2008 Ford F-150 Performance
This performance review was written when the 2008 Ford F-150 was new.
The 2008 Ford F-150 places near the bottom of our rankings for performance because its power is somewhat hindered by its weight. But the F-150 does impress with its smooth ride. U.S. News auto reviewer Rick Newman says, "It's no Mercedes, to be sure, but the F-150's highway ride is almost carlike, with very little of the springy bouncing that's typical in some trucks."
The Ford is available with three engines: a 4.2-liter V6, a 4.6-liter V8 or a 5.4-liter V8. Reviewers find the smaller engines somewhat overmatched by the truck's mass -- and even the big 5.4-liter V8 gets good but not great reviews. "Even with the larger engine," says Cars.com, "the F-150 takes a while to really get rolling -- but when it does, it feels pretty powerful."
V6 models of the F-150 come with rear-wheel drive, while V8s are available with either rear- or four-wheel drive. Either way, reviewers consistently report smooth, comfortable and responsive rides. Automotive.com claims that the F-150 is "quiet and refined" on "dirt roads, rough pavement and freeway slabs," offering a ride that's "smooth and firm, with a minimum of body roll in corners." Less enthusiastic reviewers note that, while the F-150 delivers a great ride for a truck, it nevertheless has some of the performance limitations inherent to its design. The writes: "The F-150 is still a truck. A very nice truck, but still a truck. You're still going to get rear-wheel hop on a hard-acceleration right turn from a standing start, the back end indeed will break loose if you overdrive it into a corner and you still need to allow some distance between the F-150 and the car in front of you on the freeway."
Acceleration and Power
Three engines are available for the Ford F-150 -- a 4.2-liter V6 that creates 202 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, a 4.6-liter V8 that creates 248 horsepower and 294 pound-feet of torque and a 5.4-liter V8 that creates 300 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque. Reviewers point out that, in a truck as big as the F-150, even the big V8 isn't an overwhelming powerhouse. Thereports, "The F-150 bolts from the gate quick enough, with zero-to-60-mph times in the mid-8 seconds. But it struggles to accelerate at highway and passing speeds and seems a little clamorous and fretful." Other reviewers argue that the F-150 has plenty of power for practical purposes. The writes, "The truck's extra weight and exceptionally quiet interior create the impression that acceleration for passing is a little slow, but highway performance was competitive."
The V6 engine, says Consumer Guide, has "adequate power for commuter duty, but struggles with even modest loads." Kelley Blue Book calls the engine "tepid but fuel-efficient (for a big truck)," but cautions, "We don't recommend this engine for towing or hauling heavy loads." It can be paired with a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic. With the manual transmission, the V6 in the 2WD F-150 Environmental Protection Agency-estimated 14 miles per gallon in the city and 20 mpg on the highway. With the automatic transmission it gets 14/19 city/highway.
The 4.6-liter V8 is not particularly popular with reviewers. Automotive.com finds, "The main benefit of the 4.6-liter over the 5.4-liter may be price because fuel economy is not appreciably better." MSN says, "Neither engine will get a fuel economy prize." The 4.6-liter V8 gets an EPA-estimated 14 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway with a standard four-speed automatic transmission. As for performance, Consumer Guide says the engine "has decent acceleration and works well enough for light-duty hauling," but finds that the "automatic transmission tends to rush upshifts, delay downshifts," and delivers "frustrating passing response."
Reviewers generally like the 5.4-liter V8. Kelley Blue Book says it "has the power to move, haul and tow that's befitting to this truck's can-do image." U.S. News reviewer Rick Newman reports that it "showed decent pickup off the line, with lots of power kicking in at around 3,000 RPMs." The explains it's "not a pin-you-to-the-seat screamer, but it is smooth," and claims that the standard four-speed automatic transmission "runs through the gears with seamless efficiency and little noise." Not all reviewers are impressed. The Boston Globe writes, "The 5.4-liter V-8 engine needs to be more fuel efficient, and the transmission -- a four-speed automatic -- lags behind what some other companies are offering." It gets an EPA-estimated 13 mpg in the city and 17 on the highway with two-wheel drive, and 13 mpg and 17 mpg in the city and on the highway, respectively, with four-wheel drive.
Handling and Braking
For 2007, the F-150 got new steering and suspension systems -- which results in a ride that reviewers overwhelmingly praise. Kelley Blue Book reports: "Gone are the old power steering system and torsion bar front suspension; replacing them are a modern rack-and-pinion steering and front coil-over-shock suspension. The combination of these features makes these the best-handling, best-riding F-150s to ever leave a Ford factory." Cars.com finds, "In actual use, I often forgot I was driving a pickup, as opposed to a large SUV, because only in extreme circumstances did I feel any of the hallmarks of a pickup's rear end -- specifically, some minor axle hop on rough pavement." Consumer Guide calls the ride "firm always, but reasonably comfortable and composed over big dips and swells."
The steering, writes Automotive.com, "is exemplary. It's responsive, without hesitation or delay, and without being darty or overly quick or nervous. The truck tracks like a laser beam, turns in quickly, and recovers quickly even with no load in the bed." MSN says, "The steering provides good road feel. It's geared right -- not too fast or too slow for a high, heavy vehicle." reports: "On-center feel is good, and steering is quick without being twitchy. The truck maneuvers nimbly in tight spots." The standard anti-lock brakes also receive good marks, with Four Wheeler saying that they gave "a nice initial bite and a powerful feel that made it easy to modulate them during crawling."
V6 models of the F-150 come with rear-wheel drive, while V8s are available with either rear- or four-wheel drive. The four-wheel drive is a part-time system that should not be used on dry roads. The U.S. News reviewer Rick Newman, the F-150 "handled rutted trails without a hiccup and showed good frame stiffness in bumps -- a sign of durability and ruggedness. The only time it got snared was on the gravel pile, a situation that would have hung up most mass-produced four-wheel-drive vehicles."says, "Adjusting the truck's four-wheel drive system is easy," requiring a driver to simply "flip a dial on the dash." A low setting helps with off-roading. In such situations, reports
Automotive.com reports, "Towing and hauling capacities have been increased for 2007, and Ford claims the F-150 is the most capable truck in its class," with a towing capacity of 11,000 pounds when properly equipped. A reviewer for Cars.com says: "I towed a 20-foot 7,000-pound trailer in two SuperCab 4x4 versions of the F-150 optimized for towing. It was uneventful, which is what you want." Reviewers point out that the big V8 is the best choice for drivers who do a lot of towing. PickupTruck.com says that the "nicely matched powertrain is clearly the best in the towing comparison, providing a sure and steady pull."