Ford F-150 Review

2012 Ford F-150 XL Regular Cab Pickup Exterior

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The Ford F-150 is part of the F-Series, a descriptor used to cover the entire succession of Ford pickups that have been in production for more than 60 years. Since that genesis, millions of Ford trucks have been sold. In fact, the F-Series has been the most popular vehicle sold in the United States for nearly every year of the past three decades. Originally conceived as a rugged, no-frills workhorse, the Ford F-150 has since morphed into a well-appointed, versatile pickup truck. And it isn't just ranchers and contractors who cherish it: Anyone who needs to comfortably tow a boat, haul stuff or transport recreational cargo can take the F-150 to heart.

There's a lot of competition in the full-size pickup truck market segment these days. But new or used, the F-150 is a great choice, as the truck's wide array of configurations and incredible popularity means you're almost guaranteed to find the right one for your needs.

Current Ford F-150
Ever the jack of all trades, the Ford F-150 is available in no fewer than nine trim levels. These consist of the base XL, sporty STX, well-equipped XLT, rugged FX2/FX4 models, luxurious Lariat, western-inspired King Ranch, extreme off-road Raptor and the opulent Platinum and Limited variants. There are three cab sizes, three bed lengths and of course a choice between 2WD and 4WD.

Plenty of powerful engine choices are available as well. A 302-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 is the base engine, while the other choices (depending on trim level) consist of a 360-hp 5.0-liter V8, a 365-hp twin-turbo ("EcoBoost") V6 and a 411-hp 6.2-liter V8. All come matched to a six-speed automatic transmission.

In reviews, we've found the F-150's interior to be comfortable and quiet, but its ride and handling to trail that of newer, competing pickups. The powertrain lineup provides performance ranging from adequate to downright thrilling. Existing in its own ultra-specialized world, the incredibly capable, desert-racing-inspired SVT Raptor stands apart from all other pickup trucks. For just about any truck buyer, the F-150 will be an excellent choice, but keep in mind that its competition is better than ever and an all-new F-150 is just around the corner.

Used Ford-150 Models
The current Ford F-150 represents the latest generation, which debuted for 2009. Compared to earlier F-150 generations, this latest truck boasts more masculine styling, an updated interior and new features, including the Sync voice-command system, a navigation system and a full complement of airbags as standard equipment.

It's worth noting that the 2009-'10 trucks did not have the more powerful engine lineup found in the 2011 and later F-150s. Those earlier powertrain choices consisted of a base 4.6-liter V8 (248 hp), a high-output 4.6-liter V8 (292 hp) and a 5.4-liter V8 (310-hp). The 4.6 came with a four-speed automatic transmission, while the others had a six-speed automatic. Given the truck's heft, either of the more powerful V8s will make better choices than the base engine. The Raptor, with its 6.2-liter V8, debuted for 2010. For 2013, xenon headlights, hill-descent control and the MyFord Touch infotainment interface debuted. The latter could be prone to some glitches, so make sure a used F-150 has the latest software updates installed. Other than minor equipment shuffling, changes have been minimal since.

The previous-generation Ford F-150 was introduced for 2004 and ran through 2008. In keeping with tradition, it was available in a variety of trim levels and body styles. The XL was the basic truck and the STX offered a few additional features, but the volume-selling XLT provided the best bang for the buck. You'll also encounter the off-road-oriented FX4 trim level, the sporty FX2 (in 2007), the luxurious Lariat, the even plusher Lariat Limited (for 2008) and the thematic King Ranch and Harley-Davidson editions. During this truck's run, available engines included a 202-hp 4.2-liter V6, a 231-hp 4.6-liter V8 and a 300-hp 5.4-liter V8. In 2007, the 4.6-liter V8 got a power upgrade to 248 hp. Harley-Davidson models had a supercharged V8 that cranked out 450 hp.

Almost all variants had a four-speed automatic transmission from 2004-'08, but the V6 came standard with a five-speed manual. All F-150 trim levels and body styles could be configured as either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, although the FX4 trim came standard with four-wheel drive.

In reviews, we found this generation Ford F-150 to be the best in the long history of the pickup. Ride and handling were excellent, and the interiors were attractive and functional. Acceleration and braking, however, were lackluster, and we often found the F-150, even with larger engines, to be underpowered relative to the competition. The truck's heft and old-school four-speed transmissions didn't help.

The 1997-2003 F-150 model wasn't as refined as the 2004-'08 model, but it was a capable truck. When it debuted, its smooth exterior styling was a dramatic departure from the angular previous F-150s. Cab styles, trim levels and powertrains were an improvement over the pre-1997 models. Engines included a 4.2-liter V6, a 4.6-liter V8 and a 5.4-liter V8. In 2000, the first Harley-Davidson edition was released. The King Ranch trim and the crew cab body style were introduced in 1998. In 1999, the high-performance Lightning version, which had been added in 1993 but discontinued in 1997, reappeared.

Prior to 1997, F-150 models placed utility first and luxury second. These trucks were available in two body styles and a few trim levels. The XLT Lariat was typically the top trim until the Eddie Bauer trim debuted in 1995. Main engines choices were a 4.9-liter inline-6, a 5.0-liter V8 and a 5.8-liter V8.

For additional information about past F-150 models, please visit our Ford F-150 history page.

Read the most recent 2014 Ford F-150 review.

If you are looking for older years, visit our used Ford F-150 page.

For more on past Ford F-150 models, view our Ford F-150 history page.

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