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I’m not sure what it is about the starter on the F-150, but each time I turned the key the first several notes of the engine cranking made me think of a diesel Super Duty powering up - in a way that was aurally pleasing, not like, Snap! I didn’t give the glow plugs time to warm up - before giving way to the smooth idle of the truck’s 5.4-liter 300 horsepower Triton V8.
Equipped with optional 3.73 rear axle and a tow rating of 9,200 pounds, this truck split the difference between hauler and daily driver quite well. Its 365 lb-feet of torque delivers highway speeds quickly but fuel efficiency lagged at a paltry average of 13.2 miles per gallon, according to the KR's onboard trip computer. I like the look and feel of the F-150’s console mounted chrome baseball bat gear selector but I think the truck and driver both deserve better than a straight-line floor shifter and four speed transmission. In comparison, the Tundra’s six-speed gated console shifter offers better accuracy moving the stick through the gears, it lets drivers ‘manumatically’ shift by tapping the stick up or down while driving, and the extra two steps in the gearbox help return better mileage.
During the week I had the truck, it stuck to passenger duty only – no towing or lugging anything greater than the family and some groceries. On the pavement the King Ranch handled well for such a large truck, with only a hint of understeer and a firm, but not jolting, ride when empty. I did have time for light duty off-roading through Sonoma County, but nothing that came close to challenging the truck’s native 4H capabilities or requiring the deep grunt torque of the KR’s 4L setting. In past drives of the F-150 we’ve thrown it in deep mud and difficult terrain and never been disappointed with the results. This is one king who enjoys having some mud thrown its way, but you’re going to feel guilty putting dirty boots on its plush carpet if you have to get out of the truck when you’re off the pavement.
As you’d expect, parking the 224-inch King Ranch can be a challenge but rear sensors help guide the truck in and out of a stall at the general store using sonar cues when you can’t see what’s behind your tail. Having the navigation double up to provide a rear view when backing up would be a very desirable feature on a truck this pricey.
Overall, the King Ranch F-150 occupies a very narrow and exclusive niche amongst full size pickups. It’s beautifully crafted but still very functional. With a price tag just a hair under $45Gs, you’ll have to pay a king’s ransom to own it. The reward is that once inside you’ll feel like royalty driving it.
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