by Amy Lillard
What drives car buyers in today's society? Smart sizes, efficient fuel use, practical capability and of course, the hidden perks and guilty pleasures. In our continuing series, we examine the most popular cars in America.
Stump your friends with this trivia. What's the most popular automobile in the U.S., ranking as the bestseller for 24 years?
The answer may surprise you. In the midst of increasing gas costs and streamlining consumer demands, the Ford F-Series pickup has maintained its hold on the hearts and needs of American drivers.
What explains the popularity of the F-Series? Its versatility is key. An attractive vehicle that can comfortably hold up to 6 people depending on the cab style, the truck is also a workhorse. For professional workers and weekend warriors, the towing, hauling and carrying power has yet to be bested.
The F-Series offers 8 models of the most popular F-150 series truck, the lightest of the F-series options, ranging in price from just under $20,000 to over $37,000. Other trucks include the F-250 and F-350, more heavy-duty options often used for commercial purposes. The trucks can tow up to 11,000 pounds, carry payloads of up to 3,060 pounds, and still manage to provide power for acceleration and cruising.
Ford prides itself on strong construction and superior design in order to provide the work capacity that so many seem to need and want. In recent years, models have included packages to make the truck sportier (trim and interior options) as well as user-friendly (navigation systems, CD, MP3 and DVD capability, and more).
Sales have been sliding, however, as slimmer, sleeker and more fuel-efficient passenger cars are snapped up by consumers. Sales dropped 13 percent in 2006 compared to 2005, and figures for March indicate a 15.1 percent drop since 2006. What lesson is Ford learning from this dip? New models and features for 2008 seek to attract buyers with extended versatility.
For example, Ford has begun to push the energy-efficient features of the F-Series to make the car more environment-friendly. A flex-fuel version (FFV) for their lightest truck used for the most personal commutes and other use has been available for sometime. Now it's a no-cost option that runs on unleaded gasoline, more readily available E85 fuel (85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gas) or a mix.
On the other end of the F-Series spectrum, a new “Super Duty” F-450 model expands the hauling and towing capability of previous trucks. In addition to the ability to tow nearly anything hardcore enthusiasts could ask for, the truck also boasts a new Ultra-Low-Sulfur-Diesel fuel and new 32-valve, 6.4-liter V8 Power Stroke turbo diesel engine. Reviewers and manufacturers are contending the combination makes for the company's cleanest, quietest pickup diesel ever, as well as a satisfying and durable performance. Base prices range from $23,000 to over $38,000.
For a complete one-stop look at current F-Series features and specifications, visit
consumerguideauto.howstuffworks.com/2007-ford-f-150-6.htm, and for all the news on new models and features, visit www.ford.com.
A frequent contributor to ERATE® since 2006, Amy Lillard is a freelance writer specializing in turning complex information into useful tips and tricks for readers. For questions or topic suggestions, contact Amy at [email protected].
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