If you still think full-size pickup trucks are crude compared to their passenger car counterparts, it means that (a) you haven't been paying attention the last 10 years and (b) you haven't seen the new generation of Ford F-Series trucks. Sophisticated tough on the outside, thoughtfully comfortable within, with an overhead cam V8 under the hood and an imposing range of safety and convenience features, these pickups are the industry pacesetters, and for good reason. Last year Ford gave the lighter end of its F-Series pickup truck line a major, major going over. Most obvious is the rounded snout, raked windshield and overall smooth look. But the big changes were underneath, with a completely new front suspension, new frame and new family of engines. Ford's F-Series line includes the lighter-duty F-150, medium-duty F-250 and heavy-duty F-350. initially, the new look and accompanying improvements applied only to the F-150, but for 1997 they're extended to and F-250 models rated under 8500 GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating). The heavy-duty F-350 versions remain with the previous styling and mechanicals; if you want a crewcab, dual rear wheels, or the 7.3-liter diesel, you have to go with the "old-look" F-350. It's due for its own major redesign within a year or so.