Strengths and weaknesses:
- strong power
- menacing stance
- covered in Harley logos
- not a prudent choice for a real work truck
Harley-Davidson F-150 rides high on the hog
"The cabin is executive class pickup truck all the way, and moody with its black-on-black motif."
Hulking at the curb under a coat of black metallic paint (with stylized, flame-like decal on the sides) and sporting every option Ford can pack onto an F-150 pickup, the Harley Davidson package certainly draws attention to itself.
That’s what it was designed to do, of course, though not all the attention is flattering, depending on the preferences of the audience. I’ve encountered people who love the beast, covered as it is in Harley badges - right down to the wheel hubs; even the owner’s manual is black-leather-bound and stamped with the HD logo – the truck broadcasts itself to the true believers.
Naturally, it isn’t going t be everyone’s cup of tea, though. One of my vehicle scientists, Bruce M, opined: “it has every option but good taste”, a line that I think is hilarious but may be out of step with the target market for the vehicle.
As a buyer, you have to like the motorcycle tie-in, because all those badges add to the price, and my test model hits the dealerships with a sticker price of nearly $70,000 by the time you add the freight and taxes.
Beneath the paint and decorations, you have a Lariat-level F-150 with a 6.2 litre eight-cylinder engine and 22 inch wheels. The machined aluminum rims are new to the Harley Davidson package for 2012, as is some ‘snakeskin’ leatherwork inside the cabin and the flame-like graphic on the sides.
It spools up tremendous power from the big engine, 411 horses worth (and 434 lb.-ft. of torque), and will tow up to 5,000 kilos; making it equipped for some fairly heavy-duty tasks, though I can’t see it being used too much on mud-covered jobsites or towing a trailer full of old shingles down a gravel road to the local dump.
This edition comes fully featured, sporting everything from retractable, automatic running boards to assist entry into the towering cab to Ford’s full-suite technology package.
The cabin is executive class pickup truck all the way, and moody with its black-on-black motif (with extra Harley badges stuck on every surface, like an explosion at the biker-kitsch factory), and extremely comfortable and roomy throughout.
A great driver’s seat and all-round visibility from the high position make it pleasant to operate; rearward visibility is helped out with a backup camera and big, power-folding side mirrors.
The F-150 HD brings very good acceleration, of course, and very responsive pedals inspire confidence. I love the steering response and feedback from the wheel – Ford has tuned the power steering to leave it with a slightly ‘heavy’ feel, which is how it should be (I dislike a big truck with floaty, disconnected, airy steering that tries to imitate a passenger sedan).
A five and a half foot bed (cloaked in a bed liner with Harley logo on it) and Ford’s tailgate step to ease the climb into it (which, along with a pickup box extender are the only add-ons to my tester) round out the truck’s practical features and leave it a worthy member of the F-150 family; and that’s the main problem for the HD edition.
A regular Lariat level F-150 (with 4x4) is already a well-equipped and capable truck that goes for up to $10,000 less than the HD package, and so is automatically a better choice as an actual ‘work’ truck; and anyone wanting a true off-roader/playmobile can opt for the Raptor, which also offers the fuel-gulping 6.2 litre V8 (and crew cab).
The F-150 is a pretty big family of solid, highly regarded pickups with a lot of choices in cab styles and powertrains; and this is where a buyer must be really committed to Harley Davidson logos to spend the premium for this model.