I’m a truck guy with a soft sport in my heart for the Ford F-150. Over the years, I have owned three of the world’s best selling vehicle, starting with a 1994 5.0 EFI V8. I drove the wheels off it, later trading for a 2001 Ford Ranger with a 4.0 V-6. During my time at Sioux Falls Ford, I had a 2011 F-150 EcoBoost, which was the first year of the engine.
It was a remarkable truck, paired to a 3:31 gear ratio. I later traded to a 2013, still with the 3.5 EcoBoost, but this time paired to a 3:55 rear end.
When I was selling the EcoBoost trucks, it was sometimes hard to convince folks a smaller displacement V-6 could not only match a V-8, but make more power. Ford’s EcoBoost engine represented a change in the tides when it came to truck thinking. With the dawn of the 2015 F-150, Ford again altered the course of thinking, putting emphasis on an ideal power-to-weight ratio.
The F-150 is arguably Ford’s most prolific vehicle and as such, has changed a lot over the last 30 years. According to a comparison created by Blue Springs Ford Parts, the 2016 F-150 has nearly twice the horsepower and 50% more torque than in 1986.
“The new EcoBoost V-6 is a pretty big deal,” said Kyle Harris of Blue Springs Ford Parts. “The old Ford V-8s from the 80s had good torque, but they just couldn’t handle big loads at highway speed. The EcoBoost V-6 does great with towing and hauling, even at highway speeds.”
The 2016 F-150 also gets about 30% better fuel economy. Interestingly enough, despite Ford’s reduction of weight through the use of an aluminum body, the 2016 F-150 is heavier than a 1986. Not surprisingly, the 2016 F-150 is nearly 30% more expensive than a 1986, adjusted for inflation.
Yesterday vs. Today
In 1986, Ford offered an “XLT Lariat” package before renaming it just “XLT” in 1992. Lariat was eventually placed above the XLT in 1997, where it remains to this day. In addition, the 4×4 is more user friendly too. The 1986 had a manual transfer case with manual hubs, although automatic hubs were an option. I had to do this with my 1994 F-150: get out and engage each hub by hand.
With ride and handling an ever important factor for consumers, the F-150 has responded accordingly. After all, people want a truck but they don’t want it to ride like a truck. Ford’s Twin Traction Beam setup in 1986 (similar to the Twin I-Beam suspension offered on 3/4 and 1 ton trucks) was not nearly as comfortable. The rear suspension, however, has changed very little.
Enjoy the graphic below. It will be interesting to see how the trucks change in the next 30 years.
*Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan.