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There are now seven trims that include three work truck grades (XL, STX, and XLT), factory off-roader (FX4), and three upscale models (Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum).
Work trucks and the FX4 get three bar grilles, Lariat and King Ranch have two bar grilles, and Platinum has an exclusive single bar mesh grille that deletes the nostrils the other F-150 grilles share with the Super Duty. A new sculpted power-dome hood raises the truck's front profile two inches for more presence.
Redesigned tailgates combine new forms and functions.
Each tailgate features an abstraction of Ford’s three-bar grille. Bold character lines are stamped into the side of the tailgate. The lines flow around to the truck’s new tail lamps and curve up at the top to form a prominent spoiler that helps improve the truck’s aerodynamics. There's also space inside for an integrated tailgate step, like the Super Duty added for 2008. The Platinum tailgate features a unique brushed metal surface.
Further improving the effectiveness of the tailgate spoiler, Ford shaved 10-degrees off the center high mounted stoplight on the roof, so instead of having a flat housing over the cab brake light there's a slight downward slope that pushes air back more smoothly over the tail spoiler.
As we've already seen, the 2009 F-150's badges are new too. They've been inspired by big, Texas-style belt buckles. F-150 is spelled out in chunkier italic font with the trim level series designation inset in smaller type.
When Ford redesigned the F-150 for the 2004 model year, it changed the proportions of the truck to create a tougher profile. That meant raising the lip of the bed 2-inches, which made it more cumbersome and awkward to reach into the back of the box.
"When we introduced the taller pickup box on the 2004 F-150, we heard from customers that they loved the extra cargo capacity but they were having trouble accessing the box from the side," says Matt O’Leary, chief engineer of the 2009 Ford F-150. "We watched them try and jump up on the tire, use the edge of the running board or carry a milk crate to use as a step. They told us that we should just take the box height back down – but taking away cargo capacity from customers seemed counterintuitive, so we went to work on smart solutions that make the box even more functional."
So, to improve access to the bed, Ford has added "Box Side Steps" just ahead of the truck’s rear wheels. The steps are attached directly to the frame and are stowed away when not in use. They're manually deployed or folded with the push of a button on the edge of the step, using your foot. The 11-inch wide steps can support up to 500 pounds.
Ford carries over the cargo management system for the bed that first debuted in the 2008 F-150. The basic system comes with two side rails and a pair of cast aluminum cleats rated for 600-lbs. Available side-mounted, blow-molded plastic tool bins can hold up to 60-lbs and feature double-wall construction, providing a water-tight, thermal barrier that can even keep beverages cold.
Ford says the 2009 F-150 will continue to be the most capable towing rig in the half-ton segment. The company hasn't said publicly but we’re expecting the F-150 will continue to pull over 11,000-lbs in max towing configuration.