How Has the F-150 Changed Since 1986?

The 2016 F-150 is More Powerful, More Fuel Efficient, and 30% More Expensive than the Same F-150 from 1986

Arguably Ford’s most important vehicle, the F-150 has changed a lot over the last 30 years. According to a comparison created by, the 2016 F-150 has nearly twice the horsepower and 50% more torque than the 1986 model. The 2016 F-150 also gets about 30% better fuel economy.

However, the 2016 F-150 is also hundreds of pounds heavier than the older model, despite Ford’s use of aluminum in the newest truck. What’s more, the 2016 F-150 is nearly 30% more expensive than the 1986 model, adjusted for inflation.

“The new F-150 is absolutely the best one Ford has ever made,” says Kyle Harris of “But it would be great if Ford could find a way to bring the cost of the 2016 model down to the 1986 price point. As nice as the new truck is, I think a lot of F-150 buyers would gladly sacrifice some features for a lower price,” says Harris.

When looking at the comparison of the 1986 F-150 and 2016 F-150, a few things jump out:

  • In 1986, Ford offered an “XLT Lariat” package before renaming it “XLT” in 1992. A “Lariat” package slotted above the XLT package was offered many years later (1997).
  • 4×4 systems have become much more user friendly – the ’86 had a manual transfer case with manual hubs (automatic hubs were optional). This meant truck owners had to get out of the cab to engage 4WD in ’86.
  • While the rear suspension hasn’t changed much in 30 years, the front suspension of the F-150 has become much more car-like. Ford’s Twin Traction Beam setup (similar to the Twin I-Beam suspension offered on 3/4 and 1 ton trucks) was not nearly as comfortable in terms of ride.

“The new EcoBoost V6 is a pretty big deal,” explains Harris. “The old Ford V8s from the 80s had good torque, but they just couldn’t handle big loads at highway speed. The EcoBoost V6 does great with towing and hauling, even at highway speeds.”

2016 F-150s have more horsepower, torque, and better fuel efficiency than ever, but these improvements have obviously come at a substantial cost.


To see the full comparison, visit