It’s mind-blowing to think of how much has changed in the five years since Ford last redesigned the F-150. The summer of 2003 was a prelude to the strongest full-size truck market ever. Big-truck sales in the U.S. hit 2.5 million units in 2004 and 2005, and F-Series pickups sold in record numbers. Sales slowly began to deflate in 2006 and 2007, though, after the housing market peaked and fuel prices started to climb. Ford’s competition responded to the F-150 with new rigs. In 2007, Toyota introduced a powerful new Tundra, and General Motors reengineered its Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra light-duty pickups.
Today, things have gotten brutally tough for big pickups. Full-size truck sales cratered as truck buyers felt the pain of home-equity hangovers and high fuel prices chased casual buyers – who accounted for much of the bubble in full-size truck sales – into smaller vehicles. For the F-150, the competition continues to squeeze, too. The 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 has pushed half-ton usability to new heights with its comfortable coil-spring rear suspension and innovative RamBox cargo box storage.
Tough times call for a tough pickup -- one that’s built to last a decade or more as a work truck, not an image hauler, and strong enough to stand up equally to or beat the competition. That’s what Ford appears to have delivered in the new 2009 Ford F-150.