The dull ringing of the air raid siren woke me, I reached for the sound but only found my pistol on the nightstand. My groggy eyes blurred the dim rectangle screen of my iPhone. I pressed the vague outline of “snooze” and sighed deeply.3 AM.
It wasn’t but 3 ½ hours prior my face hit this very pillow on the Wyoming-Utah border. I was a long way from home, a touch over 1500 miles to be exact. I stared into the darkness and rubbed my eyes, my partner in crime in the next bed over was doing the same thing, adding various swear words to the routine. He was tired. I was tired. The last 1500 miles had not been kind to us, and that day had started just 22 hours before.
I slung my legs over the edge of the bed and started the swearing routine for myself as I knocked everything off the nightstand, .45 included. I found my pants and sneakers and started readying my gear to make the arduous journey 30 feet to the truck. Pulling the gleaming Ford key from my pocket and simultaneously clicking the remote start button, the hum of the 5.0L V8 reverberated through the walls and was a welcome noise. I walked over to my buddy, who had in the midst of swearing at me, slipped back asleep. This certainly wouldn’t do, adventure was waiting and we had pavement to pound to get to our destination on time. Grabbing his pillow and performing a perfect overhand pitch as hard as I could at his face, brought him to life.
“GAH!” he yelled as he reached for me, “What the HELL is wrong with you?”
“You fell asleep,” I said humbly.
“There is something wrong with you,” he replied.
He grabbed the rest of his things as I walked out the door, back into the star-spotted Wyoming sky. The F150 sat idle, almost eager to continue on with the trek. I’ll be the first to admit, I had not been kind to this truck—but I had been fair. Three months prior I was involved in an accident in my prized Toyota 4Runner. A woman ran a stop sign and I T-boned her at 40 mph in the B-Pillar of her Chevy 2500. I thought it was totaled, but the insurance deemed the $16,000 repair bill not enough to kill her. My temporary replacement was a thirteenth generation ‘15 F150 Super Crew 4×4, and I was already 11,000 miles into the test drive before this journey started.I tossed our bags in the rear of the cab and swung the door shut, the thick aluminum panels of the truck made a satisfying thunk as the door latched. My companion was already in the process of making himself a bed in the passenger seat as I saddled the driver’s seat and prepped.
Phone? Check. Gun? Check. Fuel? Hmmm. Oil pressure? Solid. No weird lights or buzzers, let’s go. I slipped the truck into Drive and idled out of the parking lot making my way towards the Sinclair for 20 gallons of your finest high-altitude blend. It had been doing pretty well, all things considering. Our average speed on the last 1500 miles had been somewhere in the vicinity of 85, and she held true without a hiccup and was claiming a respectable 18.4 mpg. It had been 18.8, but those corn husker commies in Iowa put a dollar a gallon tariff on anything that wasn’t 85-percent ethanol – it was highway robbery, but being this was a flex-fuel engine and more than willing to partake in spirits, that is what she got.
We continued on I-70 all the way through Salt Lake City, tracing Union Pacific’s Overland Rout, following in the footsteps of so many pioneers who sought their fortunes on the golden coast. The smooth tailored suspension soaking up all the bumps and the healthy V-8 keeping pace like the athlete it is.
I was stationed in Southern California for a while a few years ago, but I flew here. The furthest west I had ever driven was driving my 4Runner back from Denver last year. This was uncharted territory, and the only map I had was the one I had in my head from before I left. The goal was to find interstate 80 somewhere in Nebraska, and follow it to Sacramento to meet up with a friend and exchange the carcass of what used to be my 4Runner’s 4x4Labs front bumper for a new one.
We dropped out of the Lakeside mountain range west of Salt Lake City and were greeted by a straight, flat stretch of unwavering road. It was 5:45 a.m. local time, and the black void surrounding me had just started to change to a glowing midnight blue and the stars started to disappear one by one. You could see the edge of the highway now, and the ground was a stark difference in color to the pavement. We were alone on this long desert highway, not a soul to be found. I pushed the truck harder, it agreed, 90 mph. We kept driving and the midnight blue started to give way to the faint silhouette of mountaintops in the distance, just out of reach.“Is that snow?” my companion said, glancing over at me to read my face.
“There is no way, it’s 45 degrees out,” I pointed at the display on the dash where the thermometer displayed its measurement in Fahrenheit.
“Is it water?”
I was silent. A road sign came into view as soon as he had spoken. Bonneville Speedway 15m. I smirked and pushed harder 100 mph Spirited. We were now racing the sun, and it was on our heels. Points of light were now slicing through the jagged peaks of the mountainous horizon, casting shadows against what used to be the night sky only a few minutes ago. It was clear what the mysterious substance on the edge of the road was, it was salt. Everywhere. As far as you could see in every direction was salt, and we were almost there. Bonneville at sunrise had been a dream in the making for months. The zenith of the night sky was starting to turn light blue, and the navy blue lightened along the horizon turned pale and burnt orange.
The ridges of the mountaintops were lined with the fire of the sun. I pushed even harder, 110 mph very Spirited – topped out. The truck wanted more, but couldn’t give it to me; it was governed. I weaved through the random and sparse traffic until we found the lonesome Sinclair fuel station at the edge of Bonneville. I rounded the off ramp, Goodyear’s screeching and headed north, then east again on the access road. The yellow sign said 45 mph, but my speedometer read 85 mph Spirited. The orange on the horizon is so intense that it’s all but consumed what used to be the peaks of mountains. The road is ending, the pavement tops at an abrupt drop off—I don’t let off. The truck leaps off the pavement into the salt and we came to a gentle stop. We made it. We finally made it. The most breathtaking sunrise I have ever laid eyes on. The earth so flat, and the mountains so distant that the visible curvature in the crust glowed ever more orange. This was my first moment of total awe. So taken aback in beauty and wonder, I was truly speechless. I had nothing to say—at all. My mind totally void of thought except soaking in what I saw.
This was just one highlight of the 650-mile trip my friend and I took in this ‘15 F150. We pushed it hard, harder than most owners ever will. We scaled mountains at excessive speed, drove for hours upon hours at a time, abused it on the salt flats to the point where it just flat-out smelled hot, and hauled precious cargo home. It kept us safe, secure and comfortable. While this may be just an opinion-based review without much hard fact, the thirteenth generation aluminum F150 is without a doubt one of the finest vehicles I’ve ever experienced. In the end, I put just shy of 22,000 miles on it and it never missed a beat. It was comfortable, calm, controlled and downright well-made. Most of all, it never let us down.
I would recommend to anyone looking for a new truck to strongly consider the new aluminum-bodied F150s powered by Ford’s outstanding Coyote 5.0 32v V-8 engine. It will never fail to impress.