hood and body side of the truck are executed in an engine-turned finish and feature dimensional satin chrome “Harley-Davidson” lettering. Interior trim panels are covered in Tuxedo Black Paint as well, while the door scuff plate and the console also feature the engine-turned finish. 

The first thing one becomes aware of (after needing a cigarette upon hearing the awesome-sounding burble of the specially-tuned exhaust system) is just how quick this truck is. It’s equipped with Ford’s 6.2-liter two-valve , two spark plugs per cylinder V8 that pumps out a “respectable” 411 horsepower and 434 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated to a six-speed automatic overdrive transmission and is available in RWD or AWD. It also has a 3.73:1 limited slip axle. The vehicle sits atop 22-inch polished forged aluminum wheels and P275/45R-22 all-season BSW tires.

I was rather impressed with the ride. Unlike the kidney-shattering jolts I expected when driving through some rough patches of road the Harley-Davidson F-150 handled them solidly and there was no indication the steering wheel wanted to go out and seek a life of its own. It’s obvious the truck is fast…it’s reassuring to feel solidity as well. 

Power, slide-out running boards are available when the doors are open. Good thing because it aids in climbing in and out of this big guy. I would like to see the inclusion of a grip bar on the driver’s side. Currently the only assist in that area is the steering wheel.  There are a host of standard technology features like power moonroof, rear view camera, second-row heated seats, ambient lighting, remote start system and voice-activated touch-screen Navigation System.

Safety-wise it comes with 4-wheel disc brakes w/ABS, Safety Canopy side-curtain airbags, SecuriLock anti-theft engine immobilizer system, SOS Post-Crash Alert System, Ford’s exclusive MyKey and a host of other technology one would expect on this vehicle.

It comes in two versions: either a SuperCrew RWD or SuperCrew AWD. There’s enough interior room to open a Biker Bar. The front row has 41.4-inches of legroom and the rear row has 43.5-inches. This truck truly seats five adults comfortably. There’s a huge center storage console with a cloisonné  Harley-Davidson badge inlaid over a brushed-satin finish plate.

The instrument panel, centerstack, redundant steering wheel controls and even the positioning of the gearshift selector alongside two massive cupholders in the floor console are exceptionally user-friendly.

There are blind spots on both sides of the truck. I would like to see standard BLIS (Blind Sport Information System) available because that would more than eliminate this deficiency. As mentioned, it has a rear-view camera but that won’t do you any good when a car is moving alongside your “3” or “9” position. I don’t know if there’s a proper term for those little square-shaped projection mirrors that give an elongated view of what’s alongside and behind you so I’ll just call them “Third-World BLIS Systems." I’ve never been much of a fan of those things but I found myself heavily depending on them when I was in traffic.

It has a GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) of 7,250 pounds (7,350 for AWD) and a curb weight of 5,777 pounds (6,052 for AWD). It has a 7,500 towing capacity (7,200 for AWD). Trailer Sway Control and Trailer Towing Package are standard.

You’re probably thinking the gas mileage isn’t that great. It depends on what your definition of “isn’t that great” is. EPA ratings for the Harley-Davidson F-150 are 12 mpg city and 16 mpg highway. It has a 36-gallon tank so you’ll at least have a range of around 400 miles and if you want to drive to an Iron Coffin Motorcycle Club meeting in some other state you might get almost 600 miles on the same tank. 

My test vehicle only came with two options — a Pickup Bed Extender ($250) and a must-have Tailgate Step ($375). Everything else is standard. It should be because the MSRP of this truck is $51,140, so after adding destination and delivery charges of $975 my test vehicle bottom-lined at $52,740.

I’ve always said I could listen to the firing sequence of a Harley all day. I could also drive the Harley-Davidson F-150 all day and unlike holding on to the handlebars of a Harley chopper, feeling the wind rush through my armpits, I’d be sitting in air-conditioned comfort listening to a Golden Oldies station on the stereo system and not once have to worry about a bug committing suicide on my teeth.