When I was young, my older brother bought a Harley Sportster. Black and chrome. He spent a whole lot of time polishing it.
He let me ride it. Once.
I didn’t do particularly well.
Which explains the once.
And thus ended my motorcycle riding for all time.
Sometimes dumping your older brother’s bright, shiny Sportster can have that effect.
Ford has been offering a Harley Davidson F-150 since 1999, when it introduced what was then the first high-end luxury truck in its lineup. It is a trim package. Aimed at the partisans of the brand, of which there are many. Sometimes they have to have something with doors and a roof. Yet Harley pride is something that they not only wear when they’re wearing leathers, but is something that wants to be expressed more frequently.
Given my non-Harley orientation, I had been dismissive of the Harley F-150, thinking it just sort of a marketing gimmick, an effort to glom on to success elsewhere.
But when I climbed behind the wheel of the 2012 Ford Harley-Davidson F-150, I got it. If I was a Harley owner, and if I was looking for something with serious black-and-chrome presence and an additional pair of tires, I’d buy one of these in a heartbeat. Well, that’s not entirely true, because when you look at the base price of $51,995, add in the $995 for destination and delivery, and a couple options (Pickup bed extender: $250; tailgate step: $375), you’re talking a total MSRP of $53,615, which is some serious jack. So maybe there would be some heart palpitations involved.
What is most impressive about this vehicle is the way the interior details are executed. The trim panels are coated with a high-gloss Tuxedo Black paint, which is offset with elements with brushed aluminum. This is technical. But because we’re talking motorcycle, there is the judicious use of a snakeskin texture, whether it is on the scuff plate or the leather trimmed seats. To remind you that you are in a Harley-Davidson F-150, there are handmade cloisonné Harley badges on the seatbacks and on the console lid. The badges are made by the same company that produces them for Harley. And also on the center console is a laser-engraved plaque that features the vehicle’s VIN number and the actual build number of the truck. People talk about attention to detail. This delivers.
On the exterior, there is a unique bodyside graphic as well as “Harley-Davidson” in chrome letters across the box side that are so big you could read them across a parking lot. The vehicle rides on 22’s, which means that it is a bit on the high side vis-à-vis getting in. That is readily addressed by a standard fully deployable running board that pivots out when a door is opened and tucks back in when the door is closed: this is integrated so well that when the doors are closed the running board appears to be a nice metal trim running along the bottom of the cab. And it should be noted that there are running boards and then there’s this one: it is as sturdy as an I-beam. Really quite a bit of engineering.
There is a 411-hp, 6.2-liter V8 behind the six-bar billet-style grille. While it provides the goods as in a 7,500-lb. towing capacity, there is also the nontrivial issue of the EPA fuel economy estimates of 12 mpg city and 16 mpg highway, and if you go on a roadtrip with the Harley F-150 you’re going to be happy that it has a 36-gallon fuel tank. . .until you have to fill it.
This is one bad-ass truck.
Engine: 6.2-liter V8
Material: Iron block and aluminum heads
Horsepower: 411 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque: 434 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 144.5 in.
Length: 231.9 in.
Width: 79.2 in.
Height: 76.7 in.
Curb weight: 5,984 lb.
Base MSRP: $51,995
As driven (inc. $995 destination): $53,615
EPA: 12/16 mpg city/hwy