It was strange to be driving this F-150 just after reading in the business pages about the shrunken market for big pickups. The consensus among those in the industry was that the casual-use buyer had largely abandoned the market and wasn’t likely to come back. That certainly doesn’t portend well for the F-150 Harley-Davidson, a shiny black $50,000 showpiece whose owner would sooner laser off his tattoos than throw a bunch of lumber or gravel into the truck bed.
Even as a show pony, this latest version of the Harley-Davidson F-series also seemed to me to be less successful than some of this truck’s previous iterations. The 5.4-liter engine’s 320 hp holds no performance advantage over lesser F-150s, and the swoosh side graphics look like they were lifted from an RV. At least the power-retractable running boards clean up the aesthetics and function well. And the black-and-red two-tone leather, accented with gloss black trim, is suitably flashy.
Given plenty of space, this mammoth beast is pleasant enough to drive, but the whole concept just feels so last century.
Joe Lorio, Senior Editor
Starting at almost $43,000 (for a two-wheel drive model), this is a pricey truck, but it’s not like Ford is asking for some ridiculous premium for a few Harley badges. That price is just a couple hundred dollars above the Platinum trim. With the Harley-Davidson model, the wheels grow from 20 inches to 22 inches but the Platinum edition does boast a few more standard features. I still think this Harley-Davidson price is pretty reasonable.
I agree with Joe Lorio that the graphic on the side of the truck is quite cheap and tacky, and I also don’t like the stretched “Harley-Davidson” badge on the sides of the bed. Inside, however, I do like the black-cherry-colored radio surround and complementing gloss black trim.
Driving is obviously no different than other F-150s. The truck trundles over railroad tracks and rough pavement. Power is just adequate, and the transmission seems reluctant to downshift. I’ve driven other F-150s, but this was the first time I noticed the lack of a “mode” button for the HVAC controls to determine where the heat is delivered. Your only options are a front defrost button and an “auto” button that decided to direct air at the windshield and my feet. It seems like a bizarre oversight that I couldn’t get heat to come out of the main dash vents.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
I took the F-150 Harley-Davidson to tailgate for a Detroit Lions game over the weekend. It made quite an impression, and the truck felt right at home with the audience. I made sure to show off the “man step” that folds out of the tailgate. That got mixed reactions; it was clear that the Ford fans thought it was ingenious, but most Dodge and Chevy guys thought it was the most ridiculous thing in the world. Just based on their comments alone, I could tell you what they drive, who they work for, and in some cases, the amount of alcohol they’d had.
With the custom paint color, exterior graphics, and interior trim pieces, it’s clear that a lot of attention went into this truck. But the most important part went untouched. Ford’s 5.4L V-8 lives under the hood. It produces 320 hp, but it’s the same powertrain as a regular F-150. For $50,000, I want something more.
Mike Ofiara, Road Test Coordinator
I was astounded by the size and the height of this truck as I opened the driver’s door, but then I was delighted by the huge, fold-down running board, even as I was disgusted by how over-the-top the whole thing is. At night, the interior of this truck looks like a bordello, what with its burgundy and black color scheme. It looks better in the daylight, and it’s actually a very high-quality interior.
The F-150 has no problems accelerating quickly to 80 mph on the freeway. It feels extremely solid and hammers down the freeway quite nicely and rides better than I remember the F-series riding. The Harley edition is not my thing, but obviously it is the thing for some people, or Ford wouldn’t make it. I found it strange that our test truck had a liner for the floor of the cargo bed but the sides were exposed paint, vulnerable to scratches.
Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor
Most die-hard truck guys aren’t big on gussied-up rigs, but I lost count of how many thumbs-up I received on my way back into town. Think what you will of Harley’s marketing department for endlessly lending its name to a string of pickups (and a semi-truck), but this latest H-D F-150 is rather sharp-both inside and out. I’m not the biggest Harley guy myself, but I do like some of the design tweaks, including the grille insert patterned off the cooling fins on a V-twin engine. The glossy plastic on the steering wheel, however, I could do without-it’s too eager to display fingerprints. Yes, Ford did leave the 5.4-liter V-8 untouched, but that’s just fine. Unlike earlier Harley F-150s, this isn’t advertised as being a four-door Lightning, and the 5.4-liter’s 320 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque are more than sufficient to move this beast around town. Unfortunately, I’m not blown away by this six-speed automatic transmission. Upshifts take forever, along with a considerable amount of coaxing the throttle pedal.
Evan McCausland, Web Producer
Where did the orange pinstripes go? I sort of liked those on the previous Harley-Davidson-edition F-150s. I must admit that the new Hog-150 is more tasteful in all black and chrome. I didn’t even notice the swoosh lower graphic, since its color didn’t significantly contrast with the paint on the rest of the truck. I’ve seen photos of other new Harley Fords, though, where the graphic is much brighter than the truck’s main hue, in which case Joe Lorio’s “RV” description is apt. The interior is attractive and solid, but I still think it’s overdone. I’ve never really understood the appeal of the Harley-Davidson F-150, but if Ford and Harley can make money on these vehicles, then more power to them. Honestly, I was way more excited by the power sliding rear window WITH A DEFROSTER than I was by the Harley trim. I’ve never seen these two rear-truck-window features combined before, but I love it! Anyway, enough about my weird hang-ups-as my coworkers have noted, and as I’ve observed in other new F-150s, this six-speed automatic transmission generally seems pretty obstinate. The truck has decent get-up-and-go from a standstill, but kickdowns are extremely sluggish, unless you happen to hit the sweet spot of the gearing. Finally, despite its giant wheels, this F-150 rides quite well, but it still can’t quite match the refinement of the Dodge Ram.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
2010 Ford F-150 Harley Davidson Edition
Base price (with destination): $46,810
Price as tested: $50,010
Locking removable tailgate with lift assist
Heated sideview mirrors
Memory drivers seat
Power sliding rear window
Sirius satellite radio
SYNC voice activated system
Capless fuel filling system
Rear parking sensors
Tire pressure monitoring system
Trailer towing package with sway control
Front side airbags
Options on this vehicle:
Heated and ventilated front seats – $995
Sony voice activated navigation system – $2430
Pickup bed extender – $195
Tailgate step – $350
Trailer brake controller – $230
Lariat premium discount – -$1000
Key options not on vehicle:
Skid plates – $160
14 / 18 / 15 mpg
Size: 5.4L 24V V-8
Horsepower: 320 hp @ 5000 rpm
Torque: 390 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm
Weight: 5832 lb
22 in. forged aluminum wheels
275/45 all-season tires