Used 2003 Ford F-150 SVT Lightning Review
With a wide variety of cabs, styles and equipment from which to choose, you can't go wrong. No wonder it's the best-selling vehicle in the world.
Introduction: In the music scene, artists who top the sales charts are rarely considered the best in terms of quality. The same thing goes for prime-time TV shows or the most popular fast food restaurants. It almost seems to be an inverse relationship; the worse a product is, the more popular it is.
This theory doesn't bode well for the Ford F-150. Not only has it been the best-selling pickup in the country for the past 24 years, it's been the best-selling vehicle for the past 18 years (although the Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra twins may wrest away that title for 2002). But for whatever reason, the F-150 bucks the trend. It has the sales numbers, the universal appeal and the quality to keep it in the top spot.
The first F-Series made its debut in 1948 as a workhorse designed to appeal to those reveling in post-war opportunities. The F-150 was birthed in 1975 and replaced the F-100 model in 1984. The current iteration made its appearance in 1997. Overall, the F-150 is an excellent blend of style, comfort and utility. While it doesn't necessarily excel in any given area when stacked up against its competition, its appeal and performance average out to best-in-class status. About the only significantly negative thing you can say about an F-150 is that there are just too many of them on the road. Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options: One particular advantage to the F-150 is its wide range of body and option configurations. You can order the F-150 as a Regular Cab, SuperCab or SuperCrew, the SuperCrew being the crew-cab model with four doors and a short bed. Then, on everything except the SuperCrew, you have the choice of a 6.5- or 8-foot cargo box in either Styleside or Flareside design. There are three trim levels: XL, XLT and Lariat. There are also two special SuperCrew models offered: the heavy-metal Harley Davidson F-150 Crew Cab and the pimped-out King Ranch, the latter now available as a SuperCab in addition to last year's SuperCrew. Powertrains and Performance: Ford offers four different engines. The smallest is a 202-horsepower 4.2-liter V6 with either a manual or an automatic transmission. This engine meets ULEV emissions standards for 2002. Next up is a 4.6-liter V8 with 231 horsepower and 293 pound-feet of torque. The biggest engine available is a 5.4-liter V8 generating 260 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. The Harley Davidson model gets a supercharged version of the Triton V8, delivering 340 horsepower and 425 lb-ft of torque.
Towing and cargo capacities vary depending on model. For maximum payload ability, you'll want to order the 7700 Payload Group, which includes mechanical modifications that increase gross vehicle weight to 7,700 pounds. Safety: Driver and passenger front airbags are standard, as are four-wheel ABS and child safety seat anchor points. Not all of the different versions of the F-150 have been crash tested, but among those that have include the Extended Cab and SuperCrew versions, both of which receive high marks in NHTSA frontal testing. The extended cab also gets a perfect five-star rating for side impact testing. IIHS testing, however, has indicated that the F-150 fares poorly in frontal offset crashes.
Interior Design and Special Features: The F-150's feature list is comparable to that of many family cars and luxury sedans. F-150 Lariat's are the most luxurious, and they come standard with features like 17-inch wheels, power adjustable pedals and leather seating.
Even more car-like is the F-150 SuperCrew. It has been designed for consumers who want more interior space without compromising the functional capability and versatility of a fullsize pickup. Unlike the SuperCab, which has smaller hinged doors that swing out clamshell-style, the SuperCrew actually mates an Expedition cabin with a shortened cargo bed. It has four fullsize doors separated by a B-pillar on each side, with inside and outside handles on each door. Driving Impressions: On both pavement and rocky trails, the F-150 offers up a stable ride and plenty of power. Steering is somewhat twitchy, but otherwise this truck can be used for long freeway trips with no problem. The front seats are comfortable, and the extra rear-seat space in SuperCab models is perfect for extra cargo or children. Use the handy SuperCrew for adults who need to ride in back.
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.