Road Test - 2004 Ford F-150 Lariat SuperCab Styleside 2WD

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Sep 10, 2003.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Road Test - 2004 Ford F-150 Lariat SuperCab Styleside

    That old familiar face gives way to a new familiar face.

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    BY AARON ROBINSON
    October 2003

    Congratulate yourself on staving off mortality long enough to witness the birth of another redesigned Ford F-150. You have no doubt already noticed that burly pack-mule pickups are mellowing through modernization into a new breed. Call them big cars with a back porch. The new F-150 inches the needle even farther. Interior acreage, comfort, cabin isolation, and drivability are all up. The Lariat luxury barge has trimmings sufficient to upstage many luxury sedans. How about an electrically sliding pane in the rear window? Don't let the cowhands see that, or they'll hoot you off the hacienda.

    Oh, Ford's got new F-150s for plumbers and roughnecks, too. They even get a slightly different dashboard with plainer gauges and fewer glints. Frisky models such as the mudslinging FX4 move the shifter down to the chrome-accented center console and feature sporty gauges. Need four real doors à la Dodge Ram? Ford will show you to a new F-150 SuperCrew.

    Company research shows the majority of F-150s serve as personal-use vehicles, with passengers and groceries two of the most frequent items on the cargo manifest. Suitably, perhaps, we were delivered the line's most deluxe model, the Lariat, fitted with a two-plus-two-door SuperCab and its most sedate suspension and rear-wheel drive. Under the hood: the biggest-bore engine, the new 5.4-liter 24-valve V-8 with variable valve timing on its single overhead cams. We filled it with people and groceries and lots of gas and drove it accordingly.

    The F-150's looks mirror the Explorer's, and the pickup drew some initial yawns. We plunged our Lariat into an antique-show crowd to retrieve a turn-of-the-century oak dresser, and only two people stopped to study it. This in a region where many families eat and pay mortgages on F-150 sales. But then, Ford sold 813,701 F-series trucks in 2002, far too many chips to gamble on a heat-of-the-moment design. The F-150 shape is conservative, it's clean, and it's a no-brainer.

    Right away we noticed the truck's new whirligigs. Our Lariat had the pickup segment's first power windows on the SuperCab's two rear-hinged minidoors. The steel tailgate incorporates small torsion bars that nicely lighten the effort of slamming it (although now you need tools to remove it), and the overhead console slides on tracks that accept different modules. Cell-phone holders and flat-screen TVs will fit, plus anything the industrious aftermarket can cook up. We'd opt for a towel wringer and a pickle dispenser.

    We've become accustomed to scaling the side of our towering long-term Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab, so sliding into the Lariat's leather chairs is low-altitude work, thanks to the $250 full-length running boards and a relatively modest ride height. The Lariat's cabin takes a stab at modern design, as if someone had stapled a Bang & Olufsen catalog to the dashboard. The center stack and the chrome-ringed air vents have a textured slate finish. The cream-colored chrome-ring gauges live under an upholstered cowl dotted with French stitching. The buttons and the gear selector feel as if a watchmaker had looked in and done what he could. Only the faux wood looks cheap as it waterfalls down the center console.

    The dash is clean, too clean perhaps. As it is, you get a pull-out cup-holder tray —two of eight (!) cup holders crammed into the Lariat—a small cubby underneath that is maxed out by a slim cell phone, and a shallow rubber bin up top. The center armrest does pack more debris, but people who use their dashboards as work desks will pretty quickly outclutter the available crannies.

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    Our Lariat's leather bench seats were stiff and slippery, but with manual lumbar adjusters, they proved comfortable during state-line leaps. All riders get a little more precious real estate in the new SuperCab, but rear-seat passengers benefit the most with five more cubic feet. The rear bench still sits too low to the floor, but the seatback is at a good recline and knees can press their own paths into the soft backsides of the front seats. Flipping up the seat bottoms to create more space is as easy as pulling a spring-loaded handle, although the 70/30-split seats simply tilt up rather than articulate backward as in some trucks.

    As in the old F-150, the tire jack and the seat-support structure intrude on the floor space. Plus, we've come to appreciate the Ram's foldout steel shelf that provides a flat surface across the tunnel and keeps dirty items off the clean carpet. Ford's interior decorators should take note. They may also want to reconsider the 22.3-inch-deep cargo box. Although the extra 2.3 inches over the old model add hauling capacity, lifting items over the side will only be easy for NBA players.

    With this change from workhorse to passenger car, the F-150's weight has gone up. Toting 5440 pounds, our rear-drive Lariat SuperCab steamrollered the scale with 260 more pounds than the four-wheel-drive Lariat SuperCab in our April 2002 comparo ("American Iron"). Only the porky four-door Dodge Ram is in this league. Blame the F-150's extra reinforcement welded into the new hydroformed frame. Full box-section tubes replace the old, more limp C-section frame rails. Stouter mounts anchor the suspension.

    All that extra ferrous under the floorboards bites into the fuel economy (14 mpg during its stay with us) and handling but helps the F-150's body remain rock rigid. Across rippled pavement and down washboard dirt tracks, the four doors remained firmly fixed to their big holes while the steering column slept soundly and without shivers. The F-150's body stiffness is an achievement, especially considering the truck's crusty ride.

    Indeed, our Lariat's chassis was a bit too flinty, considering it doesn't have the rock-bashing FX4 suspension. The shock absorbers and the springs read the road surfaces like so much Braille and repeat most of the cracks and bumps right to the backside. The zooty 18-inch wheels with 60-series tires likely didn't help. Any vehicle that can strap on 1800 pounds of cargo is entitled to a little extra starch, but GM's full-size Silverado and Sierra manage to supply both the payload capacity and a softer ride.

    Ford gets marks for choosing rack-and-pinion steering and tuning it with precision. This new F-150 doesn't wander the freeway but rather tracks as true as the yellow line. The palms stay planted at the three and nine marks through most corners, where the Lariat's body remains flat and the understeer is mild for a truck, safely heralded with a progressive yowling of the tires.

    Thanks to the fine steering and stable chassis, the F-150 doesn't really show its extra weight until it gets to the test track. Although Ford has upsized the disc brakes for 2004, the Lariat whoaed up from 70 mph:in 206 feet, just five feet less than the old four-wheel-drive F-150 Lariat carrying 1000 pounds of payload. Without the payload, the old F-150 shut it down in 203 feet. Perhaps not a big difference after all, but not a sign of progress, either.

    Acceleration to 60 mph:requires just 8.2 seconds with the 300-hp, 365-pound-feet, 5.4-liter mill thumping its chest through the optional 3.73 axle (3.55 is standard). Among the half-tonners we've tested in the price range, only the breeze-weight, 4820-pound Toyota Tundra Limited comes close to that pace with an 8.6-second time. And the Ford demands only 87-octane regular.

    Ford's revamped iron-block, alloy-head three-valve V-8 is a 40-horsepower and 15-pound-feet improvement over the old 5.4 with thicker torque down low, says Ford. The portly F-150 uses every bit of it. Mash it on the freeway, and the four-speed automatic delivers a quick downshift or two so the motor can wind up quickly to its 5000-rpm power peak (also, coincidentally, the engine's posted redline). An electronic throttle and smart shift calibrations keep the thrust flowing smoothly, but the engine has to work for it. Hitched to our 4475-pound Pace American car hauler, the 5.4 was feeling somewhat less eager.

    Ford claims the 5.4's new torque curve matches up favorably with the pushrod cabal, including the GM 5.3-liter small-block and the new Dodge 5.7-liter Hemi. The latter will finally be offered in the half-ton Dodge Ram for 2004. With 345 horsepower and 375 pound-feet, the Hemi took a 5680-pound Ram 2500 to 60 mph:in 7.8 seconds. Spreadsheets aside, Ford drivers may want to step lightly.

    Around Dodges, we mean. In Ford dealerships, the welcome will be more pronounced. The new F-150's price rise is one fancy dinner bill. Our $31,590 Lariat runs only $245 more than an identically equipped '03 model, not much wampum at all for the extra equipment and dose of class.

    Ford hopes this F-150 will uphold the perennial bestselling-truck title. Seems like everyone wants to knock it off. With the Nissan Titan coming hard on the F-150's heels, you'll want to eat right and get your exercise. This battle will be worth hanging around for.

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    [​IMG]

    Highs: Stiff structure, luxury-car trimmings, forgets it's a truck on the road.

    Lows: Flinty ride, done-that styling, has blown the diet.

    The Verdict: Life with a pickup keeps getting easier.

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    COUNTERPOINT

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    CSABA CSERE
    Something's wacky with this world when the fascinating thing about a new pickup truck is its interior. But I'm blown away by the richness of the cabin in this F-150 Lariat. The warm tan color of the dashboard strikes a beautiful contrast to the judiciously applied matte metallic trim. The instrument faces look expensive without being overly elaborate, and the hood over them is richly upholstered with stitches that would do a BMW proud. Moreover, every element of this interior fits beautifully, with no uneven gaps, crude overlaps, or ragged edges. If only Ford's car interiors could be so luxurious and inviting.

    ANDRÉ IDZIKOWSKI
    The Ford F-150 may be the bestselling pickup truck on the market, but it has never been the brawniest looking of the bunch. The Dodge Ram, and to a lesser extent, the Chevy Silverado looked like serious work trucks you wouldn't mind putting dents in. The last F-150 with its curved nose and swoopy lines looked stylish but maybe a little too delicate to abuse. That's no longer the case. The new truck's squared-off profile, muscular front fenders, and big honeycomb grille give it a rugged but refined appearance. The F-150 now has a chiseled, Marlboro-man look to it as opposed to the Ram's Jack Palance, in-your-face demeanor.

    TONY SWAN
    The current F-series has been criticized by some for styling that's a little light in the testosterone department, a soft point that's acutely visible when the Ford is parked next to a Dodge Ram. The new truck nudges the macho index upward a point or two visually, but the emphasis on exterior brawn seems odd considering what Ford hath wrought within. The new F-150 seems to have the right stuff in terms of being a truck—solid chassis, competitive powertrains—but it's the quiet, roomy, attractive sedan interior that Ford figures as its trump card. So what's up with that? Are our cowboys getting soft? And will enhanced comfort be enough to win in this high-stakes game?

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    C/D TEST RESULTS

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    ACCELERATION (Seconds)
    Zero to 30 mph: 2.6
    40 mph: 4.0
    50 mph: 6.0
    60 mph: 8.2
    70 mph: 10.8
    80 mph: 14.3
    90 mph: 18.9
    Street start, 5-60 mph: 8.8 Top-gear acceleration, 30-50 mph: 4.5
    50-70 mph: 5.5
    Standing 1/4-mile: 16.3 sec @ 84 mph
    Top speed (governor limited): 97 mph


    BRAKING
    70-0 mph @ impending lockup: 206 ft

    HANDLING
    Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.71 g
    Understeer: moderate


    FUEL ECONOMY
    EPA city driving: 15 mpg
    EPA highway driving: 19 mpg
    C/D-observed: 14 mpg

    INTERIOR SOUND LEVEL
    Idle: 43 dBA
    Full-throttle acceleration: 75 dBA
    70-mph cruising: 68 dBA

    FORD F-150 LARIAT SUPERCAB STYLESIDE

    Vehicle type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 6-passenger, 2+2-door truck
    Price as tested: $31,590

    [​IMG]

    ENGINE
    Type: V-8, iron block and aluminum heads
    Bore x stroke: 3.55 x 4.17 in, 90.2 x 105.8mm
    Displacement: 330 cu in, 5409cc
    Compression ratio: 9.8:1
    Fuel-delivery system: port injection
    Valve gear: chain-driven single overhead cams, 3 valves per cylinder, hydraulic lifters, variable intake-and exhaust-valve timing
    Power (SAE net): 300 bhp @ 5000 rpm
    Torque (SAE net): 365 lb-ft @ 3750 rpm

    Redline: 5000 rpm

    DRIVETRAIN
    Transmission: 4-speed automatic
    Final-drive ratio: 3.73:1


    Gear ... Ratio ... Mph/1000 rpm ... Max. test speed
    I ... 2.84 ... 8.3 ... 42 mph (5000 rpm)
    II ... 1.55 ... 15.2 ... 76 mph (5000 rpm)
    III ... 1.00 ... 23.6 ... 97 mph (4100 rpm)
    IV ... 0.70 ... 33.7 ... 97 mph (2900 rpm)

    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 144.4 in
    Track, front/rear: 67.0/67.0 in
    Length/width/height: 229.8/73.1/78.9 in
    Ground clearance: 8.3 in
    Curb weight: 5440 lb
    Weight distribution, front/rear: 56.3/43.7%

    Curb weight per horsepower: 18.1 lb
    Fuel capacity: 28.0 gal

    CHASSIS/BODY
    Type: full-length frame
    Body material: welded steel stampings

    INTERIOR
    SAE volume, front seat: 65 cu ft
    rear seat: 50 cu ft
    cargo: 51 cu ft
    Front-seat adjustments: fore and aft, seatback angle, lumbar support; driver only: front height, rear height
    Restraint systems, front: manual 3-point belts, center lap belt, driver and passenger airbags
    rear: manual 3-point belts

    SUSPENSION
    Front: ind, unequal-length control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar
    Rear: rigid axle, leaf springs

    STEERING
    Type: rack-and-pinion, power-assisted
    Steering ratio: 17.2:1
    Turns lock-to-lock: 3.3
    Turning circle curb-to-curb: 46.4 ft

    BRAKES
    Type: hydraulic with vacuum power assist and anti-lock control
    Front/rear: 13.0 x 1.2-in vented disc/13.7 x 0.8-in vented disc

    WHEELS AND TIRES
    Wheel size/type: 8.0 x 18 in/cast aluminum
    Tires: BFGoodrich Radial Long Trail T/A, P265/60TR-18
    Test inflation pressures, front/rear: 35/35 psi
    Spare tire: full size on steel wheel

    [​IMG]
     
  2. autoracer1

    autoracer1 Rallyx postponed :wtc: Next one May 10.

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    Fseries > *
     
  3. VBGOD

    VBGOD Guest

    :cool:

    Bad first pic though.
     
  4. ballistic

    ballistic I dunno, play chess...screw?

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    F-250 Crew Cab w/ PowerStroke or nothing at all, thanks.
     
  5. BitchAss

    BitchAss Let's drop bombs... OT Supporter

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    i'm not a ford fan, but damn, this truck does look good.... i'll admit that...
     
  6. VBGOD

    VBGOD Guest

    The next Lightning looks bad ass.
     
  7. LEGbEND

    LEGbEND .

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    wheres teh lightning?
     
  8. Girth

    Girth ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ OT Supporter

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    a salesman from a nearby dealership brought a FX4 package 4 door to my store a few days ago. The truck looks really nice, but it didn't have leather... and they still wanted $38,000 for that thing. :ugh:

    Its nice... but not THAT nice IMO.
     
  9. SaintGRW

    SaintGRW OT Supporter

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  10. Platinum_Thunder

    Platinum_Thunder Reliability for life and liberty

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    unless it's a 350 with powerstroke :)
     
  11. Urinal Mint

    Urinal Mint bourbon afficionado

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    Wait 3 months... you'll be able to get one for $32k w/ leather.

     
  12. Josepi

    Josepi HA HA, I CHANGED MY AV

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    100% the weight of my car and only 25% more power.

    Looks better than the late 80s F-150s.
     
  13. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    BLoG isn't on the ball today.
     
  14. Buck-O

    Buck-O Guest

    Nice Mazda air vents. Another Ford "inovation". :jerkit:
     
  15. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    I tried to post 3 times in this thread, but OT is COMPLETELY fucked today. :ugh:
     
  16. thegeneral

    thegeneral Guest

    those look like poontiac vents to me too
     
  17. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    My gripe is that the bed is too friggin tall. Makes the truck look like it has a fat ass. :o
     
  18. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    In other words, Titan > F-150?
     
  19. 250 > 350
     
  20. Urinal Mint

    Urinal Mint bourbon afficionado

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    Agreed. It needs a shorter bed like the SuperDuty.

     
  21. Platinum_Thunder

    Platinum_Thunder Reliability for life and liberty

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    Tundra > *
     
  22. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    :rofl:
     
  23. iZero

    iZero Guest

    That's a slow truck. No wonder Ford was talking about giving 500 horsepower to the next Lightning. It might break in the 14s at least.
     
  24. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    :rofl:

    Let's talk about nissan's supercharged pickup! ph33r the 210 horsepower!!! :rofl:
     
  25. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:
     

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