If ever a team needed a home run, it was Ford. Not quite the bottom of the ninth, it was well past the seventh inning stretch when financially struggling Ford launched its ‘04 F-150 pickups.

The product team’s challenge was no less than designing, engineering and developing the successor to America’s best-selling vehicle for the last 21 years and the foundation on which the company" />

Issue: Feb 2004


Cars Worth Noting: 2004 Ford F-150



2004 Ford F-150

by Gary Witzenburg

If ever a team needed a home run, it was Ford. Not quite the bottom of the ninth, it was well past the seventh inning stretch when financially struggling Ford launched its ‘04 F-150 pickups.

The product team’s challenge was no less than designing, engineering and developing the successor to America’s best-selling vehicle for the last 21 years and the foundation on which the company’s comeback would be built. “Incremental steps were unacceptable,” said CEO Bill Ford. “There could be no boundaries to what they demanded of this new truck…it had to set new standards of excellence in every area.”

Let’s see: Max payload 2900 lb., max tow rating 9500 lb., two-inch deeper box, six-inch longer cab for more room behind the front seats; fully boxed frame nine times torsionally stiffer than before; dramatically improved driving dynamics; standard 231-hp V-8 or available new 300-hp 3-valve Triton V-8 delivering more power, torque and fuel economy; choice of three cabs (all 4-door), three box lengths, two box styles and five distinct series — check.

The exterior adopts the distinctively dipped front-door beltline from Ford’s HD pickup. It’s modern and mildly macho, a fine middle ground between the handsome but conservative GM and faux big-rig Dodge pickups. Most impressive are the F-150’s luxocar-quality interiors, especially in upmarket models, marred only by wallpaper-look “wood” trim in some versions.

Though I’ve never much cared for pickup driving, I was pleasantly surprised by my week with a Lariat SuperCrew: roomy, comfortable, quiet and BIG: BIG seats, BIG console and door bins, BIG (pantleg soiling) running boards and outside mirrors the size of bathroom windows.

North American, Motor Trend and even Texas “Truck of the Year” so far: this team may have hit it out of the park and into the parking lot across the street.

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