2008 Ford F-150 Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 23, 2008

The Ford F-150 is a solid truck that is due for its 2009 model makeover, but it’s good enough that it may be all the truck you need or want.

TheCarConnection.com's editors read the latest reviews on the new 2008 Ford F-150 to write this comprehensive review. Experts from TheCarConnection.com also drove the Ford F-150 and include more driving impressions and details here to give you the definitive word on this full-size pickup. In addition, this review compares the 2008 Ford F-150 with other vehicles in its class to give you the best advice even when other reviews present conflicting opinions.

The 2008 Ford F-150 returns in five trim levels spread over three cab styles, three box lengths, and two box styles. The base version is the F-150 XL; a sport STX version and an all-purpose XLT version are a little pricier; an FX4 edition is aimed at the off-road crowd; and the Lariat is the most luxurious version, especially when the King Ranch option is ticked.

From Ford, 2008 is the year all F-150s can be ordered with the new Cargo Management System, Ford's take on similar offerings from GM and Nissan. The system includes a set of rails for the bed, a set of crossbars from which accessories can hang; side-mounted tool bins; and a pushbutton lock that secures all the bins and tie-downs with a single key twist.

The new rearview camera system aims a camera from the bezel of the tailgate handle backward. A screen on the truck's rearview mirror displays the camera view, so drivers can avoid obstacles that might be lurking behind the 2008 F-150.

Review continues below

In addition to those updates, Ford also adds a tachometer to F-150 XL and STX trucks with manual gearboxes; a new remote start system becomes an option; and a tire pressure monitor now comes with the heavy-duty package. The F-150 XL can now be ordered in the four-door SuperCrew body style.

So these are the updates that Ford adds in the last year of this generation of the venerable F-Series. The 11th generation has run from the 2004 model year through today's F-Series. An all-new 2009 model debuted at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show and arrives in showrooms toward the end of the 2008 calendar year.

Editors from TheCarConnection.com have driven many different versions of this F-Series since its 2004 introduction, and they find the truck comfortable and capable in just about every category of use. The truck is responsive on-road and handles off-road romps without drama. However, when compared to the Chevrolet Silverado (a new truck in 2007), the ride of the Ford isn't as smooth or quiver-free. Plus, there are some control details on the new Chevys that are just better than the Fords, including the radio controls with real tuning knobs. In general, however, the interior of 2008 Ford F-150 models still looks contemporary.

Engine choices again include a 4.2-liter V-6, a 4.6-liter V-8, and a 5.4-liter V-8. If you get the Harley-Davidson edition, you can option up to a supercharged version of the 5.4-liter that pumps out 450 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque. This combination is a true burnout king. Just remember, smoking up those 22-inch tires will cost you in the end, as those tires are expensive to replace. Otherwise, the available engines struggle to keep pace with HEMI Dodges and big-displacement Chevy trucks.

The 2008 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson edition makes another important point about the Ford F-150; it's versatile in that there are powertrains, trim levels, and cab/box configurations designed to meet just about any conceivable need. This is one key to becoming and staying the most popular truck in the country.

7

2008 Ford F-150

Styling

A 2004 makeover still wears well on the 2008 Ford F-150.

The Ford F-150 was redesigned in 2004 and hasn't undergone any major changes, including the current 2008 Ford F-150, which is slated to be the last of the 11th-generation body style. Despite its age, the exterior of the Ford F-150 2008 edition scores well with reviewers, and the interior is not far behind.

The exterior of the 2008 Ford F-150 comes in a variety of flavors and is generally applauded in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com. Edmunds says that the Ford F-150 is "available in three body styles: regular cab, extended cab ('SuperCab') and crew cab ('SuperCrew')." They add that regular cabs "come with a 6.5-foot or 8-foot cargo bed, while SuperCabs can have either of those or a garage-friendly 5.5-footer," and "the SuperCrew can have either the 5.5-foot or 6.5-foot bed." The SuperCrew features four regular doors, while Kelley Blue Book finds that the other cabs have "a set of small, rear-hinged doors that allow easy access" to the rear.

Cars.com writes "some F-150 styling touches were borrowed from the Mighty F-350 Tonka concept truck," such as the "stepped-design side windows" that "improve mirror visibility and enhance the tough-truck look." Special packages and editions of the Ford F-150 2008 include a Harley-Davidson SuperCrew that Motor Trend says has an "aggressive look" accentuated by "body-colored bumpers and trim pieces and several Bar and Shield badges," along with "22-inch aluminum wheels and monster high-performance tires." The 2008 Ford F-150 Lariat gets "a chrome surround and honeycomb insert," according to Cars.com, and Edmunds adds that the Lariat Limited includes "polished running boards" and "smoked taillights."

The interior of the Ford F-150 2008 still holds up well after a few years on the market. ConsumerGuide writes that the Ford F-150's "gauges are handsome and well-placed," but when compared to more modern rivals, the "controls for audio" and "automatic climate systems are slightly undersized." Automobile reviewers rave about the "finely wrought instrument cluster" on their Ford F-150 Lariat tester, and Kelley Blue Book says "the dash and interior design on the base models look good enough." Edmunds also lists the "attractive and functional cabin" as one of their favorite features on the 2008 Ford F-150.

7

2008 Ford F-150

Performance

The 2008 Ford F-150 suffers in terms of acceleration with all except the supercharged engine, but the ride and handling are a definite plus.

With a range of engines to choose from, performance on the 2008 Ford F-150 varies considerably across the lineup. The improved handling and steering feel, however, are consistent on all Ford F-150s.

The 2008 Ford F-150 comes with four engine options. Cars.com writes "the base F-150 engine is a 202-horsepower, 4.2-liter V-6," while "two V-8s are available: a 248-hp 4.6-liter and a 300-hp 5.4-liter." On the Harley-Davidson edition Ford F-150 2008, the latter can be outfitted with a supercharger that Automobile says "pumps up Ford's 5.4-liter V-8 to 450 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque." Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com are not entirely impressed with the engine options, and ConsumerGuide says that even the 5.4-liter V-8 on the Ford F-150 "trails Dodge's Hemi V8 for overall power and GM's 5.3 V8 for refinement." Edmunds adds "the truck's beefy curb weight is too much for the 4.2-liter V6 and 4.6-liter V8 engines." Cars.com finds that "the 5.4-liter V-8 produces quicker acceleration than the 4.6-liter, though neither engine is phenomenal." The supercharged version of the 5.4-liter on the Harley-Davidson Ford F-150 fares better, and Motor Trend claims that it "pulls longer and harder than you expect."

One area where many reviewers find more to fault with the 2008 Ford F-150 is the transmission. Cars.com says "a four-speed automatic transmission is standard with V-8 power, but V-6 models can team with a four-speed automatic or a five-speed manual." ConsumerGuide writes "all F-150s offer rear-wheel drive" and "V8 models are available with 4-wheel drive." Regardless of how many wheels are driving the Ford F-150 2008, ConsumerGuide says "the transmission tends to rush upshifts and delay downshifts, frustrating passing response and hilly terrain driving." On the supercharged Harley-Davidson edition, Automobile laments the lack of "fifth and sixth forward gears," as the "four-speed automatic is simply no match for the blown V-8."

Fuel economy is not spectacular on the 2008 Ford F-150, but that shouldn't come as much of a surprise. ConsumerGuide rates the Ford F-150 right with its class average and says their 5.4-liter V8 "Lariat SuperCrew averaged 13.2 mpg in a city/highway mix over 7435 miles." The EPA estimates that the V-6 on the Ford F-150 2008 will return 14 mpg city and 19 mpg highway as an automatic and 14/20 mpg as a manual. On the 4.6-liter V-8 in 2WD mode, the EPA estimates 14 mpg city and 19 mpg highway, while all other engine and drive wheel configurations result in a 13/17 mpg rating.

One area where the 2008 Ford F-150 shines much brighter than its predecessors is handling. Edmunds reviewers find that "the 2008 Ford F-150 delivers impressive ride and handling dynamics for a full-size truck," and ConsumerGuide agrees that "firm, responsive steering highlights capable handling." As for ride quality, Cars.com writes that "the suspensions react more positively to pavement flaws by rebounding rapidly," and Kelley Blue Book feels that these 2008 Fords are the "best-riding F150s to ever leave a Ford factory." When it comes time to stop the 2008 Ford F-150, Edmunds says to expect brakes that "feel solid, with a firm pedal, but stopping distances are still longer than most of the F-150's competition."

8

2008 Ford F-150

Comfort & Quality

Great high-end materials and solid construction throughout help make the 2008 Ford F-150 an appealing choice in the pickup market.

The 2008 Ford F-150 offers a wide range of models and trims that present various levels of materials quality, but reviewers agree that most are comfortable and roomy enough for most jobs.

Inside the 2008 Ford F-150, Edmunds finds that "most F-150s have a standard 40/20/40-split bench seat with a column shifter" up front, which allows a seating capacity of three in regular cabs, and in SuperCab and SuperCrew configurations, there's room for six passengers. Edmunds also notes "most trims offer an upgrade to captain's chairs and a console shifter." Up front, "the seats are a bit flat but comfortably firm," and there is also "ample headroom and legroom," says ConsumerGuide. For rear occupants, ConsumerGuide says that the "extended cab is okay for occasional adult use, but the crew cab is much more accommodating."

Aside from offering generous passenger space and comfort, the Ford F-150 2008 boasts tremendous storage space. Cars.com writes that the interior storage space is increased on SuperCab and SuperCrew versions, thanks to "a modular overhead rail system" that "can hold a DVD player and other components." Also on the interior of the Ford F-150, ConsumerGuide finds that "all models have extra-large map pockets in all doors, but rivals have larger, more accessible console bins." In the bed, Automobile claims "the top edges of the box are raised 2.3 inches to increase both cargo volume and visual mass." Also increasing functionality is the Ford F-150’s Cargo Management System, which Edmunds says is "a combination of bins, crossbars and adjustable cleats that allows one to secure virtually anything short of the space shuttle in the bed." Three bed lengths are offered, as are two box styles, which give the F-150 true full-size hauling capability of more than 9,000 pounds.

Materials quality varies greatly across the trim lines of the Ford F-150 2008. On the base XL, Cars.com reviewers find "hose-out rubber floormats" and a "plainer interior," but moving up the trim levels brings such materials improvements as "two-tone leather seats and leather-trimmed interior pieces" on the Lariat Limited 2008 Ford F-150. Kelley Blue Book mentions "the dash and interior design on the base models look good enough, but the addition of leather, wood, chrome and center console-mounted shifter found on the high-end models combine to raise the bar on the plush pickup concept." Even assembly quality, which has been known to lag in domestic cars, earns nods of approval in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, as ConsumerGuide writes that "assembly quality has been good" on their test Ford F-150 2008s.

On top of looking good and adding an air of luxury, solid build quality also tends to reduce interior noise, and that is definitely the case on the 2008 Ford F-150. Car and Driver claims that the 2008 Ford F-150 is "quiet at all speeds," while ConsumerGuide offers that this is "a very quiet truck," and "road and wind noise is low at highway speeds."

8

2008 Ford F-150

Safety

The 2008 Ford F-150 performs very well in the crash tests it has faced, but the lack of some key safety features is unfortunate.

The 2008 Ford F-150 has a lot of promising safety credentials, but there are still a few noteworthy feature omissions that prospective buyers should be aware of.

The 2008 Ford F-150 has been crash-tested by both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and each reports favorably on the Ford F-150. The NHTSA put the Ford F-150 through both of its frontal impact tests and awarded the 2008 Ford F-150 a perfect five stars for both driver and passenger side impacts. The NHTSA also awarded the Ford F-150 2008 four out of five possible stars in its rollover category for rear- and four-wheel-drive versions. The IIHS has also put the 2008 Ford F-150 through their frontal offset test, and they give the Ford F-150 the highest possible rating, "good" in this case, for occupant protection. No side impact tests were conducted by either agency, but this is likely due to the large variety of cab and bed options that would complicate issuing a safety rating.

When it comes to safety features, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that the Ford F-150 2008 has a curious mix of welcome safety features and glaring omissions. Edmunds writes that "antilock brakes are standard across the board" and "traction control is optional on 2WD V8 models," but "unlike most of its competitors, the F-150 does not offer side airbags or stability control--the latter a key feature for avoiding accidents in the first place." On the welcome features side of the safety equation, Cars.com says that "front seat belt pretensioners are standard" and the "dual-stage front airbags work with an occupant classification system sensor" that helps prevent the airbags from harming children in the front seat. The two optional safety features on the Ford F-150 2008 are a "rear-obstacle-detection system" and a "rearview camera," according to ConsumerGuide.

That rearview camera option might be nice to have, but it certainly isn't essential since the visibility from the Ford F-150's cab is pretty good to begin with. ConsumerGuide says that "outward visibility is unobstructed," even in the largest Ford F-150 models.

8

2008 Ford F-150

Features

The 2008 Ford F-150 can be almost endlessly customized, but for those who don't want to deal with options list, the standard features are impressive already.

The 2008 Ford F-150 comes in such a wide variety of trims that it is possible to find just about any feature you could want in a pickup as either standard or an available option.

Standard features vary widely across the Ford F-150 2008 lineup, and the models are clearly targeted at very specific markets. Edmunds says that the "bare-bones XL," which is "geared towards commercial use," features "17-inch steel wheels, vinyl seating, AM/FM radio and, apart from air-conditioning in the new SuperCrew version, not much else." They write that the Ford F-150 STX is "similarly equipped," and adds "an upgraded sound system with a CD player and auxiliary audio jack." On the Ford F-150 2008 XLT, which is Ford's biggest seller, ConsumerGuide finds that standard features include full power accessories, "front-hinged rear doors," and "automatic headlights," along with "carpeting [and] floormats." The upscale Lariat and Harley-Davidson trims of the Ford F-150 bring "automatic climate control, leather upholstery, power driver seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel w/radio controls," and a "trip computer," according to ConsumerGuide.

For many prospective Ford F-150 2008 buyers, customization is an important reason for their purchase, and reviews read by TheCarConnection.com indicate that the 2008 Ford F-150's long options list offers quite the opportunity for customization. Edmunds says that "key F-150 options include remote starting, a navigation system, a back-up camera, a rear parking sensor, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system and a sunroof." ConsumerGuide mentions that many of the lower trims can add upper-trim features as options, and "captain chairs" can replace the front bench seat, while an "audiophile sound system" brings a "6-disc CD/MP3 changer" to all but the XL trim of the 2008 Ford F-150.

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February 24, 2016
2008 Ford F-150 4WD SuperCab 133" Lariat

40,000 miles and the seats are splitting on the side, cracked exhaust manifold and only 9.2 mpg

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Out of 8 f150s that I have owned this is the seventh one to have the manifolds split open. Gas mileage is only 9.2 with the 5.4 engine. Power steering lines just rotted through and cost almost 300.00 to... + More »
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November 14, 2015
2008 Ford F-150 4WD SuperCab 133" Lariat

The truck has been a pleasure to drive,i only had two problems with it though,cracked windsheild -replaced under warranty,and just recently had horn assembly go bad(horn would not shut off)...400.00 dollars later everything o.k

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Only two issues in 8 years !Like I said in the headline,had trouble with a cracked windshield shortly after I bought the truck and the horn would not shut off,they replaced the module under the steering wheel... + More »
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7.6
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Styling 7.0
Performance 7.0
Comfort & Quality 8.0
Safety 8.0
Features 8.0
Fuel Economy N/A
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