2004 Ford F-150 Road Test

It has been well over two years since our 1999 GMC Sierra left the long-term test fleet, and the truck lovers on staff could barely contain themselves when it finally came time to add a replacement. And what better time than now? Ford's best-selling F-150 has been totally redesigned for 2004. You might think that an all-new version of America's favorite truck would guarantee continued domination, but with serious pressure coming from Dodge, GM, Nissan and Toyota, it's not a stretch to say that the sales crown hangs in the balance.

Having conducted both a First Drive and a Full Test of the '04 F-150, our editors already have some solid impressions about the new truck. Likes include the upgraded accommodations in the cabs, exceptional ride and handling characteristics, class-leading tow rating and the truck's excellent performance in frontal offset crash testing. Dislikes include a hefty increase in curb weight (almost 800 pounds on SuperCabs and 500 pounds on SuperCrews), which saps the strength of the revitalized 300-horsepower, 5.4-liter Triton V8, the lack of side airbag protection, scattered low-grade switchgear and the modest number of in-cabin storage areas. A week's worth of testing never tells the whole story, however, so we decided to add an F-150 to the long-term fleet. To get a little friendly competition going, a similarly equipped 2004 Nissan Titan will join the Ford in our garage within the next couple months.

Although you can add any number of luxury features to a full-size pickup these days, we decided to keep things simple, practical and affordable. To that end, we identified a four-wheel-drive SuperCrew (crew cab, that is) in midgrade XLT trim as our preferred truck and then specified a few choice options: the aforementioned 5.4-liter V8, a 3.77 limited-slip rear axle ratio for quicker off-the-line acceleration, the towing package, a bed extender, adjustable pedals, an in-dash CD changer and a sliding rear window. The total MSRP with destination came to $35,295 as of October 2003 (there has been an increase in base price since then).

Consumer Advice Editor Phil Reed mixed Internet shopping with car lot browsing in an effort to find a properly equipped F-150 for our long-term test fleet. In this way, he quickly found out how confusing it can be to buy a Ford truck. Walking through rows and rows of new trucks, it was easy to become sidetracked by the wrong trim level. Several times he thought he had found the right truck, only to be reminded that it was the wrong trim, a special edition or even -- in one case -- the wrong year. Once Phil found the right trim and configuration, the sheer number of options available for the F-150 made the process anything but straightforward. He really began to appreciate the simplicity of shopping for a Honda.

When contacting fleet and Internet managers, they offered to get the truck for him through a "dealer trade." While the dealers made this seem like a done deal, they eventually weren't able to make the trade and had to call back to say they'd been unsuccessful. This was wasted time in the shopping process.

As Phil shopped, he was quoted different sale prices for the trucks he was considering. The prices were all over the place, ranging from nearly MSRP all the way down to about $100 over invoice. In several cases, he wound up dealing with the floor salesmen (instead of the Internet salespeople), and their prices were always much higher.

Ford dealer Web sites were a big help in finding the right truck for our test fleet. However, the truck we actually bought was located when a fleet salesman, unable to secure the truck through a trade, told us, "You might as well call the dealership directly," and gave us the location. "I've lost the sale," he said, "but at least you'll get the truck." We called Sunrise Ford, in Fontana, Calif., and spoke to Fleet Manager Alex Delgado. We soon had a nice deal on the truck for $200 over invoice, which came to $31,160. Delgado was kind enough to deliver the vehicle to our offices, so the transaction was very convenient for us.

Since we purchased the truck, three Edmunds.com editors have logged a month each in our F-150, giving them ample opportunity to examine it inside and out. Not one of them was impressed by its acceleration.

"The 5.4-liter Triton engine does an adequate job of moving the F-150 around," Editor in Chief Karl Brauer wrote, "but who wants an 'adequate' engine in a truck in 2004, especially one that has just been redesigned? The extra weight carried by this truck is felt when trying to accelerate. The truck isn't slow, but the Dodge Ram and Nissan Titan feel downright fast. At least it's relatively smooth and refined. However, I've noticed a tendency for the engine to 'ping' as if it's got bad gas. This has happened over the course of several tanks of gas, so I don't think that's the problem. It seems like the engine controller isn't quite capable of keeping the timing advance in check, because it usually happens when you are hard on the throttle."

Next up was Photo Editor Scott Jacobs, who observed, "I'm surprised this is a 5.4-liter V8. It certainly doesn't feel like it has a ton of power like its competition. It does, however, have class-leading towing capacity, so I guess the engine is strong in other respects -- just not the visceral kind."

Finally, Road Test Editor Erin Riches had her say: "Unlike the SuperCab test vehicle that visited our offices a couple months back, our SuperCrew never felt underpowered, even on uphill grades with two large people and a few hundred pounds of cargo onboard. Passing power was good, as was off-the-line response. But our Ford still can't match the explosive torque you get from the Titan's 5.6-liter V8, the Ram's Hemi or GM's 5300. Obviously, that really wasn't necessary for the kind of driving I was doing, but for someone planning to use an F-150 for work or a serious home improvement project, the lack of vigor would certainly be disappointing. Fuel mileage is also a consideration in my book -- the F-150 feels less powerful than the others, but it still gulps down gasoline just as fast."

Instrumented testing lent credence to editors' observations, as our long-termer needed 9.2 seconds to reach 60 mph and came through the quarter-mile in 16.9 seconds at 80.9 mph. For comparison, we timed a 2001 4x4 F-150 SuperCrew at 8.6 seconds for 0-to-60 and 16.5 for the quarter-mile; we'd expect the other V8-equipped half-ton pickups to be even faster in these tests. Given the extensive modifications made to the 5.4-liter V8 this year -- new three-valve cylinder heads and variable camshafts -- the difference can only be attributed to the 2004 model's 500-pound weight gain.

The extra weight affects braking performance as well. Although drivers commented on the solid, progressive feel of the pedal in everyday traffic maneuvers, a visit to our test track resulted in mediocre 140-foot 60-to-0 stopping distances. Again, looking back over our 2001 SuperCrew's numbers, it appears to be the better truck based on its 134-foot braking distance.

Curiously, the two trucks maintained an identical speed (56.8 mph) when run through our 600-foot slalom. As we've established that our long-termer is slower and heavier, credit is due to Ford's chassis engineers for effectively managing the truck's girth. After taking 10 slalom runs, Karl offered these comments: "This is a lot of weight to try to transition quickly. Steering feel is OK, but feedback is minimal (I think the Dodge Ram has an edge here). The back end wanted to come around, especially under throttle. The best strategy was to go in hot and scrubbing off speed while trying not to spin. At least it was very predictable. The truck was hard to place due to its poor sight lines. And more power would have helped."

So like most trucks, the F-150 isn't well suited for at-the-limits driving. Big surprise, right? But in everyday driving situations, its road manners were generally outstanding. "The truck has a great highway ride -- it's as comfortable as an Expedition," Erin wrote in her notes. "The ride gets choppy over expansion joints and rough pavement, and in high winds, but otherwise, it's fine for daily driving. I was perfectly comfortable during my hour-long commutes.

"Handling was predictable on the twisty sections of Highways 17 and 152 in central California. I don't think it was any better than the Ram's or Titan's, but for such a large vehicle, the F-150 is pretty nimble. The steering doesn't seem to forge the same connection with the driver as the Dodge's or Nissan's, but the weighting is excellent. The truck is easy to manage in traffic and easy to finesse in the parking lot."

Visibility was another matter, though. "This thing is huge," Karl wrote. "I can't put it in my garage, and I almost hit my Mini Cooper when backing out of a driveway because I couldn't see it. I had checked all three mirrors and even turned around and looked, but there was no way to see the Mini behind the F-150. To me, that's scary. I know in today's world bigger is always seen as better, especially in the truck world. But I don't think I would want to drive the F-150 everyday. It's just too much trouble."

Erin added, "The big rectangular side mirrors really help with lane changes on the freeway, but the truck's exceptionally tall stature does make it hard to judge the intentions of smaller cars to either side of the truck. This also led to guesswork in the parking lot, because I could never see how close I was to the cars next to me. Basically, you've got to get the truck perfectly lined up before you pull in."

In addition, the optional sliding rear window proved to be an annoyance during a spell of near-freezing temperatures. "Since it has no defroster, it took forever to clear on cold evenings," Erin said. "I'd much rather have the standard fixed rear glass."

The other thing our road test editor wouldn't have minded for travel in inclement weather is an automatic 4WD mode as we had on our long-term GMC Sierra. Our XLT model is equipped with a part-time 4WD system -- the kind that locks the center differential and can only be used in snow or off-road situations. So our truck will spend the majority of its life in "2 Hi," which means that power flows only to the rear wheels. "That's fine on dry roads obviously, but it rained constantly while I was in Northern California," Erin wrote, "and whenever I had to enter the busy flow of Highway 17 from one particular mountain road, the tires slipped excessively no matter how gingerly I prodded the accelerator pedal. It would have been nice to have a little extra traction."

Inside the cab, our XLT model's flat but roomy cloth-upholstered seats drew mixed reviews. Scott reported, "I found the seats to be completely comfortable, even during the long drives to Joshua Tree and San Francisco." To Erin, the driver seat was "comfy enough for hour-long commutes, but not very supportive on long trips." And from Karl's notes: "Firm and comfortable overall. I'd like a bit more upper back support." Shorter drivers should note that the XLT's 40/20/40 bench seat does not offer height adjustment.

There was also some disagreement about the levels of wind and road noise present in the cab. Karl found this to be one of the more favorable aspects of the F-150. "There's still a fair amount of wind noise at speed (probably because it's tall and shaped like a brick)," he noted in the logbook, "but road noise is very low and overall it's a very quiet truck."

In contrast, Scott wrote, "There is plenty of road noise coming from the tires. After driving this around, I can certainly appreciate a Lexus even more. There is also a decent amount of wind noise on the freeway thanks to its bricklike aerodynamics. I wish there was more sound-deadening material in the cabin."

The overall design of our XLT struck drivers as plain but functional. "I don't really like the look of the faintly lettered digital trip/odo display in the instrument panel," Erin wrote, "but the no-nonsense analog gauges and the solid operation of the column shifter do right by me."

"The plastic is a little cheap-looking, but the grain pattern is good," Scott offered. "I like the symmetrical outlay of the dash and the controls. It's a very pleasing look."

Most of the interior surfaces seemed average in quality to Erin, and nothing stood out as being unacceptably low-grade. "What impressed me most," she said, "was the solid feel of the interior. All of the panels fit securely, and there were no glaring build quality issues. No rattles, either."

All three editors said they liked the simple-to-use manual climate controls, though Karl wouldn't have minded larger indicator lights for the A/C and recirculate buttons. Erin was also impressed by the cruise controls. "Not only are all the buttons on the wheel, but they all light up at night. I felt like I was in a Volkswagen Passat."

Less user-friendly were the wiper controls. Because of the column shifter, the wiper and turn signal functions are combined on the left-side stalk. "I was continually using the wipers in Northern California," Erin said, "and it was annoying to have to twist my way to the desired wiper speed. I wish Ford's designers could have found room for a compact wiper stalk on the right side of the wheel.

The four-speaker stereo held no surprises for Scott and Erin, both of whom rated it adequate, considering its humble components. Erin complained about the lack of a large double-sided seek button for easy navigation between CD tracks. As it is, the driver must reach over and negotiate a pair of small directional buttons. On the plus side, she found the CD changer easy to load, not to mention lightning quick when moving between CDs.

The F-150's rear seat can easily accommodate adults, so long as they don't mind having their heads close to the glass. A couple of Erin's relatives sat back here during the holidays without complaint, but only those of the youthful and limber variety: It's a big step up into the cab (unless you get the running boards), and an 80-year-old grandmother refused to make the climb.

Alternatively, the rear of the cab can swallow up plenty of cargo. "With the ability to fold up the rear seats, the F-150 can be a capable hauler without using the bed," Scott wrote in his notes. "I was able to carry all my photography equipment in it with ease for an Edmunds.com Editors' Most Wanted Awards shoot. It was a lot of stuff to haul, including two triple-size milk crates, two rolled-up soft boxes, weights and a sandbag."

During the holidays, Erin and her boyfriend, Michael, stuffed the cab full with a week's worth of luggage and video game supplies (including an Xbox and a Game Cube), a few dozen carefully wrapped Christmas presents, several bags of groceries and a boom box. "Getting everything inside was a squeeze," Erin said, "but it's a good thing we did, because it rained for most of the trip to San Jose and the entire way back."

In drier weather, staff members found our crew cab's 5.5-foot bed useful for small hauling jobs. "I had to haul four wheels, complete with tires, in the bed," Karl said. "The area between the tailgate and the bed extender -- when the extender was rotated into the bed -- was ideal. It was just big enough to hold the tires, stacked two-by-two, and kept them from sliding around as I drove."

Erin bought a small cabinet, approximately three feet in height and four feet in width. "Although I could have wedged it into the cargo bay of a smaller SUV or wagon without much of a problem, a full-size pickup bed is so convenient for stuff like this."

Even with only 5,500 miles on our long-termer, we've already logged a pair of visits to Santa Monica Ford. We made the first appointment with just over 600 miles on the odometer after the main cigarette lighter stopped providing juice to cell phone chargers. At that point, we hadn't yet found the dedicated 12-volt outlet cleverly concealed behind a cover that looks like a control dial. We had also noticed that the steering was always slightly cocked to the left when driving straight and wanted to have the alignment checked. Karl offered his detailed experience as follows:

"I dropped the F-150 off at Santa Monica Ford early on a Monday morning. I arrived at just after 8 a.m. and I was the only vehicle in the service lanes when I pulled up, but no one came out to greet me and after waiting several minutes I went into the service area to find a technician. Once I spotted a technician I was greeted with a smile, and he asked, 'Can I help you?'

"I described the broken cigarette lighter and my service advisor immediately put a paper card on the rearview mirror and escorted me inside to write up a work order. It took several minutes to input all the necessary information about the vehicle and myself (phone, address, etc.). I repeated the problem when the technician reached that point in the process and I added a comment about the steering wheel being cocked slightly to the left when driving straight. The technician asked when I would like to pick up the truck and I told him, 'Between 1 and 3.' He said he'd set the pick-up time for 3 p.m. and that he'd call. The total time at the dealer was probably around 15 minutes, at which point I was told I could catch the shuttle back to work. When I learned the shuttle was 10 minutes away I called a co-worker and had them come get me. Of course, once I made this call the shuttle showed up almost immediately (perhaps three minutes after I'd been told it was 10 minutes away).

"It was an extremely busy day at work, and as luck would have it the voice mail system was broken. At around 3 p.m., I had enough time to check e-mail and discover that the technician had called at 10:45 a.m. to 'ask some questions about my truck.' I immediately called the dealership and got the technician's voice mail. I left a message (it was about 3:30). At 4:30 I was heading for another meeting and asked another co-worker to follow up on the truck for me. At 5:15 I got out of the meeting and learned that another message was left with the technician, but still no call back. I called the dealership and got another technician. When I described my vehicle he said, 'Oh, your service writer went home sick today.' I was told the car was ready and I asked them when they closed; the answer was 5:30. Since it was 5:20 I didn't know if I could make it, but the service writer on the other end of the phone said to come over. I was also told they adjusted the truck's toe setting and to not 'use the cigarette lighter to power 12-volt accessories because that's what shorted it out.' I've been using cigarette lighters for just that purpose for almost 20 years in cars that date back to 1966, and I've never heard this restriction on them before.

"We got there just after 5:30 and after a few minutes our truck was brought out; however, we were told the cashier had already left so they would have to mail the receipt. I told them I assumed there was no charge and they reaffirmed that it was all warranty work (the truck had 1,700 miles on it at this point).

"I was unhappy with not getting a phone call and barely getting the truck before the dealership closed, but if your service writer goes home sick I'm not sure what official protocol is. At least the cigarette lighter worked and the steering felt better."

In fact, the steering felt a great deal better. "The toe adjustment not only corrected the steering wheel problem misalignment but also greatly improved straight-line tracking and overall confidence at high speeds," Karl later reported. "I found myself regularly cruising at above 80 mph during my last few days in the truck because it felt so easy going at those speeds. It is a very pleasant vehicle at high speeds (especially with how quiet the cabin is)."

Finally, at the end of our third month with the truck, it was time for its 5,000-mile service, which Erin handled. She didn't think it would amount to much more than an oil change. When she arrived at the dealership for her scheduled appointment, though, she still hadn't found the booklet that lists the mileage intervals and the kind of service required for each one. Much as Karl experienced, no one greeted her when she pulled up in the service drive, and she walked down the row of offices, poking her head into each one. It turned out that her service advisor, Dennis, was out sick, so Mike agreed to help her.

As soon as Mike noted the truck's odometer reading, he immediately pulled out a price sheet for the 5,000-mile service, and as is usually the case, it advertised a pricey package deal (about $60) with a bunch of service items that Erin wasn't sure our F-150 needed. So she told him, "I just want an oil change for now, because I don't want to do anything more than what's in the owner's manual. Can I call you if I decide I want a tire rotation when I get back to the office?" Fortunately, he was nice about it and didn't push the issue.

Once back at the office, Erin consulted the Edmunds.com Maintenance Guide and Ford's Web site and concluded that maybe a tire rotation would be a good idea. So she called Santa Monica Ford and left a voice mail for Mike asking him to add in a tire rotation. Later in the afternoon, Mike called to say that the F-150 was ready, but no, he hadn't gotten her voice mail (their system was down, apparently) and so the tires had not been rotated. Again, he was nice about it, and the F-150 went back into the shop. Once the job was complete, Mike called again to tell Erin that the truck was ready.

Arriving at the dealership, Erin was pleased to find that she had only been charged $40.41 for both the oil change and tire rotation. And upon getting into the truck, she found an inspection sheet that showed that all of the F-150's vital fluids and parts had been checked and were in top condition.

Can the F-150 stand up to the Ram and Titan? More importantly, can this one stand up to 12 months with the Edmunds.com editorial staff? Check back for our next update.

Current Odometer: 5,574
Best Fuel Economy: 14.9 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 10.2 mpg
Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 13.4 mpg
Body Repair Costs: None
Maintenance Costs: $40.41
Problems: Broken cigarette lighter.

April 2004

The F-150 proved a little disappointing in our early driving experiences. The main issue for most of our staff was its V8 engine's lack of vigor compared to competitors' V8s. Well, after spending another three months with the Ford, we are convinced that the F-150 is much better than we had originally thought, as editors left mostly positive comments in the logbook.

Now that we've spent a little time with the truck, it is clear that the F-150 offers excellent on-road manners. It is quiet and the ride is pleasant. Sorry to say, GM's full-size pickups now seem outclassed. The same is true for the engine in the Ford. At first, it seemed weak compared to the competition, but now that we've used the truck for towing and hauling, it's obvious that while the Ford lacks stoplight-to-stoplight pep, it does have plenty of grunt that comes in handy when climbing steep grades and towing a trailer. The truck competed in a recent full-size truck comparison test and surprised us as we towed an old Plymouth muscle car up a fairly steep grade. Of course, it all depends on how you plan to use the truck. Senior Road Test Editor Ed Hellwig summed it up this way:

"My biggest gripe with the truck is the engine. Although it does have solid midrange grunt, if I was going to fork over more than $30K for a truck, I would want something with more power under the hood. The F-150 may have the most towing power at 1,500 rpm as Ford claims, but in daily driving situations that power doesn't count for much. Most buyers would probably find it adequate, but I would prefer either a Hemi Ram or a Titan in this regard."

On the other hand, the F-150 drew praise for its quiet ride. Ed wrote in the logbook, "A very quiet truck overall. On the highway there's very little engine and road noise, making for a nice comfortable cruiser (barring the seats, of course). Buyers who relish the powerful sound of a big V8 won't find much to like here as the 5.4-liter engine sounded muffled at all times." This sentiment was echoed by other editors. Editor in Chief Karl Brauer also felt the ride was comfortable and quiet for the most part: "Ford is supposed to have the 'quiet tuning' material in this truck to quell noise. It seems to be working for the most part. There is still a fair amount of wind noise at speed (probably because it's tall and shaped like a brick), but road noise is very low, and overall, it's a very quiet truck."

Many of our editors like the F-150's interior. The materials and look are a huge improvement over the previous F-150. "As a big fan of clean and simple design layouts, I really like the F-150's interior design," Ed wrote. "The symmetrical center console looks good and the gauges are easily readable. The materials aren't always that impressive, as there are numerous instances of pretty average-looking plastics, but for the most part it's a well-designed look." Even so, Ed found the ergonomics lacking in some cases. "The turn signal stalk is still annoyingly high, requiring you to lift your hand off the wheel every time you change lanes. I'm not too thrilled with the door handle placement either as it's not a natural place to reach when you're getting out of the truck. Besides that, the controls for the radio are a little awkward and there's no tuning knob."

Another aspect of the F-150 we like is the roomy interior. But it's interesting to note that Nissan's new entry to the full-size truck segment already has us making comparisons. "There's plenty of space up front in every direction. The rear seats aren't bad either, but after sitting in the back of the Titan the Ford is noticeably tighter," Ed noted.

Although the interior is roomy, the crew cab body style does suffer from having a pretty short bed. Road Test Editor Brian Moody had this to say: "The bed is deep but too short. I used the F-150 for clearing a bunch of junk out of the backyard of our new house. The house was previously a rental and it was pretty clear that the backyard was used to store junk. This included wood and chain fencing material, bricks, old toys, dead shrubs and an old picnic bench. The truck handled the load just fine, but I had to use the flip-out bed extender to fit everything into the truck. That's fine, except that the bed extender isn't solid like a tailgate and I was constantly worried that a huge wooden plank filled with rusty nails would slide out as I left each stoplight on the way to the city dump. Oh, wait, turns out the dump is now called a 'recycling center.' Either way, a longer bed would have been appreciated."

But even though Brian complained about the bed size, he did add this comment: "As an all-around vehicle, the F-150 is great. It can haul stuff and serve as the family car at the same time."

The bed on our F-150 SuperCrew may be too short for some duties, but one editor found the truck's overall size to be prohibitively large. Consumer Advice Editor Phil Reed said the truck was "just too big." He added that he feels the truck (and others like it) "poses a danger to all drivers on the road. It has serious visibility issues and you could easily back over something (or someone) unless you are careful. The fuel mileage is poor, too, thanks to our eternal quest for power. I wouldn't begrudge anyone using this for actual work, for which I think it would be quite good. However, I don't like to encourage people to drive this type of vehicle because they want a rugged image -- it clogs the roads and parking lots and poses a safety hazard."

However, Phil was thankful for the truck's size after the F-150 was involved in a collision on the freeway. "I have to thank the truck for being so rugged in my recent accident," he wrote. "I was T-boned by a Mazda Miata that was going fast enough to spin me around. But I didn't even hit my head on the side window because there was so much room in the cab. And the truck sustained little damage thanks to the fact the Miata hit the truck in a reinforced section near the bed."

We still have plenty of time left with our F-150 and so far it has been a mostly positive experience (accidents aside). Although we're not ready to call the engine or the cab design best in class, the pickup has done all we've asked of it without complaint. Our opinion of the truck has grown slightly more favorable in the last couple months, and we'll see if that trend continues in future installments.

Current Odometer: 8,670
Best Fuel Economy: 15.8 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 10.2 mpg
Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 13.4 mpg
Body Repair Costs: $4,844
Maintenance Costs: None
Problems: None

July 2004

We're now six months into our F-150 ownership experience, and editors' opinions on the truck are mixed. Likes include its surefooted handling, quiet ride and simple control layout. Dislikes include the so-so performance from its 5.4-liter V8, mediocre interior design and materials, poor visibility and lack of side airbags. Although most editors have enjoyed the time they've spent in the F-150, when you consider it alongside its competitors -- particularly the Nissan Titan that's also in our long-term fleet -- it's obvious that Ford no longer builds the best full-size pickup. Don't believe us? Well, check out our recent 2004 Full-Size Truck Comparison Test, a test in which the Titan finished first while the Ford came in a distant third.

Three more editors logged time in our silver crew cab during the first half of this summer. One of them, Road Test Editor Dan Kahn, had never driven a 2004 F-150 before. Dan had spent considerable time in the Titan, though, and a subsequent road trip in our F-150 gave him a fresh take on the full-size truck segment. He detailed his experience in the logbook:

"Ever since I was a little kid, my family has spent July 4th weekend in Lake Havasu City, Ariz. Home of the London Bridge, intense heat and fantastic boating, the small desert town resides near Ford's Southwest Proving Grounds, making it fertile Blue Oval Country. Just about everyone in town drives a truck, and most of them drive Fords. Interestingly, I had just made the 640-mile round trip a few weeks earlier in our long-term Nissan Titan, and was eager to repeat the journey in our F-150 in order to compare the two under virtually identical circumstances. As a point of clarification, I recently wrote a follow-up test on a 4x2 Titan, and basically stated that the Japanese had beaten the Americans at their own game. The Titan is a great truck, and I had essentially relegated the Ford to second-tier status in the back of my mind. It's interesting how a few hundred miles of desert highway can change a person's perspective.

"On the open road, the F-150 acts more like a large sedan than a pickup truck. I was shocked at how quiet the cabin was, with nary a wind whistle or tire howl to be heard. The HVAC system works very well, even in 110-degree heat, and the seats were supportive and comfortable during the five-hour drive. I was a little disappointed by the relatively plain look of the cabin, with large expanses of dull gray plastic covering just about everything. Likewise, I think the upholstery Ford uses in the non-Lariat pickups feels a little downmarket. The truck's road manners, however, are impeccable. While the Titan wanted to wander a little as it rolled down the road at high speeds, the F-150 felt solid and secure. I was also surprised at how effortlessly the big 4x4 cruises at these speeds. More than once I looked down and was shocked to find that I was driving well in excess of the 75-mph speed limit. The rack-and-pinion steering is also very nice, as the truck feels agile and responsive at any speed. While the 5.4 does feel a little sluggish compared to the Titan's 5.6 V8, it is much smoother and quieter."

The other editors who drove the truck shared Dan's sentiments about the F-150's quiet cruising demeanor -- an attribute that makes it well-suited for weekday commuter duty. And they, too, liked our pickup's steering. "It's precise with no slop on center," Road Test Editor John DiPietro wrote. "I tend to prefer a little more heft in the wheel, but no objections." Another of our road testers, Erin Riches, was even more complimentary: "For a full-size truck, the F-150 has excellent steering -- the weighting is just about perfect and, compared to the Nissan Titan, the Ford is easier to park and easier to manage on the freeway."

However, the three did not reach a consensus on our long-termer's drivetrain performance or its overall handling dynamics. "The F-150's 5.4-liter V8 is adequate but disappointing considering its 300-hp output," John penned in his notes. "It must have something to do with this truck's serious weight gain during the redesign. If the truck weighed 600 or so pounds less, I'm sure it would feel more powerful. It's all about the weight-to-power ratio."

Erin had this to say: "Whenever I drive the F-150 for a couple weeks' stretch, I find myself using words like 'adequate' to describe the performance of the 5.4-liter engine. And for the city slicker pickup driver like myself who simply wants to use a truck for commuting and weekend projects that don't involve a trailer, the 5.4 is perfectly adequate. Torque off the line is fine, naturally, and there's enough juice for passing in Southern California freeway traffic. There's none of the excitement that you get with competing V8s, but there's none of the engine droning at cruising speeds, either.

"Yet after spending a month roaring down the highway in the Titan, the F-150 seemed downright lethargic when accelerating on uphill grades. Curb weight is obviously a problem, but so is the four-speed automatic transmission, which makes it hard to stay in the meat of the power band (the Titan has a five-speed auto). If I were a full-size pickup buyer, there's no way I could test-drive these two back to back and come away an F-150 owner.

"The thing is," she continued, "I could live with less power if the F-150 offered a payoff in gas mileage over the Titan and Ram. But in fact, our long-term Titan is maintaining a higher miles-per-gallon average than our F-150 -- 13.8 mpg over its lifetime compared with the Ford's 13.2."

Although disappointed by our long-termer's power-to-fuel-economy ratio, Erin was quite enthusiastic about its handling. "The F-150 weighs more than the Titan," she wrote, "but it certainly doesn't feel that way around corners -- where the Ford comes across as smaller and more agile. Ride quality is better as well, as the F-150 doesn't jar its occupants as much over rain-grooved freeway pavement (though in fairness, our long-term Titan has a pretty hard-core off-road package)."

But it makes a difference where you live. An urban resident, John found the Ford a sure and steady companion on the freeway, but reported that the truck's very size made it ill-suited for most other situations he faced. "The Ford is not exactly the most nimble vehicle to have when dealing with L.A.'s overcrowded streets," he observed. "I was constantly worrying over blind spots while dealing with city traffic and when attempting to parallel park this beast. Whether trying to fit between two parked cars on the side of the street when in town or not being able to park in my apartment's underground garage (due to the truck's ridiculous height), it was just a big hassle. Can someone tell me why full-size pickup trucks are the three top-selling vehicles in this senseless country?"

A reverse-sensing system is optional on the F-150, and John feels it should be standard equipment. "I think people would gladly pay another $245 (the price of that option) if they actually parked two of these trucks back to back, one with park assist and one without. It would probably cut down on insurance claims, too. Note to Ford: do everyone a favor and make it standard."

Inside the cab, Erin had to agree with Dan about the drab look of her surroundings. "Materials quality is about average, though the seat upholstery, in particular, seems below par. It's amazing how much more upscale our Titan SE feels on the inside, even though its interior materials are nothing to write home about, either. The difference in ambience seems to come down to the fact that in their efforts to give the Titan a good start in this segment, Nissan's designers used more contrasting tones while incorporating thoughtful features like a cloth-padded center armrest and steering-wheel audio controls. Ford's design team should take a good, hard look at this package."

Erin also feels that Ford took some shortcuts when designing the F-150's controls and instrumentation. "The analog gauges are very easy to read, and most of the major controls fall readily to hand -- especially at night when just about every button and dial is illuminated. But the digital displays look like they were sourced from a 1980s alarm clock, and the trip meter in particular is hard to read day or night. And the tiny seek buttons on the stereo's head unit aren't well-suited to the age of compact discs."

Editors disagreed on the issue of seat comfort. While Dan remained comfortable in the driver seat for hours at a time, John was disappointed with the accommodations. "It's too flat, both on the seat bottom and backrest," he noted. "It's like sitting on a padded church pew." Erin's opinions fell somewhere in the middle: "I've found the seats are too flat to be supportive on long-distance drives, but for an hour or two of commuting, they are just fine. I like our truck's bench seat setup, as there's plenty of room in all directions, not to mention extra space on the floor for a CD case and my purse."

In our last installment, the F-150 was called up for towing duty in our comparison test. Since then, Erin has used it to haul several large pieces of furniture, including a six-foot-tall cabinet and a seven-foot-long sofa. "In either case, the item was too long to fit in our long-termer's 5.5-foot bed," Erin wrote in her notes. "But with the bed extender deployed, the guys at the furniture store were able to tie them up securely so that they didn't budge an inch on my 33-mile drive home at speeds in excess of 70 mph."

She added, "The sofa was gigantic by any reasonable standard -- 41 inches wide at its narrowest point -- and I was impressed that a short-bed crew cab could carry such a large item. In fact, when I got home, I made the unpleasant discovery that just because the sofa fit in our F-150 did not mean it would fit through the front door of my apartment."

Although the first half of our long-term testing experience has not been without a few disappointments, we have been happy with the initial quality of our vehicle. Fit and finish is solid on our XLT model, and the truck has not developed any rattles or squeaks in its first 13,000 miles. And aside from an alignment job and a cigarette lighter repair we had done at 600 miles, our truck has maintained a clean bill of health.

It was again time for service at 10,000 miles, so we made a morning appointment at Santa Monica Ford. By lunchtime, the service staff had completed an oil change, tire rotation and the usual battery of inspections, and had us on our way once again. The total bill was $44.65, a reasonable amount for this upscale area of the country.

So after another three months behind the wheel, is this a truck any of our editors would buy for themselves? Maybe.

"While the F-150 doesn't have any single feature that makes it stand out above the rest, it performs its given tasks confidently," Dan wrote. "Sort of like that one favorite pair of worn-in jeans that you like so much, the truck is rugged enough to haul loads of lumber home from the local Home Depot, but comfortable and classy enough to take out for a night on the town. Now I'm finally beginning to see why this is the best-selling vehicle in the U.S."

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy driving the F-150 on a daily basis," Erin said. "It's quiet, it rides smoothly, it handles well, its seats are comfortable for short durations and, when I need it to, it can accommodate a pair of adults in the backseat or a large couch in its bed. But if I was actually ready to buy a full-size pickup, I wouldn't be able to ignore the F-150's deficits in power, features and interior design compared to the Titan. I can see why the Ford would appeal to domestic die-hards or those looking for an especially quiet truck, but since I fit neither description, I'd go with the Nissan."

Current Odometer: 13,001
Best Fuel Economy: 14.3 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 12.1 mpg
Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 13.2 mpg
Body Repair Costs: None
Maintenance Costs: $44.65
Problems: None

October 2004

When the Nissan Titan first joined the F-150 in our long-term fleet, it was a bit like being a coffee shop owner and having Starbucks move in next door. We felt somewhat intimidated by what we saw as an inevitable erosion of good old-fashioned American metal. Nissan's entry was so strong, it seemed that this, too, would overshadow our homegrown Ford pickup.

Early reactions to the Titan only increased the anxiety of those Edmunds editors with a predisposition toward the Ford. Yes, the Titan had edgier styling and more low-end torque and a better-looking interior. But once the novelty of the Titan began to wear off, some editorial sentiment began to shift back in the Ford's favor. The reasons given for favoring the Ford over the Titan were often long-winded and abstract. It had a better driving feel. It gobbled up the freeway with more confidence than the Japanese competitor. It was more honest and down to earth than the Titan.

Finally, this kicker came from Consumer Advice Editor Mike Hudson: "A cowboy would never pick the Nissan over the Ford." Yes, and who is more honest than an American cowboy? And who would you trust to evaluate a big pickup? Point well taken.

Prospective pickup truck buyers might want more specific reasons though, than just the imagined reactions of a cowboy. Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor, spent quite a bit of time behind the wheel of the F-150, and he spent a lot of time thinking about his reactions to the truck. First of all, he feels it is big and awkward for city driving. Parking is difficult and visibility for lane changes is poor (the mirrors are generously sized, though, somewhat alleviating the problem). However, as the month wore on, his loyalty to the Ford grew, especially after spending a night driving the Titan.

"The Ford seems timeless and American," he said. "If it is awkward, it is because it is oversized and under-refined, kind of like a Texan sightseeing in Tokyo."

Phil was also put off by the Titan's confusing assortment of dials and gauges. He longed for the ease of a quick glance at the Ford's gas meter. And the shift lever in the Ford didn't block the radio like the one in the Titan. Yes, there was a plainness about the Ford's interior, but what it lacked in style, it made up for in grit. And its looks grew on you rather than backsliding, like the Titan's.

Perhaps Phil's emotions for the Ford were influenced by the fact that it helped him achieve a milestone in his family's history -- he took his oldest son, Andrew, to college in the F-150. The bed of the large pickup held all the essentials for college (except for a beer keg). With the pickup bed completely filled, Phil's family of four climbed into the crew cab for a comfortable 125-mile journey north to Santa Barbara. On the road, they passed many families pulling trailers loaded with college gear. Not so with the Ford. The F-150 will always be linked to the pivotal moment in a sepia-tone snapshot in Phil's memory. It wouldn't have been the same quintessentially American experience in the Titan.

At 15,000 miles, we took the truck to Ford of Santa Monica and had the technicians perform the service called for in the service manual. This amounted to an oil and filter replacement, tire rotation and an inspection of the brake system. The total came to $160.56.

This month also saw the latest of many repairs to the Ford's sheet metal. A scrape on the right side was hammered out and repainted, thus restoring the pickup to perfect condition.

Our F-150 was put up for sale in early October for the Edmunds.com TMV price of $25,500. We had few expectations of any immediate offers. However, within days, a caller from Arizona said he would pay full price and drive out to Santa Monica to get the truck that weekend. We had to hold him off, explaining that we might have to keep the truck to carry the video gear of our growing broadband staff. He was disappointed but made us promise to call him if we wanted to sell it. Thinking about it, we wondered why he wanted the truck so badly. Then the probable answer came to us, and we were tempted to ask him, "Are you a cowboy?"

Current Odometer: 16,519
Best Fuel Economy: 15.5 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 11.3 mpg
Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 13.3 mpg
Body Repair Costs: $350
Maintenance Costs: $160.56
Problems: None

Wrap-Up

Why We Bought It
How It Drove
Inside the Cabin
Summing Up
Changes to the F-150 Since 2004
Ups and Downs
Recalls and Problem History
Dealer Service Reviews
What Consumers Say

Why We Bought It

The Ford F-150 holds the title of best-selling vehicle (not just truck) in America for nearly all of the past quarter century. We imagine updating such a popular commodity must surely be a nail biter. Still, Ford had to do just that to keep the F-Series attractive against increasingly strong competition, not just from domestic brands but from the Japanese as well. With an opening in our long-term fleet for a pickup truck, the new-for-2004 F-150 was a natural selection. Ford claimed a number of significant improvements for its new cash cow, namely increased safety, more power (and hence greater towing capacity), enhanced ride and handling dynamics and a nicer cabin. A year with our editorial staff would put these claims to the test.

Senior Consumer Advice Editor Phil Reed, our expert car buyer, was once again tapped to add a unit to our fleet. We decided to go with an F-150 SuperCrew (a Crew Cab in Ford's lingo) 4x4 in the popular midlevel XLT trim. We added a few options, the biggies being the 5.4-liter, 300-horsepower V8 (a 4.6-liter V8 with 231 ponies is standard); power-adjustable pedals; and an in-dash six-disc CD changer. Our truck stickered at $35,295 and Phil struck a deal for $31,160, just $200 over invoice. We took delivery of our silver F-150 XLT SuperCrew 4x4 in October 2003.

Five months later, we added the new Nissan Titan to our fleet, the very truck that was set to dethrone the Ford F-150 as king of the full-size pickups. Having the Titan around made for some interesting comparisons between the two, as our staff used these trucks to commute, take long trips and, would you believe, haul various bulky items.

How It Drove

With 300 hp on tap, we expected brisk performance from our Ford F-150. Well, that is, until we realized how pudgy our SuperCrew 4x4 (the heaviest version of the truck) was. The fact that the SuperCrew gained 500 pounds this year (SuperCabs gained an astounding 800 pounds) didn't help, though the newest F-150 fares much better in crash testing than the previous version. While the F-150's performance was certainly adequate (a word used many times to describe the pickup's "pick-up"), our hard-charging long-term Titan continually underscored the fact that Ford is behind the competition in this area.

Of course, most people don't buy pickup trucks to dust off Z28s and Mustang GTs, but as we pointed out in our 2004 Full-Size Pickup Comparison Test, the F-150's so-so acceleration has other implications: "With an unloaded 0-to-60-mph time of 9.5 seconds, the F-150 was tied with the Toyota Tundra and almost two full seconds slower than the Titan. Disappointed Ford fans might point out that these are trucks, not sports cars, but we're guessing that F-150 drivers face the prospect of accelerating to highway speeds from a stop more often than they go around pulling 9,500-pound (the Ford's best-in-class maximum) trailers. When the Ford was saddled with a trailer and three passengers, it took 20.2 seconds to hit 60, nearly 3.5 seconds slower than the Titan (16.8)."

A quote from Senior Road Test Editor Ed Hellwig sums up our disappointment with the Ford F-150's legs: "I'm still unimpressed by this engine. Although it does have strong midrange punch, it lags everywhere else. In one instance I actually checked to make sure the parking brake wasn't on, it was so slow getting up to speed. On the highway it's quiet, refined and adequately powered, but if you need to make a quick pass, it's not up to the task."

OK, so our F-150 wasn't a rocket sled (maybe we should have gotten the '04 Lightning), but over the long haul, its other attributes nearly compensated for its lack of head-snapping acceleration.

As noted in a past update, Road Test Editor Dan Kahn had the opportunity to log some serious miles on a weekend trip to his family's favorite leisure spot, Lake Havasu City, Ariz. A 640-mile trip has a way of galvanizing one's feelings toward a vehicle, and Dan was mostly complimentary toward the F-150: "On the open road, the F-150 acts more like a large sedan than a pickup truck. I was shocked at how quiet the cabin was, with nary a wind whistle or tire howl to be heard. The HVAC system works very well, even in 110-degree heat, and the seats were supportive and comfortable during the five-hour drive." Other editors, including veteran road tester John DiPietro, echoed Dan's sentiments when it came time to spin up some miles on a trip: "I have to admit, although the seats aren't exactly plush, the F-150 proved to be a nice ride during a short road trip up the coast. It cruises effortlessly at higher speeds, swallows up bumps, tracks straight as an arrow and is quiet enough to allow you to simultaneously enjoy the stereo and converse with your passenger."

Although our truck was a 4x4 model, it wasn't a full-time system, meaning one would only select 4WD for driving in especially slippery conditions (such as on snow and ice). So our F-150 spent virtually all of its time in 2WD, but we noted that during or just after a rain, in spite of its aggressive tires, it showed a tendency to spin 'em when pulling away from a stop, especially if one was making a turn. And it wasn't because we were stomping on the gas, either. Senior Content Editor Erin Riches elaborated: "The '2 Hi' mode works fine on dry roads obviously, but it rained constantly while I was in Northern California, and on several occasions I had to make a turn from a stop, the tires spun excessively no matter how gingerly I prodded the accelerator pedal."

How much you might like or dislike the Ford F-150 (or any other full-size pickup, for that matter) can depend on where you live. An urban resident, John found that the truck's very size made it ill-suited for most situations he faced. "The F-150 is not exactly the most nimble vehicle to have when dealing with L.A.'s overcrowded streets," he observed. "I was constantly worrying about blind spots while dealing with city traffic and when attempting to parallel park this beast. Whether trying to fit between two parked cars on the side of the street when in town or not being able to park in my apartment's underground garage (due to the truck's ridiculous height), it was just a big hassle. Can someone tell me why full-size pickup trucks make up the three top-selling vehicles in this senseless country?"

A reverse-sensing system (also known as park assist) is optional on the F-150, and John feels it should be standard equipment. "I think people would gladly pay another $245 (the price of that option) if they actually attempted to park two of these trucks, one with park assist and one without. It would probably cut down on insurance claims, too." Note to Ford: do everyone a favor and make it standard.

Inside the Cabin

For the F-150, Ford made an effort to improve the interior design and gave each trim level a unique look; the top-of-the-line Lariat's cabin looks as if it belongs in a Lincoln Town Car. Our XLT, although not as impressive as its upscale brother, was certainly better than the previous generation. As John stated in the logbook: "Whereas before the dash was made up of layer upon layer of bulbous plastic, the new F-150 has a more symmetrical, cohesive look with a two-tone treatment to spice things up."

Although we found the gauges easy to read and most controls easy to use, there were still a few minor gripes regarding ergonomics. As Ed Hellwig noted, "The turn signal stalk is still annoyingly high, requiring you to lift your hand off the wheel every time you change lanes. I'm not too thrilled with the door handle placement either as it's not a natural place to reach when you're getting out of the truck. Besides that, the controls for the radio are a little awkward and there's no tuning knob."

As far as fit and finish, it was also better than before. Most of the interior surfaces seemed average in quality to Erin, and nothing stood out as being unacceptably low-grade. "What impressed me most," she said, "was the solid feel of the interior. All of the panels fit securely, and there were no glaring build quality issues. No rattles, either."

Editors disagreed on the issue of seat comfort. While Dan remained comfortable in the driver seat for hours at a time during his trek to Lake Havasu, John was disappointed with the accommodations. "It's too flat, both on the seat bottom and backrest," he noted. "It's like sitting on a padded church pew." Erin's opinions fell somewhere in the middle: "I've found the seats are too flat to be supportive on long-distance drives, but for an hour or two of driving, they are just fine. I like our truck's bench seat setup, as there's plenty of room in all directions, not to mention extra space on the floor for a CD case and my purse."

Summing Up

After spending a year and over 17,000 miles in the crucible known as the Edmunds long-term fleet, our F-150 proved to be a solid truck. Apart from correcting a pair of minor problems early on (front-end alignment and broken cigarette lighter), our trusty silver steed never let us down.

With Ford making several key improvements to the F-150 for 2004, it would seem that the newest version of America's favorite pickup would have no trouble remaining the king of the sales charts. Maybe it will retain its crown, but with the new Nissan Titan being so well developed and coming on so strong in its debut year, we get the feeling that it's not going to be easy.

True Market ValueFlt;/sup> at service end: $ N/A Yet
What it sold for: $ N/A Yet
Depreciation: $ N/A Yet or N/A Yet % of original paid price
Final Odometer Reading: 17,374
Best Fuel Economy: 17.7 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 9.9 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 13.3 mpg
Total Body Repair Costs: $5,194
Total Routine Maintenance Costs (over 12 months): $245.62
Additional Maintenance Costs: None
Warranty Repairs: 2
Non-Warranty Repairs: None
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 3
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: 1
Days Out of Service: 1
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: None

Changes to the F-150 Since 2004

2005 -- New packages debut that include a Work Truck Group (with argent bumpers and a vinyl bench seat) and a King Ranch Group that comes with exclusive interior and exterior trim. A 4.2-liter V6 has been added as the base engine, along with a five-speed manual transmission.

Ups and Downs

Ups: Sublime highway cruiser, clean interior design, confident handling, solid build quality, sizable rear seat.

Downs: Sluggish performance, limited storage space, side airbags not available.

The Bottom Line: If you place a higher priority on a refined, quiet ride than you do on rip-roaring performance, then the darling of Ford Motor Company could be your sweetheart, too.

Recalls and Problem History

Recalls: 1

Fuel Tank: Certain trucks may have a defect in the fuel tank, specifically a depression located at the seam between the top and bottom halves of the tank. If left uncorrected, a fuel leak could eventually develop.

Problem History:
1. Cigarette lighter stopped working. It was fixed at no charge.

2. Front-end alignment seemed off (steering wheel had to be held slightly cocked to the left to drive straight). It was fixed at no charge.

Dealer Service Reviews

Santa Monica Ford in Santa Monica, Calif.

January 2004
At the end of our third month with the truck, it was time for its 5,000-mile service, which Senior Content Editor Erin Riches handled. As soon as the service advisor noted the truck's odometer reading, he immediately pulled out a price sheet for the 5,000-mile service, and as is usually the case, it advertised a package deal (about $60) with a bunch of service items that Erin wasn't sure our F-150 needed. So she told him, "I just want an oil change for now, because I don't want to do anything more than what is indicated in the owner's manual. Can I call you if I decide I want a tire rotation when I get back to the office?" Fortunately, he was nice about it and didn't push the issue.

Once back at the office, Erin consulted the Edmunds.com Maintenance Guide and Ford's Web site and concluded that maybe a tire rotation would be a good idea. So she called Santa Monica Ford and left a voice mail asking the service advisor to add in a tire rotation. Later in the afternoon, the service advisor called to say that the F-150 was ready, but no, he hadn't gotten her voice mail (their system was down, apparently) and so the tires had not been rotated. Again, he was nice about it, and the F-150 went back into the shop. Once the job was complete, Mike called again to tell Erin that the truck was ready.

Arriving at the dealership, Erin was pleased to find that she had only been charged $40.41 for both the oil change and tire rotation. And upon getting into the truck, she found an inspection sheet that showed that all of the F-150's vital fluids and parts had been checked and were in top condition.

June 2004
It was again time for service at 10,000 miles, so we made a morning appointment at Santa Monica Ford. By lunchtime, the service staff had completed an oil change, tire rotation and the usual battery of inspections, and had us on our way once again. The total bill was $44.65, a reasonable amount for this upscale area of the country.

September 2004
At 15,000 miles, we took the truck to Ford of Santa Monica and had the technicians perform the maintenance called for in the service manual. This amounted to oil and filter replacement, air filter replacement, tire rotation and an inspection and cleaning of the brake system. The total came to $160.56.

What Consumers Say

"Nice in many ways, comfort, style and performance. Very good build quality and paint is smooth. I have the 5.4-liter and am getting 16-17 miles on the highway. I love the interior and exterior style. Quiet for a pickup. I have 12,000 miles on it and it is still tight and no squeaks. It's too heavy!! Slow even with the 5.4, its weight is a hamburger shy of 3 tons!!!! I have had much trouble with warping of the front rotors. A constant shimmy at higher speeds and when braking. All of this I suspect is because the rotors are bad. I have had them turned twice." -- heavy, Oct. 14, 2004

"I recently picked up my new F-150. It's a superb truck that rides like my 2002 Explorer. Drive it easy and you can get about the same gas mileage, too. It packs a punch and the comfort of the interior is undeniably the best around. Seats are perfect and the fit is perfect. Great truck andthe back end of the new F-150 is actually higher than a 2000 F-350 Dually 4x4." -- JohnnyFordBoy, Oct. 10, 2004

"I just bought a new F-150 SuperCrew XLT after driving all of the competitors' vehicles. What an improvement from the old style! Not that there was much I didn't like about the old F-150, but the new body and interior are what really sold me. I have to agree with most people and say the engine, though it's an improvement, still seems to need a little more power. Having owned both Ford and GM trucks in the past (my last truck was a Chevy 3/4-ton) I would like to say this is the nicest truck I have owned yet." -- nhmaddog2002, March 23, 2004

"This is a very refined pickup truck. I was surprised at the initial assembly quality and materials used for the interior. The sound system is very good and the powertrain is very smooth and quiet. Very good ride. Good power, but weight uses up the ponies. No wind noise. Handles well on the turns. Flawless paint and trim. Gas consumption is 15-17 mph on the freeways and the interior is quiet at 80 mph. My dislikes are that it's very tall; the cargo box is made for NBA players loading it. Longer seat cushions would be nice. I have a shimmy at 65-80 mph and alignment and balance were checked. It is an annoyance! -- dbruneau, Oct. 12, 2003

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