Ford brought media representatives from all over North America to scenic hill country to test-drive the all-new 2004 Ford F-150. The F-150 is the best-selling vehicle on the planet. In fact, the F-Series trucks have been the best-selling truck in America for 26 straight years. Ford sells 5 F-Series trucks every minute!
The all-new F-150 has been redefined and redesigned, and it's clear why Ford has the best-selling trucks. The 2004 F150 has a new 3 valve 300HP 5.4L V8 engine, a new transmission, a new interior, and everything else is new too. The new frame is twice as strong as the previous generation of F150. The new frame is 9 times stiffer, and twice as strong as the competitor's trucks. Now, every cab comes with 4 doors. The box is 2 inches deeper so it holds more stuff. There's an industry-first: Tailgate Assist. And the list goes on. For full specifications on the 2004 F-150, go here.
I recently had the opportunity to drive the all-new 2004 Ford F-150 in a variety of real situations. I spent just over a day in Texas (Truck Country), testing the capabilities of the new truck, as well as the competition's trucks. And let me tell you, the all-new F150 is a very capable truck!
The first thing you notice about the new F-150 is it's new appearance. Both inside and out, this truck has been redesigned, refined, and improved.
When you first sit in the all-new F150, you'll wonder if you're really in a truck. The totally redesigned interior has an instrument panel that looks like it came out of a high-end luxury car. And the cab has more room over the previous model. Both the SuperCab and SuperCrew cabs were lengthened by six inches, and it's noticeable! One thing I liked was the addition of headrests on the rear seat.
Ford has departed from traditional practices of offering one style of interior on all trucks. This has been a common practice of basically every auto manufacturer. Ford has come out with five distinct interior trim levels, one to match each model of F-150. For example, the STX model has black gauges with a chrome trim ring around them. The Lariat model offers the same gauges but they're rearranged and have a white face. Also, the vertical bands on the dash are black or satin depending on the trim level. The only complaint I have with the interior is the top centre-mounted dash tray. Rather than being an open tray, I think it should have a cover so you can hide change, sunglasses, etc. in that spot.
The seatbelts for the front seats are built into the seat. And they double as a grab area for passengers getting into the rear of the SuperCab. Ford has introduced another industry first: a floor mounted shifter. This is a really nice feature that reminds you of a sports car.
As you can tell, the truck has all-new sheet metal. The truck has a totally new look. The pickup box is deeper, the grille now opens as part of the hood, among other changes. The new Tailgate Assist is standard on every model. It decreases the effort needed to operate the tailgate. This is especially useful if you're smaller, or if you have your arms full when trying to operate it.
There are now 26 (yes, twenty six!) cab configurations available. There is a huge selection between Regular / Super / SuperCrew cabs, 3 box lengths, and 2 box styles (flareside or styleside). The SuperCab is now available with a 5.5 foot box, which is an industry first. This helps the truck fit into smaller garages and parking spaces.
After spending about five minutes driving the new F150, the most noticeable things were the smoother ride and quietness. The truck handles corners much better due to the stronger frame, and outboard rear shocks. Road and engine noise are all but gone. Quite frankly, I was amazed at just how quiet the truck was. After all, this is a 5,000+ lb V8 truck.
I had the opportunity to drive the truck on the highway, dirt trails, across river streams, and off-road. This truck performed flawlessly in every situation encountered. It felt like I was driving a luxury car on the highway, and it had no problems going over rough terrain. I also drove the competing products off-road, and they rode so bad they nearly made me sick! The other trucks are inferior and incapable compared to the new F-150.
The only negative point I found is that I expected the 5.4L 300HP V8 to respond better off the line. It won't win races between stoplights, but there is plenty of power to pass people on the highway. Unfortunately I didn't get the opportunity to do any towing/hauling with the 5.4L, so I can't comment on that.
I also had the chance to perform acceleration tests, handling tests, and put the truck through the slalom course. This truck rode great and I always felt in control. That's more than I can say about the Chevy Silverado ;-)
Well, I'd like to go on for days telling you how much I like the truck, but I can't. Here's my recommendation: Drive the truck as soon as it comes to your nearest dealer. I'm confident you will be as impressed as I was. Ford has a real winner on their hands, and I know this truck will be even more successful than the previous model. With 5 different trim levels, 2 engines, and 26 different cab configurations (not including paint combinations), there's a truck that will suit everyone.