The 5.4L V8 was introduced in 1997 with the rest of Ford’s then-new modular motor lineup and like the other modular truck motors, it wears the “Triton” name. Unlike other engines that spent time in other vehicles (before finding their way into the Ford trucks), the 5.4L started its life in the F-series as both an optional engine for the light duty trucks and the entry level engine for the heavy duty models.
The first 5.4L V8 modular motors offered 235 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque, with only a small advantage in horsepower but a sizeable gap in torque over the 4.6L V8. In 1999, the 5.4L V8 in the F-series was improved to the tune of 260 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque, and 1999 marked the first year of a performance application for the 5.4L Triton in the Ford Lightning. Ford’s Special Vehicle Team (SVT) took the 2-valve per cylinder 5.4L V8 and added a supercharger, allowing the SVT variant of the engine to make 360 horsepower and 450lb-ft of torque. After just two years, as the popularity of the SVT Lightning grew, Ford increased the power of the blown 5.4L, this time to a whopping 380 horsepower. This made the Lightning the fastest and quickest production truck available, and that record would stand for a few years until being beaten by the Dodge Ram SRT-10. The Ford SVT Lightning would continue with this output through the end of its production in 2004.
2002 through 2004 brought another performance application for the 5.4L engine, this time in the F150 Harley Davidson edition. This detuned version of the Lightning drivetrain offered 340 horsepower and 425 lb-ft of torque and unlike the Lightning, the special edition Harley trucks were offered in multiple cab configurations.
Late in 2004 the 5.4L Triton 3V engine was introduced to the F-series, making 300 horsepower and 365 lb-ft of torque, and this version of the 5.4L modular motor would remain the same throughout the 2008 model year. For 2009, with the beginning of the twelfth generation, the 5.4L 3V returned, now offering 310 horsepower when running on standard gasoline and 320 horsepower when running on e85 ethanol.