Fords F-Series has become the worlds most popular pickup but despite the newest and best F-150 lineup, the competition seems to be gaining on them. Take for instance the 2007 Chevrolet Silverado which was awarded North American Truck of the Year and Toyotas Tundra which rumbles up from a new plant in the heart of truck country Texas, which is made bigger and more powerful than ever and offered in various trims.

With all the competition that Ford is facing it is not surprising that the automaker is already feeling the impact on its sales. According to the trade journal Automotive News, F-Series sales in 2006 reached only 796,039 which decline from 901,463 the year before. The sales figures of the F-Series continuously fall by 13.4 percent in the first two months.

Despite the decline experience by the iconic Ford F-150, the low sales figures are not enough to completely pull the truck down whose roots date back to 1948 when the F1, F2, and F3 trucks hit the market. That very same year has started a remarkable run of automotive endurance which has given birth to the phrase “Ford Tough” – symbolizing the trucks ability to perform imposing work on farm fields and construction sites.

However today aside from power and performance, family-friendly is also a moniker that weighs greatly with consumers, and the F-150 and the 4×4 Supercrew four-wheel drive Lariat passed that criteria. The F-150 however has remained big with its 150 inch wheelbase, as well as remained tough just like its predecessors.

The base price of the F-150 is $35,000 and with the addition of a limited slip axle, navigation/upgraded audio package, a power sliding rear window, 20-inch aluminum wheels, leather-trimmed captains chairs, and a few other features the price increases to $42,000. That is still not high price for a utilitarian truck that can be used as a transport to the construction site, haul plenty of lumber over the weekend, beats its way over rough terrains and bad weather conditions and still provide a family of six with all the comforts similar to that of a luxury SUV.

No matter how great a vehicle is it wont hurt to improve it further. The F-150 requires some updates of its own starting with its 5.4 liter V8 engine that needs to be made more fuel efficient. The four-speed automatic transmission of the F-150 lag behind what some other companies are offering like for instance the four-six speed features the are offered by General Motors and Toyota.

Another thing is the handling of the F-150 which is a bit jumpy especially on bumpy roads as compared to the Tundra or Silverado. The F-150 produces 300 horsepower and 365 lb-ft of torque. — Not weak but not that strong either. The transmission is smooth in upshifts and gentle in downshifts but it can get loud when pulling out to pass which would not be much of a problem if only the F-150 has a fifth or sixth gear and a much better engine.

And speaking of better engines Ford has reported that the next generation F-150 that will be unveiled for the 2009 model year will feature an upgraded diesel, V8 together with a hybrid gasoline-electric power plant that can be linked to a six-speed automatic.

In terms of looks the F-150 is one good-looking truck but again the addition of some truck accessories here and there wont hurt. When it comes to truck parts the F-150 is loaded with only the best in quality truck part that Ford can provide. Thats why its not surprising that despite the trucks shortcomings it remains as a top contender in the Truck segment.

F-150 Basics:

Base price/as tested: $35,465/$41,965
Fuel economy: 15.1 miles per gallon in Globe testing/regular fuel
Annual fuel cost: $2,307 (at $2.68 per gallon, regular, 13,000 miles per year)

THE SPECIFICS
Drivetrain: Four-wheel drive
Seating: Five or six
Horsepower: 300
Torque: 365 lb.-ft.
Length: 235.8 inches
Wheelbase: 150 inches
Height: 76.0 inches
Width: 78.9 inches
Curb weight: 5,343 pounds