[twitter]When Charlie and Zacharie were in their preschool years, they would have loved it if the family car would have been a garbage truck, bulldozer, or steam roller. As boys do, they loved big trucks. I’ve watched, what feels like, hours of garbage truck, dump truck, and tractor videos on YouTube in my parenting career.
Even as the boys got older, the walk to school was wonderful on Tuesday mornings if we could time it perfectly with the recycling truck doing the long road of houses down the block.
As the boys have gotten older, their fascination for trucks hasn’t waned, but their practical wishes for what to expect in a family vehicle has become a little more reasonable.
This year, I’ve been taking vehicles from Ford Canada out on various adventures with the boys. We took a Ford Expedition to Sunshine Village for some skiing, we went up to Jasper in a Lincoln MKC, a Ford Escape was part of trip to Writing-On-Stone.
But something has been missing from our adventures; “a real truck, daddy!,” Charlie has asked for often. Whenever I tell him we’re heading out for another weekend camping trip, he invariably asks if this will be the trip in “a real truck.”
Charlie finally got his turn when we went out to Waterton Lakes National Park for a weekend away, just him and me.
I picked up the Ford F-150 Platinum Edition from Universal Ford with both boys and the anticipation they shared at this big truck rumbling down the lot was palpable. It was garbage truck glee all over again.
This was a “real truck,” one of those “big trucks,” and it was “theirs” for 72 hours or so.
Growing up in Vancouver, I never had need or want for a truck. My car resume includes 9 years driving a Honda Civic, 7 with a BMW 318i, a few years with a Pontiac Vibe, and now my Hyundai Elantra does me just fine. I’ve been all over the map with my car brands, but they’ve all been cars. No trucks.
I had my first experience with pickups when I moved to Vernon in 1990. They were everywhere in the North Okanagan town, but my city slicking style still had me choosing a hatchback, not understanding the appeal of trucks.
Fast forward 25 years and I’m in Calgary, Alberta, the heart of the prairies and, as my wife says, our street is “truck, truck, truck, truck, truck.” From oil engineers to soccer moms, pick up trucks are a popular vehicle of choice. They can ferry kids, they can tow toys, they can handle field work, they just make sense for a lot of people.
And, until this weekend, I didn’t really get the appeal still. My little car worked well to get me to work, I could stuff it full of groceries, or toss a bike rack on the back. My wife’s SUV could handle our camping gear, and all of her work supplies. We don’t have trailers, boats, or quads. We don’t have desires to go off-road.
But the boys wanted “a real truck” experience, so I arranged with Ford Canada to take this Platinum Edition F-150 out for a weekend of camping. And, now, I get it.
Charlie loved how roomy it was. I could fit both boys in their car seats in the back and sit comfortably between them. There was also enough leg room between the front and back seats that I could easily walk from one side of the cab to the other. Now I get why parents use trucks to ferry kids around; you can easily load the kids in, get them buckled, or pull out car seats on the go. There is so much room.
In fact, the back of the cab was so big, we used it as a trunk.
Since I was just borrowing the truck for the weekend, I didn’t have all the gear to keep things tied down in the flatbed. Instead, we folded up 2/3 of the back seat and tossed all of our camping gear in. It was huge, as big as my wife’s trunk, and all of the equipment fit with room to spare.
The front to back sun roof also charmed the pants off Charlie. He liked that the truck was “a convertible.” The only thing missing for him? “TVs in the seats.” Our summer sitter’s truck has screens in the headrest, and now Charlie has the taste for a fully pimped ride. You’ll recall cars with screens are a big pet peeve of mine, and I liked that ours skipped that extra feature. I’m much happier with the kids having iPads to watch shows, read books, or play games in the back than having tv’s all up in the head rests.
So it was a big win for Charlie, but what about Dad?
Well, now I get it. I get why people choose trucks as a family vehicle. They are roomy and, at least the F-150 Platinum Edition, drive like a dream.
I was warned when I picked up the truck to keep it in cruise control on the highway, else I’d look down and suddenly find myself doing 150 km/h. These big guys have muscle. They get up and go, and once they get going they want to keep going. The truck drove so smoothly.
The tech also got me a little excited. The front seats have chair massagers built in. Seriously. I used them for about half of the long highway drive to Waterton and they were wonderful.
On our nighttime drive back home, I played with the ambient lighting inside the truck, which was fun.
Perhaps the biggest feature I enjoyed, because the truck is so so so big compared to what I’m used to, is the enhanced back-up camera. In addition to the usual tailgate view, the F-150 Platinum Edition has cameras in the side panels, essentially giving you a bird’s-eye view of your position in the parking lot.
This helped me nudge out of spots without dinging any of the corners. It was very very cool.
Did the trip do enough to convince me we need to truck up? No. The sticker price is around $51,000 – double what I paid for my commuter car – and the gas mileage at 12.4 l / 100 km is about double what I get on my car. That said, I really did appreciate that while our trip to Waterton Lakes and back from Calgary burned nearly 100 litres of gas, I didn’t need to fill up once and still had a quarter of tank when we got back. Everything about this truck is big.
I may not be a truck driver now, but I get why so many others are. If you’ve got the resources and recreational needs for a truck, the Ford F-150 Platinum Edition makes perfect sense.