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09 December 2010

Super Size Me | 2010 Ford E-150 Club Wagon

Words and photos by Eric Ayrton S. Soriano

e-150_01The Ford E-150 Club Wagon is one of the most colossal four-wheeled passenger vehicle in the market today. It has enough space for a fourth-row bench but Ford Group Philippines decided to leave that out to increase luggage space. There are smaller vans that seat more passengers so you can think of the seven-seater E-150 as the Business Class of vans. If, by some weird twist of fate, the starting five of the Boston Celtics decide to pay me a visit, there’s no question what van I will opt for to pick them and their stuff up from the airport. 
This full-size van is so long that one end would jut out of regular parking slots. It is so tall that you have to look out for overhead obstacles you previously never cared about like low-hanging tree branches, overhead beams in malls and condominium car parks, and gate arches. The truck is so wide that on a number of times I parked side by side with other vehicles, there was so little space for the driver’s door to open and it was easier for me to exit through the passenger sliding door. One upside to driving the Big E is it sharpens your parking skills.

So yes, the E-150 could sometimes be a pain in the derriere to drive. One needs a lot of foresight and attentiveness to drive around the E-150. Will there be parking big enough at my destination? Will I need to pass through narrow streets or alleys? Will there be any kidnappers who might mistakenly think my family would care enough to pay ransom in exchange for this black sheep’s safe return?
There’s nothing small about the Big E - even its fuel tank has a capacity of 132.5 liters. At P45 per liter for regular fuel, that translates to P5,900 for a full tank!
The Big E comes with an information center located smack in the middle of the instrument panel. It displays information on average fuel consumption, service reminders, and distance to empty (how far you could go with your remaining fuel). During my five days with the Big E, the information display constantly flashed 5 Km/Liter - a surprisingly respectable consumption figure for a Ford V8 considering that most of the driving I did was in moderate traffic. I’m guessing that with a frugal driver, six companions, and their luggage, the Big E could return a decent 7 Km/L in highway driving. If you average 6 km/L, you can travel over 750 km on a single tankful - excellent range for any vehicle.
Floor the accelerator and the 4.6 Liter V8 developing  225hp and 388Nm will send the E-150 hurtling forward. It’s a bit unnerving being at the wheel of a vehicle this size. Thankfully, the massive four-wheel disc brakes do an efficient job of scrubbing off speed quickly.
For a van that is positioned as an upscale people mover, the P1.948 million E-150 disappoints in some areas. The ride, for one, is harsh. Noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) from relatively minor road imperfections sometimes reverberated throughout the entire passenger cabin.

There were telling signs too of poor build quality. The parking brake, for instance, would often not disengage completely since its release lever would get stuck on its housing halfway. Plastics that look and feel cheap abound in the interior. Burrs in the plastic panel beneath the dash were also visible.
Rounding out my major major complaints about the Big E are the odd placement of the gas and brake pedals, which may have had to be mounted a few centimeters to the left probably to make room for the engine or transmission.  I sometimes ended up using my left foot for braking because I found this easier than having to turn my entire body slightly to the left.

Despite all the E-150’s shortcomings, I must admit I appreciated the E-150 a lot. I delighted in having such a commanding view of traffic from the driver’s seat. From my lofty perch, I could see traffic so far ahead or look down at the roofs of Mitsubishi Pajeros and other vehicles that you once thought were tall. What I liked most was listening to the heavy doors slam shut with such an authoritative thud. Hearing that made me confident that the E-150 will take care of me and my passengers no matter what.