I use 5w-30 in my '99. Thats what Ford recommends, so thats what I use.
As for longevity, like you said its a crapshoot. Personally, Ive got 156,000 miles on mine.
Ive seen a few E-Series vans with Triton engines that had well over 300,000 miles (I recall one that had over 500,000 on it), so Id say that durability is not something you should be concerned with.
Change the oil every 5,000 miles, change the air filter every 12,000 miles and your engine should just about last forever.
'99 Ford F-150 regular cab longbed 4x4 Off-Road with 5.4L V8
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2001, and I run 5w20 motorcraft 76,000 and no probs, truck set alot, change oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.runs...smooth as silk
2001 F150 extended cab lariat 4x4 5.4L
1715 micro max superchip, K&N catback single exhaust
K&N 57 series FIPK cold air heat sheild air intake
2" torsion screw keys, 3" Body lift 315/70R/17 goodyear AT extreme tires mounted on 17x9 Dick Cepek polished rims
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