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This is the first of our five-part Trucks Report. Next week: General Motors

For 2012, the Ford F-150 has a new FX appearance package with fancy flat-black accents, and several new technologies and driveline upgrades in this and other models. They include the addition of Hill Start Assist, a new automatic 4×4 system for the Lariat trim level and above, and greatly expanded availability of electronic locking rear axles on 3.5-litre and 5.0-litre engines.

The F-150 also gets upgrades to the drivetrain. These include replacing last year’s electronic shift-on-the-fly with a two-speed automatic 4×4 system for Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum trim levels. The system now also offers a 4×4 auto mode. If the truck senses a loss of traction, it immediately transfers torque to the front wheels.

Hill Start Assist is a new addition that helps keep the truck from rolling backward at a stop, making it easier to pull away when on a slope or hill, especially when towing.

An optional electronic locking rear axle replaces most of the limited-slip offerings on the 3.5-litre EcoBoost and 5.0-litre engines. It is now available in a range of axle ratios, and is also offered on 4×2 models.

Additional updates include a 163-in.-wheelbase option on the XL and XLT light-duty SuperCabs, and a heavy-duty-payload CrewCab with a 157-in.-wheelbase option on the XL, XLT and Lariat models.

Ford’s entire full-size pickup truck line now has six-speed automatic transmissions as standard. Engine choices include a 3.7-litre V6 producing 302 hp and 278 lb.-ft. of torque. Its trailer towing capacity is 6,100 lb. There’s also a 5.0-litre V8 with 360 hp and 380 lb.-ft. of torque and a trailer towing capacity of 10,000 lb. A 6.2-litre V8 offers 411 hp and 434 lb.-ft. of torque, and tows 11,300 lb. For the fuel-frugal driver, there’s a 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 producing 365 hp and 420 lb.-ft. of torque, with 11,300 lb. of trailer towing capacity.

Need to tow more weight? Ford’s 2012 F-Series Super Duty tow rating is 17,500 lb. with a conventional bumper hitch, and 24,500 lb. with a fifth-wheel hitch. That’s due to a beefed-up frame and hitch. Its heavy-duty 6.7-litre Power Stroke V8 diesel produces 400 hp and 800 lb.-ft. of torque. This engine delivers as much as 20 per cent better fuel economy than the 6.4-litre it replaced.

The Super Duty’s standard 6.2-litre V8 gas engine has 15 per cent better fuel economy compared with the previous engine and produces 405 lb.-ft. of torque and 385 hp. It is capable of running on E85 ethanol. New for 2012 is a compressed natural gas/propane prep engine option.

Posted by
Rob Koci is the publisher of Canadian Contractor magazine. 647 407 0754
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