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2009 Ford F-150 Platinum Lariat 4x4

There are nearly seven different trim levels offered on the 2009 F-150, but this new Platinum is about as swanky as they come. While the marketing folks might not admit it, this decked-out crew-cab truck is essentially a replacement for the late Lincoln Mark LT in all but name (unless you're shopping in Mexico, where it's sold with an awkward bow-wave grille tacked on the front).

Ford closely followed the LT's recipe (take the F-150, lard it with luxury features, and jack up the price), especially inside the cabin. Designers liberally applied brushed aluminum finishes to the dashboard, center console, steering wheel, and door panels, and there's also plenty of woodgrain trim. Although it's immediately familiar to anyone who's spent time inside an F-150, the Platinum cabin oozes a level of sophistication that's previously been lacking in Ford trucks.

Mechanically, the Platinum differs little, if at all, from the last 2009 Lariat we drove. The 24-valve, 5.4-liter V-8 lurks underhood, and it's mated to a six-speed transmission. Power is adequate, especially in this heavy crew-cab application, but the gearbox could use some additional development time. I grew too familiar with the occasional harsh 3-4 shift and a mild jolt whenever I brought the truck to a halt. Such hiccups could be overlooked on a base work truck, but not on a $46,000 one.

Evan McCausland, Web Producer

Chocolate is apparently the new black in car interiors, if you go by this GIANT black F-150's gorgeous brown leather-trimmed cabin and by the slightly more upmarket brown leather in last night's Aston Martin DB9 convertible test car. (And it was a long way up from that low-slung Aston to the treehouse-high cab of the F-150.) Black over brown is a surprising combination at first, but it's a perfect, warming complement to the brushed aluminum cabin trim.

Getting inside is a real exercise, helped by the retractable running board that offers the necessary leg-up. Don't forget to check the option box for the tailgate step and the mid-bed step if you ever want to visit your cargo again.

Jean Jennings, President & Editor-in-Chief

Just in case Jean wasn't clear enough, this thing is GIANT. It feels a lot bigger than our similarly priced Four Seasons Dodge Ram (in fact, it's taller but a bit narrower), and while I haven't spent enough time in either truck to say definitively which one is better, my first instinct would be to go with the Dodge for this reason. The F-150 never lets you forget how big and brawny it is, which might be fine if you work on a ranch, construction site, or other locale common to pickup truck commercials, but around town it gets to be a pain. The Ram also has the nicer interior of the two, as the F-150 uses a lot of materials that look expensive and nicely textured but are in fact hard as a rock.

David Zenlea, Assistant Editor

This is a very nice truck, but the leaf-spring rear suspension is quite apparent when compared with our Four Seasons Dodge Ram. The Ford is much more bouncy longitudinally, and these bounces tend to linger, whereas the Dodge offers a more compliant ride.

It doesn't seem like the F-150 is geared very well for towing, even though there are nicely integrated trailer-brake controls on the dash. Acceleration off the line seems sluggish, and the transmission holds second gear for a long time and is very reluctant to downshift to first unless you really jump on the gas. I'm guessing that this is a fuel-economy provision. Speaking of mileage, the trip computer indicated that I averaged 15 mpg over my 45-mile commute: not bad but not great, especially considering that I drove it pretty sedately.

The interior of this Platinum-edition Ford smells like a nice shoe store, thanks to the attractive brown leather seating surfaces. In other gimmicky news, I really like the hydraulic mini-running boards that are in front of each rear wheel, assisting access to the front of the pickup bed. The tailgate step and its handrail are a bit less useful, at least to my young legs and back. And even though the tailgate step is nicely integrated into the top of the tailgate, it squeaks noticeably when you're driving down the road with the power sliding rear window open.

Call me crazy, but I actually miss the Lincoln Mark LT.

Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor

2009 Ford F-150 Platinum Lariat 4x4

Base price (with destination): $43,885Price as tested: $46,670

Options: 3.55 limited-slip rear axle $300Full-coverage rubber floormats $95Cargo management package $200Cargo management system $115Stowable bed extender $195Box-side step $325Tailgate step $350Trailer brake controller $230

Fuel economy: (city/hwy/combined) 14/18/16 mpg

Engine: Size: 5.4-liter V-8Horsepower: 310 hp @ 5000 rpmTorque: 365 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Wheels/Tires: 20" polished aluminum wheels275/55R20 all-terrain tires

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