Beyond their muscular rear fenders, Flareside models are distinguished from Styleside models by unique wraparound taillamps and protective rear mud flaps. Regardless of size, each bed is fitted with heavy-duty tie-down anchors and stamped segments, allowing the space to be compartmentalized. We highly recommend the optional factory bedliner, which covers both inside and along the top edge of the bed for outstanding protection against scrapes and dings. In response to customers' complaints that pickups' relatively expensive tailgates are frequently stolen, Ford made a locking tailgate standard on the F-150. This value-added feature could be made even more convenient, however, by integrating it with the available keyless remote-entry system.

Ford's Third Door Opens Up A Whole New Pickup WorldFord was the first to market with a standard curbside third door in a full-size pickup, further blurring the line between trucks and cars. Found on all SuperCab models, the 21-inch-wide door swings open on a hidden hinge to a wide 90 degrees, providing easy access to the rear passenger/cargo compartment. Although the front passenger-side door must be opened first, Ford includes an interior rear-door release handle, unlike the design of the GM C/K trucks' third door.

Ford engineers strove hard to maintain a rigid, flex-free body structure despite the cavernous passenger-side cutout and lack of B-pillar. This rock-solid platform translates into a creak-free cabin that brings new levels of comfort to a full-size pickup.

Carlike Comfort With Room To WorkCarefully contoured for comfort and function, the inviting F-150 interior is intentionally carlike, betrayed only by the high "command" driving position and slightly oversize steering wheel. Large, logically placed dials and buttons allow easy operation of the stereo system and climate controls, even with gloved hands. With the headlights on, all important controls and switches are illuminated. And despite the truck's generous 63.8-inch interior width, all necessary items are within easy reach of the driver. The standard analog instrument cluster features a 100-mph speedometer and fuel, coolant-temperature, oil-pressure, and voltmeter gauges. An optional cluster adds a 6000-rpm tachometer.

Even the base-level trucks feature plenty of standard equipment, including an electronic four-speaker AM/FM stereo, intermittent windshield wipers, a full headliner, an auxiliary 12-volt power point, dual retracting cupholders, height-adjustable shoulder belts, and dual airbags, with a key-lock deactivation system for the passenger airbag.

Moving up from the modestly equipped base model, buyers can choose among the XL, XLT, or premium Lariat trim levels, with a wide array of available seating arrangements and comfort and convenience items. Optional features include air conditioning, leather seats, a premium sound system, privacy glass, and power windows, locks, and mirrors.

The new enlarged interior also offers more passenger space than that of the previous model. Most noticeable is the class-leading headroom and increased seat travel to accommodate long-legged drivers.

Seating configurations range from two places in a standard cab fitted with twin captain's chairs, to a full six adults when the SuperCab is equipped with bench seats. Popular among our editors, the versatile 40/60-split bench option is available on XLT and Lariat models, featuring a fold-down center console between the two seatbacks. In the upright position, the console serves as the center seatback, but a tug of the release transforms it into a padded armrest with a cupholder and enclosed storage compartment.

Additional storage can be found in the glovebox and door-mounted map pockets. SuperCab models feature a 40/60-split rear seat that can be folded easily to become a flat cargo shelf with a protective bed-liner-like metal backing.