Although versatile and easy to live with, the 2008 Ford F-150 gives up points to its rivals due to its tepid performance and lack of a few key safety features.
The 2008 Ford F-150 gains a super-plush Lariat Limited model, a celebratory 60th anniversary edition, an XL SuperCrew, a sporty STX wheel/stripe package and a couple of user-friendly options. The latter includes the Cargo Management system (which allows one to secure virtually anything in the bed) and a rearview camera.Read more
Smooth and quiet ride, responsive handling, attractive and functional cabin, multiple cab and bed configurations.
For most of the past three decades, the best-selling vehicle line in America has been, strangely enough, not a family sedan or SUV but a pickup. The holder of that prestigious title is Ford's F-Series. Granted, those sales figures include not only the F-150 but also the Super Duty rigs and even commercial-use chassis cabs. However, the half-ton F-150 has always accounted for the lion's share of those figures.
Last revamped for 2004, the F-150 caters to the contemporary pickup consumer. These folks are as (if not more) likely to use a pickup for commuting and family hauling as for lugging lumber or towing trailers. Proof of this can be seen in the overwhelming popularity of crew-cab-style trucks over standard and extended-cab versions.
Of course, this begs the question: Why the F-Series? Chalk up its American Idol status to a smooth ride, quiet user-friendly cab and easy-to-drive demeanor. Oh, and the dizzying variety of body styles, trim levels and options that it offers. Americans love choices, something not lost on Ford's product planners whose efforts have resulted in no fewer than 75 styles of the F-150 and SuperCrew-sized headaches for Edmunds.com's data crunchers.
The 2008 Ford F-150 sees incremental changes. A new Lariat Limited trim debuts, as does a SuperCrew body style for the XL trim and a couple of stress-reducing options. The latter includes the Cargo Management system (a combination of bins, crossbars and adjustable cleats that allows one to secure virtually anything short of the space shuttle in the bed) and a rearview camera mounted inside the rearview mirror that kicks on when the truck is shifted into reverse.
As well-rounded as it is, the F-150 lags behind full-size pickup rivals when it comes to performance. Disregarding the supercharged V8 that's optional in the niche-market Harley-Davidson edition, the F-150's top engine is the 5.4-liter Triton V8 that offers an impressive 11,000-pound maximum tow rating. Still, we have been disappointed by its real-world performance. The 5.4 puts up decent spec-sheet numbers with 300 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque, but compared to similarly heavy models like the Chevrolet Silverado and Toyota Tundra, the F-150 is down on power. Having just four gears to work with contributes to the F-150's tepid performance; many competitors have five- and six-speed units, which improve both acceleration and fuel efficiency.
This is not to say that you won't be satisfied with a 2008 Ford F-150 purchase -- as vehicle reviewers we tend to be harsher critics than the typical consumer. For buyers who don't require the quickest rig out there, the F-150 compensates with its civility. This is one of the easiest half-ton pickups to live with on an everyday basis, and with the wide range of available body styles, trim levels and equipment, you're sure to find one that meets your needs. All those people who have made the F-Series the No.1 vehicle for almost 30 years certainly did.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Ford F-150 full-size pickup truck is available in three body styles: regular cab, extended cab ("SuperCab") and crew cab ("SuperCrew"). Cargo box size choices vary as well: regular cabs come with a 6.5-foot or 8-foot cargo bed, while SuperCabs can have either of those or a garage-friendly 5.5-footer. The SuperCrew can have either the 5.5-foot or 6.5-foot bed. Reverse-opening rear doors are standard on regular and SuperCabs for easier cab access, while SuperCrews have four full-size doors.
No fewer than eight trim levels are offered: base XL, sporty STX, popularly equipped XLT, rugged FX2/FX4, luxurious Lariat, plusher Lariat Limited, even fancier King Ranch and black and chrome-bedecked Harley-Davidson edition.
Geared toward commercial use, the bare-bones XL comes with 17-inch steel wheels, vinyl seating, AM/FM radio and, apart from air-conditioning in the new SuperCrew version, not much else. The STX is similarly equipped (including the A/C) but adds body-colored bumpers, sportier wheels, a cloth 40/20/40-split bench seat, and an upgraded sound system with a CD player and auxiliary audio jack.
The volume leader XLT features chrome exterior trim, an upgraded cloth interior, cruise control and full power accessories. The FX2 (2WD) and FX4 (4WD) feature 18-inch wheels, a black grille, leather-wrapped steering wheel, bucket seats with console, and on FX4 models, underbody skid plates, retuned springs and heavy-duty shocks.
F-150s with the Lariat trim offer an upscale ambiance with brushed aluminum and wood highlights, leather upholstery, a power driver seat, automatic climate control and a trip computer. The Limited tops that by featuring a monochrome White Sand paint scheme, 22-inch alloy wheels with body-color accents, polished running boards, smoked taillights, two-tone leather upholstery and unique instrument cluster trim.
The King Ranch and Harley-Davidson trims are available only as SuperCrews. The former adds two-tone exterior paint, exclusive western saddle-like leather upholstery and wood-grain interior accents. The latter specifies monochromatic black or two-tone black and copper paint, 22-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, black and copper leather seating and enough H-D badges and emblems to outfit everybody at the Sturgis meet.
To commemorate the F-150?s 60th year, 7,500 trucks will get a special 60th Anniversary edition package, which builds upon the XLT and includes unique ?F-Series 60 Years? badging inside and out, two-tone paint (black with dark gray or dark gray with black) and the Chrome Package?s abundant shiny trim.
Key F-150 options include remote starting, a navigation system, a back-up camera, a rear parking sensor, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system and a sunroof.
Powertrains and Performance
There are three main engine choices in the F-150 line: a 4.2-liter V6, a 4.6-liter V8 and a 5.4-liter V8. Available only on regular cabs, the 4.2-liter V6 makes 202 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. The 4.6-liter V8 provides 248 hp and 293 lb-ft of torque, while the 5.4-liter V8 produces 300 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque. Both V8 engines are matched to four-speed automatic transmissions. The V6 comes with a five-speed manual, with the automatic available as an option. Buyers of the 2WD Harley-Davidson edition can opt for a supercharged 5.4 that makes 450 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque.
Except for that supercharged Harley version, buyers have a choice between two- and four-wheel drive on all versions of the F-150. Properly equipped, an F-150 with the 5.4-liter V8 can tow up to 11,000 pounds and carry a 3,050-pound payload. However, whether unladen or towing a trailer, the F-150 feels noticeably slower than peers like the Toyota Tundra, Nissan Titan, Dodge Ram and GM twins (Silverado and Sierra), an impression borne out by our performance test results.
Antilock disc brakes are standard across the board. Traction control is optional on 2WD V8 models. Unlike most of its competitors, the F-150 does not offer side airbags or stability control -- the latter a key feature for avoiding accidents in the first place.
That said, frontal-impact testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration resulted in a perfect five-star rating. In frontal-offset crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the F-150 earned a rating of "Good," the highest available.
Interior Design and Special Features
In SuperCrew form, the F-150 can comfortably seat five or six people. Carrying three passengers in the backseat is still possible if you get a SuperCab, though legroom will be noticeably less generous. All versions offer simple controls and solid materials. Most F-150s have a standard 40/20/40-split bench seat with a column shifter, but most trims offer an upgrade to captain's chairs and a console shifter. An optional overhead console features interchangeable modules so owners can customize it as they see fit. Without this console, though, the F-150 is a little short on storage space. Hauling larger items is no problem, however, as the rear seats in SuperCabs and SuperCrews quickly fold up to make way for cargo.
Thanks to its stiff frame, double-wishbone front suspension and rack-and-pinion steering, the 2008 Ford F-150 delivers impressive ride and handling dynamics for a full-size truck. Unfortunately, the truck's beefy curb weight is too much for the 4.2-liter V6 and 4.6-liter V8 engines, so the 5.4-liter V8 is strongly recommended for most consumers. The brakes feel solid, with a firm pedal, but stopping distances are still longer than most of the F-150's competition.