Test: 2006 Ford Harley Davidson F-150
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As a showcase for powertrain innovations, the 2006 F-150 Harley-Davidson breaks new ground with the availability of all-wheel-drive. That’s a first for any Ford pickup and another step in attracting active truckers in regions prone to inclement weather.
But the seventh edition of the alliance between Ford and Harley doesn’t push the styling envelope. The familiar deep black paint, large chrome wheels, orange graphics and leather/chrome interior trim returns. It’s a comfortable look and one that surely will appeal to Harley faithful. Maybe I’m getting a little jaded by the Harley-Davidson model, but finding aesthetic pleasure in another black-on-black truck is tough, especially when you look back at the surprises the Harley model has offered over the years.
Another disappointment is the return to the SuperCab configuration. The first H-D model in 2000 was a SuperCab followed by three years of SuperCrew models, and those were among the best-looking of any Harley-themed truck. The 2004 and 2005 models grew to Super Duty size as Ford needed a diversion to introduce the next generation F-150 platform. Ford is selling every SuperCrew it builds, so it stands to reason that the marketing department wants to inject some life in the dwindling SuperCab market by attaching the Harley badge to the fender. Ford, however, didn’t take that chance with the King Ranch edition.
The 2006 F-150 Harley-Davidson still commands attention even though the smaller configuration may not appeal to owners with families or lots of drinking buddies. The deep, rich black paint looks as glossy as ever and is accented by orange-trimmed-in-blue scallops. Gone are the lovable flames but the bold die-cast fender emblems continue to announce the package with authority.
The new 22-inch wheels are the highlight of the package. These forged alloy wheels are more contemporary in their styling and retain the 5-spoke tradition of the model. Considerable engineering was needed to adapt the huge wheels to the suspension and chassis.
“Large rims definitely can affect ride characteristics,” explains Gary Braddock, chief designer at Ford Product Design. “Jounce—up and down movement—is something you have to be especially aware of when putting larger rims on a truck. That is why the wheels are forged rather than cast. Forging produces a stronger aluminum, allowing us to use less material in the wheel and retain the strength without adding excess weight.”
Accenting the wheels and providing a little edge to the stance are chrome-trimmed side tubes and a lower, meaner looking chin spoiler.
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