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The 2009 F-150 features a “midbox,” a lockable 26.3-cubic-foot storage system that mounts behind the cab in front of the box. It's not available with “SuperCrew” cabs. Photos: Ford Motor Co.

Electronics provide roll stability control and trailer sway control, and there's a factory-installed integrated trailer brake controller. But the really innovative electronics are in the Ford SYNC, developed with Microsoft.

SYNC integrates Bluetooth-enabled devices including cell phones and media players. It can integrate an in-dash computer with high-speed Internet access, navigation, and hands-free calling. Coupled with Ford Work Solutions Technology, it can even receive real-time traffic alerts.

Tool Link, another option, provides real-time tracking of tools taken to and from worksites. It also can be used to ensure drivers take all the tools they'll need for a job and not leave any behind.

Driving the new F-150 leaves little to be desired. While lacking some of the Hemi's acceleration, performance is more than adequate under load. The multileaf rear springs sacrifice little in ride comfort, and add to stability and capability.

All in all, the truck's an outstanding performer, loaded with optional features including an electronics platform that promises to be a base for future work-place aids and electronic management tools. No wonder it was selected as the North American Truck of the Year at the Detroit Auto Show.

— Paul Abelson (truckwriter@anet.com) is a former director of the Technology and Maintenance Council of the American Trucking Association, a board member of Truck Writers of North America, and active in the Society of Automotive Engineers.