Road Test Review: 2009 Ford F-150 King Ranch

Road Test Review: 2009 Ford F-150 King Ranch
By: Sue Mead

No one knows why Richard King chose the famous “Running W” as the main brand of the legendary King Ranch in Kingsville, Texas. The question of why the country’s largest and most prestigious ranch uses Fords as its main pickup trucks, however, has an easy answer: Mr. Bob. That’s Robert Kleberg, president and CEO of the ranch for 50 years.

“That was the beginning of Ford trucks on the King Ranch,” said Beto Maldonado, a retired “master showman” who grew up on the King Ranch, considered the birthplace of the American ranching industry.

Maldonado gave us a tour of the ranch inside its namesake: a 2009 Ford F-150 4x4 King Ranch Lariat pickup, which is just the latest version of the award-winning luxury pickup.

Our journey with the F-150 King Ranch began in Dallas and continued 400 miles south to Kingsville, via San Antonio. Stepping up and into the tall luxury pickup, we immediately appreciated the truck’s running boards, which not only help shorter drivers climb aboard, but also serve to keep pant legs free of the dirt and grime that typically collects along a truck’s lower side sills.

2009 Ford F-150 King Ranch

The first thing we noticed when firing up the 5.4-liter V-8 was how quiet the well-insulated, upscale cabin is. It’s designed to accommodate drivers of different sizes, with a tilt steering wheel and adjustable pedals. The plush leather seat is height-adjustable and tilts to the perfect angle for comfortable driving. The upgraded truck has great visibility out the large front glass, but things aren’t so great in terms of side views around the A-pillars. The big side mirrors were also appreciated, along with a rearview camera and reverse sensing system. Not only is this handy when maneuvering in tight spaces, but also when hooking up trailers.

Carving a track through busy interstate traffic, we loved the pickup’s supple suspension. It provides a confidence-inspiring smooth ride on the freeway and remains surprisingly flat over uneven dirt tracks at slow speeds. We also liked the truck’s rack-and-pinion steering, which Ford engineers weighted perfectly for both precise maneuvering in everyday driving and the updated truck’s improved capacity to carry and tow bigger loads. (Our test vehicle with its 3.31:1 axle ratio can carry 1,320 pounds of payload and tow 8,200 pounds. The F-150’s maximum ratings are 3,030 payload and 11,300 towing.)

The F-150 King Ranch only got a slight power increase – up to 310 horsepower from 300 in the old truck, though the E85 version makes 320 hp. We’d love a few more horses under the hood for quick maneuvers, but there was enough on tap for an unladen King Ranch. After the previous version’s four-speed automatic transmission, we loved the slick new six-speed; it spools seamlessly and efficiently when the accelerator is pushed to the floor.

2009 Ford F-150 King Ranch

The King Ranch also suffers from a wide turning radius and soft brake-pedal feel at the top of the pedal.

The King Ranch’s standard-features list is a long one, but there were a few luxury touches we enjoyed most during our two-day Texas journey: the heated/cooled front seats; a power-sliding rear window; the rearview camera and rear sensing system; the luxurious leather captain’s chairs; and the optional navigation system. Considering the King Ranch’s wagon-load of premium equipment, plus all its standard safety and security features, there was no sticker-shock at the truck’s $46,965 price tag (including destination).

Our test model came in an attractive Western color combination: Royal Red accented with Pueblo Gold, trimmed with Arizona Beige running boards. Riding on P275/65R18 rubber accented by King Ranch aluminum wheels, it was set up with a two-speed 4x4 system, a shift-on-the-fly transfer case and a 7,200-pound gross vehicle weight rating package.

Maldonado said 35 brands have been registered to Texas’ King Ranch, which is nearly the size of Rhode Island and boasts prize-winning livestock, including renowned horses, beef cattle and bulls. In addition to sales of top-of-the-line leather goods, luggage and home furnishings, the Texas ranch has become a popular tourist and recreational hunting destination, and has even expanded its operations to south Florida.

2009 Ford F-150 King Ranch

It took Ford until 2001 to catch on to this branding match made in pickup-truck heaven, but ever since, the automaker has clearly reaped the benefits of designing special-edition King Ranch models for three of its thoroughbred vehicles: the F-150, F-Series Super Duty and Expedition.

“It’s a great association for us,” said Doug Scott, Ford’s truck marketing manager. “It’s allowed us to bring tough imagery to these special-edition models, allowed us to attract new customers and allowed us to be a purchase consideration for other truck buyers who want to move beyond the Lariat. It’s a halo product.”

The ranch’s namesake truck has already driven away with a number of Texas Truck Rodeo awards, and last fall the redesigned 2009 Ford F-150 was dubbed the 2009 Truck of Texas by the Texas Auto Writers Association.

Also updated for 2009, the F-150 King Ranch not only continues to sport the King Ranch Running W cattle-brand logo inside and out, but now has even more King Ranch branding.

“We now have a better canvas to work with, as the new truck has a much more upgraded appearance — as you look back to 2001 — with new, more durable King Ranch chaparral leather on the center console, door trim, deck lid and [instrument panel], and it’s now typical of a ‘Built Ford Tough’ truck,” Scott said.

There’s still some mystery surrounding the evolution of the King Ranch's Running W brand, which is displayed on both King Ranch livestock and Ford’s King Ranch trucks and SUV. There’s speculation that it represents a diamond-back rattlesnake, many of which reside on the ranch, or the horns of a Texas longhorn bull. Regardless of its derivation, it’s as iconic as the King Ranch itself and, for Ford, it’s a perfect branding match.

2009 Ford F-150 King Ranch


It's not 400 miles from San Antonio to Kingsville. That distance from Kingsville would almost get you to Abilene.

@rick: Thanks! It should have read Dallas to Kingsville via San Antonio. That's been fixed.

Hey Mike, Why is it the turning get tighter on newer truck instead better? I know the longer the wheel base its get Tighter, But a 140 or 145' wheel base you would expect aleast 45 turning...Or is it the Rack opinion causing it to be Tight?Look at the Tundra and the wheel base 145.6 is almost as long as Ford Trucks and they are 44 turn by turn. You would think they can change up on the Suspension!!. Also anything more on the 5.0 Coyote engines? Thanks....

you can haul 3030 in that truck why does it say only 1350 thats whatever.

When ford says they can haul 3,030 those numbers are based on a properly equiped F150 typically the 2wd xl long bed with heavy duty shocks and leaf springs. Plus these trucks can haul alot more than what there rated, trust me lol

Why the corny piping? I hated it on the H3 interiors and I think it ruins the King Ranch. It's awful. The rest of the interior is awesome. But that piping's got to go. I'd like a King Ranch with a special engine and an extra cab long bed. Now THERE'D be a special edition.

I do 2000 in a XL Long bed 4x4, and it doesn't hit the stopper, lol, fords are just business.

too bad such a nice top of the line truck has cheap, generic Goodyear Wrangler Tires on it!

Ya you can load these trucks up with way more than rated but its just a liability for ford.

Awesome truck! A great workhorse that looks great

well i just wnt ford truks to have the suspension from the raptor and put on to the wondent feel and bumps or pot holes we have all over heroad now.

It looks great!, but remember that's a "show truck" not a work truck. I'll love to get me one but the price will be on the roof...
coyote engine?, can some body tell me about it?

I owned a 2002 King Ranch and was very please with the truck I plan on getting the 2010. I love Ford.


i'm only 14 years old and i'm all about "Ford!!!" i love king ranch and super duty . I dream of haveing one, but me and my friend are constantly arguing. She says that the chevey silverardo or what ever is better!!! Is that if it is plz help me out and tell me.

We would like to have a truck like this one. Please call us at 903-736-5112

Although I`ll never be able to buy even a used FORD F-150 King Ranch cause of a low level of income of mine, anyway I still consider FORD F-150 King Ranch 2005 as the truck of my dream.So,my friends be satisfied that you can own and drive such a truck!

Just bought a King Ranch Expedition. Havent had a chance to put many miles on it but it is quiet and rides great. The interior is beautiful and the third row power fold seats are beautiful things. Ford built this one right!

that car is bad i have a super duty 2011

Want a great truck. Buy a King Ranch. My 2005 saved my daughters life last week. I'm in the hunt for another one. Thank you King Ranch.

Bob Tefft-

That is good news indeed. I am glad to hear that your daughter is okay.

The Ford F-Series line of pickups are certainly one of the top vehicles for safety.

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