Preview - 2004 Ford F-150.

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Jul 11, 2003.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Ford spends big to stay on top.

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    BY FRED M.H. GREGORY
    August 2003

    The 2004 Ford F-150 pickup truck has to carry a heavy load—the fortune and perhaps the future of the Ford Motor Company. "Since the F-series represents about 23 percent of overall company sales—and it has been the bestselling full-size pickup in the U.S. for the past 26 years—it's very, very important," says Nick Scheele, Ford's president and COO. "Nothing is ever make or break, but this probably comes as close to it as you could imagine."

    Ford sold 813,701 F-series pickups in 2002. That's more than the total U.S. sales of Nissan or the sales of Mercedes, BMW, and VW, combined. And the F-series, which also includes the larger F-250 and F-350 trucks, added $2.6 billion to Ford's bottom line, according to an analyst cited by the Wall Street Journal. It's not surprising, then, that the company spent a reported $1.8 billion to develop the 2004 F-150.

    Ford took a back-to-basics approach in designing the new F-150. The soft-contoured truck it replaces, although it sold well, was derided by some for being too, well, feminine. Ford took note of the knock. There's nothing girlish about the new F-150. It bulges with muscular contours and exaggerated features; even the nine-inch-wide blue Ford oval on the tailgate is oversized. Compared with the prior F-150, the base version of the new truck is 4.6 inches longer and has a denser silhouette, with a high beltline and lower-to-the-ground bumpers. The cargo box is 2.3 inches deeper, the cab is nearly flat-sided, and the windows are more vertical than before. It looks big and is big—gorilla big.

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    But bigger means heavier. "We've added about 500 to 575 pounds to the vehicle," says Frank Davis, the F-150's chief program engineer. He maintains that the extra poundage is "actually a beneficial element," explaining that about a third of the mass is for safety (more frontal structure for better offset-impact protection), a third to quell noise and vibration, and the rest is divvied up among numerous detail refinements, the most significant being a box-section chassis (the prior truck has C-section rails) that he claims is about 50 percent more rigid in bending and nine times stiffer torsionally than before.

    Given a new frame, Ford took the opportunity to rethink and rearrange the suspension. The rear dampers were moved outward to better control roll and lateral movement, the width of the rear leaf-springs grew a half-inch to 3.0 inches, and a new coil-over front suspension with cast aluminum lower control arms was designed. Gone are the four-wheel-drive trucks' front-torsion-bar suspension and the recirculating-ball steering box, which has been replaced by a rack-and-pinion setup. And there are larger (13.0 inch front and 13.7 inch rear) four-wheel disc brakes. The cumulative effect of all this new hardware can be felt in the F-150's ride and handling. It corners flat, rides with comfort, and brakes without undue nose dive. The most noticeable improvement is in steering response. You don't need to horse this pickup around; it responds instantly to steering inputs and tracks plumb straight with the steering wheel on-center. Although it's not as agile as a Mustang, it's no lumbering Percheron, either.

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    The goal for designers of the past few generations of full-size pickups has been to make them more carlike. The trick is to do it without (a) mushing up the suspension so much that a load of lumber pushes the cargo box down on the rear axle or (b) seriously diminishing the trucks' pugnacious personalities. With the F-150's 2900-pound-maximum-payload and 9500-pound-towing-capacity ratings, plus a comprehensively redesigned interior that borders on Town Car luxury in upscale models, Ford has struck a workable compromise between comfort and utility.

    Performance gets a boost from a new engine. Well, almost new. The optional 5.4-liter Triton V-8 (the base engine is Ford's familiar 231-hp, 4.6-liter Triton V-8) uses one of Ford's existing modular short-blocks, but its aluminum cylinder heads are brand-new, with three valves per cylinder (two intakes and one exhaust) and variable cam timing, which combine to improve volumetric efficiency by about five percent, according to powertrain engineering manager Harold Lowman. Rated at 300 horsepower at 5000 rpm and 365 pound-feet of torque at 3750 rpm, the new engine puts out 40 more horses and 15 more pound-feet of torque (over a broader range) than the prior motor. When SVT bolts a supercharger onto this engine, it will make 500 horsepower and 500 pound-feet in the upcoming Lightning.

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    Both V-8s use a new electronic throttle control. The system's computer monitors several powertrain functions and ambient conditions and makes adjustments that improve efficiency and performance, Lowman explains. Transmissions for both engines are upgraded versions of Ford four-speed automatics.

    Although there are only two engines available for the new F-150, either may be mixed and matched with five trim levels, three cargo-box lengths, and three cab styles—each of which has four doors—for a total of 26 combinations. Missing is the classic pickup cab with its rear bulkhead hard against the seatbacks; the new "regular cab" is six inches longer and has behind-the-seats storage space.

    Ford optimistically hopes the '04 truck will push F-series sales over a million. It's a hard target. With Toyota and Nissan in the game, the full-size-pickup segment is becoming the most competitive in the industry. But if Ford can stay on top with its new truck, the 100-year-old company, which is struggling to regain profits and market share, can start its second century with renewed vigor.

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    Vehicle type: front-engine, rear- or rear/4-wheel-drive, 2-6-passenger, 2+2 or 4-door truck
    Estimated base price: $19,500-$35,000
    Engines: SOHC 16-valve 4.6-liter V-8, 231 hp, 293 lb-ft; SOHC 24-valve 5.4-liter V-8, 300 hp, 365 lb-ft

    Transmission: 4-speed automatic with lockup torque converter
    Wheelbase: 125.8-163.0 in
    Length: 211.5-248.5 in
    Width: 78.9 in
    Height: 72.8-75.3 in
    Curb weight (est): 4500-5700 lb

    C/D-estimated performance:
    Zero to 60 mph: 10.0-10.5 sec
    Standing 1/4-mile: 17.0-17.9 sec
    Top speed (governor limited): 105 mph

    Estimated fuel economy:
    EPA city driving: 14-16 mpg
    EPA highway driving: 18-21 mpg

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  2. Melvin_91GT

    Melvin_91GT New Member

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    The more and more reviews that I read all say the same thing which is nothing but praise.
     
  3. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    IBBLoG.

    My buddy's family run a Ford dealership, and they're excited. I think he'll be driving one to work for fun in the next two weeks.
     
  4. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    MUAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA!

    The pictures of these trucks just REEK of quality. I can't wait to play with one.
     
  5. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Edmunds already found things they don't like about them, check the Truck and SUV forum for the review.

    :o
     
  6. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    Gripes I've seen are:

    *more expensive
    *doesn't feel like it produces the rated hp

    More expensive doesn't bother me if it's worth the extra money.

    Not making the rated horsepower could be deadly, but one reviewer stated they thought it was due to the gearing of the truck :dunno:
     
  7. UCFGavin

    UCFGavin Active Member

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    interior looks nice :bigthumb:
     
  8. mucky

    mucky .

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    I wonder if Nissan still think it can make a big splash with the Titan anymore. :rofl:

    IBNissan sackriders' hate replies.
     
  9. Hurricane

    Hurricane E=mc^2

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    I'm not feeling the beige interior.

    The gray is nice though.
     
  10. bioyuki

    bioyuki Ich habe Angst

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    :werd:

    They raised prices too though :o. I'd rather them raise prices and produce a better car though.
     
  11. HisXLNC

    HisXLNC ๑۩۞۩๑ Hot ๑۩۞۩๑

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    Yes. Nissan will. For very Titan sold, Ford loses a commercial and customer. They already lost me.
     
  12. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    That's exactly the case.

    The new model costs $2,000 more per truck to assemble, so prices will go up accordingly.
     
  13. mucky

    mucky .

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    And so does profit. :o

    Although I can't blame them with their financial situation.
     
  14. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    Actually, profit will probably be down a good bit on these trucks initially for ford. They will probably offer incentives so that they can compete on price and retain market share.

    Once they've been around a while, they will be cheaper to make, and their margins will go up again.
     
  15. Of course, only ford owners will switch over to nissans, not chevy or dodge. I don't expect the titan to do much, I don't think it will tank but I don't expect them to fly off the lots either. I guess time will tell.
     
  16. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    The Titan isn't going to hurt the Americans much, as stated in another article I posted here, it will mostly hurt Toyota.

    Nissan and Toyota can't compete in the bulk of the truck market, so they're aiming their products more towards people who just want one as personal transportation in urban areas.
     

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