AW Review - 2004 Ford F-150.

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Jul 7, 2003.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Bring on the next century.

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    By BOB GRITZINGER AND MIKE FLOYD
    (15:56:09 July 07, 2003)

    We'd argue Ford's current F-150 is more than capable of holding its own in the light-duty pickup market. But we’re not the Ford product development experts, who aren’t about to rest when fully one-fifth of the company’s total sales—more than 800,000 last year alone—come from this best-selling vehicle ever produced.

    Call it preemptive, but Ford won’t idle along while competitors nibble at F-150 with trucks that offer bigger cabs, more doors, rack-and-pinion steering and independent suspension.

    Dodge’s latest Ram, introduced in 2001, boasts those features plus greater horsepower, hauling and towing ratings than the current Ford. General Motors’ Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra models, redone in 1999, collectively outsell F-150.

    Oh, but wait: There’s a cool wind blowing from the Far East—and on it comes worthy competitors.

    There’s the strong, F-Series-like Toyota Tundra due for a redo next year as a 2005 model, and a tough-look Titan from a resurgent Nissan, which will likely snag more U.S. market share when it debuts late this year as an ’04 model. Toyota is readying a truck plant in San Antonio, while Nissan gears up a Mississippi factory poised to build as many as 100,000 trucks—sales that will come straight out of some competitors’ hides. And even Honda has given more than a passing thought to a full-size truck for the lucrative North American market.

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    Ford execs, like newly crowned product development chief Phil Martens, won’t admit to fretting over the competition. But the Blue Oval boys clearly see Rams, Titans, Tundras and the next-gen GM trucks in their rearview mirrors. That’s why, despite the F-Series’ sales success as the top dog since the Carter Administration, Ford is bringing a redesigned model to market after only an eight-year product run—compared to far longer cycles for previous F-Series trucks. As Ford increases this new model’s production, due to hit showrooms in August, it will continue to sell the existing truck as the so-called Heritage Series for another year. This Heritage F will be the only ’04 F-Series fitted with a V6 engine and manual transmission, until the 2005 models arrive.

    Ford is confident its latest truck will thrash the competition, mostly because it takes the best from the rest and piles it on with numerous additional features. Ford also believes Nissan and Toyota have developed their upcoming trucks to best its outgoing model, not its shiny new truck.

    “I think we’re coming out at the right time, given the market,” says Ford president Nick Scheele. “I think we’ve hit a new benchmark. We’ve moved way beyond.”

    Scheele isn’t just blowing smoke, and neither are we: With the 2004 F-150, Ford hasn’t raised the bar—it’s grabbed a firm hold of the bar and thrown it out in the bushes, forcing the competition to search for it awhile.

    One glance at the new F-150 tells the story. It’s bigger, adopting the “Mighty Tonka” theme from Ford’s latest heavy-duty trucks, and its interior styling features strong “vertical bands” that accent the dashboard and instruments, which come in a wide variety of trim treatments.

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    Like the competition, the F-150’s cab size grows. It is up by six inches in length on the regular and SuperCab models, and all models grow four inches in width. Unlike the competition, the bed is two inches deeper—giving it a 15 percent increase in cargo space—and it is accessed via a torsion bar-assisted tailgate that makes it easier to use. Boxes are available in eight-foot, six-and-a-half-foot and five-and-a-half-foot sizes. The “style-side” bed is available in all sizes, with a “flare-side” available in the six-and-a-half-foot configuration.

    Also keeping pace with the competition, this F-150 gets rack-and-pinion steering, independent front suspension, better brakes and four full- size, front-opening doors on SuperCrew models. Unlike the competition, however, the F-150 features four doors across the model range, with rear-door power windows an industry-first option on SuperCrew.

    F-150 is significantly stiffer, partially due to a hydroformed frame—it is nine times stiffer in its twisting resistance and 50 percent stiffer against bending. But stiffness is also increased thanks to aluminum front lower control arms, wider rear leaf springs and shocks mounted outboard of the frame. Ford says its tests show that the outboard shock mounting position reduces body roll and skate on rough surfaces, limits the amount of head toss passengers feel over uneven roads and the amount of sway the truck allows when pulling a trailer. The new truck’s maximum towing capacity is rated at 9500 pounds with a maximum payload capacity of 2900 pounds.

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    As if that wasn’t enough new stuff, F-150 engineers have a more-powerful three-valve 5.4-liter Triton V8. Thanks to variable cam timing, an active intake manifold and an extra intake valve, output increases to 300 hp at 5000 rpm and 365 lb-ft of torque at 3750 rpm, while fuel economy improves over the two-valve Triton (260 hp, 350 lb-ft). Both this new 5.4-liter and the carryover 4.6-liter V8 (231 hp, 293 lb-ft) are preliminarily rated at 15 city/19-mpg highway by Ford for 4x2 models, and both benefit from an electronic throttle control system. This system adjusts the throttle as a result of driver input, the altitude at which the vehicle is driven, and its load to hit the right combination of gear choice and engine speed for optimum power and fuel economy in any driving situation. On an uphill test in 4-high and low gear, it delivered smooth power and eliminated that unnerving vehicle lurching that can be found when attempting to modulate the throttle on inclines with a standard cable setup.

    Both engines are mated to the only transmission available at its introduction, a four-speed automatic; a floor shifter and captain’s chairs are available on Lariat and FX4 models.

    Ford will offer the 2004 F-150 in five distinct varieties, 26 different configurations in all: The base XL, an up-level STX, the most-popular XLT and the luxo Lariat come in 2wd or 4wd. The off-roader’s FX4 has 4wd standard.

    All this doesn’t come cheap: Ford has said each new truck costs between $1,000 and $2,000 more to build than the current model, so look for prices to jump accordingly, despite efforts to chop some $700 per truck from production costs. Ford officials say they will announce prices by mid-July.

    Before you compare sticker prices alone, however, make sure you spend time crawling in and around the new truck. And then drive it. In our tests, which ran the gamut from winding desert highways to sand wash, from wide-open expressways to gravel-strewn stretches of Texas ranch country, this new F-150 proved an exceptional performer.

    Its smooth ride and assured handling easily trumps the competition, while its interior comfort and remarkable quietness—both decidedly un-truck-like attributes—help make it a pickup unlike any other in the market. Some trucks perform some tasks slightly better, but none come anywhere near the combination of strengths built into Ford’s most important vehicle.

    Ford might have pushed too far ahead with the F-150, but the net gain is a superior truck that serves as an excellent launching pad for Ford’s attempt to live on for another 100 years. That’s a good thing, as chairman and CEO William Clay Ford Jr. says the company’s future rides on the new, widened F-150’s shoulders.

    2004 FORD F-150
    ON SALE: August
    POWERTRAIN: 5.4-liter, 300-hp, 365-lb-ft V8; 4wd, four-speed automatic
    CURB WEIGHT: 5590 pounds
    0-60 MPH: 9.0 seconds (est.)

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  2. Urinal Mint

    Urinal Mint bourbon afficionado

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    This is the only reason I'm rethinking a car purchase in favor of another truck. :sad2:
     
  3. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    I don't blame you really. :eek3:
     
  4. mucky

    mucky .

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    :eek3:

    Ford F-150 > Nissan Titan
     
  5. Sonic

    Sonic Live every day to the fullest, for yesterday is go

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    Fucking nice.

    No I want to see a head to head of that and the Titan.
     
  6. Sonic

    Sonic Live every day to the fullest, for yesterday is go

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    The factpinions start early in the thread.
     
  7. mucky

    mucky .

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    Only to get your Nissan fanboys all whirled up. :fawk:
     
  8. Urinal Mint

    Urinal Mint bourbon afficionado

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    I'm guessing X-Plan pricing on an FX4 w/ leather will run around $33k :sad2:

    but 1.9% APR over 72 mos... :bigok:
     
  9. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    We will see in the coming months, it should be interesting.

    I wonder how GM will respond to all of this when redesign time comes around?
     
  10. EdgeCat

    EdgeCat Guest

    Best looking pickup ever. :cool:
     
  11. Sonic

    Sonic Live every day to the fullest, for yesterday is go

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    I saw the prototype for the Honda 'Avalanche' type vehicle yesterday.:rofl:
     
  12. Sonic

    Sonic Live every day to the fullest, for yesterday is go

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    No matter what, they HAVE to bring interior quality up.
     
  13. SycoPhant

    SycoPhant Get out my way

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    :rofl:

    That truck owns - I want one but I'm poor :wtc:
    And the Titan is going to suck ass, it's fucking ugly as hell, it's not a threat to anyone.
     
  14. mucky

    mucky .

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    :greddy: Why even bring up Honda, who isn't competing in this market?
    [move]:joshers:[/move]
     
  15. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    :werd:

    They're designing a basis for not just a truck, but a whole slew of vehicles now from strippo work machines all the way up to $60k Cadillacs, they can't afford not to match or beat Ford (and the competition) now.
     
  16. Shiva Chaos

    Shiva Chaos i see boobies!

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    :eek:

    A-Plan :big grin:
     
  17. Sonic

    Sonic Live every day to the fullest, for yesterday is go

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    But they are.:dunno:
     
  18. VBGOD

    VBGOD Guest

    Nice interior....... :cool:
     
  19. Urinal Mint

    Urinal Mint bourbon afficionado

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    I'm $150 more than you :big grin:

     
  20. DMClark

    DMClark Active Member

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    Anyone else notice that, at least starting with Ford's new stuff, and then the GTO/GTP that more and more attention is being put into each new design?
     
  21. Sideways

    Sideways Do I look like I give a damn?

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    I am amazed Toyota and Nissan are even planning dedicated truck factories in the US. They aren't even going to put a dent in Ford's sales.
     
  22. Sonic

    Sonic Live every day to the fullest, for yesterday is go

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    That's not the point, its to expand into further markets.
     
  23. LowkeyG

    LowkeyG OT Supporter

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    unfortunately that truck only catches it up to the Ram, although putting all the others behind it too

    why are you guys talking about the titan as if it is going to beat out the f-150? what the fuck is the titan? Ford Dodge and GM have been building trucks for alot longer than most of these import companies have been in north america, this is the titans first year and despite its name i cant see it being up there with the big rigs.

    Granted with time the import threat to the truck market could grow, but the domestic manufacturers will not let this market slip like they did the cars.
     
  24. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Bump for BLoG!!!111
     
  25. Sonic

    Sonic Live every day to the fullest, for yesterday is go

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    I want the 500 HP Lightning!:eek3:
     

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