From day one, the SC found its place in our fleet as a consummate do-it-all vehicle that was equally at home shuffling the kids to school, as it was schlepping engines in the bed or towing the family boat to the lake. We appreciated the dual, four- and six-pin wiring harness, which allowed easy connection of trailers, with or without electric trailer brakes. And towing is where this F-150 shines: its 5.4L/260-hp (and 350 lb-ft of torque) V-8 and 4R70W four-speed slush box easily handles loads upward of 8000 lb. Launch ramps weren't an issue, though we wished we'd chosen the optional 4WD when we tried to retrieve from lake-weed-coated ramps. Acceleration and passing power suited our needs, and the 5.4 didn't labor with moderate loads and the overdrive disengaged.

The soft-shifting transmission was silky on road, but we wish the shiftpoints and firmness could be increased like its competitor's. Unladen, we also noticed the tranny tended to hunt while traversing mountain passes, but with trailer attached, we had no problem pulling a grade at 50 mph.

We never expected our workhorse to obtain great fuel economy, but its EPA ratings (15 city/19 highway) were close. The F-150 surprised us, turning in a best 19.7 mpg, a worst of 9.6, and a test average of 12.5. All told, we poured 654 gal of gasoline into the tank (to the tune of $1054), added a half quart of oil (at $1.29) between service intervals. Total cost of maintenance (scheduled and other) came in at $429.57 for a grand total of $1484.86 or $0.16/mile.

It's always poignant when we turn the keys of a long-termer back to the manufacturer, but this was one truck we didn't want to leave our fleet. Not only did it serve our needs to a tee, but its rock-solid dependability, compliant ride, and potent powertrain made it among our all-time favorites.