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Few vehicle models are as popular as the Ford F-150. It’s so popular that it has been the best-selling truck in the US for 46 consecutive years and the best-selling vehicle overall for 41 of those years. Ford has been making trucks since the early 1910s, and since the ‘70s, the F-150 nameplate has been a symbol of reliability, practicality, and functionality on the road.

Since its inception, the F-150 has been through dramatic transformations to adapt to drivers’ changing needs and desires. For many, the main criterion for a truck to be good is reliability, and a lot of F-150 owners say their trucks have served them reliably across years of use and abuse. The F-150 has been a reliable workhorse over the decades, but it has also tried to be more. In this list, we’ll go through some of the best F-150s that have set the bar for a pickup truck higher and redefined what a truck could offer.

image of a 1975 ford f 150
Meant to be a slightly more heavy-duty version of the F-100, the first F-150 was introduced in 1975, and was originally made to avoid certain emissions control restrictions. Image source: Rutger van der Maar | Flickr

1975 F-150 – The First F-150

The first F-150 was introduced in 1975, and it was meant to be a slightly more heavy-duty version of Ford’s F-100. The F-150 was originally made to avoid certain emissions control restrictions, but little did Ford know that the F-150 was going to be its best-selling vehicle for many years.

During this time, Ford was raising the bar when it came to trucks. The F-100 and F-150 had twin I-beam suspensions that made for a smoother ride and better steering control. The F-150 also had power steering, an AM/FM radio, and roomy interiors. What made the F-150 so popular was the idea that a pickup truck, which was originally meant to exclusively haul goods and cargo, could also be a family car.

  • Engine Options: 300 cu-in Inline Six
  • Horsepower: 150 horsepower @ 4000 RPM
  • Torque: 275 lb-ft @ 2400 RPM
  • Payload Capacity: 2245 lbs (Reg. Cab)
image of a 1993 ford f 150 svt lightning
The 1993 F-150 SVT Lightning had a sports car-like styling, with upgraded bumpers, a more powerful engine, and a lower ride height. Image source: MotorTrend

1993 F-150 SVT Lightning – The Introduction of Fun

During the ‘90s, Dodge, Chevy, and GMC were all developing pickup trucks with powerful engines. So in 1993, Ford’s Special Vehicle Team (SVT) introduced the F-150 SVT Lightning. This gave the F-150 sports car-like styling, with upgraded bumpers, a more powerful engine, and a lower ride height.

In 1999, Ford reintroduced the SVT Lightning variant that had a supercharged 5.4 L V8, producing 360 horsepower and 440 lb-ft of torque. However, this would be the last generation of the F-150 SVT Lightning. Despite the automakers’ attempts, the performance truck category failed to take off and the F-150 SVT Lightning was eventually phased out in 2003. Today, the idea of a pickup truck with a powerful V8 and having a sports car-like 0 to 60 time isn’t too surprising or odd, but it was during the ’90s. Ultimately, the Ford F-150 SVT Lightning was significant because it introduced the idea that trucks could do more than just haul cargo and tow trailers but also be fun and exciting.

  • Engine Specs: 5.8-liter V8
  • Horsepower: 240 Horsepower 
  • Torque: 340 lb-ft
  • 0 to 60 Time: 7.2 seconds
  • Quarter Mile Time: 15.8 seconds with a top speed of 86 MPH
image of a 2003 ford f 150
The 2003 F-150 model year is one of the highest-rated trucks by Kelly Blue Book with a 4.7 Consumer Rating, and also received a “Seal of Pretty Good” from Image source: Bejara70 | Wikimedia Commons

2003 Ford F-150 – Reliability at Its Peak

In 1997, Ford completely redesigned the F-150 from the ground up. F-series trucks got a new chassis. Ford got rid of the boxy and flat style and introduced a more modern look with rounded curves. Aside from introducing a look that later F-150 generations would build on, this generation of F-150s was renowned because of its sheer reliability. The 2003 F-150 model year is one of the highest-rated trucks by Kelly Blue Book with a 4.7 Consumer Rating based on 1,454 Reviews. The 2003 F-150 also received a “Seal of Pretty Good” from

Being universally praised by so many owners is a testament to their reliability. These F-150s have not only held their value well in the used truck market but also made them sought after by those who want a pre-owned pickup truck.

  • Horsepower: 231 hp @ 4750 RPM
  • Torque: 293 lb-ft
  • Towing Capacity: 8,800 lbs
image of a 2010 ford f 150 svt raptor
The 2010 F-150 SVT Raptor revolutionized the pickup truck industry with its wider body, cutting-edge suspension, and amazing durability by becoming the epitome of high-speed off-roading. Image source: Claudio Núñez | Flickr

2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor – Conquering Off Road

In 2010, Ford’s SVT released the F-150 SVT Raptor. At first glance, its appearance made it readily apparent that it was made to go fast off-road.

It has large, protruding composite fenders up front and steel fenders in the back to facilitate its stretched front and rear wheels, which sat seven inches further out compared to the regular F-150.

The suspension boasts over a foot of wheel travel in the back and 11.2 inches of wheel travel up front. The Raptor is also equipped with specially designed Fox shocks that feature a novel triple bypass system that causes the dampers to stiffen as they compress so they can withstand significant impact from bumps without bottoming out. These upgrades allowed the Raptor to tackle rough surfaces at unprecedented speeds. In the Baja 1000 off-road race, the Raptor quickly gained fame as it completed the race in third, demonstrating its durability and capabilities under extreme conditions.

The Ford F-150 SVT Raptor showed that an F-150 couldn’t just go fast on paved roads but also in difficult off-road conditions. It revolutionized the pickup truck industry with its wider body, cutting-edge suspension, and amazing durability by becoming the epitome of high-speed off-roading.

  • Engine: 6.2-liter V8
  • Horsepower: 411 bhp @ 5500 RPM
  • Torque: 434 lb-ft @ 4500 RPM
  • 0 to 60 Time: 7.1 seconds
  • Quarter Mile Time: 15.0 seconds
2022 ford f 150 lightning trims on display
The 2022 F-150 Lightning is the first all-electric F-150. Image source: Ford Media Center

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning – The Beginning of an Electrified Future

At first glance, the F-150 Lightning looks basically like any 2022 F-150–until you open the hood. It has a gaping hole where the engine would be because the F-150 Lightning is the first all-electric F-150.

Electrifying a workhorse truck has some immediate drawbacks, the most glaring of which is how its 320 miles of range (for the extended range model) plummets as soon as you strap on a trailer or haul cargo. Carrying a payload across the country is going to be difficult, if not impossible because you’re going to have to plot a route that includes several fast-charging stations. Then, there’s the wait time. Charging the F-150 Lightning at a 350-kW Electrify America station from 17 to 80 percent takes 38 minutes, which is an eternity compared to a 5-minute gas stop. So, what’s the point of a truck if it can’t do truck things?

Putting an electric powertrain in a truck means it offers significantly lower operating costs. The charging costs of an F-150 Lightning are estimated at around $1,200 for an entire year. Meanwhile, an equivalent gasoline F-150 would cost an estimated $4,333 per year. The F-150 Lightning is also incredibly powerful. Its electric motors can produce 426 horsepower and 775 lb-ft of torque, so driving it is a spirited experience.

Many of the F-150 Lightning’s innovations improve comfort and livability. The Lightning runs incredibly quiet and is extremely supple thanks to its independent rear suspension. Most notably, the Lightning’s large cabin and frame don’t shudder and jitter every time it hits a bump, like a regular F-150 does. It also features a spacious front trunk with charge ports, adding to its already abundant cargo space.

  • Engine: None (two electric motors)
  • Horsepower: 452 hp
  • Torque: 775 lb-ft 
  • 0 to 60 Time: 3.8 seconds
  • Quarter Mile Time: 12.4 seconds
  • Towing Capacity: 10,000 lbs (extended range version) 
  • Range: 200 miles (Standard), 300 miles (Platinum), 320 miles (Lariat)

Each generation of the Ford F-150 is a chapter that reveals a story of innovation and adaptability. The F-150 has continuously pushed the limits of what a pickup truck is capable of, from its modest origins as a practical workhorse in the middle of the 1970s to the present day as it shifts to an electrified future. It demonstrates Ford’s dedication to satisfying its customers’ diverse needs, whether they relate to dependability, fast off-roading, or environmentally friendly performance. The F-150 is more than a truck; it is an evolving emblem of advancement in the automotive industry.

About The Author
CarParts Research Team
Written By Research Team

Automotive and Tech Writers

The Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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