What's New for 1999
The Standard trim level is replaced by the Work trim level. XLT and Lariat models get standard four-wheel antilock brakes, and the XLT gets standard air conditioning. All SuperCab models get a fourth door and horsepower is improved for engines across the board. Option content is shuffled and simplified as Ford reduces the number of optional features.
When Ford introduced the new family of F-Series trucks in 1996, as a 1997 model, there was uproar among old-school Blue Oval fans. Gone were their beloved Twin-I-Beam suspensions, pushrod engines, and traditional styling. The new model appeared with a short- and long-arm front suspension, overhead cam engines, and more swoops than a Dairy Queen sundae.
Now that the vehicle has been out for a few years, naysayers have put their fears to rest. The SLA suspension provides excellent on- and off-road articulation giving the most demanding drivers the best ride available in any truck. Overhead cam engines provide capable acceleration and enough power to tow Rhode Island to the West Coast. The swoopy exterior means that parking an F-Series truck in a crowded parking lot may be a bit of a challenge, but the outstanding visibility it gives when off-roading more than makes up for its somewhat sissified shape.
The Ford F-Series' interior is also a breakthrough. All of the Ford's hard edges have been softened, and the interior materials are not something that one would expect to see in a vehicle meant for a hard day's work. When put to the test, however, the Ford's interior can stand up to the rigors thrown at it by the meanest of foreman and orneriest of ranch hands. Until this vehicle came onto the scene, ergonomic and truck were not words that we were likely to use in the same sentence. The positioning of the F-Series' controls, however, make this vehicle easier to drive than many mid-size sedans.
Our main gripe about the new F-Series is its overly twitchy steering and the tall step-in height on the four-wheel drive model. We've also not been to impressed with the F-Series engine choices, especially when compared to the GM pickup engine choices, but Ford has bumped output for both its six- and eight-cylinder engine choices this year, so maybe they can catch up a bit in the power department.
The 1999 model year sees the addition of a standard fourth door to all SuperCab models and the simplification of the option selection process. The Work trim level replaces the Standard trim level as the entry-level offering. Ford also makes antilock brakes standard on the XLT and Lariat trims.
After driving several F-150s, it appears that Ford has taken a path designed to bring more personal use buyers into the Ford fold without alienating truck buyers who work their pickups hard. Styling, always a subjective point, might turn potential buyers off with its free-flowing forms and smooth contours. We, however, like its clean lines and lack of clutter, particularly around the grille.
Ford should watch out, though, because the redesigned Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra are guaranteed to make a big splash on the sales chart this year. Bigger, faster, and arguably better looking than the F-150, GM's new full-size trucks spell trouble for the Blue Oval.