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STILL THE ONE

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Jan 23, 2005

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

© All photos by Harvey Schwartz

STILL THE ONE By HARVEY SCHWARTZ

The 2004 model year numbers are in, and for the 27th consecutive year, the Ford F-150 full-size pickup truck is still the one that consumers choose over the Chevy Silverado and Dodge Ram pickups. The Ford F-150 pickup is the culmination of fifty years of Built Ford Tough reliability, power, and presence. The new Ford F-150 sets new standards in the industry for toughness, strength, safety, interior spaciousness, refinement, driving dynamics, stability, cargo capacity, comfort and style. The F-150 offers the industry's widest variety of body configurations including three cab choices, three box lengths, two box styles, and five unique series: The entry level F-150 XL, fun and athletic F-150 STX, all-purpose F-150 XLT, powerful F-150 FX4 (my favorite), and the luxurious F-150 Lariat. New for 2005 is the F-150 King Ranch. With a maximum tow rating of 9,900 pounds, and a maximum payload capacity of 3,000 pounds, the F-150 is the most capable full-size pickup under 8,500lbs.

The new exterior design features a taller profile giving a self-assured, planted stance. The bold front fascia conveys strength with quad-circle-styled headlamps, designed in cluster, and incorporates a wrap-around treatment that communicates refined sophistication and precision. The new signature F-150 grille hints at the stronger Ford Super Duty model. The lower bumper has a wide, centered air-intake, and strong rectangular fog lamps at the sides. Enhancing the truck's visual strength is its high beltline, which draws attention to its chiseled powerful flanks, and a roofline reminiscent of chopped-top custom street trucks. A more vertical inward box of the side windows balances the visual weight of the lower body. The doors adopt the Ford signature stepped-down beltline. My favorite F-150 model, and test vehicle, the FX4, adds body-color front and rear bumpers, a black, vertical, honeycomb grille insert, black wheel-arch moldings, and FX4 graphics on the rear sides. Inside, the FX4 also features a unique instrument cluster, black leather wrapped/ tilting steering wheel, and black diamond plate styled rubber off road floor mats, and a storage system under the flip-up rear bench seat in the super crew model.

The passenger compartment of the regular cab and super cab body styles is 6in. longer giving customers greater interior spaciousness. Regular cab models feature industry-first rearward swinging access doors that make it easier to reach a behind-the-seat cargo area. Super cab occupants can enjoy first-in-class rear door power windows, (on XLT, FX4 and Lariat), as well as an optional power sliding rear window. The flow-through center console gives customers the option of two captain's chairs with a floor shifter on the FX4 and Lariat models. The floor shifter, another F-150 first, is a sophisticated design, detailed in warm steel and chrome. Vehicles equipped with a 40/20/40 split bench seat have a different instrument panel center stack optimized for middle passenger front legroom. All buttons, dials and levers are within easy reach. The F-150 continues to offer another industry-first: a modular overhead rail system that allows owners to customize interior storage options to suit there individual needs. With it occupants may easily snap in additional modules, such as first-aid kits, toolboxes, flashlight and two-way radio holders. While the 2004 Ford F-150 was the winner of Motor Trend Magazine 'Pickup Truck of the Year' award, and winner of Best Interior Design, it is the power and performance that really sets it apart from the competition.

The F-150 offers three engine choices-a 4.2-liter V6 engine, a 4.6-liter Triton V8 and a 5.4-liter, 3-valve Triton V8. The 5.4-liter Triton V8 engine is designed with three valves per cylinder, variable cam timing and a host of other features that provide increased power-especially at low engine speeds-along with a quieter operation and improved fuel efficiency. It delivers 300 hp at 5,000 rpm and 365 lb.ft. of torque at just 3,750 rpm. A segment-first torque-based electronic throttle control uses driver input from the accelerator pedal to actively modulate the torque at the drive wheels. The technology produces a seamless and consistent engine response, improved fuel economy and enhanced integration of vehicle systems, such as the transmission, variable camshaft timing, vehicle speed control and idle speed control. The 4.6-liter Triton V8 achieves 231 hp at 4,750 rpm and an impressive 293 lb.ft. of torque at 3,500 rpm. Ninety percent of this torque is available at just 2,000 rpm for strong towing performance and solid acceleration while hauling heavy loads. These two powerful engines are mated to a standard five-speed manual or an optional four-speed automatic OD transmission. The new for 2005 model F-150 4.2 liter V6 base engine produces 202 hp at 4,350 rpm and 260 lb.ft. of torque at 3,750 rpm, and is offered with a standard 5-speed manual transmission or optional four-speed automatic.

Exceptional handling, ride and quietness are class leading thanks to engineering advances such as a fully boxed frame with hydroformed front frails that is about nine times stiffer in torsion and approximately 50 percent stiffer in bending than the previous generaiton's model. This reduces shake and shudder on rough roads. It is a quite ride as well. The liquid-filled engine mounts, or hydromounts, on V8 engine installations attenuate much of the engine's noise and vibration before it can reach the passenger compartment. A rack & pinion steering system, the largest and strongest ever used on a Ford vehicle, was engineered to provide improved steering response to driver inputs. With a new stiffer and more torsional frame, the unique Ford suspension system really handles rough terrain like never before. Both 4X2 and 4X4 models use a coil-on-shock, long-spindle, independent double-wishbone front suspension with cast aluminum lower control arms-a first in the pickup truck segment. The suspension reduces unsprung weight to help provide better ride and stability on choppy, broken surfaces. The front shock absorbers are mounted inside the springs, allowing four-wheel-drive models to use coil springs instead of the traditional torsion bars for improved suspension tuning. The design also moves the shock absorbers closer to the wheel, permitting more precise shock tuning. The Hotchkiss-design rear suspension has been optimized with rear shock absorbers placed outboard of the frame rails-a segment exclusive-for a smoother ride and improved control of body lean. The shock position also provides better control of axle 'skipping' and 'skating' that can happen on rough, washboard-type surfaces. Quickly and safely slowing the new F-150 down from speed are giant vented, steel disc brakes with ABS. Up front are 13-inch vented discs clamped with a dual piston caliper, while 13.6-inch vented rear discs are clamped with a single piston caliper.

My test F-150 FX4 rode on big P235/70R17in. all-terrain tires wrapped by thick, 5-spoke, 17X7 cast aluminum wheels. For safety's sake, the strong hydroformed front rails are built to help manage crash forces in an impact; these areas of the frame are designed to collapse in an accordion fashion, dissipating energy before it reaches the passenger compartment. The F-150's portfolio of safety features now includes the Ford Personal Safety System an occupant-sensing technology for the first-row passenger. Whether it's a pair of work gloves, child or adult sitting there, the technology determines if the airbag should be on or off. The frontal airbags offer multiple deployment levels that tailor inflation force to the severity of the crash, the driver's safety belt use and the driver's position, as determined by a sensor mounted to the seat track. Also standard are steel beams in each door, three-point safety belts for all seating positions, and an energy absorbing steering column. Other standard equipment include cruise-control, power windows/door locks, AM-FM stereo radio/CD with 6-speakers, variable speed wipers/washers, rear-window defogger, full-perimeter carpeting, grab handles on the front A-pillar to help with entry and exit, grab handles for super cab and super crew rear seat passengers, map lights, and remote keyless entry for up-level FX4 and Lariat models. Options include: mechanical or automatic shift-on-the-fly 4X4, skid plates, limited-slip rear axle, 35.7-gallon fuel tank, fog lamps, dual front tow hooks, chrome/composite full-length step bars, two-tone paint, 18in. wheels/tires, six-disc CD changer, super cab or super crew configurations, heavy-duty payload package, trailer tow package, snow ploy prep, work truck group and rear seat entertainment system. Most of these options are standard in the up-level FX4 and Lariat models.

The new Ford F-150 is a very exceptional mode of transportation. Ready to take on your toughest challenges, or just a short trip to the market, work, school or other daily chores. Whether it is for personal, business or pleasure transportation, the F-150 has a model and configuration to fit your every need. Maybe that is why the F-150 is the world's number one selling vehicle. Prices start at just $22,250.00 for the base model, all the way up to $36,785 for the Lariat and FX4 that I tested. © All text and photos by Harvey Schwartz

For more information on Ford products, go to www.ford.com. More photos from Harvey Schwartz can be found at www.autofotos.com

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2004 Ford F-150 FX4 Price of vehicle: $36,785.00 Engine type: 5.4-liter Triton V8 with three-valves per cylinder, variable cam timing, cast iron block/aluminum heads Horsepower: 300 hp at 5,000 rpm Torque: 365 lb.ft. of torque at 3,750 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine/four-wheel-drive Transmission type: four-speed electronically controlled automatic OD. Front suspension: Independent coil on shock/long spindle double-wishbone, cast aluminum lower control arms Rear suspension: Hotchkiss-type non-independent live, leaf springs, and outboard shock absorbers Wheels/tires: P235/70R17 all-terrain radial tires/17X7in. 5-spoke, cast aluminum wheels Brakes: Front: 13-inch vented disc with dual piston calipers Rear: 13.6-inch vented disc with a single piston caliper ABS standard Overall length: 224 inches Overall width: 78.9 inches Overall height: 76 inches Curb weight: 5,577 pounds EPA mileage estimates: 14 mpg/city, 19 mpg/highway

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