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Recent History of the Ford F-150

10th Generation (1997-2004)

Ford made the first major redesign since 1980 on the tenth generation models. Because of the radical styling, Ford predicted that traditional truck buyers wouldn’t receive the radical and car-like 1997 too well, so it continued to produce and sell the previous 1996 models alongside the redesigned 1997 model for a few months.

The regular F-250 LD was basically an F-150 with the same body panels but with heavy duty axles and suspension, along with 7-lug wheels. Additionally, the F-250 LD also offered a load leveling rear suspension system. The F-250 HD was in the same series as the F-350. With the arrival of the all new 1999 Super Duty series in early 1998, the standard F-250 LD, F-250 HD, and F-350 line was totally dropped and the F-250 LD, which was a temporary model from the start, became the “7700” package for the F-150.

Completely new, more efficient engines were offered beginning in 1997. A 4.2L OHV V6, based on Ford’s 3.8L Essex V6, replaced the 4.9L OHV I6, while 4.6L and 5.4L SOHC V8s replaced the 5.0L and 5.8L OHV V8s, also the 7.5L big block V8 was replaced by the 6.8L V10 for the Super Duty models. The 4.6L and 5.4L V8s were marketed under the name Triton and mark the first use of Ford’s Modular Single Overhead Cam engines in the F-Series pickups.

A wide variety of body options were available: Regular Cab and SuperCab, standard or flareside boxes, and short and long beds. A new Lightning was introduced in 1999, and Harley-Davidson and King Ranch versions were also created. In 2001 the SuperCrew cab was introduced with four full-size doors. In 2002, an FX4 model was introduced which came with skid plates, a carbon steel frame, Rancho shock absorbers, and specific 17” aluminum wheels along with more standard features that were optional on XLT. In 2003, a sporty STX trim package was introduced, aimed at younger truck buyers. The STX package featured color keyed front/rear bumpers along with clear lens headlights and integrated round fog lamps. The package also featured chrome step rails, 17” chrome wheels, and a Kenwood Z828 stereo was installed in place of the standard Ford radio.

This generation F-150 received an overall “Poor” rating by IIHS in the frontal offset test, and was ranked “2nd Worst Performer” behind the 1997-2005 GM U-platform minivans. The new F-150 was Motor Trend magazine’s Truck of the Year for 1997. The grille was updated in 1999 with minor interior updates as well. Ford manufactured a limited run of “Heritage Edition” F-150s of this body style in 2004 to finish out production. This truck, with an updated grille, is still available in Mexico as a less-expensive alternative to the current trucks.

11th Generation (2004-2008)

In 2004, Ford redesigned the F-150 using the P2 platform. The side windows also changed to a Kenworth “Daylight Door” and Ford Super Duty-like appearance; dipping towards the front of the door. Initially, only Ford’s 4.6L Triton or new 3-valve 5.4L 3V Triton V8 engines and four-speed automatic transmissions were offered to the retail public on the new trucks. In 2005, Ford’s 4.2L Essex V6 and manual transmission became available and standard on base models after they were available only for fleet orders for 2004.

The F-250 / F-350 Super Duty models were built on the P3 platform and are a completely different class than the Ford F-150. All F-Series have two large closed loop front tow hook design as opposed to conventional open hooks. The F-Series can pull up to 30,000 lbs with just one tow hook.

For the 2006 model year, a flex-fuel version of the 5.4L Triton V8 became available. For 2007, Ford introduced a complement to the existing FX4 model, the new FX2 Sport Package. Ford states a properly equipped 2007 F-150 can tow up to 11,000 lb maximum and 1800-3050 lb maximum payload.

This generation F-150 got top safety ratings from the NHSTA in frontal collisions, and not only got a “Good” rating from the IIHS frontal offset test, but also a “Best Pick”. The dummy sensors recorded no injuries to any body region.

Saleen offers an OEM version of the F-150, badged as the S331. Additionally, Roush offers an aftermarket version with similar power. Beginning with the second half of the 2007 model year, Ford offered the Saleen forced-induction package on the Harley edition as an OEM option. The F-150 Foose Edition debuted in fall 2007 as a 2008 model. Based on an F-150 FX2 Sport, it uses a Roush-developed powertrain. The supercharged 5.4L V8 puts out 450 hp and 500 ft-lb of torque.

The new F-150 earned the North American Truck of the Year award for 2004 and was Motor Trend magazine’s Truck of the Year for 2004. It also beat the three-time winning Chevrolet Silverado for Car and Driver magazine’s Best Pickup Truck for 2004 and 2005.

12fth Generation (2009-Present)

Ford revealed the next generation 2009 F-150 design at the North American International Auto Show in January, 2008. Production of the series began in October 2008 at Ford’s Kansas City Assembly Plant. The truck features a larger and more flexible interior, an updated three-bar grille, and additional choices of cab styles and trim levels. The chassis includes lighter-weight, high-strength steel for better fuel economy and safety and improved payload and towing capacity. Three engines were initially offered with the 2009 redesign: a revised 5.4L Triton V8, a 4.6L 3-valve V8, and a 4.6L 2-valve V8. A 4.4L diesel V8 under development has been put on hold.

The 2009 Ford F-150 features front-seat side impact airbags and Ford’s Safety Canopy System for the first and second rows as head protection in the event of a side impact. It also features Ford’s exclusive ADVACETRAC RSC, an Electronic Stability control and anti-rollover safety feature also available in other Ford vehicles, from the Fusion to the Expedition.

For the 2011 model year, an all-new engine line-up is offered. Two of the engines, a 3.7L V6 and a 5.0L V8, are based on the 2011 Ford Mustang engines, and both offer E85 flex-fuel capability. The 6.2L V8 used in the 2011 Ford Super Duty is available with the F-150 Platinum, Lariat, SVT Raptor, and Harley-Davidson editions. Finally, the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 will be offered in the F-150 starting in early 2011. All engines are paired with a new six-speed automatic transmission.

Sources: Ford, autotrucktoys