2 of 4 people found this review helpful
Ford F-150 XLT- 5.8L 351W
By jayjc08 on
1996 Ford F-150 XLT 2dr Extended Cab 4WD Stepside SB
The F-150 is a tough vehicle with so much cost cutting that it is difficult to see to those roots. The 5.8L is excellent- smooth, quiet, powerful. The 4 speed auto needs an extra gear
desperately but aside from a rough 1-2 shift is smooth and reliable. Brakes are shameful- no feel, squishy and hardly effective. Ergonomics are terrible- unless you are 7 feet tall you will need a broom handle to operate radio and HVAC controls. Good sound system. Quality is poor- panels do not line up, screws often fall out, fit and finish is poor. Drives on the road like an overweight tank should- tries to plow the pavement into submission, resulting in a harsh ride. Fuel economy is around 12 miles per gallon
Standard sound system is good, doesn't rattle, isn't harsh and has a good range. Off-road it is almost unstoppable through snow, mud, etc.. Handsomely designed exterior is simple and understated. Cloth seats are nice but somehow missing a headrest. The 5.8L V8, also known as the 351W, has been in design since the 70's and shows improvements over that age- smooth and powerful, it has excellent pick up and good low range torque but is choked by emissions equipment. Quarter windows in the front are a nice, simple feature. Easy to service engine bay.
Sadly the cost cutting is more than skin deep on this truck and that truly angers and saddens me. If only they spent a few dollars to not bungee chord the seatbelts to the center seat, if only they spent the time to align panels correctly, if only they spent talent to install larger, more effective brakes and better suspension and if only they put effort into increasing fuel economy this would be a perfect truck. Sadly its old but durable bones are let down by cheap components and corner cutting engineering. For that reason I would not purchase another one unless it was in absolute showroom condition and would be skeptical of a new Ford truck.