2012 Ford F-150 Review and Prices
The 2012 Ford F-150 is the best truck for you if you want a full-size pickup that combines proven toughness with game-changing powertrain advancements.
Ford’s most significant 2012 F-150 change is introduction of four-wheel drive that can remain engaged on all surfaces, making the F-150 the last of the domestic-brand full-size pickups to offer this convenience feature. In other updates, the 2012 Ford F-150 gains a sporty FX appearance package, the SVT Raptor edition gains off-road performance enhancements, and the Harley-Davidson model is available with snakeskin upholstery. These changes come on the heels of a model-year 2011 update that gave the F-150 three new engines and a standard six-speed automatic transmission.
Should you buy a 2012 Ford F-150 or wait for the 2013 Ford F-150? Ford probably will continue to tweak feature and trim details but isn’t likely significantly change the 2013 F-150. So if you need a great pickup now and the Ford strikes your fancy, there’s little reason not to buy a 2012 model. Of course, waiting for the 2013 F-150 would allow you to take advantages of any changes that do come about -- but also subject you to inevitable model-year price inflation.
2012 Ford F-150 Changes back to top
Styling: Styling changes to the 2012 Ford F-150 don’t involve new sheetmetal or body styles but do expand the already broad array of available dress-up items, including an FX package that includes stealthy flat-black exterior trim (details below).
Ford doesn’t fiddle with the muscular, squared-off basic look that came on line with this truck’s last redesign in model-year 2009. Again carrying unique trim and styling cues, however, are the 2012 F-150’s specialty models: the SVT Raptor off-road sport truck and the Harley-Davidson edition, which pays visual homage to the renowned American motorcycle line.
The 2012 Ford F-150 continues the widest selection of cab styles and cargo-bed lengths of any full-size pickup. The basic two-door, three-passenger Regular Cab is favored by fleets. The six-passenger 2012 F-150 SuperCab extended-cab features half-size rear doors for its smallish rear seating area. And the six-passenger SuperCrew crew cab has four conventional side doors and a cabin as accommodating as that of any full-size SUV.
Rivals also offer these three cab styles but F-150 alone makes all its cabs available with both long- and short cargo beds. Regular and SuperCabs are offered with 6-foot-5-inch and 8-foot beds, SuperCrews with 5-foot-5-inch and 6-foot-5-inch beds.
The 2012 F-150’s lineup again starts with the relatively unadorned base XL trim level. The XLT level adds a more hospitable array of amenities and is the volume seller. These XL and XLT trims are available on all three cab styles.
The uplevel SXT trim is offered on regular- and extended cabs, while the dressier FX models come in SuperCab and SuperCrew form. FX models are available with the new-for-2012 FX appearance package. It adds flat-black body trim and unique flat-black 20-inch alloy wheels. Inside, the FX package includes black leather upholstery with red perforations and red piping and cabin accents with black and brushed-metal finishes.
The 2012 F-150 takes on a luxury-car tone with Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum editions. The Platinum level, for example, treats passengers to front and rear heated leather seats and cabin trim of real wood and aluminum. King Ranch and Platinum levels are exclusive to SuperCabs and SuperCrews while the Lariat is available on all but regular-cab F-150s.
No rival offers anything quite like the SVT Raptor. Hailing from Ford’s Special Vehicle Team factory tuning arm, the Raptor is conceived as an aggressive off-road pickup in the mold of a high-speed desert racer. It’s seven-inches wider than a base F-150 to make room for its high-performance suspension components and 35-inch all-terrain tires. It’s available in SuperCrew and SuperCab form and for 2012 can be customized with a new Raptor-logo bodyside graphic with gloss, matte, and textured black finishes. Also new for the 2012 Raptor is an interior color accent package with unique leather inserts and aluminum trim.
The F-150 Harley-Davidson model comes only in SuperCrew form and includes its own billet-style bright chrome grille, Harley badges and -- new for 2012 -- 22-inch machined-aluminum wheels with painted accents and center caps adorned with the Harley-Davidson logo. Inspired by tank inserts on premium-level Harley-Davidson motorcycles are new “snakeskin” bodyside graphics and snakeskin leather-trimmed seats.
Mechanical: The 2012 F-150 gets some strategic mechanical upgrades but retains the impressive four-engine lineup that came with its complete model-year 2011 powertrain overhaul. That overall included introduction of the deservedly acclaimed twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 with the power of an eight-cylinder engine and the fuel economy of six. For model-year 2012, Ford extends the 36-gallon fuel tank previously used in long-bed F-150s to every EcoBoost-equipped version with four-wheel drive (4wd). Ford says this gives 4wd EcoBoost F-150s a range of 756 miles between fillips; two-wheel-drive (2wd) versions keep the 26-gallon tank.
F-150’s base engine remains an all-aluminum 3.7-liter V-6 with 302 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. (To most truck buyers, torque is more important than horsepower because it represents the true muscle behind acceleration and pulling power.) The 3.7-liter V-6 is among the strongest base engines in the full-size-pickup field and is available in all but SuperCab and SuperCrew long-bed 2012 F-150s. Maximum towing capacity with this engine is 6,100 pounds.
The F-150’s single most popular engine is the dual-overhead cam 5.0-liter V-8 that’s shared with the Ford Mustang GT. In the pickup it rates 360 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. This engine is available in all iterations of the F-150 except the specialty models and is standard in Lariat and King Ranch versions. It’s rated to tow 9,800 pounds, more than sufficient to pull all but the largest boats and trailers.
Ford admits to initial doubts that hard-core pickup drivers would accept a six-cylinder engine to do a V-8’s job. But the EcoBoost V-6 has been well received by F-150 buyers, accounting for some 45 percent of total sales. Also used in the Ford Taurus SHO performance sedan and available in other Ford and Lincoln models, this 3.5-liter engine uses advances such as direct fuel injection and two turbochargers. In F-150 form, it’s rated at 365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. It’s optional in all versions of the F-150 save regular-cab short-beds and the Raptor and Harley-Davidson models. Owing to the engine’s relatively light weight and high output, Ford claims a class-leading 11,300-pound towing ceiling for specific F-150s equipped with the EcoBoost V-6 and the trailer package.
To match that towing capacity in other F-150s you’d need to get one with the truck’s largest-displacement engine, a 6.2-liter V-8 rated at 411 horsepower and 434 pound-feet of torque. This V-8 is standard on the Harley-Davidson and Raptor models and otherwise available only on SuperCrew F-150s. It also requires heavy-duty or trailer packages to attain the 11,300-pound towing maximum.
The 2012 F-150’s sole transmission is a six-speed automatic.
Like all full-size pickups, the F-150 is based on a rear-wheel-drive configuration with 4wd available on all models and standard on the Raptor. The basic 4wd setup is a so-called part-time system designed to be disengaged on dry pavement to prevent drivetrain wear. For model-year 2012, 4wd F-150 Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum models gain a full-time system with a “4x4 auto” setting that allows 4wd to remain engaged on all surfaces. This is an advance already available on the F-150’s Ram and General Motors rivals and, among other benefits, can help quell tire slip and fishtailing on pavement when the cargo bed is empty or lightly loaded.
Among other upgrades for model-year 2012, F-150s gain Hill-Start Assist to prevent rolling back on steep upgrades. Traction is improved with introduction of an electronic locking rear axle to replace most of the limited-slip rear axles on both 2wd and 4wd F-150s equipped with the EcoBoost V-6 or the 5.0-liter V-8.
The 2012 Raptor gets its own traction upgrade courtesy of a newly standard Torsen locking front differential for superior grip in low-speed off-road conditions. Finally, all 4wd F-150s gain a “neutral tow” capability that allows the truck to be flat-towed behind another vehicle without risk of drivetrain damage.
Like such pickups as the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and Ram 1500, the F-150 belongs to the “half-ton” pickup category, named loosely for the trucks’ general payload capacity (the F-250 and Ram 2500, for example, are three-quarter-ton trucks). Payload denotes the maximum weight a truck is designed to carry. Maximum payloads for 2012 F-150 models are 1,810 pounds for regular-cab short-beds and 2,090 pounds for regular-cab long-beds. SuperCab payloads are 2,080 pounds for short-beds and 1,990 for long-beds. SuperCrew maximums are 1,930 pounds for short-beds, 2,000 pounds for long-bed. Heavy-duty packages available on long-bed versions increase payloads to 3,060 pounds for regular-cabs, 2,670 for SuperCabs, and 2,590 for SuperCrews.
Features: The 2012 Ford-F150 continues to offer a long list of luxury-car-like amenities and can still get the job done via a number of clever work-related features.
Among model-year 2012 additions, the optional luxury packages available on the Raptor and FX-trim F-150s now include front seats that are cooled as well as heated. And 2012 Raptors are available with a class-exclusive off-road front-camera system. Active under 15 mph, it uses a front-bumper-mounted video camera that displays on the dashboard navigation screen a view of off-road obstacles not otherwise visible to the driver.
Ford’s GPS navigation system is optional on FX editions of the 2012 F-150 and is standard on Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum, Harley-Davidson, and Raptor models. It includes voice activation, an 8-inch dashboard touchscreen, and the subscription-based Sirius Travel Link system, which provides current weather and traffic information, sports scores, movie listings and even local gasoline prices.
Continuing on the infotainment front, the 2012 Ford F-150 again offers Ford’s Sync multimedia control system developed with Microsoft. It includes Bluetooth hands-free mobile-phone and music connectivity and a USB iPod interface. It enables voice control of audio and navigation functions. A 700-watt 5.1-channel Sony surround-sound audio system is another example of available entertainment features.
Of note to those with young drivers in the family, the F-150 employs Ford’s MyKey system that can limit top speed to 80 mph and audio volume to 44 percent of maximum; it can also encourage seatbelt usage by disabling the audio system until they’re buckled.
For those who consider F-150s a tool of their trade, there’s a front center console large enough to hold two laptop computers, with ridges molded into the edges of the bin to accommodate file folders. Ford’s Work Solutions department again offers an optional dashboard-mounted computer that can connect to the Internet (with a wireless data subscription charge) and connect to wireless printers and other peripherals. The automaker’s Tool Link feature helps keep track of tools and other portable equipment via small stick-on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags. The idea is to prevent these items from being left back at the shop or forgotten on the job site.
The 2012 F-150 is available with a cage-type bed extender that folds neatly away when not in use. Ford doesn’t match the side-wall cargo storage of the Ram RamBox, but the F-150 does offer a Midbox enclosed storage system that provides protective, lockable storage for tools and other accoutrements without sacrificing cargo-bed length. And optional side mounted plastic tool bins can hold up to 60 pounds and can double as rolling beverage coolers. Metal steps that slide from beneath the rear or sides of the cargo bed for easier access also are among the 2012 F-150’s continuing options.
The 2012 F-150 remains a leader in towing stability with sway control that automatically modulates engine power and selectively applies the brakes if a trailer starts to become wayward. A factory-integrated trailer-brake controller also is available. So is a rearview camera designed to make parking easier and safer and situated to give the driver a view of a trailer hitch. All F-150 models include seat-mounted front-side airbags as well as curtain airbags that help protect outboard occupants’ heads in side-impact collisions.
2012 Ford F-150 Prices back to top
Base-price range for the 2012 Ford F-150 is $23,895-$52,990. That range is stretched at the upper level by the F-150’s specialty models – Harley-Davidson editions start at $49,715, for example – but base prices for mainstream F-150s are otherwise competitive with those of other full-size-pickup lines. (Base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination fee; Ford’s fee for the 2012 F-150 is $995.)
Indeed, with scores of trim levels, cab styles, wheelbases, and options, the 2012 Ford F-150 offers arguably the most extensive model lineup of any vehicle on the road. That makes listing prices a daunting proposition, so we’ll categorize them by cab and bed type and by drivetrain choice. Bear in mind that optional engines and features can increase these numbers substantially.
Regular-cab models: Base-price range for 2012 F-150 regular-cab short-bed models is $23,895-$28,685 with 2wd and $28,630-$32,110 with 4wd. Base-price range for regular-cab long beds is $24,290-$28,990 with 2wd, $28-930-$32,410 with 4wd.
SuperCab models: Base-price range for 2012 F-150 SuperCab short-bed models is $27,810-$36,005 with 2wd and $31,230-$39,280 with 4wd. Base-price for SuperCab long beds is $28,110-$31,575 with 2wd, $31,530-$35,935 with 4wd.
SuperCrew models: Base-price range for 2012 F-150 SuperCrew short-bed models is $31,470-$45,320 with 2wd, $35,655-$48,595 with 4wd. Base-price range for 2012 F-150 SuperCrew long beds is $32,685-$45,620 with 2wd, $38,265-$48,895 with 4wd.
The 2012 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor is priced from $43,565 in SuperCab form and from $46,465 in SuperCrew guise.
The 2012 F-150 Harley-Davidson model comes only as a SuperCrew crew cab and starts at $49,715 with 2wd and at $52,990 with 4wd.
Among key options, the EcoBoost V-6 is a $1,895 upgrade from the 3.7-liter V-6 engine and, on models that come standard with the 5.0-liter V-8, an $895 replacement for the V-8. By comparison, it costs $1,000 to substitute the 5.0-liter V-8 for 3.7-liter V-6. And the new-for-2012 FX appearance package retails for $2,195.
2012 Ford F-150 Fuel Economy back to top
EPA fuel-economy ratings for the 2012 F-150 generally equal or exceed those of rivals with engines of similar power. The exception is the relative fuel thrift of the EcoBoost V-6, which has the muscle of a big V-8 but gas-mileage ratings more consistent with of those of rivals’ sub-300-horsepower V-6s.
Fuel-economy ratings for 2012 F-150s with the 3.7-liter V-6 are 17/23 mpg city/highway and 19 mpg combined with 2wd and 16/21/18 mpg with 4wd.
For F-150s with the 5.0-liter V-8, fuel-economy ratings are 15/21 mpg city/highway, 17 mpg combined with 2wd and 14/19/18 with 4wd.
Fuel-economy ratings for F-150s with the EcoBoost V-6 are 16/22 mpg city/highway, 18 mpg combined with 2wd and 15/21/17 with 4wd. Many automakers recommended or require pricier premium-octane gas for their turbocharged models but Ford says the F-150 EcoBoost V-6 is tuned to run on regular-octane gas, like the other F-150 engines.
Fuel-economy ratings for 2012 F-150s with the 6.2-liter V-8 demonstrate part of the appeal of the EcoBoost V-6. With the 6.2 V-8, ratings are 13/18 mpg city/highway, 14 mpg combined with 2wd and 12/16/13 mpg with 4wd. Fuel-economy ratings for the 2012 F-150 SVT Raptor are 11/16 mpg city/highway, 13 mpg combined.
Note that the 3.7-liter V-6 and 5.0-liter V-8 can also run on E85, the 85-percent-ethanol, 15-percent-gasoline blend. Our road tests have not revealed noticeable differences in performance on E85, but there is a gap in fuel economy.
While government subsidized pricing can reduce the pump price of E85 compared with gasoline, the blend returns substantially fewer miles per gallon than gas. For example, a 2wd F-150 with the 3.7-liter V-6 is rated 17/18/23 mpg on gasoline but just 12/14/17 on E85 and a 2wd F-150 with the 5.0 V-8 rates 15/17/21 on gas but only 11/13/15 mpg on E85.
2012 Ford F-150 Release Date back to top
The 2012 Ford F-150 went on sale in the third quarter of 2011.
What's next for the 2012 Ford F-150 back to top
Expect this generation F-150 to get only minor updates or styling tweaks until its fully redesigned successor arrives for model-year 2015 or 2016. The next generation will be built on a new platform, code-named P552, and it’s a near-certainty that it’ll be designed with increased fuel economy as a major priority to help meet 2016 federal corporate standards.
To that end the next-generation F-150 could be a bit smaller and lighter than today’s model. And rather than being available across the line, V-8 engines may be limited to very specific versions to help keep the fuel-economy average in check. Indeed, future pickup buyers who truly need to haul and tow the biggest loads may have little choice but to move up to F-250 and F-350 models and the like. They’re considered commercial vehicles and will largely continue to be exempt from tightening fuel economy standards.
Expect the F-150’s next-generation engine lineup to consist of a version of the EcoBoost V-6, a standard non-turbo V-6, and perhaps a four-cylinder EcoBoost similar to that in the 2011 Ford Explorer crossover. With 237 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque, that EcoBoost four is less powerful than the current F-150’s 3.7-liter V-6 but should suffice for light-duty needs and will likely be offered only with 2wd.
There’s also been talk of Ford installing a diesel engine in the F-150. Ford sells several diesel-powered vehicles in Europe. The automaker admits diesels could be adapted for vehicles sold in the U.S., but says the economics of selling them here remain unfavorable. It’s not likely, at least from this perspective, that Ford will build a hybrid-powered version of the F-150, as General Motors does with the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.
2012 Ford F-150 Competition back to top
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500: These General Motors siblings do without such F-150 offerings as the farsighted EcoBoost V-6, high-end sport and luxury models, and a crew-cab with a long-bed. Silverado and Sierra instead stake their fortunes on proven powertrains and familiar styling. Indeed, their basic design hasn’t changed since its model-year 2007 debut and they’re beginning to feel their age, particularly in a shortage of rear-seat accommodations in the extended- and crew-cab bodies. Still, as legions of loyal owners attest, there’s lots of value here, with a useful selection of cab/bed combinations, work-ready specifications, leather upholstery, and most of the modern conveniences. A V-6 and two V-8 engines are offered, with the most popular being GM’s workhorse 5.3-liter V-8 rated at 315 horsepower, 335 pound-feet of torque and 15/21 mpg city/highway 17 combined with both 2wd and 4wd. A gas V-8-electric hybrid version also is available and boosts fuel economy to 20/23/21, but it’s pricey. Model-year 2012 base-price range is $22,940-$50,190 for the Silverado 1500 and $26,180-$50,560 for the Sierra 1500. Look for a major makeover in model-year 2014.
Ram 1500: Last redesigned for model-year 2009, Ram remains fresh with bold styling and truly civilized ride and handling qualities, thanks to its class-exclusive rear coil suspension instead of traditional leaf springs. Ram is available as a short- and long-bed regular cab and with extended- and crew-cab bodies, though the latter two don’t have long-bed versions. Like the F-150 it includes a long list of available features that range from in-bed storage to a dealer-installed wi-fi system that allows portable computers and other devices to connect to the Internet. A V-6 and two V-8s are offered, the clear star being the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 with 390 horsepower, 407 pound-feet of torque and ratings of 14/20/16 mpg with 2wd, 13/19/15 with 4wd. Note that this pickup is no longer the “Dodge” Ram. Parent company Chrysler Group has spun-off Ram Truck from Dodge and markets it as a separate brand. Model-year 2012 base price range is $22,270-$44,120. Ram won’t see major changes until model-year 2014 and its future almost certainly includes the corporate Pentastar V-6 and an eight-speed automatic transmission in place of the current lackluster V-6/four-speed automatic combo. Base price range for the 2012 Ram 1500 is $22,270-$44,120.
Toyota Tundra: As Toyota found with subpar sales of the Tundra (and Nissan with the slow-selling Titan) brand loyalty among domestic-brand truck buyers is a tough nut to crack. The current-generation Tundra dates to model-year 2007 and was the first import nameplate to directly challenge the domestics for size and muscle. The 2012 version remains handsome and capable, with a fairly expansive lineup that includes long- and short-bed regular- and extended cabs and a short-bed crew cab. Engine offerings are a V-6 (270 horsepower, 278 pounds-feet of torque and 18 mpg city/highway combined) a 4.7-liter V-8 (310 horsepower, 327 pound-feet, and 17 mpg combined with 2wd and 16 mpg with 4wd), and a 5.7-liter V-8 (381 horses, 401 pound-feet, 15 mpg combined with 2wd, 14 with 4wd). Tundra treats occupants to a comfortable cabin and delivers controlled ride and handling, but appeals mostly to buyers who use big pickups for non-commercial chores, and those buyers are fewer and fewer in today’s tepid economy. Base-price range for the 2012 Tundra is $26,130-$44,570. Expect its next full redesign to come for model-year 2014.
UPDATED BY CHUCK GIAMETTA