Solidly built with pleasantly luxurious interior, the truck is brilliantly simple but brutally powerful. So charming and irresistible that Alvin Thomas almost bought one while on a test drive
An American truck with a V8 engine and a cab in the back doesn’t seem like a recipe that would normally fare well with the audience in the Sultanate. However, despite all its oddities, it’s one of the best-selling class of vehicles in Oman and elsewhere in the GCC.
While this tones down cash-crunch and dwindling car sales talks in the region, there’s no doubt that the reason for its success is the residents’ fondness of the humble pickup truck.
But don’t be fooled: The American truck revels in a rather interesting market segment in this country. People use them as lifestyle vehicles more so than for their functionality – and that’s what makes my tester Ford F-150 even more desirable by people of all spectrums.
Then again, there’s no denying that there are strong cues Ford puts in its truck to set it apart from the competing trucks from Japan and even Europe. That’s also why the Ford F-150 is the best-selling truck of all time, and the F-Series the second best-selling car… in the world.
So, hopping into the truck (quite literally) gives you a sense of entitlement; something your average sedan cannot offer. The F-150 ticks all the right boxes too: It’s large, tall and very muscular.
While all of that makes for the perfect highway bully, it’s still gracious to look at. Dare I say: You can actually form a bond with this car.
Its design, for instance, is amiable. The C-shaped lights upfront may be large, but there are no sharp LEDs (in the base variant) to pierce through the retinas of passersby on the road. And even the fog lamps on the steel bumper is understated.
The grille, for obvious purposes, is gaping to allow for maximum cooling of the engine inside. My tester came with a black plastic grille, but you can obviously equip yours with in-your-face chrome, if need be.
The side profile, again, is nothing far from low-key. Everything is as you’d expect it to be in a truck. The panels are all hefty, thick and contoured for best effect, and even panel gaps are kept to a minimum. Our decently specced “XLT” model also came fitted with the “FX4” package, which, apart from a wealth of mechanical additions, also came with “4X4” badging on the sides.
The rear is where things get interesting. The XLT ‘SuperCrew’ variant provides adequate space for cargo – it’s a pickup after all. The bed volume stands at 1,500 litres, which is the well within, if not better than, the industry standards.
The interior of the F-150 is a nice place to be. There’s none of that plebian-ness that is usually associated with American trucks. Sure, you get to see a lot of plastic on the panels in the base variant, but Ford will chuck in soft-padding on the doors and centre console on other models.
My tester came fitted with soft and comfortable fabric seats that were supportive in sharp corners. The driver side seat was automated, which was a nice touch, but all other seats had to be manually operated (I’m not complaining, though).
Even the bone-stock F-150 imported to Oman comes equipped with SYNC3. At 4.2 inches, the accompanying screen lacks real estate and touch functionality, but it’s still fairly useful. The reverse camera feature, for instance, is a blessing in disguise. You can zoom into the screen to make sure that you aren’t flattening your neighbours cat.
The centre console takes you back to the good old days, too. The buttons are all large and chunky, and everything is where you’d expect it to be. The knobs that control your audio and a/c functions are sizeable, while the other buttons are well-labelled and easy to use while driving.
Mind you: Those buttons and knobs have nothing on the steering wheel in this truck. It’s large, thick-rimmed and has 20 functions fitted to it (!) Ford really went all out when crafting the interior of the truck.
But, then we move on to the largest component in the truck: Its engine. While Ford’s marketing team gallivants from country to country pushing buyers to opt for the marginally frugal Ecoboost V6 motor, the engineers still managed to cram in the 5.0-litre V8 into the XLT.
And joy of joys, it’s a brilliant motor. It cranks out 385hp and 525Nm of torque, and is mated to a potent six-speed automatic gearbox. Higher variants (Platinum, Raptor, and so on) can be had with a 10-speed gearbox.
During normal driving (when the knob is at ‘2H’), power is sent to the rear wheels only. This, coupled with the light rear end, means that you’ll be incurring some wheel spinning action during normal driving. But the traction control should keep you stable if it detects slip in corners.
Slamming the throttle will make way for some Hollywood-style burnouts and smoking tyres. But, given that the F-150 weighs in at 3,000kg, I would advise you not to attempt a burnout – unless you’re an oil baron with a hefty wallet for new tyres. And it won’t be cheap either: My tester came fitted with 285/65 Goodyear Wrangler off-road ready tyres.
The F-150 is brisk, no doubt. With just a hint of drama (i.e. if you can keep the ponies intact with no wheel spin), you can launch the truck from 0 to 100kph in about 6.5 seconds.
It’s smooth on the road too and lacks the floatiness associated with trucks of this size, but after spending time off-road, I concluded that the F-150 is even better suited on rough terrain.
Despite its long wheelbase, rocks, wadi stones and sand pose little to no challenge for the truck. And thanks to the addition of the “FX4” off-road package, my tester also received off-road suspension, a rear locking differential and skid plates for underbody protection. Ford also seems to have tweaked the differential to be able to cope with loose rocks.
The dedicated suspension system does increase body roll, though. Steering the F-150 isn’t an ordeal, courtesy its light steering. Not much feedback is translated to the driver on the road but is fairly intuitive while scaling rocks.
After a day in the F-150, however, I couldn’t help but be bowled over by its charm. Heck, I wanted to buy one – but only to be told that it’s a hassle to procure a licence to own a truck.
Even in base form (like my tester), the F-150 is a refined vehicle, with none of the usual drawbacks – that is seen on similar vehicles – making it to the final product. Its value is undeniable, making it a formidable alternative to, say, an SUV. And all of that, wrapped in this form factor, is only going to help Ford continue write its success story and, above all, carry forward its winning formula.