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2005 Ford F-150 Test Drive Review

Picture of 2005 Ford F-150 XL One year after a complete redesign, the handsome and capable 2005 Ford F-150 remains firmly perched atop America’s sales charts.

8 /10
Overall Score

When you’re lookin’ for the most capable full-size, half-ton truck for towin’, haulin’, or plain and simple havin’ a good time, the 2005 Ford F-150 is the rig to buy. And this year, it better fits budgets big and small thanks to a new Work Truck option package for the XL trim and a western-themed King Ranch luxury model.

Look and Feel

9/ 10

Redesigned for 2004, the F-150 swapped its rounded aerodynamic look for a more traditional appearance. The result is a good looking truck, especially in higher trim levels where extra chrome, bigger wheels, and available two-tone paint dress things up.

Similarly, the previous F-150’s amorphous dashboard ovals are gone, ditched in favor of a simple approach emphasizing symmetry. Circular detailing ties everything together, from the instrumentation to the air vents.

Regular Cab, SuperCab (extended cab), and SuperCrew (crew cab) styles are available, in XL, STX, XLT, Lariat, FX4, and King Ranch trim levels. Sadly, the performance-tuned Special Vehicle Team (SVT) version still hasn’t returned to the lineup, and increasingly appears to be permanently shelved.

Performance

9/ 10

For 2005, a new 202-horsepower 4.2-liter V6 engine is available, offering a lower-cost alternative to the formerly standard 231-hp 4.6-liter V8 engine. The V6 comes with a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic transmission.

The 4.6-liter V8 remains available, as does the 300-hp 5.4-liter V8. Both employ a 4-speed automatic, and any F-150 can be fitted with 4-wheel drive. With the big V8, Ford claims the 2005 F-150 offers the most payload and towing capacity in the full-size, half-ton pickup segment, at 9,900 pounds of towing capability and 3,000 pounds of payload capacity (when properly configured and equipped).

Compared to its competition, the F-150 is a model of comfort and refinement. The ride and handling are excellent, and the cabin is quiet when cruising on the open road. For maximum acceleration, you’ll want the 5.4-liter V8 engine, but it will cost you at the gas pump.

If you’re planning to spend lots of time off the pavement, consider the F-150 FX4. Ford positions this trim level as the off-roading version of the truck, giving it the revised suspension tuning and skid plates necessary to survive more severe use.

Form and Function

10/ 10

Depending on the cab style, trim level, and seat selection, the F-150 carries between two and six people.

Up front, occupants feel like they’re sitting high with a good view forward thanks to side glass that dips down near the side mirrors in order to improve visibility.

With a bench front seat, the center seatback folds down to provide cupholders and a small storage bin. With bucket seats, a large center console fills the space. The Lariat, FX4, and King Ranch have a full console with a transmission shifter.

If you’re going to carry passengers on a regular basis, or you simply need lots of secure, in-cab storage space, get the F-150 Crew Cab. It offers three-across rear seating or plenty of space in which to stash your stuff.

Moving up the trim level ladder, the F-150 offers leather seats, heated front seats, automatic climate control, a premium sound system, and more.

Tech Level

7/ 10

While modern cars increasingly provide numerous new technologies related to safety, connectivity, and convenience, trucks lag behind in terms of such systems.

When it comes to the F-150, the most advanced features to report include automatic headlights, remote keyless entry, automatic climate control, power-adjustable pedals, and shift-on-the-fly 4WD.

The F-150’s radio and stereo offerings are fairly basic, ranging from AM/FM reception and a CD player to a premium sound system. Sorry, cowboy, but you’ll need to leave the mix tape at home.

Safety

7/ 10

Aside from 4-wheel antilock brakes, the 2005 Ford F-150 relies on dual front airbags and a robustly engineered, fully-boxed frame to keep occupants safe. Side-impact airbags are unavailable, putting the Ford behind Dodge in this respect.

In crash tests, the F-150 SuperCrew earns a 5-star rating for driver and front passenger protection in a frontal impact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) agrees, giving the SuperCab version of the truck a Good rating for driver protection in the moderate-overlap frontal-impact test.

Unfortunately, the jury is out as to whether the lack of side-impact airbags is a problem. Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS evaluated the 2005 F-150’s ability to protect people in that type of collision.

Cost-Effectiveness

6/ 10

When it comes to full-size, half-ton trucks, people buy out of brand loyalty more than anything else. The Chevy people buy the Silverado. The Dodge people buy the Ram. The Toyota people buy the Tundra. And the Ford people buy the F-150. Does cost-effectiveness matter? Not much.

But you should know this: Among this collection of trucks, the F-150 is the least fuel-efficient. Versions of the Chevy, Dodge, and Toyota get better gas mileage than any example of the Ford, and that’s mainly because the F-150 is a heavy son of a gun.

With that said, the 2005 Ford F-150 lineup does offer a little more affordability in the form of the new V6 engine and Work Truck package. And if you’ve got money to burn, the new F-150 King Ranch is now the most luxurious Ford pickup truck in the land.

Updated

Christian Wardlaw has 25 years of experience reviewing cars and has served in editorial leadership roles with Edmunds, J.D. Power, the New York Daily News, Autobytel, and Vehix. Chris prefers to focus on the cars people actually buy rather than the cars about which people dream, and emphasizes the importance of fuel economy and safety as much as how much fun a car is to drive. Chris is married to an automotive journalist, is the father of four daughters, and lives in Southern California.

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