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How Has the F-150 Changed Since 1986?

Arguably Ford's most important vehicle, the F-150 has changed a lot over the last 30 years. The 2016 F-150 has nearly twice the horsepower and 50% more torque than the 1986 model, and gets about 30% better fuel economy.

However, the 2016 F-150 is also hundreds of pounds heavier than the older model, despite Ford's use of aluminum in the newest truck. What's more, the 2016 F-150 is nearly 30% more expensive than the 1986 model, adjusted for inflation.

 

86 vs 16 F150 IG

 

When looking at the comparison of the 1986 F-150 and 2016 F-150, a few things jump out:

  • In 1986, Ford offered an "XLT Lariat" package before renaming it "XLT" in 1992. A "Lariat" package slotted above the XLT package was offered many years later (1997).

  • 4x4 systems have become much more user friendly - the '86 had a manual transfer case with manual hubs (automatic hubs were optional). This meant truck owners had to get out of the cab to engage 4WD in '86.

  • While the rear suspension hasn't changed much in 30 years, the front suspension of the F-150 has become much more car-like. Ford's Twin Traction Beam setup (similar to the Twin I-Beam suspension offered on 3/4 and 1 ton trucks) was not nearly as comfortable in terms of ride.

2016 F-150s have more horsepower, torque, and better fuel efficiency than ever, but these improvements have obviously come at a substantial cost.

 
 
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