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1999 4x4 of the Year: Ford F-150

Posted in Project Vehicles on February 1, 1999
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Photographers: 4-Wheel & Off-Road Staff

Ford F-150

Likes
•Plenty powerful V-8
•Handling very car-like
•Worked well for its size off road

Dislikes
•Flareside reduced cargo space
•4-Lo tough to get into and keep from popping out
•Still don't dig the swoopy body

You might be wondering how exactly Ford managed to sneak an F-150 into our 4x4 of the Year test. You probably think we were too distracted by our anticipation of its new brother, the F-350 Super Duty, to notice. Yeah, that's mostly true, yet the F-150 did have a tweaked-for-'99 5.4L Triton V-8, making it a legitimate entry. But our original lack of intrigue turned right around as the truck's arrival became one of the refreshing events of the year.

We last cruised an F-series pickup in the 1997 test, when one of our main complaints was about the Fahrenheit-sensitive transmission. But beyond some minor hunting on highway hills, this year's model was smooth and easy to use. Performance modifications were made to the 5.4L V-8 both in peak pony and peak torque departments (up 25 and 15, respectively), for an almost half-second quicker number at the dragstrip and slightly better mpg than the '97 model. The tuneup also helped position the pickup as seventh fastest at the dragstrip, leaving its 6.8L V-10 sibling out to pasture.

Being pleasantly surprised by the Ford also continued after we left the tarmac. Thumbs went up all around for its responsive engine, remarkable compression braking, good low-range gearing, extra ground clearance, and complacent ride. However, thumbs went sideways for its looks (both inside and out) and for visibility, while the pollex took a nosedive when discussions turned to hillclimbing ability and seat comfort-after all, not all drivers wanted their feet dangling from the seat or the transfer-case lever's reach to be in the next state. Stopping feel was also a complimented category but quite contrary to the dragstrip's third-worst label.

This Ford beat out the other fullsize pickups on the whoops, thanks to a forgiving suspension that landed well, for being sure-footed and controllable, and for having a quick steering box with zero play. While there was some axlehop on sand, the Ford's newfound potency did help it float. Highway, sand, rock, or fire roads, the F-150 continued to earn the comment "Exceedingly good for a pickup."

Bottom line
A vehicle with the attributes of a pickup but the ride quality of a sport/utility.

Specifications

General
Manufacturer Ford
Model F-150 SuperCab Flareside
Base Price $26,665
Price as Tested $30,450
Options as Tested 5.4L EFI V-8 engine;
four-speed automatic overdrive transmission; LT265/70R17 tires; 3.73 ratio; heavy-duty alternator; carpeted floormats; Trailer Towing Group Class III, remote keyless entry; 4x4 Off-Road Equipment Group (skidplates and steel chromed wheels); air conditioning; and four-wheel ABS.

Engine
Type SOHC V-8
Displacement (liters/cubic inches) 5.4/330
Bore & Stroke (inches) 3.55x4.16
Compression Ratio 9.0:1
Induction Type Electronic fuel injection
Fuel Requirement/Capacity (gallons) 87 Octane
Unleaded regular/25
SAE Peak Horsepower 260 @ 4,500 rpm
SAE Peak Torque (lb-ft) 345 @ 2,300 rpm

Transmission
Type Four-speed automatic overdrive
Model 4R100
Ratios First: 2.84:1; Second: 1.55:1;
Third: 1.00:1; Fourth: 0.70:1; Reverse: 2.33:1

Transfer Case
Type Two-speed part-time
Model Borg-Warner
Low-Range Ratio 2.64:1

Axles
Front Type IFS
Rear Type Solid
Hubs Automatic
Ratio 3.73:1

Suspension
Front Twin forged upper short and long arms/torsion bars
Rear Two-stage, variable-rate leaf springs

Steering
Type Power recirculating ball
Turns Lock-to-Lock/Ratio 3.25/14.0:1
Turning Radius (feet) NA

Wheels
Size (inches) 16x7
Material Steel

Tires
Size LT265/70R17
Brand Goodyear Wrangler AT/S

Brake System
Front 12-inch discs
Rear 11-inch drums

Weight
Advertised GVWR (pounds) 6,500

Mileage
As Tested (mpg) 12.37

Acceleration
Standing 1/4-mile (seconds @ mph) 17.97 @ 75.75

Braking
60-0 mph (feet) 135.66

Dimensions (inches)
Wheelbase 139
Overall Length 225
Overall Width 88
Overall Height 75
Front/Rear Track 65.25/65.5
Front/Rear Overhang 22.5/31.25
Minimum Front Ground Clearance 9.875

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