2009 Toyota Tundra vs 2009 Ford F150 – Part One – Mechanicals
Ford insiders often acknowledge that the F150 is the heart and soul of the company, and for good reason. The F-Series pickup is the best selling vehicle in the USA, and one of the best selling vehicles in the world for the last 30 years or so. The F150 is ubiquitous, as American as apple pie, and it arguably sets the standard in the world of full-size pickups.
In other words, the new 2009 F150 is stiff competition for the Tundra. After a delayed F150 launch and a big Ford advertising blitz, it’s time to put the Tundra and the F150 side by side. This comparison will officially expand on and replace our preliminary comparison of the Tundra and the new 2009 F150 (which was completed back in January 2008). We’ll use the same comparison formula we used back in our 2007 Tundra vs 2007 F150 comparison, and we’ve also reached out to freelancer Dan Murphy to help reduce the perception of bias. Without further delay, let the showdown begin!
2009 will be a tough year to be a Ford guy if your sense of self-worth is placed entirely on horsepower ratings. The new top of the line F-150 is powered by the old 5.4-liter, 24-valve V-8. Ford’s engineers managed to coax 20 more hp out of the 2009 5.4 as well as boost torque about 10%, mostly as a result of engine control system tweaks, a new straight-through exhaust system, and open-valve injection. The other F-150 engine choices are the old 4.6-liter, 2-valve engine mated to a 4-speed transmission (248 hp, 294 lb/ft. of torque) and a new-to-the-F150 4.6-liter, 3-valve with the new 6-speed tranny (292 hp., 320 lb./ft. torque). The best F150 fuel economy (15/21) is available on an F150 with the SFE package that we’ve previously reviewed.
Since most Tundra buyers opt for the 5.7, and since most of Ford’s towing and payload figures are based on a 5.4, we’re going to ignore comparing the Toyota 4.7 and the Ford 4.6 (which are surprisingly similar).
The Tundra 5.7L is a rocket compared to the F150, with power readily available through the power curve. There’s really no getting around it, the Tundra goes. The 5.7-liter V-8 rates 381 hp and 401 lb/ft. of torque and you can feel it even weaving through city traffic. Toyota is a half-step ahead in the performance technology department with a sophisticated variable 32-valve Timing system and Acoustically Controlled Induction, but the “tech gap” between the F150 and the Tundra is narrower than ever. Ford is expected to release a version of their turbocharged direct injection 3.5L “EcoBoost” V6 in the F150 next year, and at that time Ford will likely take the engine technology lead. The new EcoBoost might not be for every truck owner, but with more than 300hp and better than 20mpg, it’s going to be a great option for truck owners that don’t need a lot of power.
In any case, the bottom line here is the Tundra’s tremendous power advantage. Ford fanatics will likely argue about the 5.4L’s usable torque, but the fact remains the Tundra 5.7 outguns the F150 5.4 by a large margin. Fuel economy figures between the two engines are close as well – the Tundra 5.7 4×4 is EPA rated at 13/17, the F150 5.4 4×4 is 14/18.
Winner: Tundra, by a pretty clear margin. This is one of the only areas that the Tundra clearly outperformed the new 2009 F150.
Rather than waste time pondering the slight differences between the Ford and Toyota 6 speed transmissions, we’re going to cut to the chase. Both the six-speed transmissions from Ford and Toyota drive very nicely, shift smoothly and intelligently, and offer many of the same options and features.
Winner: It’s a tie, and by rule ties go to the older design (it’s only fair). Tundra wins.
In our unofficial “butt dyno” tests, we found both the F150 and the Tundra to be solid stopping trucks. The Ford stopped in a straight line, with no grabbing or fading and nice pedal feel. Ditto for the Tundra. Both the Tundra and the F150 feature a 4-wheel disc ABS system, with dual piston calipers, ventilated rotors, and Electronic Brake Force Distribution. Based on feel, it’s too close to call.
The Tundra’s rotors are nearly an inch bigger than Ford’s for better heat dissipation, especially under loads. PickupTrucks.com managed to complete a definitive series of performance tests, including a series of braking tests for the 2009 Tundra and F150. In these tests, the Tundra performed slightly better, stopping in about 10 fewer feet than the F150.
Winner: Realistically, the difference in braking performance between these two trucks is small. The Tundra’s better braking performance in the PickupTrucks.com tests, as well as the larger rotors, gives the Tundra the edge.
While we have absolutely no proof, we can’t help but feel that Toyota made a mis-step in designing the frame on the Tundra. The F150’s fully boxed, hydroformed frame with through-welded cross members seems like the best way to go, and considering the fact that Dodge and GM both use fully boxed frames for their trucks, it’s a mystery as to why Toyota chose to go with a different design.
Winner: F150. A fully boxed frame makes more sense, not to mention the Tundra bed-bounce problem that some Tundra owners experience.
Ford’s marketing team won a victory, of sorts, when they announced that the 2009 F150 can haul as much as 3,030 lbs, which is nearly 1,000 lbs more than the Tundra (and most of the other half-tons on the market). While it seems like a huge advantage, it should be noted that ONLY the regular cab 4×2 with the 5.4 and a special “heavy duty payload” package can haul 3,000lbs. The rest of the F150 line-up has payload ratings that are much closer to the Tundra, with a 2009 Super Cab F150 5.4 4×4 hauling 1,680 lbs and the 2009 Tundra DoubleCab 5.7 4×4 hauling 1,580 lbs. Anyone else think it’s odd that it’s exactly 100 lbs difference? Ford’s marketing team, can you hear us?
Still, credit should be given where credit is due. If you’re looking for a 4×2 reg cab 5.4 with an expensive and rough-riding suspension package that can haul 3000 lbs, than the F150 is the best option available. Otherwise, these payload ratings are a wash.
Winner: Ford, but by the slimmest of margins.
The F-150’s max tow rating tops out at 11,300 lbs, and unlike the payload rating you don’t have to buy a work truck to tow the max load – the F150 SuperCab and SuperCrew 5.4 are rated at the max. Since the Tundra’s top tow ratings on comparable models are about 1,000 lbs less, the F150 has the advantage. The integrated tow brake controller and the new trailer sway control systems are highly regarded as well, building the F150’s towing advantage further.
Still, before we hand this category to the F150, it should be noted that the Tundra was deemed a better overall towing vehicle in the PickupTrucks.com hill climb towing test. If you combine the Tundra’s braking advantage here, you could easily make the case the two trucks are equal in this regard. Like many things, the differences between these two trucks are small.
Winner: Ford by a slight margin, but the integrated brake controller and trailer sway control systems widen that margin somewhat.
Next up, the 2009 Tundra vs 2009 F150 – Part Two – Features and Pricing. Check back soon!
Filed Under: Toyota Tundra Reviews and Comparisons