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Published: 04/02/2001 - by Neil Dunlop, Contributor
For 23 years, the Ford F-150 has been America's best-selling full-size pickup. And it has been the country's best-selling vehicle for 18 years. No wonder -- it's well-built, reliable and it rides a fine balance between serious jobsite performer and comfortable cruiser.
So, if you want a legendary work truck that offers durability and hard-fisted attitude, the F-150 can deliver. But if you want all that and don't want to feel like you're riding in a tractor, the F-150 is also good looking, supple riding, easy driving, loaded with amenities and comfortable -- like a car.
That is not to say the competition can't claim similar attributes. Chevrolet Silverado, Dodge Ram, GMC Sierra and Toyota Tundra can all legitimately boast that they are comfortable and tough. However, Ford does it better. The F-150's road manners are not so truck-like as the broad-shouldered and menacing Ram and the Ford's interior design, fit and finish is better than the Chevy and GMC products. The F-150 has increased its lead further by producing the only full-size, four-door half-ton pickup on the market for 2001, which means if you want a pickup, but you really need the versatility of a minivan or SUV and you like the way a car drives, the F-150 SuperCrew offers all three in one.
So, now you can have your truck and a car, too.
Contradicting common belief that the F-150 SuperCrew was created for contractors and other laborers, a Ford executive told us it was built with families in mind. The SuperCrew's cavernous interior is essentially the same as the one used in the Expedition sport utility vehicle and his point is underscored by our test truck's family-oriented equipment, such as the child safety-seat anchors, multiple cupholders, standard power adjustable pedals and the optional rear seat audio/video package. The latter, with video game compatibility, is probably not meant to entertain the drywall crew while commuting to a job site, but more likely to keep the kids occupied while you travel to Disneyland. And the adjustable pedals allow family members of various heights to drive the SuperCrew comfortably.
In addition to the goodies above, our top-of-the-line Lariat tester offered air conditioning, cruise control, remote power door locks, power windows, an external temperature indicator with compass, leather upholstery and heated, six-way power-adjustable captain's chairs in front, a power moonroof, a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel and a six-disc CD changer. It's like a rolling rec-room.
We found all the dashboard gauges and instruments easy to understand, and the switchgear could be operated while we were wearing gloves. We loved the huge greenhouse, which offered a commanding view of the road and our surroundings. In this regard, the SuperCrew's four full-sized, normally-opening doors have a huge advantage over the setup in the Ford F-150 SuperCab and other pickups with small rear doors that swing out backwards. Not only does that configuration create a large, vision-blocking B-pillar, but it also makes ingress and egress more difficult.
Not so in our SuperCrew. Three adults easily slipped into the back seat and were treated to copious amounts of head-, leg- and hiproom. All they wanted for was a tape of Super Bowl X.
We do, however, have a complaint about the SuperCrew's interior. The rear seat backs do not provide enough recline, so rear passengers have to assume and sustain a rather upright seating position, which would grow uncomfortable on a long haul.
We did enjoy the ride height and size of our four-wheel-drive tester, which seemed higher and bigger than the elephantine Expedition. This same size, however, was a bit of a burden. Parallel parking required multi-point turns and aggravating adjustments and one of our editors found the truck too tall to fit in his garage (but he had no trouble with a GMC Sierra).
The optional 260-horsepower 5.4-liter V8 engine does an adequate job of moving the 4,994-pound beast. In our instrumented tests, the SuperCrew moved from zero to 60 mph in 8.6 seconds, which may be slow for a sport sedan, but is sprightly for a near 5,000-lb. truck. And with its 7,700-lb. towing capacity and 350 ft.-lbs. of torque at 2,500 rpm, the SuperCrew possesses the oomph and low-end power to tow most recreational loads (such as campers, boats, horse and car trailers) with ease. Still, although the 5.4L V8 upgrade is an improvement over the standard 220-horse 4.6L V8, there's something unrefined about the SuperCrew's engine -- it seems to labor when pushed too hard. We'd like to see the SuperCrew endowed with a powertrain like the GMC Sierra's 285-horsepower 5.3-liter Vortec V8, which seems smoother, quieter and more responsive.
We found nothing to complain about with regards to the SuperCrew's ride. Because of its considerable weight and the fact that it has a 20-inch-longer wheelbase than a regular F-150 and 17-inch wheels with 265/70R17 all-terrain tires, the SuperCrew provides excellent insulation from harsh road surfaces, much like a sedan or luxury SUV.
What separates the SuperCrew from both those vehicles, though, is its 5-foot, 5-inch cargo bed, which is 7 inches shorter than the standard 6 feet. For those who want a pickup for messy loads (or just for looks), that means less room back there to carry supplies from Plumber's Mart or Big Al's Plant Emporium. The optional bed extender helps a little, but it's a cage and not good for unstable loads like soil, gravel or loose household items. Don't think that'll get you out of helping your cousin's sister's housekeeper's friend Dolores move, though. The rear seats fold flat to offer a large interior cargo space and her loveseat and buffet will easily fit in the bed. Then, when that's finished, you can take your kid's hockey team to the rink and come home just in time to clean up and go downtown for a night on the town. Tomorrow morning you can go four-wheeling to your favorite fishing spot, but don't forget you have to pick up your mother-in-law at 6 for dinner.
Sound exhausting? Don't blame us. We warned you the SuperCrew was attractive, comfortable, roomy and functional. That's why we recommend it.
Ford has been making pickups for 76 years. It debuted the F-Series 52 years ago. The experience shows. F-Series trucks are durable, attractive, well-equipped, easy to drive, comfortable and reliable. The F-150 SuperCrew adds another dimension -- versatility. As the market's first full-size, four-door pickup, it has the utility of a pickup, the room of a sport ute, the family-friendliness of a minivan and the road manners of a car.
Our top-of-the-line Lariat tester offered air conditioning, cruise control, remote power door locks, power windows, an external temperature indicator with compass, leather upholstery and heated, six-way power-adjustable captain's chairs in front, a power moonroof, a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel, child safety-seat anchors, multiple cupholders, standard power adjustable pedals, an optional rear seat audio/visual package and a six-disc CD changer.
We found all the dashboard gauges and instruments easy to understand and the switchgear could be operated while we were wearing gloves. We loved the huge greenhouse, which offered a commanding view of the road and our surroundings. Three adults easily slipped into the back seat and were treated to copious amounts of head-, leg- and hiproom.
Our only complaint about the SuperCrew interior is that the backseats do not recline enough, so rear passengers have to assume and sustain a rather upright seating position, which would grow uncomfortable on a long haul.
The optional 260-horsepower 5.4-liter V8 engine does an adequate job of moving the 4,994-pound beast, but it labors when pushed too hard.
Because of its considerable weight and the fact that it has a 20-inch-longer wheelbase than a regular F-150, the SuperCrew provides excellent insulation from harsh road surfaces.
For those who want a pickup bed for messy loads (or just for looks), there's just 5 feet, 5 inches back there. The optional bed extender helps a little, but it's a cage and not good for unstable loads.
If you want a legendary work truck that offers durability, good looks, a supple ride, loads of amenities, utility, versatility and comfort, we recommend you look at the F-150 SuperCrew.
System Score: 4.5
Components. This mediocre system in our XLT test truck strikes me as below Ford's typically high standards. It begins with a pair of 5-by-7 full-range speakers in the rear doors, plus an identical pair in the front doors. There are no tweeters or subwoofers in this system. Electronics include a nicely-featured radio offering 12 AM and six FM presets and a single-play CD (but no cassette), and a generous power amplifier hidden somewhere in the system. It appears that Ford has begun to standardize its head units, as this one resembles several systems we've seen lately as well as our long-term Lincoln LS'. This isn't a bad thing, since its basic radio design boasts widely-spaced buttons and logical controls.
Performance. Ugh, this one needs to go back to the melody factory. It just doesn't sound very good. Because it's missing separate tweeters, the whole upper register lacks detail and definition. Very muted and mundane. Midrange isn't much better, with muddy, diffuse reproduction in the middle frequencies. The system, as a whole, sounds boxy and flat. Bass response is the only thing that impresses, and this is because of the power amp, not the speakers. Repeat: The speakers are very weak and need a major overhaul. If you buy this vehicle, considering dropping in some aftermarket replacements.
Best Feature: User-friendly head unit.
Worst Feature: The speakers.
Conclusion. Ford normally provides killer audio systems in its trucks and SUVs. Don't know what happened to this one, but it's really lacking.
Editor-in-Chief Christian Wardlaw says:
By spending plenty of seat time behind the wheels of full-size pickups, the differences between a Chevy, Dodge, Ford and GMC are dramatically obvious. The Dodge Ram is pleasantly utilitarian, with big controls, chunky design and tall, comfortable seats. The Chevy and GMC are filled with cheap looking, flimsy plastic, possess imposing cowls and high, but ergonomically correct dashboards, and contain seats that make it hard to get comfortable. Ford splits the difference, supplying comfort and utility with a flair for design and solid materials. Small controls and buttons are this cabin's major downfall.
At 10,000 miles, our test truck is still tight and solid, with no rattles or shakes from the interior or the underpinnings. The 5.4-liter V8 supplies decent oomph, but cannot match GM engines for sheer power and off-the-line twist. The transmission shifts exactly the way you want it to, but moving the selector through the detents results in a cheap sounding snap, as though some plastic inside the works isn't going to hold up well over time. The brake pedal was pleasingly firm, but the brakes themselves didn't perform as well as expected.
On the road, the SuperCrew rides better than a regular F-150 or SuperCab, yet isn't wallowy like an Expedition. I'd guess a two-wheel-drive version would ride much better than our Off-Road four-by, which wasn't exactly punishing on pavement. Visibility is excellent, thanks to a tall driving position and large side mirrors. The rear seat is roomy enough for five, but I was disappointed that our XLT tester didn't offer headrests to protect rear occupants from smashing their noggins into the rear slider glass.
The F-150 is the best full-size pickup on the market, and the SuperCrew is the only full-size, light-duty crew cab available. You can't go wrong with this one.
Executive Editor Karl Brauer says:
The Ford F-150 SuperCrew is not based on the larger Super Duty platform used for the F-250, but you can't tell that from driving it. The thing is simply huge! It's the first press vehicle I couldn't fit into my garage due to its excessive height--and I've parked both a Lexus LX 470 and our long-term GMC Sierra in said garage. Theoretically, this is simply a four-door F-150 with an off-road package--or an Expedition with an open cargo area, so why is it such a beast to maneuver in tight spaces?
If close quarters are not an issue for you, the SuperCrew makes for a capable people- or cargo-hauler. The rear seat is roomy and easily accommodates three adults. The bed is a bit short, but the foldout bed extender somewhat addresses this issue--though true work duty is undeniably compromised by the stubby size. I like the clear gauge cluster and logical control layout, but wish the transmission was more responsive. The few times I asked for rapid acceleration, the SuperCrew responded with a belabored and jolting downshift, followed by somewhat choppy engine performance. Drag racing is clearly not this truck's mission, but with the shortened bed and rafter-scraping roof, I'm not sure what this vehicle's reason for being is, other than frightening Toyota Echos that are unfortunate enough to cross its path. Need to carry lots of people in comfort? Buy an Expedition. Need to haul a load of lumber on a regular basis? Get an F-150 long bed. Want to do a little of both? Test-drive the SuperCrew and see if it will meet your needs.
Associate Editor Ed Hellwig says:
As soon as I pulled into traffic, I instantly remembered why I love driving full-size trucks. With a burly V8 under the hood and a seating position that makes you feel like an umpire at Wimbledon, driving a big truck makes bumper to bumper traffic seem just a little less stressful.
Our F-150 SuperCrew test truck offered plenty of other reasons to like it as well. The four-speed transmission shifted smoothly and with none of the rear looseness and clunking of our long term GMC Sierra half-ton. Maybe it was having an easier time managing the Ford's engine torque, since it was quite apparent that GM's 5.3 Vortec V8 delivers noticeably more punch when you mash the throttle.
The SuperCrew's suspension was another strong point, delivering a firm, but manageable ride that should be considered best in class at this point. The overall structure rarely emitted creaks and groans, bolstering the Ford's reputation as a well-built unit.
There's no doubt that the expanded rear quarters and additional doors make the SuperCrew more family friendly, but smallish bench seats and a steep seating position make for a less than a perfect fit when it comes to hauling three in back. The shortened bed reduces utility to that of an open-topped station wagon, but with the bed extender deployed, the SuperCrew should have no trouble accommodating the occasional Home Depot run or apartment move.
Overall, the SuperCrew represents yet another example of the hybridization of current models to better fit the lifestyles of their owners. If you have a couple kids, tow once in a while, and like the idea of having a wide-open bed out back to toss some cargo in, the SuperCrew might just be the ticket.
"I have a 5.4-liter Super Crew 4x4 Deep Wedgewood Blue/Silver two-tone, moon roof. And, I love it. Yea, gas mileage could be a little better, [as] I am right around 12.5 mpg. Putting gas in it is really not a big deal to me, but then again, I am not doing the driving that most people do in Texas. Also, I don't haul anything but my dog and boat to go duck hunting. I have been on a few long road trips and the ride is really pleasant for a 4x4...." - runner21, "Ford F-150 SUPERCREW (2001)," #471 of 502, Jan. 25, 2001
Editor's Note: Keep in mind, as mbrim cautions, that he is comparing his '01 SuperCrew with a '98 GMC K1500 Sierra. The Sierra and Silverado were completely redesigned for 1999, and extended cab models were fitted with a fourth door for the 2000 model year.
"I've owned my Screw for about two months now, 2,250 miles. It's a black 4x4 Lariat; extras include CD changer, bedliner, 5.4-liter engine, diff lock. I traded in a '98 GMC 4x4 Sierra 3 door with lots of options (40,000 miles). The reason for the purchase was to get more legroom in the back for the kids while keeping the 'truck.' At the time I purchased the GMC, the backseat in it had more room then any other truck. For anyone looking to purchase a Screw [who is] curious about comments from a former GMC owner, read on. Of course, this is not a comparison between Screws and the new Sierra ('99-'01) but my own personal observations on vehicles I've owned. Engine: The Screw has the 5.4-liter, my '98 GMC had the 5.7-liter Vortec. The 5.4 seems to do the job, but at times sounds like it's struggling (gasping sounds). I really liked the 350 in the GMC, it seemed to have power when I needed it, sounded great and felt like it would last forever. I'd have to give the advantage here to GMC. Interior: ...Of course, the rear seating area goes to the Screw, no contest. As does the door arrangement. Four doors that open 'normally' are much better then a 'hidden' third door. The advantage goes to the Screw.... Overall quality: This is tough because I have not owned the Screw for a long time. The GMC had no major problems. It did have a leak near the third door that I found before the trade-in. It also had a loud squeaking noise from the spare tire that started when I lowered and raised the spare. Something just didn't go right 'together' anymore and I could not seem to fix it. The Screw does have a problem that I'm going to take it in for - it sometimes makes a thumping sound that I can feel when I first start moving in it. Doesn't happen all the time and only after I've parked it for a while (could be parking brake related). No advantage to either make.... The Screw is much taller and is longer then the GMC. I hit the wall in the garage the first time I put it in there. I do like the taller stance (Who doesn't when driving a truck?). Gas mileage was truck-like for both vehicles, but I do seem to be stopping at the gas station more in the Screw. Hopefully, that will change after the engine breaks in. The auto lights on the Screw are nice as are the adjustable floor pedals. Advantage Screw. Overall, I like the Screw better but that's not to say I didn't like the GMC. I loved it. In fact, I would have bought another one if they'd had a full-size cab with four doors. I'd like the Screw even more if I could just put the 350 in it. Hopefully the 5.4 will get better as it breaks in." - mbrim, "Ford F-150 SUPERCREW (2001)," #458 of 502, Jan. 15, 2001
Editor's Note: The same participant explains why he chose the F-150 SuperCrew over the Dodge Dakota Quad Cab.
"I looked at the Dodge Dakota Quad Cab vs. the F-150 SuperCrew. The Dodge impressed me with the 4.7-liter V8. It seemed a perfect fit for this size vehicle. The turn-offs were: small front seating area and the back row wouldn't accommodate my sons (6'), the quality of the interior seemed low. I picked the F-150 because of size. It's much larger inside, both in the front and rear seating. I got the 5.4-liter, which seems to match the size and weight OK enough. However, if Chevy/GMC had a 1500 crew cab, I would have bought that. I gave up my '98 GMC extended cab, which I loved. Just didn't have enough room in the backseat for the growing boys." - brim1, "Shortbed Crew Cabs Discussion," #48 of 117, Dec. 1, 2000
"I chose the SuperCrew after realizing that the Explorer is not very comfortable for a 6'-2" person. While many people here scoff at Consumer Reports, I only considered vehicles which were rated 'average' or better for reliability (they have a Truck & SUV issue out right now). This eliminated the Dakota and Silverado (extended cab is pretty close to a full backseat) from my considerations. I would have considered a four-door Tundra if available. No problems in 6,500 miles on SuperCrew. By the way, my truck is a 2001 SuperCrew 4x2 Lariat with the 4.6-liter engine. I am very happy with it but would probably recommend the 5.4-liter for most people." - rm13, "CREW CAB 4DR TRUCKS WHICH ONE IS THE BEST OVERALL?", #28 of 30, Feb. 3, 2001
Editor's Note: rm13 elaborates on the performance of the 4.6-liter engine
"I have a two-wheel-drive SuperCrew with the 4.6. Acceleration is fine for normal driving, but [the truck is] definitely not a 'hot rod.' I took a 1,000-mile round trip home for x-mas and with two adults, two dogs, luggage, and X-mas gifts, I definitely could feel the hills as we plodded through the mountains. If you want four-wheel drive, I would definitely get the 5.4." - rm13, "Ford F-150 SUPERCREW (2001)," #437 of 502, Dec. 28, 2000
"I will chime in with experience from, at last check, 2,400 miles on my new 4x2 Lariat. I agree with all the other accolades, a really great vehicle. I bought the 4.6-liter engine due to mileage concerns and am averaging 16 mpg in city/highway, not too bad. And I do not lack for power; granted in Houston, everything is flat. If in the hills or mountains, maybe I would have had gone for the larger engine. I added SS Leverne cab steps I was able to get at cost and saved $250! I have 3 girls and they just LOVE Dad's truck, the oldest at 15 is driving it to the envy of ALL her friends. Only thing that I am considering: changing out the center console for the higher version that doubles as an armrest. When putting on seat belts the arm rests get in the way, and the Expedition Sport center console would be much easier to manage. I would think about that when you are looking at the Lariats with captain's chairs. Not sure if they can do anything at the factory, but maybe the dealer can. NOT a big deal, just a refinement." - tomps57, "Ford F-150 SUPERCREW (2001)," #283 of 502, Oct. 6, 2000
"I think Ford erred in not putting headrests for backseat passengers. Can't think of any other issues I have with the truck. Nine hundred miles, and this truck is fantastic. I can't say enough about it. I really love the 5.4-liter engine (powerful) and am really glad I ordered that option. Averaging 16.8 mpg. Driving over 11,000-foot passes in Colorado with little effort and plenty of power to spare. With respect to the interior look I certainly don't find it cheap looking; but I did not go with leather interior. Passengers who have ridden in the back seat rave about the comfort, the 'ride,' and the ease of getting in and out...." - mtnmike, "Ford F-150 SUPERCREW (2001)," #234 of 502, Sept. 25, 2000
"Just picked up my new Screw - delivered four weeks to the day I ordered it, surprise!! Mine has headrests on the back seats, which surprised my dealer! Small V8 goes like H--- with no shudders, mutters or otherwise... lucky so far I guess. Split bench seat is so molded as to 'feel' like buckets with the high center console down. This thing runs so quietly I can hear the deer running alongside the vehicle at night... ahem." - smilin, "Ford F-150 SUPERCREW (2001)," #397 of 502, Nov. 22, 2000
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