DEARBORN - Ford demonstrated the true meaning of “Built Ford Tough” at the 2013 Built Ford Tough Truck Durability Media Drive held recently at the company’s Michigan Proving Grounds in Romeo, Mich.
The event was designed to give journalists a firsthand opportunity to drive the current Ford F-150 equipped with a 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine versus the newest generations of the Chevrolet Silverado 5.3-liter V8, Toyota Tundra 5.7-liter V8 and Ram 5.7-liter V8 in a series of grueling durability tests.
“Built Ford Tough is more than a tagline. It’s our brand promise,” said Phil Collareno, vehicle line director, Ford Trucks. “Even the latest trucks from the competition can’t surpass today’s Ford F-150 in overall performance and customer choice.”
The media drove the trucks on three different test tracks chosen to showcase durability, ride-and-handling and towing performance.
“We chose courses that show how we test our trucks for real world customers,” said Collareno. “The tests we do to prove out our trucks to be Built Ford Tough ensure every customer out there can be confident for any condition they encounter.”
The Silver Creek durability track simulated driving on the worst type of road. Journalists drove the trucks 20 mph on the first half of the track where exaggerated chuck holes were grouped close together and 12 mph on the second half where the chuck holes were deeper and farther apart.
“The Ram and Tundra shook everywhere on the Silver Creek course,” said Karl Henkel, a reporter for The Detroit News. “I thought they were going to come off the track. They didn’t feel reliable.”
The second course gave drivers a chance to test ride and handling during high-speed lane changes and emergency braking situations on a slippery surface treated with a special substance to simulate hard-packed snow. The third test was designed to demonstrate towing capability pulling a 9000-lb. trailer up a 2,000-ft. hill at a 7 percent grade.
“The F-150 felt the most confident on all of the courses,” said Michael Berenis, a reporter for the Tampa Auto Examiner. “You can tell the competition is playing catch-up … and they haven’t gotten there yet.”
Bill Visnic, a reporter with Edmunds, said that even though the Silverado is new, it doesn’t feel any different.
“It hasn’t advanced,” he said. “The Toyota doesn’t even play close to these guys. The F-150 is still the most reliable and the EcoBoost engine is the best when it comes to towing.”
Jackie Dimarco, chief engineer, F-150, says Ford’s truck leadership is rooted in continuous improvement.
“The product and change cadence for our trucks is more rapid and revolutionary than that of the competition,” she said. “While it can take them years to revamp and update we are continuously improving.”
Improvements made since the current generation F-150 debuted in 2009 include:
• 2009: All-new truck
• 2010: Ford F-150 SVT Raptor, the ultimate off-road performance truck
• 2011: Four all-new engines, including the 3.5-liter EcoBoost
• 2013: Interior and exterior refresh, including MyFord Touch and all-new Limited luxury model
• 2014: F-150 Tremor, world’s first EcoBoost-powered sport truck and 3.7-liter V6 CNG prep kit
F-Series has been the best-selling pickup truck in America for more than 30 years and sales continue to climb, according to Ford Truck Marketing Manager Doug Scott.
“If you lined up the over 499,050 Ford F-Series trucks sold in 2013, they would stretch approximately 1,871 miles or the distance from Los Angeles to Memphis,” he said.