Are you on the market for a used F-150 and you desperately want to learn which are the best F-150s and learn which is the best year F150? If that is the case, you are at the right place because we are going to cover everything you need to know when it comes to the F-150 and more.
Getting an F-150 is probably one of the top priorities of every proud American. I’m saying this because the F-150 is a true legend and an American icon. There isn’t anything better than waving the American flag on top of an F-150. But that doesn’t mean that the F-150 is only purchased because of its popularity.
The F-150 is popular because of its quality as well. There are only a handful of trucks that could be compared to the F-150 and these are the Dodge Ram and the Chevy Silverado. But they don’t even come close to the F-150 when it comes to production numbers.
The F-150 is simply one of the best out there in almost every aspect and Ford is building success on each new generation of the F-150. They just don’t rely on old fame, they try to deliver the best out there and spend your money on the best that you can get. But it’s really that the case? Hmm, that’s why in this article, we are going to find out if the good words about the F-150 work in practice.
We will first learn what is the F-150 and its history. Then we will cover the generations from the ’90s until the present day. Then, we will cover what is the best year F150 of each generation. So, follow along.
What Is The Ford F150?
For those who are not into cars and trucks, let’s first clarify some things in order to move on to more complex topics. First, we are going to cover the question of what is the Ford F-150 and then we are going to cover the history of the F-150.
This means that the F-150 is considerably larger compared to mid-size trucks and can haul quite a bit more than these trucks. So, it is important for you as a future buyer to clarify what are you aiming at. Knowing this will save you a ton of money.
This is the case because the F-150, although one of the smallest full-size trucks out there. It is considerably bigger than the smaller Ford Ranger and the newer Ford Maverick. This translates into a bigger purchase cost for the vehicle and also higher maintenance costs for the F-150.
That’s why if you want to save some money and you don’t need that big of a truck, it might be better to for a smaller vehicle that will be more affordable and also cheaper to maintain overall. This means that the money that you will spend on the truck, you could spend on some other more fulfilling things.
But to be honest, bigger is always better as they would say. And so in the case with the F-150. Getting a bigger truck will also give you some advantages as well, like better looks, more safety, and also better towing capability.
Now let’s learn some history before we cover the best year F150.
History Of The F150
History is also one of the most important aspects that you need to grasp in order to see why the F-150 has this legendary status. Because no vehicle became a legend in only one iteration. Although there are examples of iconic cars that were produced in one generation and got an immortal status. These cars are only a handful. Unlike the F-150 which has a ton of iterations.
But how everything started with the F-150, how long the F-150 has been into production and other things that bother us. Let’s discuss.
The F-series was introduced back in 1948. Ford has seen the need for a utility vehicle to help farmers and companies across the country. And the F-series was an instant hit. The first generation is one of the most recognizable F designs and it still serves at some places across the country.
Since its inception, the F-series targeted the full-size class that was mainstream at the time. And it still is to some point, even though the process of downsizing is out there are a lot of companies that are trying to shrink their cars in order to make them more practical.
Nevertheless, the inception of the F-series has brought new innovations and the idea of the pickup truck was born. Other companies saw this change and they quickly tried to copy the idea and make their own trucks. Namely Dodge and Chevy. Even though, not successful as Ford with their F-series. But what is the best year F150? Well, we are going to cover that, first, let’s see what are the F-150 generations out there.
Generations Of The F-150
As we said, the F-150 is an extremely popular truck among many, and from 1948, until this day it was produced in 14 generations in total, which is insane, to be honest. That’s why, for the sake of simplicity in order to save some time, we will only cover the last five generations of the F-150. These are the generations from 1997 up to the present day.
We will briefly cover these generations and their characteristics and in the following chapters, we will see which is the best year F150 of each of these generations out there for you to have a better perspective of what truck you should aim to purchase. So, let’s get started.
Tenth Generation F150 1997 – 2004 Model Years
In the ’90s there was a substantial move in the industry when it came to pickup trucks. In the ’90s people stopped seeing the pickup truck as a workhorse that was intended to serve a construction company or to work on some fields in the south.
During the ’90s people started to like trucks more for the role of a personal vehicle and as a second car. The market was growing and Ford wanted to make improvements to the F-150. So, Ford has ditched the boxy-shaped look that was popular in the ’70s and ’80s for a more modern sleek look.
They modeled the F-150 as a vehicle that would fill the market for people who wanted the Ford Ranger but in a bigger package. While keeping the F-250 and F-350 for people who wanted a more capable truck that can tow a lot more in comparison to the F-150.
This saw an extensive improvement of the F-150 and saw a bigger improvement from the past 17 years combined. The only thing that the F-150 kept from the previous generation was the transmission and that was it. Everything was redesigned and improved.
New series of engines were introduced. Some of these were the 4.6 V8 and 5.4 V8, there was also a smaller 4.2 V6 engine that was also popular.
As we mentioned the design lines were sleek and modern, unlike anything else before. The F-150 was the first ½ ton truck that started to offer a crew cab with full-size doors. For this purpose, the bed had to be shortened but it still got full-size doors.
Eleventh Generation F150 2004 – 2008 Model Years
The eleventh generation of the F-150 was introduced in 2004 and this generation has replaced the previous one. This generation was a major redesign and switched the F-150 to a completely new platform. This platform was more modern and a big leap forward in comparison to the previous generation. This also made the F-150 grow considerably more in size and this F-150 was couple inches chunkier than its predecessor.
This generation has implemented a fully boxed-in frame. This generation has introduced a new design language, the rear shocks that were used to mounted inside of the frame on this generation were mounted outside the frame and this has decreased the wheel hop. This improvement made the F-150 ride quality much better in comparison to the previous generation.
Also, this generation was equipped with fully independent front suspension which was considerably improved in comparison to the previous generation of the best year F150.
In terms of styling, the new model implemented a more modern sharper look and ditched the previous generation rounded angles. This made the F-150 even more appealing to the younger audience because of its sharp lines and aggressive look.
The biggest innovation with this generation was the FX4 package. This package offered great off-roading abilities. Allowing the driver to go in 4×4 mode, extra useful when handling rugged terrains. Then there were also other packages like the SXT which was the sportier version of the F-150.
Overall, this generation has marked the transformation of the F-150 into what we have today. Making this model the best year F150 when it comes to practicality.
Twelfth Generation F150 2009 – 2014 Model Years
The 12th generation of the F-150 was introduced in 2009 and it was aimed to be an update to the previous generation of the F-150. This generation grew even more in size and it shaped the Ford F-150 that we have today.
This generation has adopted the Super Duty grille. This means that since the twelfth generation there are no more small grilles. Everything is big when it comes to the F-150 nowadays. Also, the headlights grew in size as well.
All of the standard cab models are incorporating two doors instead of four doors like it was with the previous generation of the F-150.
But what was really something new was the introduction of the Platinum badge. The F-150 didn’t have a luxury package until they released this Platinum option. What was new with this Platinum trim was that it offered quite a lot compared to other trucks on the market. The Platinum basically incorporated the luxury items that we have in cars and transferred them into trucks.
Namely, navigation and infotainment system, full leather interior with high-quality materials. Also, improved headlights and other safety features were considered luxury items until now. Now they were installed in a full-size truck. How cool was that? The F-150 basically turned itself into a luxury vehicle and this brought the attention of the people who want to spend a lot on their cars and this opened a new market for the pickup truck.
Many new things were also introduced with this generation like the famous 3.5l Eco Boost engine, the 5.0 V8 Coyote engine.
Thirteenth Generation F150 2015 – 2020 Model Years
The thirteenth generation of the Ford F-150 was introduced in 2015. This generated a massive improvement in comparison to the previous generations by the use of aluminum. The Ford engineers have successfully reduced the weight of the F-150 by 750 lbs in total. And if I tell you that the F-150 grew even more in size you will be even more amazed. But how is this possible.
Well, aluminum is much lighter compared to steel and this means that the F-150 weighs much less by using these modern materials. This also affected the fuel economy of the F-150 greatly and the new F-150 spends much less fuel compared to its predecessor that has been built from steel. The only steel panel that is on the F-150 right now is the firewall. Which had to be kept in steel because of safety reasons.
But overall, even though this new generation used aluminum, it was considerably more rigid in comparison to the previous generation. This generation even went on Baja racing so Ford could prove that this generation is extra durable.
In order to focus on reducing the fuel consumption, Ford has ditched the bigger displacement engines like the 6.2-liter and the-5.0 liter, although you could get the Coyote as an option. And also updated the existing engines. Namely, the 3.5l V6.
This generation was also included with better transmissions. Namely the 10-speed automatic which saved a ton of fuel by delivering a smoother ride.
Mid Cycle Redesign
There was a mid-life redesign of the F-150 which brought a lot of changes as well. Many new powertrain changes were brought to life like improving the engines and there was an introduction with a new 3.3l V6 engine. 2.7l V6 engine which was paired with the 10 speed automatic for the best fuel efficiency out there from any pickup truck.
There were also features like start-stop and other safety features that came as a standard. Namely, lane-keep assist, emergency braking, and other small things that made the F-150 quite more appealing. Considering 2018 to be the best year F150. But more about that later.
There was also a diesel option. Namely the famous Ford Power Stroke diesel engine. In 2018 there was also a new V6 engine that produced 250hp and 440lb-ft of torque.
This generation was also one of the best when it came to safety, getting the Top Safety Pick award by the IIHS.
Fourteenth Generation F150 2021 – Present Year
The fourteenth and the current generation of the F-150 was introduced this year and it is fairly new. This new generation is sharing most of the visuals with the previous generation. Although according to Ford, more than 90% of the components were redesigned in order to make the F-150 better and 2021 can be considered as the best year F150.
Nevertheless, the F-150 kept the aluminum body design and it is also quite light as its predecessor. The engines in this generation were passed from the previous generation. These engines were the 3,3 V6, 3.5 EcoBoost V6, 5.0 V8 Coyote, and a powerful 3.0 V6 Power Stroke diesel engine.
What was innovation in this generation was the implementation of a hybrid system. This system was paired with the 3.5l V6 engine.
In terms of transmissions the 6 speed automatic was removed and the only offering is a 10 speed automatic by Ford. This transmission is praised for its reliability and performance.
This new generation of the F-150 that uses the V8 engine receives a cylinder deactivation system in order to save fuel and make the F-150 even more efficient.
What is new for this generation is that it is loaded with technology. With a massive infotainment system and driver’s display. The infotainment system is extremely responsive and is a massive improvement when it comes to the previous F-150 generation. Now let’s see which is the best year F150 from each generation.
Best Year F150 For Each Generation
We have covered the last five generations of the F-150 and now it’s time to learn which is the best year F150 from each of these generations. This would be extra useful for you if you are on the market to get a used F-150. So, let’s get started.
10th Generation F150
From the 10th generation F-150, the most reliable years were 2001 and 2003. These trucks could go forever. With more than 200,000 miles they don’t even feel the mileage. They were that well made.
Especially the 2003 model which was a polished-out version of this model that delivered quite a lot of performance for what you pay. And it didn’t cost a lot. Cars these days were far cheaper than they are now.
If you are on the market for a 10th gen, going for the Harley Davidson trim is the way to go. These trucks are the most reliable and also the best-looking trucks when it comes to this generation.
11th Generation F-150
11th generation F-150s were not that famous for their quality and they mostly got average ratings. This would be probably the generation that you want to avoid in my opinion.
Even though there are good trucks from this generation as well. But if you want the best year F150, I would advise you to go for a later model year. 2007 to 2008 be more precise. In the last years of production, most of the problems were patched and issues were resolved.
12th Generation F-150
Now we come to the interesting part. With the 12th generation, the F-150 looks more and more like a modern Ford pickup truck.
When it comes to this generation. The best year F150 would be 2014. This is the case because during this time the engines were upgraded and a lot of new technology was installed into this refreshed version of the 12th gen. So, the 2014 model could be considered to be the most polished out of this generation.
13th Generation F150
For the 13th generation F-150, the best year would probably be 2018. This year saw a major refresh when it came to engine choices and it also implemented many new technologies that improved this platform. That’s why when getting a used F-150, the best year F150 would be 2018 overall.
We know that there are other generations and many good trucks. But if you want to get a low mileage truck, this would be the one to go for.
14th Generation F-150
The last generation is still new and is less than a year in production. This means that every year is the best year F150 for this generation. These trucks are almost brand new and almost all of them are in pretty much mint condition.
A Comprehensive Guide to Buying a Used Ford F-150
- The Ford F-150 has been in the market since 1948 and is available in light, medium, and heavy-duty trucks.
- The 2013-2020 models are the best options for buying a used Ford F-150.
- A 2014 F-150 is a good choice as it is newer and has better reliability ratings than a 2013 model.
- The 2015 F-150 is recommended for those who can spend a bit more as it has added safety and technology features and is the most promising F-150 model according to J.D. Power and Consumer Reports.
- The 2016 F-150 is recommended for those who want Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment and Trailer Backup Assist.
- The 2017 and later F-150 models have more modern technology and comfort features.
- The 2019 F-150 is a capable workhorse with the highest towing capacity of any of its contemporaries.
- The 2004, 2005, and 2010 F-150 models are the worst model years to avoid buying due to various engine failures and recalls.
- The 3.5-liter EcoBoost is the most reliable engine choice in the F-150 lineup according to Popular Mechanics and The Fast Lane Truck.
- An F-150 should have no problem lasting over 150,000 miles with proper maintenance.
Conclusion – Best Year F150
In this article, we have covered a lot when it comes to the F-150. First, we learned what is the F-150 for those that are new to cars, and then we learned the history of this model.
Then we have covered the last five generations of this model and mentioned the improvements they made in comparison to the previous generation. We chose the last five since they are the most recent ones and you would probably go after some of them.
Lastly, we learned what is the best year F150 from each generation. This would be extra useful for you if you are on the market for a used F-150.