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Ford has more to say about the F-150 than only promoting its new features and models.

Even though it debuted ‘way-back’ in the 2004 model year, the current F-150 continues to excel in certain areas where the 2007 Toyota Tundra, in particular, doesn’t.  One of those areas is the frame – the foundation for any pickup’s towing, crash safety, and ride and handling capabilities.

In a graphic demonstration of torsional load balancing and stiffness, Ford placed bare frames from the 2007 F-150 and Tundra side-by-side, to point out the differences in engineering and build. 250-pounds of weights were attached to the left rear portion of each chassis and the amount frame flex was measured. The C-channel, riveted cross member construction of the Tundra’s chassis flexed 3.2-inches under the load versus only .86-inches of bend in the fully boxed, welded cross member build of the F-150’s. In pictures the amount of visual flex in the Tundra’s frame is quite dramatic.

Ford also highlighted the greater width, torque and load bearing capacities of its rear leaf springs and sturdier leaf spring bolts, versus the narrower width leaf springs and thinner bolts used in the Tundra and Chevy Silverado.

The Blue Oval crew is so confident in the F-150’s frame and rear suspension components that it’s buffing up the truck’s tow rating for 2008 to 11,000 pounds – the most in the half-ton segment, for now.

The next year is going to be extremely difficult for Ford to maintain its pole position in the full size truck market. F-Series sales in the first quarter of 2007 were down almost 14% versus 2006 volumes. These new features and models aren’t likely to reverse that trend but quite possibly they’ll help to slow it down enough to keep Ford’s sales lead until the all new 2009 F-150 appears.

And to help underscore the point that the new truck is coming soon, as we walked around and drove the 2007 and 2008 models, tarped-up 2009 mules and prototypes zoomed around the Dearborn test facility tracks in full view of all the journalists on hand.  It won’t be long before we’re crawling all over those trucks too.

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