1999 Ford F-150
It's a big, muscular truck with a 240-horsepower V-8 that'll thump lesser vehicles. But it's friendly, until somebody tries to mess with it.
Well, they can pull that kind of stuff with an ordinary pickup. But the F-150 Lightning ain't ordinary, not even when it's hauling a load of clothes for Martha's Table, a District organization dedicated to helping the homeless.
Some folks who saw me with the pickup and its cargo of boxes and plastic bags obviously couldn't stand the sight. They honked horns, rode my rear bumper and made illegal passes -- until Lightning struck. Va-va-voom! Made their hair curl, I tell ya. Made 'em show some respect, which is all most folks want, regardless of whether they're driving a pickup or reaching out to Martha's Table for help.
Background: Trucks -- pickups, minivans, full-size vans and sport-utility vehicles -- now account for nearly 40 percent of all new vehicles sold in the United States. That's up from 10 percent since 1974.
Chrysler Corp.'s introduction of the minivan in 1984 helped spur truck sales. But, truth is, many folks already were moving in that direction, abandoning their family sedans for go-anywhere, haul-anything vehicles.
Stands to reason, then, that with all of those different kinds of people wanting trucks, there'd be a bunch of them who'd want a truck that's different. Hence, the F-150 Lightning, which is not a truck for everybody.
What we have here is truck as hot rod, a lovable beast mobile that has been lowered front and rear to improve its cornering ability.
The thing tracks like a sports car, even with an empty cargo bed, a condition that would make most pickups squiggly in the rear. Add 17-inch cast-aluminum wheels, performance shock absorbers and that galumptious V-8, and you've got something that really hauls ... fast.
Anyway, the engine is rated 240 horsepower at 4,200 rpm, with torque set at 340 pound-feet at 3,200 rpm.
A four-speed automatic transmission with a shift interlock (to help eliminate inadvertent shifts from park to reverse) is standard, along with improved side-impact barrier protection and rear anti-lock brakes.
The truck can carry a 745-pound load and can be outfitted to pull a trailer weighing 5,000 pounds.
The rear-wheel drive Lightning comes in three colors: black, white and red.
Complaints: Something that seems to be inescapable in pickups -- night-time, instrument panel glare on the side and rear windows.
Praise: Overall engineering, construction and presentation. Excellent seating for three, with a center seat that can be folded down and used as a console. But the real deal is that the Lightning is just one hoot of a ride.
Head-turning quotient: Big, fetching rascal with a deep-throated growl. Gets attention.
Ride, acceleration and handling: Yo! Way to go! No complaints here. Braking was excellent.
Mileage: Well, um, ah, um, about 14 miles per gallon, combined city/highway. Fuel capacity is 30 gallons in two tanks. Estimated range is 400 miles on usable volume of regular unleaded.
Sound system: AM/FM stereo radio and cassette. Ford installed. Okay.
- 2-speed transfer case
- 58 amp-hour (540 CCA) maintenance-free battery w/battery-saver feature
- 130 amp alternator
- 4-pin trailer tow wiring
- Fail-safe engine cooling system
- 3900# capacity twin forged SLA front axle
- 3800# capacity rear axle
- Front torsion bar/rear leaf spring suspension
- Gas-pressurized shock absorbers
- Underframe, crank-type spare tire carrier
- Pwr steering
- Pwr front disc/rear drum brakes
- Chrome front bumper
- Chrome rear step bumper
- Box-rail/tailgate moldings
- Dual rear access doors
- Voltmeter, oil pressure/temp/speedometer/fuel gauges
- Securilock anti-theft ignition
- Dual instrument-panel-mounted cupholders
- Auxiliary pwr point in instrument panel
- Color-keyed headliner
- Cloth sun visors w/LH strap, RH mirror
- Dome light w/dual map lights
- Underhood light
- Driver & front passenger air bags w/passenger-side deactivation switch
- Seat belts
- Side door intrusion beams