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2004 Ford F150

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San Francisco: Ford’s F-150 pickup is its most important product. By itself, the full-size truck accounts for 28 percent of Ford Division sales and 23 percent of the entire company’s sales in the U.S.

It has been American’s favorite pickup truck since Carter was in the White House, and has been the best selling vehicle in America for 22 years. So, when Ford redesigns their superstar, they do it right.

The all-new F-150 banishes the late 1990’ s windswept, softly contoured look for the appearance of a giant Tonka truck. Standing tall, the F-150 sports a massive grille, flanked by multi-lens headlamp clusters. The fender flares stand out boldly from the body, and the window line drops in the front for better visibility and eye-catching street presence.

The new truck looks tough, and has the structure underneath to back it up. The fully boxed frame is about nine times stronger than the previous model for torsional rigidity. The front and rear tracks are 1.5 inches wider, contributing to the solid stance. Larger wheels and tires help complete the macho look.

The F-150 may be tough on the outside, but inside you will experience its softer side. While the old interiors featured large, undulating panels of monochromatic plastic, the new truck gets new colors and textures, in bands along the dash and doors. In my highline test vehicle, the doors created a Neapolitan three-flavor feeling, with tan plastic, wood grain, and a perforated gray section over the speaker areas. Metallic accents, including chrome air vents that can be folded closed, add upscale ambiance.

Ford engineers made numerous changes to keep noise and vibration out of this classy cabin. Liquid-filled engine mounts isolate the powerplant. The front suspension uses advanced double wishbones with cast aluminum lower control arms, and specially designed bushings in the suspension help filter out roughness and add precise control. Rack and pinion steering replaces the old recirculating ball system. It all adds up to a satisfying feeling of control and quiet.

My Lariat SuperCrew 4X4 SS arrived in Aspen Green/Arizona Beige two-tone. This top-of-the-line truck was loaded, including several handy options, such as a power rear window (the first I’ve ever seen), a reverse sensing system (great for safety, especially with a huge vehicle), heated seats (always nice), and a rear seat entertainment system. The optional running boards were handy, but my wife found them to be slippery in the rain. With its power accessories, leather seating, flow-through center console, and chrome-ringed gauges, the big truck felt more luxurious than some luxury sedans.

The F-150 comes with two engine choices, both V-8s. The big one is the new 5.4-liter Triton model, with 300 horsepower and 345 lb.-ft. of torque. The smaller engine, not really so small, is the 4.6-liter Triton. It puts out 231 horsepower and 293 lb.-ft. of torque.

The 5.4-liter is loaded with high-tech features, including three valves per cylinder, variable valve timing, variable camshaft timing, and other electronic controls. Both engines have torque-based electronic throttle control, for better engine response and improved fuel mileage. My big Lariat model with the 5.4-liter engine earned just 13.6 miles per gallon (EPA ratings are 15 City, 19 Highway).

Ford offers five specific models, so you can create a truck that works for you, whether you are a weekend mountain camper or a professional plumber. You can get a regular (2-door), SuperCab (extended 2-door), or CrewCab (four-door) configuration. There are also three box lengths 5-1/2 foot, 6-1/2 foot, and 8-foot, in the straight-sided Styleside or old-fashioned Flareside styles. Both boxes are two inches taller than last year’s, adding to carrying capacity. Lastly, you can order two or four-wheel drive, depending on model.

The XL model is the base vehicle, available with a vinyl or cloth interior. You can even get it with rubber mats instead of carpeting. The STX is the next level up, with nicer cast-aluminum wheels and body-color bumpers.

The XLT is the middle, and probably most popular, model. You can get it in all 3 box lengths and in both box styles. The SuperCab and SuperCrew models have power second-row windows, a first in this market segment.

The FX4 is the offroading F-150, with plenty of box and side style combinations. It has its own optional 18-inch wheels and distinctive grille.

The Lariat, like my test truck, is the top banana, with stitched style instrument panel and console with slabs of artificial woodgrain and unique cream-colored gauges with fat numerals. It sports luxury car features like steering wheel audio and climate controls, information computer, full climate control, and power-adjustable memory seats and pedals. I especially liked the sliding ceiling console and the outside mirror turn signals.

With options, my test truck came in just shy of $40,000. XL models begin at just $22,160. This new F-150 shows every indication of keeping its dominance in the first decade of the new millennium. It is Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year winner. Visit www.ford.com and my fellow journalist, Rick Titus, will give you a personal tour. By Steve Schaefer AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

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Byline:  Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo AutoWire.Net
Column Name:  Ford redesigns their Superstar
Topic:  The 2004 Ford F-150 Pickup
Word Count:   900
Photo Caption:  The 2004 Ford F-150 Pickup
Photo Credits:  Ford Internet Media
Series #:   2004 - 22

Download the Microsoft Word version here:   2004 Ford F150

Download the original image file here:  2004 Ford F150 39k

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Publisher - Editor:   Tony Leopardo
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