1998 Ford F-150 Standard Reviews and Ratings

Styleside XL

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1998 Ford F-150 Standard
Don Fuller

Ford's F-Series pickups are proof that barnyard workhorse trucks will never be their squared-off selves again.

Aerodynamic outside, luxurious inside, overhead cam performance under the hood, and safety and convenience features

that only a few years ago weren't available on cars, let alone trucks, the Ford F-Series pickups are as modern as

trucks get.

Ford's F-Series line is composed of the lighter-duty F-150, medium-duty F-250 and heavy-duty F-350, but only the

F-150 and F-250 share the sleek appearance introduced last year; the big F-350 is due for a complete, big-guy remake

for the 1999 model year. Walkaround
F-150 and F-250 trucks are offered in both regular cab and extended SuperCab body styles with smooth Styleside or

nostalgic Flareside bodies. Wheelbase lengths of 119.9 in., 138.5 in. and 157.1 in. are available (4X4 models are

0.3 inches longer), along with a choice of two-wheel or four-wheel drive and three engines: a 4.2-liter V6 producing

210 horsepower and 255 foot-pounds of torque, or a pair of overhead-cam Triton V8s, a 4.6-liter of 220 hp and 290

lb.-ft., and a 5.4-liter of 235 hp and 330 lb.-ft. These are the world's first and, so-far, only overhead-cam V8

truck engines.

Then there are four trim levels: Standard, XL, XLT and Lariat, in ascending order. Not all possible combinations

are available; there's no F-250 Flareside, no F-150 Flareside four-wheel drive in Standard trim, and all F-250 models

are on the 138.5-in. wheelbase, which means all F-250s are either extended cabs or long cargo beds. But, by and

large, there ought to be something here for just about anybody. Just counting Styleside or Flareside, two-wheel

drive or four, regular cab or SuperCab, wheelbase choices and trim levels, we arrived at dozens of choices -- and

that was before we got into the multitude of options

Our subject vehicle was an F-150 SuperCab Flareside in XLT trim, powered by the 5.4-liter V8, with four-wheel drive

The lowest-priced F-150, a regular cab, two-wheel-drive Styleside in Standard trim with V6 engine has a retail

price of $15,375 (all prices include $640 destination charge). The base price for our loaded four-wheel-drive

Flareside F-150 was $25,135. The XLT trim includes several items that might otherwise be options. In addition,

ours had cruise control, air conditioning, limited-slip differential, floor mats, electronic shift for the four-wheel

drive, a trailer towing package, power mirrors, an off-road package, power driver's seat, remote keyless entry, and a

CD changer. The total for this high-line truck came to $31,450. That may seem like a lot, but remember that you

could have a more typical truck, say a 2WD Styleside F-150, with a nice level of equipment, in the low- to mid-$20,000


The Triton engine is one of the best aspects of the F-Series, especially the 5.4-liter version. In smoothness,

it embarrasses every other full-size truck engine on the market. The power delivery is crisp and responsive, and

to good low-end power it adds excellent mid-range and higher-speed power to make short work of real-world demands

such as quick acceleration to freeway speeds. Whether around town or on the open highway, the Triton makes you

forget there are big reciprocating parts down there; it feels more like some kind of giant sewing machine

The F-Series also has a new front suspension with upper and lower control arms. It replaces the ancient Twin

I-Beam, and we're thankful. With this suspension, the ride is far better, handling is superior, steering feel is

drastically improved and directional stability, such as when traveling at highway speeds in a severe crosswind, is

immensely enhanced. We would expect that tire wear would also be better, as this was one of the many weak points

of the Twin I-Beam. In ride and handling capability, we would have to rank the Ford F-Series as superior to the

other full-size competition

The standard towing capacity for an F-150 4x4 with 5.4-liter V8 is 6100 pounds, but with the trailer towing package (as ours had), towing capacity goes up to 7800 pounds. Interior
To fully appreciate all the interior features of the F-Series SuperCab you'll have to make a trip to your Ford

dealer, but we'll give you the high points. With the 40/60 split-bench front seat, driver and passenger have

individually reclining backrests. What can serve as the center backrest is also a folding armrest; when folded

forward, it provides a large cupholder and capacious bin. Inside this storage bin are places for coins, cassette

tapes and so forth, and a divider which, when removed, allows space for an 8 1/2 x 11 tablet. You could store

notebooks, calculators, small tissue boxes, even a cordless drill. Our test truck had captain's chairs, which are

more stylish, but the split bench front seat is definitely more versatile and offers six-passenger seating

The driver is faced with clearly legible instrumentation, and important controls are close and easy to operate.

There are a pair of cupholders in the instrument panel, and a goodly number of the expected storage compartments and

map pockets here and there

The view outward is superb, as the F-Series styling includes a low beltline and big windows all around. Even fairly

short drivers should have decent forward visibility. The only vision-related gripe we had was a vertically narrow

inside rear-view mirror, which cut down on the view to the rear

All SuperCabs include a third door on the passenger's side for entry to the back seat. This door is operable once the passenger's door is open, and can be opened from inside or out. Two adults should be reasonably comfortable on longer trips in the back seat. With the rear seat folded forward there's a flat, sturdy steel surface, great for carrying toolboxes or large amounts of luggage. Driving Impressions
People familiar with trucks, particularly those familiar with Ford trucks, will find the driving experience in

the new F-Series greatly enhanced. Whether traveling straight ahead or negotiating twists and turns, the F-Series

offers good steering feel. A high degree of directional stability adds to safety and comfort because it keeps the

vehicle headed down its intended path

Ride, too, is remarkably good. One big problem with pickup trucks has always been how poorly they tend to

ride when empty; this can become really annoying on long trips down concrete interstates where trucks can bounce

ceaselessly. We drove our F-Series pickup over bouncy concrete highways for several hours and the ride was car-like

and comfortable, mile after highway mile

The smooth, quiet overhead-cam engine adds to the driving pleasure. There's no truck-like roar or rumble, no

feeling that it starts thrashing at higher speeds. Whether driving around the city or taking an extended highway

cruise, the 5.4-liter Triton engine is the most velvety full-size pickup truck engine we've encountered. The smaller,

4.6-liter version is equally smooth, but it's less powerful, and we highly recommend the stronger 5.4-liter V8. It's

$665 more, but we think it's money well spent and, besides, you'll probably get most, if not all, of it back at trade-in time. Summary
It's a little bit of a contradiction in terms to think of "truck" in the same sentence with "cutting edge,

aerodynamic styling," but with the Ford F-Series, we think it works. Style is a matter of personal taste, of

course, and you may prefer the traditional look of the Chevrolet or GMC offerings, or the macho, rugged big-rig

appearance of the Dodge Ram. But the Ford is certainly the sleekest of the bunch

There's a lot to like about it in addition to the look. The interior is extraordinary, the Triton V8s are silky

and strong, the ride and drive is exceptional and it's full to the brim with worthwhile features. We don't see how you could go wrong.

Model as tested
F-150 4x4 XLT Flareside SuperCab
Basic Warranty
3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in
Norfolk, VA
Destination charge
Gas guzzler tax
Base Price
Price as tested
Options as tested
Preferred Equipment Package 507A XLT Series, air conditioning, cloth captain's chairs, cruise control, tilt wheel, power mirrors, six-way power driver's seat, CD changer, remote keyless entry, 5.4-liter V8 engine, automatic transmission, California emissions, P265/70R17 tires, floor mats, electronic shift for four-wheel drive, trailer towing package, off-road package, 17-inch alloy wheels

Model Line Overview
Model lineup
Safety equipment (standard)
Dual airbags, passenger deactivation
Safety equipment (optional)
5.4-liter sohc V8
4-speed automatic

Specifications as Tested
4.6-liter V8, 5-speed manual transmission, P255/70R-16 tires, steel wheels, 40/60 split bench seat, four-wheel ABS, AM/FM stereo, third door for rear-seat passengers

Engine & Transmission
5.4-liter sohc V8
Drivetrain type
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
235 @ 4250
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)

Brakes, front/rear
Suspension, front
Suspension, rear
Live axle

Seating capacity
Head/hip/leg room, middle
Head/hip/leg room, front
Head/hip/leg room, rear

Fuel capacity
Trunk volume
Turning circle
Towing capacity
Track, front/rear
Ground clearance
Curb weight

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