Used 1997 Ford F-150 Review
For nearly two decades, the Ford F-Series has been the best selling pickup truck in the United States. For more than half that period of time, it's been the best selling vehicle, period. Understandably, Ford execs were a bit hesitant to completely overhaul their Golden Child. After all, the F-Series, which hadn't seen substantial engineering improvements since 1980, seemed to be selling just fine as it was. Reality was, though, that deadlines for some stringent truck standards were approaching fast, and the F-Series was getting long in the tooth. The redesign was approved.
Five million development miles later, Ford introduced a radically new F-150 in January 1996. The bold look, passenger car accouterments, overhead cam engines, and short and long arm front suspension of the new pickup are either embraced or shunned by die-hard Ford truckers used to the traditional styling, bare bones interior, rugged pushrod motors and Twin-I-Beam suspension of the 1996 model.
So what about this new truck? Overall length is up for all models, and SuperCabs provide substantial improvements in rear passenger leg and hip room. SuperCab models feature a third door as standard equipment, as more and more full-size pickups are purchased for personal use. Styleside and Flareside cargo boxes will be available for both cab styles. Dual airbags are standard, and the passenger side restraint can be switched off in the event that a rear-facing child safety seat has been installed. The new F-150 meets 1999 side-impact standards for trucks, and a four-wheel anti-lock braking system is optional across the board. New options include leather seats, a six-disc CD changer, and an anti-theft system.
Two engines will initially be available, followed by a third in the fall of 1996. A 4.2-liter V-6 is the standard engine, and it makes 210 horsepower at 5000 rpm and 255 foot-pounds of torque at 3000 rpm. That's more than GM, Dodge or Toyota. The optional 4.6-liter V-8 isn't much more powerful, it just provides its power at more useful revs: 210 horsepower at 4400 rpm and 290 foot-pounds of torque at 3250 rpm. The third engine is a 5.4-liter V-8 which makes 235 horsepower and 330 foot-pounds of torque. Tune up intervals occur every 100,000 miles thanks to platinum-tipped spark plugs. Equipped with the 4.6-liter V-8, the F-150 2WD Regular Cab equipped with an automatic transmission and a 3.55 rear axle ratio will tow up to 7,200 pounds. Sixteen-inch wheels are standard; optional are big 17 x 7.5J rims shod with meaty P265/70R-17SL tires.
Sounds good to us. After driving several F-150s this year, 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. If you are in the market for a full-size pickup, you need to see why the F-150 has been the best selling truck on the market for the last decade.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.