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Ford's capable F-150 is our recommended pick for a full-size truck. With a wide variety of cabs, styles and equipment from which to choose, you can't go wrong. And while it doesn't necessarily excel in any given area when stacked up against its competition, its appeal and performance average out to best-in-class status. No wonder it's the best-selling vehicle in the world.
Wide range of configurations and features, capable powertrains and suspension, attractive styling inside and out.
Everybody and his brother has one.
A new King Ranch SuperCab arrives for 2002, joining the SuperCrew version near the top of the F-150 food chain. All King Ranch trucks get lighted visor mirrors with a HomeLink universal transmitter and a Travel Note recording device, while KR SuperCrews have automatic climate control and an available second-row bench seat that replaces the standard rear captain's chairs. Get the Harley-Davidson edition for a supercharged 5.4-liter Triton V-8 engine that adds 80 horsepower and new styling cues in the form of flame pin striping and chrome accessories, a new upper chrome billet grille, clear-lens headlamps and clear-lens parking lamps embossed with the label and rivets surrounding the center cap of the 20-inch wheels. The lower-line F-150 XL gets standard air conditioning, and its 4.2-liter V6 receives a ULEV rating. An FX4 off-road equipment package can be added to XLT or Lariat 4WD models and includes upgrades like Rancho shocks, skid plates, special wheels and unique trim. Carryover improvements from late 2001 include seat-mounted seatbelts on SuperCabs, child seat-tether anchors and rear head restraints on SuperCrew models. Also added late in 2001 were optional heated front seats (XLT and Lariat), a power sunroof (XLT and Lariat SuperCab and Crew) and a rear-seat entertainment system (XLT and Lariat SuperCrew).
In the music scene, artists that top the sales charts are rarely considered the best in terms of quality. The same thing goes for prime-time TV shows or the most popular fast food restaurants. It almost seems to be an inverse relationship; the worse a product is, the more popular it is.
This theory doesn't bode well for the Ford F-150. Not only is it the best-selling pickup in the country, it's the best-selling vehicle, period. But for whatever reason, the F-150 bucks the trend. It has the sales numbers, the universal appeal and the quality to keep it in the top spot.
One particular advantage to the F-150 is its wide range of body and option configurations. You can order the F-150 as a Regular Cab, SuperCab or SuperCrew, the SuperCrew being the crew-cab model with four doors and a short bed. Then, on everything except the SuperCrew, you have the choice of a 6.5- or 8-foot cargo box in either Styleside or Flareside design. There are three trim levels: XL, XLT and Lariat. There are also two special SuperCrew models offered: the heavy-metal Harley Davidson F-150 Crew Cab and the pimped-out King Ranch, the latter now available as a SuperCab in addition to last year's SuperCrew.
Ford offers four different engines. The smallest is a 202-horsepower 4.2-liter V6 with either a manual or automatic transmission. This engine meets ULEV emissions standards for 2002. Next up is a 4.6-liter V8 with 231 horsepower and 293 pound-feet of torque. The biggest engine available is a 5.4-liter V8 generating 260 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. The Harley Davidson model gets a supercharged version of the Triton V-8, delivering 340 horsepower and 425 lbs.-ft. of torque.
Towing and cargo capacities vary depending on model. For maximum payload ability, you'll want to order the 7700 Payload Group, which includes mechanical modifications that increase gross vehicle weight to 7,700 pounds.
The F-150's feature list is comparable to many family cars and luxury sedans. Driver and passenger front airbags are standard, as are four-wheel ABS and child safety seat anchor points. F-150 Lariat's are the most luxurious, and they come standard with features like 17-inch wheels, power adjustable pedals and leather seating.
Even more car-like is the F-150 SuperCrew. It has been designed for consumers who want more interior space without compromising the functional capability and versatility of a full-size pickup. Unlike the SuperCab, which has smaller hinged doors that swing out clamshell-style, the SuperCrew actually mates an Expedition cabin with a shortened cargo bed. It has four full-size doors separated by a B-pillar on each side, with inside and outside handles on each door. Despite the larger cabin, the F-150 SuperCrew is still the same overall length as the SuperCab model. Add King Ranch or Harley Davidson trim to a Lariat, and you've got the finest F-150 money can buy.
On both pavement and rocky trails, the F-150 offers up a stable ride and plenty of power. Steering is somewhat twitchy, but otherwise this truck can be used for long freeway trips with no problem. The front seats are comfortable, and the extra rear-seat space in SuperCab models is perfect for extra cargo or children. Use the handy SuperCrew for adults who need to ride in back. The interior design mirrors that of the popular Expedition SUV, with most of the controls and switches easy to find and operate.
Overall, the F-150 is an excellent blend of style, comfort and utility. The full-size trucks from General Motors, DaimlerChrysler and Toyota all have their individual advantages, but none can match the Ford's level of competence in all areas. About the only significantly negative thing you can say about an F-150 is that there are just too many of them on the road!
Laura's old car was costing her a small fortune every month for gas and repairs. She didn't even want to drive her kids to the park any more. But buying a new Kia Soul changed all that.