Road Test Review: 2011 Ford Harley-Davidson F-150

Road Test Review: 2011 Ford Harley-Davidson F-150

The Ford Harley-Davidson F-150 returns to the Blue Oval’s half-ton lineup for the 11th year, but with most consumer and media attention focused on the amazing F-150 SVT Raptor off-roader or other models powered by the all-new 3.5-liter EcoBoost twin turbo V-6, has the 2011 Harley F-150 lost some of its mojo? We spent a week piloting the latest HD F-150 around Los Angeles to find out.

One thing the Harley F-150 hasn't lost is its ability to capture attention. Big 22-inch forged aluminum wheels with low-profile P275/45R22 tires and a six-bar billet grille give the truck a cocky stance that catches the eye.

In a Target parking lot, the Harley was carefully inspected by three generations of a family. On the freeway, it received an emphatic thumbs up. And while parking for an evening event, it drew the attention of some of the most jaded auto critics in Southern California — parking attendants. Three lot jockeys stared and conferenced for 30 seconds before approaching to ask if we were driving a Raptor. Oy.

Ford changes the Harley's look almost every year, but the latest model's bling is less enthusiastic than in some recent editions. Whereas last year's truck featured a monochromatic metallic paint job with Lava-colored swooshes, the 2011 HD sports thin hot-rod-style "speed scallop" vinyl graphics that trail back from the front wheel flares. The flares are defined by orange borders around a brushed satin-finish design. Similar scallops appear on the hood.

Our four-door SuperCrew wore Ingot Silver Metallic paint, which is new for 2011, and traditional Tuxedo Black Metallic.

The biggest change is tucked away under the hood. The old 5.4-liter Triton V-8 — versions of which have been the heart of this truck since it debuted in 2000 — has been replaced by the new 6.2-liter V-8 rated at 411 horsepower and 434 pounds-feet of torque. That’s 101 hp and 69 pounds-feet more than last year’s mill.

IMG_4798

The premium eight-cylinder engine pushed the Harley F-150 from zero to 60 mph in just 7.15 seconds, according to our VBOX testing hardware. That's fast, especially for a truck weighing more than 5,000 pounds, but other (cheaper) F-150s armed with Ford's EcoBoost V-6 can hit that figure in the upper sixes.

Towing is also improved. It’s been increased to 7,200 pounds for our all-wheel/four-wheel-drive tester, up from last year’s 5,100 pounds, though the 3.73 limited-slip rear axle remains unchanged.

But the performance improvements aren’t free. It's unlikely that buyers of the Harley F-150 rank gas mileage high among their purchase criteria, but with gas prices stuck in the $4 range around Southern California, it's disappointing to see the 2011 Harley’s fuel economy rating has dropped to 12/16 mpg city/highway from last year's 14/18 mpg. We saw that drop in our observed mileage. In the 2010 model we drove last year, we averaged 13.7 mpg while we struggled to stay above 11 to 12 mpg in the 2011.

The 6.2's exhaust note remains one of the Harley's most attractive attributes in the tradition of Harley motorcycles. It's a built-in character that EcoBoost F-150s can't touch with their flat and muted-sounding, direct-injection six-cylinder engine.

On the freeway, extra throttle requests to the F-150's 6R140 six-speed automatic powertrain were met with rewarding 6-5, 6-4 or 6-3 downshifts, depending on how aggressive we were with the pedal. The bigger the gap, the better the burble from the exhaust.

The six-speed gearbox also sports the new progressive range select feature. It allows the driver to reduce the number of available gears so it's easier to let the exhaust note hang longer without worrying about the truck upshifting and squelching the fun. All it takes is pressing the +/- button on the console-mounted shift lever to set the top gear.

Harley-interior
Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Co.

Despite the low-profile tires and big wheels, Ford has done an excellent job tuning the Harley F-150's suspension and chassis so the truck doesn't beat up its occupants when it's empty, which is how we drove the truck all week and expect most owners will, too. In most situations, it was comfortable to cruise in, especially with the highly adjustable front captain's chairs dialed in just right.

Inside is where the Harley F-150 differentiates itself from the rest of the F-Series lineup and most other full-size pickups. Polished Tuxedo Black trim around the instrument panel gives the HD a classy touch enhanced by scuffed metallic gauges and a brushed center console lid. The lid, which sports a pattern similar to the pattern on the exterior scallops, emphasizes appearance over functionality: Resting your arm on the Harley shield and VIN badging on the console felt uncomfortable.

Other unique touches include leather-trimmed seats with HD cloisonné badges. Ambient LED lightning in the cupholders and footwells changes colors with the touch of a button, including green, blue, orange and red. Slick.

Temperatures this past week in Los Angeles hovered in the 90s in many places, so the Harley's air-conditioned front seats were used frequently to keep cool, especially after a long day driving Freightliner FL70 over-the-road trucks in preparation to get our commercial driver's license. The Harley's cabin was heaven after that rig's beat-up, window-cooled interior. The front and rear seats also come with standard heaters.

Other standard interior highlights in our tester include a voice-activated navigation system with an 8-inch touch-screen, Sirius satellite radio, power moonroof, rearview camera and remote starter.

But does the Harley's luxury-slathered interior, street-tuned suspension and 6.2-liter V-8 justify its $52,740 price tag? Here is where we wonder about the Harley's value.

The base price of our all-wheel-drive/four-wheel-drive Harley was $52,115 plus $250 for the bed extender and $375 for the integrated tailgate step, for a grand total of $52,740.

IMG_4792

Now, compare that price with a Ford F-150 SVT Raptor SuperCrew 6.2, which starts at $44,700. You won’t get a fancy interior for that money, but you will get a pickup truck that commands as much attention as the Harley with similar power and performance but with the added bonus of being able to show it off off-road as well as on the streets. It makes us wonder how much the Raptor is eating the Harley’s breakfast in sales, especially now that both trucks are available with four full-size doors.

Bottom Line: The 2011 Ford Harley-Davidson F-150 continues to offer truck buyers attention-grabbing style coupled with powerful performance straight from the factory, but the Raptor is stealing the Harley’s street cred while EcoBoost F-150s offer faster sprint times and significantly better fuel economy.

Comments

That is a sharp looking pickup. Not as handsome as the S.V.T. Raptor...but good looking none the less. Advantage= Ford!

"All Wheel Drive/Four Wheel Drive" - does that mean this truck doesn't have a part-time 4wd diff?

Just think what a small supercharger would do to this trucks performance......yee haw!

Mike, hope you are enjoying driving those HD's....I envy your job.

@Jason

STS catback turbos are the way to go. Installs in an afternoon and easily removes for major warranty work/ trade-in.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_mjC0magwg

N I C E ! !

Very nice! Pity about the crappy fuel economy. The EcoBoost really is the king of the new engines.

This truck is tits!

Woops, can I say that?

she's a beauty but to rich for my blood

I'm not a Ford guy, but if I were given a Ford truck, this would be the only one I wouldn't sell.

This Ford Harley Davidson F-150 kicks butt.

Ford Harley beats GM Denali by a mile.....

I just wish it was lower... and it doesn't need to be AWD..

Can someone remind me why Ford went with an AWD system here?

I don't know about you guys but I think that they should offer AWD on the Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum, as RAM does for the Laramie and Longhorn and GM does for the LT/SLE and SLT/LTZ/Denali. Meanwhile, that is a mean whip! Ford should offer the EcoBoost engine as an option, though.

I meant to say full-time 4WD at least in previous post

Ford kicks the Denali's butt? What? For all you GM bashers out there, do you have inferiority complexes or what? GM trucks are the best thing going today and they offered Onstar years before Ford came out with Sinc. GM was the first to offer a Denlai luxury package. Ford has always tried to one up GM and is copying GM with the Harley. Bring on the shootout.

I don't know if the Raptor is really cannibalizing the HD F-150's sales because I feel like they are two different customers. However, I feel that the Harley Davidson may be loosing is value more because Ford is continuing to introduce more and more up-market variants. The HD used to be the top of the F-150 Line up, slotting above the Lariat. Now you have the Lariat, the King Ranch, the Platinum, and the Harley. Content wise, they are all roughly the same truck.

The market for 50K pick-ups is definitely still there. I believe Ford decided to sub-divide it instead in the name of more choices for the consumer.

I like the F150 but I absolutley hate the Harley-Davidson badge, just like the Motorcycles you are paying for the Brand name and a few blingy badges. I would rather have an FX4 with the Lux package.

As for you two(Bitchygan Bob and Robert T Sinclair), you must have never hit puberty, you act like little boys. Wheres your respect? look at the first two rules for posting. First rule is "Try to be civil to your fellow blog readers." Second rule is "Stay on topic. We want to hear your opinions and thoughts, but please only comment about the specified topic in the blog post." Can you guys even read, they are right above where you type your comment. Thanks for the laugh guys...

What's a matter Mike? I can't say Fords are ugly? Well, I think this truck is very ugly. Interior isn't but the exterior looks like dog doo doo

Jason,
What he is referring to with the all wheel drive/4 wheel drive is this.
You have a selector knob just like other 4 wheel drive fords. The only difference is that opposed to 2 hi, 4 hi, and 4 lo settings you have 2 hi, 4 hi, and AWD. The all wheel drive functions like the auto feature in gm trucks that have the auto trac transfer case. This allows you to let the truck kick in 4 hi when traction is limited.
I hope that is as clear as mud and helps some.

Bichagan Bob, LMFAO!

Good one synrgy!

I dont get why Ford has to have this truck with the Harley junk on it.I like the style of the truck,the Harley edition Fords always looked good,but the Harley decals always turned me off ! How many Harley owners would want a Ford edition bike,my guess it wouldnt fly and they would be ticked off,as they are either overweight old guys or gang members.and dont give me any crap that all harley riders are not in a gang,in it common knowledge if you are in a certain gang ,you have to have a Harley..again nothing wrong with a gang we live in a free country,at least you dont have to work everyday,and they can take your Harley truck away from you if they want to,and you will have no say !

Let's see...ridiculous 22-inch wheels? Check! Hideous pinstripes? Check! Atrocious mileage? Check! $$$$$FIFTY FREAKIN' GRAND$$$$$ PRICE TAG??? Check!

For the life of me, I'll never understand these "product tie-in" models... WTF does an ugly, heavy, overpriced, under-useful pickup have to do with ugly, heavy, overpriced, slow, anachronistic motorcycle?

Wait...what?

The Harley F-150 came out a year before the GM Sierra Denali.

OK, thanks Brian. Wasn't aware Ford offered AWD, and wasn't sure if it was AWD until you locked the center diff to make it 4WD. Sounds like from what you are saying it doesn't have a 2 speed transfer case. Wouldn't have thought they would have gone away with 4LO, but that may be the price for the availability for AWD.

The Denali is just the one and only package that GM offers, and it really isn't noticeably different from the LTZ.
Ford has King Ranch, Platinum, Harley Davidson, Lariat Limited, Raptor, and FX4... all of which are substantially different from the Lariat.

I love this truck but I just can't afford it and if I had $47,000.00-$55,000.00 to spend on a truck it would be diesel so I don't think I could ever own a truck like this but I still like it.

This truck should have the 4.4L diesel as an option.

Brian:: this is not like the GM system, in the Gm you have the reg 2hi,4hi,n,auto,4lo, in the Ford AWD you have no control over anything, it is allways in AWD, if you lose traction in the rear, it automaticly tranfers power to the front, you have no 4hi, 4lo,n settings, you have no switches, you have nothing to do, if you lose traction, in the rear, you front wheels will hopefully pull you out. In the GM and Ram system you have the best of both worlds!. No one else has this system>

Alex, the system in the Denali is totaly diff. than in the LTZ 1/2 ton.

I never understood the thought process for buying one of these wanna-be Harley Davidson pickups. Heck, an old air cooled VW beetle has more potato-potato-potato character than that.

Sorry but 22 inch wheels means its a poser, not good for performance...

C'mon a heavy pickup like this with hardly any rubber?

It's like a heavy dude trying to run with flip flops, not gonna happen and you know the result!

Too pricy for what you get. The interior is nice but I'm not a Harley fan. I like the Lariet Limited more than this one. The Limited is basically this truck without all the Harley logo's.

I totally agree with the comment about the EcoBoost's "flat and muted-sounding, direct-injection six-cylinder engine." After 5k miles on my EB, that's my primary complaint. I've seen one or two aftermarket options, but I hope to see more.

Now that people have power, they want GROWL.

The masses are never satisfied.

Hi Mike,
Are you sure it sports a 6R140? I thought that was Super Duty Exclusive. I do believe it should be 6R80

A friend of mine has a 2006 Denali. He's gone through 4 steering boxes and last sping had the idler arm snap on him while parallel parking, Thing's been a nightmare...

No matter what ford does, the f150 still looks like a shoebox.

Why is it that I find myself openly laughing at the idiots who buy vehicles because of stickers, play pretties, and chrome?

I want to see Ford Superchage the 6.2L for the Harley. Or even better yet...Supercharge the 5.0L for it...In The Road test mike did of a 4X4 5.0L back in Feb ran a 7.18 0-60 compared to the 6.2L's 7.15 time. A Supercharged 5.0L would be great for the F-150 HD...It would without a doubt be the fastest model in the F-150 lineup by a longshot. And it would yeild better fuel econmy than the 6.2L.

Hay see Oxi: I knew you could respond without trolling! The people who buy these trucks only care about looks, if they wanted a truck that could work, they always have the SD HD

This truck can perform. It's got a performance tuned suspension and the Boss Hog engine! It can tow 9300 lbs and has ITBC and trailer sway. Can't say the same about Toyota.

From pickuptrucks.com's 2010 first look.....

To give the Harley F-150 handling that’s worthy of its aggressive looks, rolling stock is 22-inch, five-spoke polished-aluminum wheels with body-colored accents. The tires are P275/45R22 Pirelli Scorpion Zeros.“

The tire was specially developed by Pirelli and Ford for the Harley F-150,” said Mike Massara, vehicle program manager for Ford's Harley-Davidson Alliance. “We also changed the suspension; valving and shock construction is unique. The shocks have unique part numbers. Their compression, rebound and variable speed damping is different than the standard F-150, so its stability through corners in pitch, roll and yaw is second to none.”

From what I gather the 6.2 doesn't gain any 0-60 performance on the Eco. However passing, accelerating out of corners and I would assume the 1/4 mile are a different story. The Eco had lots of torque down low but one things are off the line that 6.2 has the goods to take just about any other n/a pickup.

As for the appearance (I would never personally buy a pickup without 4wd with 4 lo) I do think this looks pretty cool, best looking HD yet. Just not for me

One thing to keep in mind about the 6.2L is that, it's a heavy engine. It uses a pretty beefy cast iron block.

The ecoboost, by comparison, uses a much smaller aluminum block.

I'm not sure what the exact weight difference is between the two, but it seems to be pretty significant.

I thought the Harley edition F150s were supposed to be faster.
Now its just more of a appearance package, and an expensive one too lol

@Mike Levine I have seen Harley Davidson F150's used here as "promotional vehicles" for various Automotive businesses in Australia.
As well an Automotive company not far from me uses two Silverado's for the same purpose. Compare the plain jane cream older Asian Ford Ranger with the red , slightly lowered(The other Silverado is jacked up) Silverado.
http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a186/RobRyan7/SilverdaoRanger.jpg

When it came time to trade up for a new vehicle, I felt a little conflicted sitting in the dealer's office ordering my new 6.2L Raptor while starring at a poster of the new Harley. You see, my old truck was an '03 Harley F150. I really loved that truck but it was getting up there in miles and I do lot of misc traveling. So I wanted new truck and I sat my eyes on the new Ford Raptor. Anyhow, the new Harley is a sight to see. If you're looking for a truck with styling, power, and comfort, I wouldn't think twice about a new Harley!

SVTRay

@Don,

"This truck can perform. It's got a performance tuned suspension and the Boss Hog engine! It can tow 9300 lbs and has ITBC and trailer sway. Can't say the same about Toyota."

An X-Runner would kill this PIG in the corners, braking and lap times!

Wow I agree with oxi on this one.

oxi is probably right that an X-Runner could lap faster than the H-D, but I think when Don said "can't say the same about Toyota," he was referring to the 9300 pound tow rating, ITBC, and trailer sway control (not really sure why he brought up Toyota though, other than to rile up oxi).

The H-D isn't about lap times anyway, it's a lifestyle vehicle. Personally, I wouldn't buy one, but I'm not going to blame Ford for offering it to those who would.

I want one real bad but can't afford it being retired now. I don't care if gas milage droped for and extra 100 hp.

As far as I know, X Runner is a Tacoma, small size truck. Why is Oxi always trying to compare Tacomas to full size trucks? There is no point.

"I think when Don said "can't say the same about Toyota," he was referring to the 9300 pound tow rating, ITBC, and trailer sway control." That was my point. If performance matters, show me any Toyota full size truck from the factory that performs better than Ford's full size trucks. I don't think anyone can.



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