For 2003, engineers focused on noise, vibration and harshness improvements in Fords full-size, light-duty F-150 pickup truck. A distinctive Heritage Edition marks the 100th birthday of the Ford Motor Co. A new STX edition that is meant to target younger buyers is now available, and it comes equipped with a Kenwood MP3/CD player and Chrometec-styled 17-inch wheels. Later in the model year, the King Ranch models add chrome tubular running boards.
A new edition of the Harley-Davidson truck went on sale with a supercharged V-8 engine for the 2002 model year. Ford also offers the SVT F-150 Lightning with a 380-horsepower engine.
The regular F-150 pickup tends to be very popular with customers. It may be equipped with a V-6 or a choice of two V-8 engines and with either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive (4WD). Fords F-150 has been the top-selling vehicle in America for more than two decades.
The F-150 has a half-ton rating. Ford also offers F-250 Super Duty and F-350 Super Duty models with heftier payloads. A redesigned F-150 is expected as a 2004 model.
Pickup-truck buyers who prefer four conventionally hinged doors may choose the SuperCrew edition of Fords F-150 full-size series. Regular-cab and SuperCab trucks, the latter of which are equipped with narrow back doors on both sides, are listed separately in this Buying Guide.
Truck enthusiasts who crave something special in a full-size pickup may want to check out the SVT F-150 Lightning, Fords high-performance offshoot of the F-150. Introduced early in the 2000 model year, the limited-production Lightning is a regular-cab Flareside pickup that is fitted with a supercharged, 5.4-liter V-8 engine that generates 380 horsepower.
SVT stands for Special Vehicle Team Fords in-house performance shop which also produces other limited-production models. Ford calls the SVT F-150 Lightning the fastest production pickup truck on the market and claims that it can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds.
Ford blends traditional truck styling cues, such as a bold grille and rounded body panels. XL, XLT and Lariat trim levels are available.
Regular-cab and SuperCab (extended-cab) models can have either a 6.5- or 8-foot cargo bed. The short bed is available with flared fenders, called Flareside, on regular cabs and SuperCabs. Otherwise, the bed on both models is a Styleside (slab-sided) design.
SuperCab models have narrow back doors on both sides that are rear hinged; they cannot be opened unless the front doors are open. SuperCrew versions have a larger passenger compartment than the SuperCab, but the cargo bed shrinks from 6.5 feet to 5.5 feet. Special bodyside stripes, Harley-Davidson badging and chrome accents go on the Harley-Davidson edition. A power moonroof is optional. The King Ranch models feature chrome tubular running boards and lower two-tone paint, which is optional on other versions. The standard tires measure 16 inches in diameter, but the Harley-Davidson edition rides on 20-inchers.
The F-150 SuperCrews four front-hinged doors open to the front like conventional doors on passenger cars. The SuperCrews bed shrinks to 5.5 feet in length. All SuperCrew trucks have Styleside (slab-sided) cargo-bed styling. A bed extender is optional.
The SVT F-150 Lightning includes such unique features as a special front fascia with large fog lamps, a side-exit exhaust system and lower-body rocker extensions. Upper and lower grilles have a horizontal billet-bar design. A unique stop lamp incorporates 10 light-emitting diodes. New color choices this year include Dark Shadow Gray and Sonic Blue, in addition to white, red and black.
The SVT F-150 Lightning rides a 119.8-inch wheelbase, measures 208 inches long overall and stands 70.9 inches tall. Technical features include an SVT-tuned suspension with special coil springs, Bilstein shock absorbers and a solid stabilizer bar. Larger brake rotors and calipers are borrowed from the F-250 Super Duty. Compared to regular F-150s, the Lightnings sport suspension uses a special five-leaf rear spring to lower the vehicles ride height by 1.5 inches in front and 2 inches in the rear. Massive unidirectional-tread Goodyear tires ride on distinctive new five-spoke, 18-inch, cast-aluminum wheels. A soft tonneau cover for the cargo bed is optional.
Regular-cab and SuperCab models may be equipped with a three-place bench seat or dual front buckets. SuperCabs add a three-place, 60/40-split, folding rear seat. The four-door SuperCrew also has a three-place rear bench that provides generous headroom and legroom. The rear seat pivots forward. Power-adjustable pedals are available on models equipped with the automatic transmission. Power-adjustable pedals are standard in F-150 SuperCrew models.
The SVT Lightning features a 60/40-split bench seat upholstered with Nudo textured leather inserts and Preferred Suede trim holds two occupants. The combination center armrest/storage bin may be folded up into the seatback to create a jump seat for a third person. The SVT logo is stitched into the seatback. Inside door handles have a new brushed-aluminum finish. A turbo-boost gauge and electroluminescent instruments with white faces and orange needles are illuminated in a blue-green hue at night. A six-way power drivers seat and power windows, locks and mirrors are standard.
Four-wheel antilock brakes, dual front airbags and child-safety seat top-tether anchors are standard on all F-150 models.
From a distance, even the half-ton F-150 looks huge, and the 4WD version feels massive when youre climbing up into the cockpit. This makes the use of the bulky A-pillar assist grip almost mandatory.
Performance with the 5.4-liter V-8 is energetic. Because this is a full-size pickup, dont expect precise steering or a cushy ride. Performance with the 5.4-liter V-8 is energetic. Because this is a full-size pickup, dont expect precise steering or a cushy ride.