When it comes to trucks and motorcycles there are no greater icons of American ingenuity and creativity than Harley Davidson and the Ford F-150. Quite frankly, both brands have such a strong pull with the buying public that it is a wonder they would ever become intertwined in any way.
But as the F-150 and Harley Davidson are both the leaders in their respective fields of expertise it does make for an interesting study in marketing synergy. So while there isn’t a Harley Davidson F-150 Edition motorcycle (that I am currently aware of, at least) you can go down to your local Ford dealer and pick up a 2010 (or soon 2011) F-150 Harley Davidson Edition.
The concept makes a lot of sense when you consider how many Harley owners tow their precious rides to events like the Motorcycle Rally that is held each year in Sturgis, Idaho. As Sturgis is quite a long drive from 99% of the U.S. population, most participants don’t ride their Harleys the whole way. And besides, you can’t strap a suitcase to the back of a Harley Davidson. Or at least you shouldn’t.
So the concept behind the 2010 Ford F-150 Harley Davidson makes perfect sense but is it a relevant improvement on the proven formula that has made this pickup truck a best seller for decades? Read on to find out.
Exterior Appearance and Utility
From the outside the 2010 Ford F-150 Harley Davidson Edition looks like it wants to punch you in the mouth and drag you by your hair across the parking lot just so it can throw you in a smelly dumpster. If vehicles could be schoolyard bullies this truck would be one of the worst offenders on the proverbial playground.
The look is a mix of traditionally macho F-150 design cues but with added chrome, side mounted twin-shotgun exhaust ports, sill extensions and special 22-inch Harley Davidson chrome wheels all working together to create one pimped out pickup truck. It also comes across as larger than life and therefore kind of scary up close.
The 2010 Ford F-150 Harley Davidson Edition even looked scary in my tester’s “Lava” exterior hue as it turns vaguely purple in direct sunlight. Not Barney the Dinosaur purple but more of a “Deep Purple.” Now, you can take that either literally or in reference to the iconic 1970’s rock band. (Note: See interior section for further comments on Ford’s unique use of color and contrast inside this F-150.)
The greatest pinnacle of 2010 F-150 design achievement, however, is not something that is only available to Harley Davidson Edition buyers. It is, of course, the infamous “man-step” (or in Ford-speak the “tailgate step”).
The step pulls easily out of the rear tailgate and then you release a long pole that is used to steady as you climb into or out of the pickup bed. Thanks most especially to that “balancing pole,” you never need worry again about leaping ungracefully from the pickup bed. But then perhaps you thought that grunting sound you made as you hit the ground was really manly?
Interior Styling, Design and Modifications
There are so many cab sizes, trim designations and color schemes available for the interior of the Ford F-150 that it can really boggle the mind. But that “all things to all people” approach is what made this truck a national best seller and no matter how much you spend there is still always an inherent design goodness that shines through.
Granted, said goodness is easier to see when you have a big navigation screen front and center with your Bluetooth and iPod info right where you want them. The cupholders in the Harley Davidson Edition are huge enough to hold anything (and are lit, oddly enough, at night) and all of the knobs/dials are designed to be used by those with big hands. All of the door pockets, the glovebox and the center cubby are also comical due to their resolute enormity.
So the 2010 Ford F-150 Harley Davidson Edition is one manly work truck. Even if you aren’t manly and you don’t really work. There is also so much stretch out room inside four door variants that you could easily steal a quick cat nap in there at work thanks to nicely tinted windows. So that could be especially useful.
So it’s no surprise that the interior of the F-150 is built to work and take years of abuse. But what really throws you off the first time you climb aboard the 2010 Ford F-150 Harley Davidson Edition is the black/cherry red leather trim that covers most everything in the cabin.
There is also a giant chrome “Harley Davidson Motorcycles” logo embossed atop the center cubby lid where the driver usually rests his or her arm. I was at least glad that it didn’t get hot during my week of testing or I would have had the Harley logo burned indelibly into my forearm.
Although I was quite taken aback by the very bold color themes in the 2010 Harley Davidson Edition at first, they really grew on me to the point that they became a favorite aspect of the whole design. I mean, you aren’t really a bad-ass if you can’t pull off a little cherry red/purple leather. Just ask the artist formerly known as Prince! Okay, bad example.
I was deeply saddened to learn that the 2011 Harley Davidson Edition now has a very boring black and gray leather color scheme akin to the team jerseys worn by the Oakland Raiders. Are they still in Oakland? It’s so hard to keep track. Either way, the 2011 model might not sell as well simply because the interior reminds too many people of the Raiders. But to some people that might be a good thing. I don’t know of any but I am not one to judge.
Pricing, Features and Fuel Economy
The F-150 always has been and always will be a heavy, rugged full size pickup that is designed to haul and hold really, really heavy stuff. So you know that it is always going to be big, solidly built and very heavy in and of itself. A Nissan Leaf can’t do what an F-150 can do.
My average fuel economy of 16.1 miles per gallon during testing is rather good considering it beat both the2010 Tundra and 2010 Ram I tested earlier this year by 2 miles per gallon on average. Hey, it adds up! Thankfully the 2010 F-150’s Triton V8 and all of the motors debuting for 2011 also all run on regular unleaded.
Although my test F-150 Harley Davidson Edition came to a heady $46,865 (with delivery), I was actually expecting a price further north of $50,000 given the luxury features and bespoke nature of this pickup. It really makes that Cadillac Escalade EXT pseudo-truck (a.k.a-the fancy version of the Chevy Avalanche) seem like a total rip-off.
Now, the only thing my truck seemed to lack was four wheel drive which is something few buyers will ever really need unless they want to go off-road. The 4WD system offered by Ford with the F-150 isn’t really meant to increase wet weather traction like the all-wheel drive powertrains in Audi or Subaru, for example.
My 2010 Ford F-150 Harley Davison Edition tester did, however, come with the always fabulous Sync system (which has terrific Bluetooth/iPod connectivity), in-dash navigation with premium Sony audio system built in, a back-up camera, heated/cooled front seats, heated rear seats, a moonroof, Sirius satellite radio, leather absolutely everywhere, automatic temperature control, steering wheel mounted audio controls, monster 22-inch aluminum wheels and a trailer tow/sway control package.
It’s pretty easy to figure out that Ford has learned that new vehicle buyers aren’t necessarily spending less on new vehicles but are rather buying more efficient models that are still loaded with all the latest toys. That’s why most 4-cylinder Fusion models sold by Ford come darn near fully loaded. It’s how people want them.
While no one is probably buying a 2010 Ford F-150 Harley Davidson Edition to downsize, it does demonstrate to owners that if they invest in a new Taurus family sedan that they will want to buy a fully loaded Limited variant. Hell, the F-150 convinced me I couldn’t live without Sync. I am still just a little bit lost in the world without it. Sigh.
New Engines for Model Year 2011
Everyone knows that Ford has finally revamped its aging lineup of F-150 engines for the 2011 model year. Each motor is at least new to this application and as follows are the 4 options. Also note that all four run on regular unleaded.
3.7 liter 306 horsepower/276 lb. feet of torque V6-(base engine)
3.5 liter Ecoboost 365 horsepower/462 lb. feet of torque V6
5.0 liter 360 horsepower/380 lb. feet of torque V8
6.2 liter 441 horsepower/434 lb. feet of torque V8-(Newly standard with the 2011 Harley Davidson Edition)
Now, if you don’t know what it is like to drive a pickup truck here is the short version. They are a nightmare to park in any modern sized mall or grocery store lot and they are too wide for most spaces. To get into said spaces usually requires a 3-point turn so make sure you order a back-up camera especially if you are coming from a sport coupe.
The 2010 Ford F-150 does a surprisingly good job of absorbing bumps especially considering those enormous 22-inch aluminum wheel rims. Wheels that size usually decimate ride quality but the F-150 was almost as smooth as the new 2010 Dodge Ram with its independent rear suspension. My summation might change during a back to back test of the two full size trucks, however.
Given my” goldfish in a bowl” memory power of late it was surprising that I did still notice that the F-150 never felt skittish, nervous or jumpy like the Toyota Tundra as it passed over freeway expansion joints. The F-150’s steering feel was also on a par with the excellent rack in the Tundra. Not that kind of rack, get your mind out of the gutter.
Now, the 5.4 liter 310 horsepower/365 lb. feet of torque Triton V8 I tested was smooth enough but it lacked the forceful urge and character of the competition’s offerings. This is, as you have already read, been taken care of by Ford for the 2011 model year. Competitive engine offerings were really the only chink in the F-150’s armor and for 2011 that weakness is gone.
Otherwise, there is nothing that will make you feel as tough and cool as when you are piloting a Ford F-150 Harley Davidson Edition. It just cries out for you to roll down the window so everyone can see you as you cruise around town. It may not be a revolutionary driving experience but it is one that has been enjoyed by millions for decades.
How Dog and Kid Friendly Is It?
Come on now, it’s a pickup truck and you know how dogs and kids feel about riding in a pickup truck! They love it! Sure, an SUV or crossover is easier for hauling strollers, diaper bags and grocery shopping but the passenger environment in the F-150 is unmatched by the competition. And I am not just talking about the leg, head and hiproom that are ample enough for even the largest North American Arby’s customer.
No, the F-150’s interior is not only stylish (in a very macho kind of way) but it is very well thought out with clever lidded cubbies and hiding spots all over the place that are perfect for all of your junk. The plastic trim and that ultra-durable Harley Davidson Edition leather upholstery feels like it could withstand even a night out with Lindsey Lohan.
The one feature that dog owners may want to think twice about is the power deployable running board system that comes standard with the 2010 Ford F-150 Harley Davidson Edition. The first time I opened the back door and the running boards came at my dog Daisy she practically jumped in my arms.
It took some coaxing to get her to believe they wouldn’t attack her again so I am very glad it was easy to switch them off. You may not have this same experience with your dog due to differences in temperament or, quite frankly, intellect. Who thinks a power running board is a monster? Sorry Daisy, I know it was scary.
Verdict (Is It Better Than a Dodge Ram or Toyota Tundra?)
Now before you scream about the Chevy/GMC full size pickup trucks do be aware that I did, in fact, remember them in my conclusions. I remembered that they are so far behind the competition that it is laughable. At least the Ram has a terrific ride and that best in class V8 Hemi rumble to help set it apart. Even the Tundra shines thanks to its brutally powerful engine/transmission combination and good steering feel.
But while the F-150 doesn’t have the 2010 Ram’s magic independent rear suspension, it does ride a lot more smoothly than the Toyota. In fact, the 2010 F-150 may not be the class leader in all categories but it excels in all of them.
So while you may not like this or that about the F-150 you have to admit that no other full size pickup truck comes close to offering the depth and breadth of options, looks and features. The very boisterous and bad-ass 2010 F-150 Haley Davidson Edition is testament to that fact. And thanks to those new 2011 engine options it appears that the F-150 will be more unstoppable than ever.
Vehicle Tested: 2010 Ford F-150 Harley Davidson Edition
Price as Tested: $46,865
Options on Tester: Power Moonroof ($995), Navigation with Sony Premium Audio ($2,430), Pickup Bed Extender ($195), Tailgate Step ($350), Trailer Brake Controller ($230)
Engine: 5.4 liter Triton V8
Power: 310 horsepower/365 lb. feet of torque
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
EPA Fuel Economy: 14 city/20 highway
Fuel Economy as Tested: 16.1 miles per gallon
Runs on: Regular Unleaded
Fuel Tank Size: 26 gallons
0-60: 7.6 seconds (estimated)
Tow Capacity: 11,300 lbs. (with heavy duty tow package)
Payload Capacity: 1,910 lbs. (heavy duty)
Crash Test Ratings (NHTSA): Front Impact (Five Stars-Both Sides)
Side Impact (Five Stars-Both Sides)
Rollover Protection (Four Stars)
Warranty: 3 years/36,000 mile bumper to bumper
5 years/60,000 mile powertrain
Assembled in: Dearborn, Michigan
Vehicle Provided by: Ford Motor Company