Poseur trucks. Since the late 1990s, we’ve heard about these vehicles; giant 4×4 pickups that ride on polished wheels shod in low profile performance tires, sport teak bed liners and fancy leather interiors. The closest to seeing dirt these trucks come is when a bug hits the windshield.
|1. At $48,955 the Harley-Davidson is the priciest and most exclusive model in the current F-150 line up.
2. The Harley-Davidson was the first F-150 to feature 20 and later 22-inch wheels as standard fitment.
3. Sold exclusively with a 6.2L V8 it makes 411 horsepower and 434 lb-ft of torque.
4. The seats and center console lid emblems are handmade by the same company that supplies emblems to Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
Nonetheless, for a certain segment of the population, these rigs have no equal. Whether it’s a Denali, King Ranch or a Laramie, they have a following. So when an automaker teams up with a notorious American motorcycle manufacturer, you’ve arguably got a truck that outdoes them all, right?
Well yes and no. The Harley-Davidson Edition F-150 has been an undisputed sales niche success since it was first introduced back as a 2000 model. And today, it’s staple individual model of Ford’s bestseller with a bed (in fact, some 700,000 Harley Edition trucks have been sold to date).
NOW OFFERED IN WHITE
So what makes the Harley edition stand out? Well for starters it’s got that connection to one of America’s most legendary nameplates. And for 2012 it’s received a number of improvements. On the outside, one of the most notable is the edition of a new graphic package with a silver snakeskin texture, plus the availability of White Platinum Tri-Coat paint (previous Harley trucks were either Tuxedo Black or Ingot Silver). There’s also a unique billet type grille treatment that lends this rig a bit of a custom touch, along with smoked headlight lenses and bold chrome “Harley-Davidson” letters on each side of the box.
But the gingerbread doesn’t stop there. The 2012 version sports 22, yes 22-inch wheels, shod in Pirelli Scorpion Zero P275/45R22 low profile rubber. Perhaps it’s a bit of a stretch on a 4×4 pickup but then again, Harley trucks have always been about the bling factor.
Getting in is aided by the standard retractable running boards and once inside, you’re greeted with a spacious, well-equipped cabin. It’s pretty much standard higher end F-150 fare, with large front bucket seats, massive center console and just about everything trimmed in leather, in this case snakeskin for the chairs and also the steering wheel. Just in case you forget what you’re driving there’s a big H-D emblem on top of the center armrest and special serial number plaque, though black and satin chrome interior trim is actually a nice touch.
Considering it’s stature in the F-150 hierarchy, the Harley-Davidson comes loaded with standard features. There’s a 4.2-inch LCD screen between the speedometer and tach that provides the driver with all kinds of information, from actual fuel economy, to range until empty, towing performance, engine and transmission temperature, just about anything you’d really want to know.
In addition a larger, 8-inch screen mounted smack dab in the middle of the center stack incorporates a navigation system with voice recognition entry. During our tenure, which saw us taking a family road trip to Rochester NY during Spring Break, the navigation and voice commands proved pretty straightforward to use, which isn’t always the case, even today. The 8-inch screen also provides climate control and info-entertainment functions, which like the navigation system, we found straightforward to use. Not only that, but the inclusion of standard SiriusXM satellite radio helped the miles fly by.
In terms of comfort, both front and rear seats provide good support and feel comfortable even after hours of driving. Eight way power on the driver’s chair means just about anybody shouldn’t have a problem getting comfortable. Power adjustable pedals are also a nice touch. One great feature about the current line of F-150 SuperCrew four-doors is rear ingress/egress and storage space. The doors swing open almost a full 90 degrees while the back bench seat folds up, providing a sizeable 57.6 cubic feet of space, which is more than ample for loading bulky items, such as a big flat screen TV.
Other standard features on the Harley truck include a power moonroof, 110-volt power outlet behind the center console and a remote start. The latter came in handy to heat up the cabin when a cold snap returned.
BIG TRUCK, BIG MOTOR
Like the even more specialized Raptor, the 2012 F-150 Harley-Davidson is only offered with a single engine, Ford’s 6.2-liter V8. The big V8 is rated at 411 horsepower and 434 lb-ft of torque. Coupled with a standard six-speed automatic transmission, it’s a gutsy engine with more than enough thrust to move this 6.052 lb behemoth, even considering maximum power and torque occur fairly high up the rpm scale (5500 and 4500 rpm respectively).
Quick bursts of acceleration are effortless, meaning there are absolutely no issues when merging onto busy freeways and the exhaust note is absolutely wonderful. Compared to this an EcoBoost truck sounds like chainsaw under load.
As for fuel economy, well don’t expect miracles. That said; in our case it was slightly better than it could have been. A 12 mpg return in town was a bit wincing but 18 on the open road was a bit better than we expected. In terms of yanking stuff behind, Ford rates the 6.2 at a towing capacity of 7500 lbs in this application. While this isn’t as high as some other One-Fifty powertrains, it’s still more than adequate for most needs, such as towing motorcycles, sleds or cars (which in Ford’s eyes is probably the most owners of a truck such as this will likely do).
SLIPPERY WHEN WET
Teamed with the 6.2 V8 is a standard six-speed automatic transmission. It’s a smooth shifting piece, whether under normal driving, or more aggressive throttle applications and the gearing is well matched to the big V8’s torque curve. Even when descending steeper grades it doesn’t tend to hunt like some other truck transmissions, yet still helps to provide adequate engine braking in order to slow the Harley’s substantial mass.
Harley trucks are available with either two-wheel drive or an electronically selectable part-time 4×4 system and our test example was equipped with the latter. Unfortunately, while the Pirelli Scorpion Zeros provide great dry weather grip, when things turn slippery, it’s a different story. Light throttle application is crucial to prevent excessive wheelspin, while through corners, lower speed is essential; too much velocity and you’ll slide off the road. And once you’ve gone there’s little chance of coming back without the aid of a tow truck. If you’re planning on doing some proper off-roading (it’s the Harley so really why would you), or live in a cold and snowy winter climate, it’s a good idea to invest in some aftermarket rims and rubber; saving the factory stuff for smoother pavement and nice days.
That said, despite its size and weight, under most conditions, the F-150 Harley-Davidson, as big pickups go is really quite nice to drive. Despite the tires’ low 45 mm sidewall profile, ride is actually quite exemplary, even on bumpy New York streets and highways, while the steering isn’t as slow as you might expect (it’s hydraulically assisted on this one, not electrically as is the case with the smaller engined F-150s).
In terms of pricing, the 2012 F-150 Harley-Davidson has a MSRP of $48,955 in 2WD form, with 4×4 versions like this starting out at $52,230. Given that it’s essentially a fully loaded truck, options aren’t that extensive, though add features such as the electronic locking rear differential, bed extender and tailgate step and you’ll still end up tacking on an additional $1,000 and don’t forget there’s still the destination charge ($995 and taxes to consider).
With that in mind, does the idea of a $65,000 Ford pickup truck seem a little excessive? Perhaps. Yet given the proliferation of luxury lined pickups in recent years and corresponding sales figures there’s clearly a ready market for trucks like this.
Those for whom the Raptor is a bit much for every day driving, or the idea of an F-150 XLT, King Ranch or even Platinum isn’t quite exclusive enough, the Harley-Davidson is likely the ideal choice. While it might be tempting to label the 2012 F-150 Harley-Davidson a poseur pickup, in reality this is a highly dependable truck that carries two of the most equitable nameplates in the American self-propelled universe. And if you happen to be a motorcycle enthusiast of the Milwaukee persuasion, is there really any other choice when it comes to a daily driver, tow or support vehicle?