Over the last several decades, Ford's F-Series truck has gone from farm implement to fashionably hip, bringing home numerous sales records and big profits in the process. With total sales last year approaching one million units, it's hardly a stretch to call Ford's big pickup the single most important model it makes, and when it comes time for a redesign there's little room for error.
In years past, maintaining the F-150's top sales spot was largely a matter of fending off the Chevrolet/GMC twins from General Motors, but a revitalized Dodge and full-size entries from Nissan and Toyota have turned up the heat considerably. To keep these competitors at bay, Ford gathered its best engineers, cranked up the focus groups and set out to design the most advanced F-Series ever built.
The result is a 2004 F-150 with a cleaner burning and more powerful V8, increased passenger and cargo room and broad-shouldered bodywork that looks the part of an all-American pickup. But is it good enough to maintain Ford's long-standing dominance in the category?
After our introduction to the new F-150 in the steamy hill country of Central Texas, there's little doubt that this truck sets new standards for full-size pickups when it comes to cabin design, ride and handling and load-carrying capacity. But we also noted a few significant weak spots, and in a segment that thrives on continual one-upmanship and bragging rights, such shortcomings could hamper its ability to fend off the competition in the years ahead.
Since full-size trucks are notoriously complex when it comes to all the various configurations and options packages, we'll try to lay out Ford's new game plan as simply as possible.
The F-150 has been broken down into five distinct models XL, STX, XLT, FX4 and Lariat each catering to a different customer who's looking for varying levels of features and options. The base XL is your standard work truck with a vinyl or cloth interior and minimal amenities. The STX is similarly equipped but adds body-colored bumpers, sportier wheels and a few additional options such as a stepside bed and an upgraded sound system. The volume leader in the lineup is expected to be the midgrade XLT, as it offers the widest array of available options as well as an upgraded interior.
The top two trim levels are even more specialized. Outdoor enthusiasts are the primary target of the FX4 model as it fortifies the F-150 with underbody skid plates, heavy-duty shocks and retuned springs. Two-tone paint, larger 18-inch wheels and a body-color grille add visual distinction to the outside while metallic accents glitter up the interior.
Top-of-the-line Lariats cater to buyers looking for an upscale look and feel. The interior features brushed aluminum and wood highlights along with optional leather heated seats, satellite steering wheel controls, white-faced gauges and automatic climate control. Exterior details include two-tone paint, chrome bumpers and 18-inch aluminum wheels.
Both the FX4 and Lariat offer the segment's first console-mounted floor shifter when you order the optional captain's chairs, along with distinctive gauge clusters to further distance those models from their lower-brow counterparts.
There are still three cab configurations regular, extended and crew but all regular cabs now offer reverse-opening access doors for getting to the storage area behind the front seat. Available bed lengths consist of the standard 6 1/2- and 8-foot sizes along with a new 5 1/2-foot size for extended cab models that makes fitting into a warm garage a more viable option. All boxes are two inches deeper than before giving the F-150 the most cargo capacity in its class, and all feature a new assist mechanism for the tailgate that makes it easier to raise and lower.
Regardless of trim, all F-150s sport a new interior design that looks sharp and works well. There's minimal button clutter, the radio is placed high for easy tuning and all gauges are easily readable. Build quality on our early build test trucks was impressive. Door panels didn't budge an inch when pressed upon and dashboard gaps were straight and of close tolerance. Materials quality is also better than before, with none of the glaringly cheap plastics that detracted from the previous model's interior.
Ford's attempt to differentiate its high-line models paid off as the FX4 and Lariat trim level have a distinct look and feel to their interiors. When it comes to providing an upscale experience, the Lariat has the current competition beat hands down. Between its metallic accents, faux wood trim and clean design, there are few trucks that offer an interior so elegantly trimmed. The industrial style of the FX4 isn't quite so dramatic, but it does manage to provide a unique look without trying too hard.
As much as we liked the interior's overall design, there are a few areas that could use some improvement. Although we logged a relatively modest number of miles, the seats became tiresome regardless of trim level, and we found it strange that even the upgraded leather captain's chairs still use manual adjusters for the seat back angle and lumbar support. The climate control dials look good but feel cheap, same goes for the door handles both being items that we think should have a good, solid feel considering how often you touch them. We also found the turn signal stalk hard to reach, the grab handles too far away and relatively few storage compartments.
The most glaring omission to the F-150's interior, however, is the lack of side-impact airbag protection. Ford claims that the F-150's taller height makes it less vulnerable to such impacts, yet it found them perfectly appropriate for the equally sized Expedition sport-utility. Add in the fact that the Dodge Ram already provides such protection, with the upcoming Nissan Titan set to do the same come December, and it becomes an even more inexcusable omission.
But enough about the interior already, the true test of a truck is how it handles itself on the road. To that end, the F-150 has been upgraded with a fully boxed frame that's nine times stiffer than before, a new rack-and-pinion steering system, larger brakes and a revised suspension design among other things.
The result is exceptional ride quality and sharp handling for a vehicle of its size. There's still the telltale vagueness from the solid rear axle, but as trucks go, you're not going to find a smoother-riding full-size anywhere. The steering is no longer the guessing game that it once was and the brakes have a firm, progressive feel that's reassuring in such a big vehicle.
For power, the F-150 now offers just two options: a carry-over 4.6-liter V8 rated at 231 horsepower and 293 pound-feet of torque and a heavily modified version of the last year's 5.4-liter V8 (the V6 has been dropped but will return in '05). Both engines are mated to four-speed automatic transmissions with the larger 5.4-liter getting a heavier-duty version to handle its extra power.
Now rated at 300 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque, the 5.4-liter engine uses three-valve cylinder heads and variable camshafts to provide more power at lower engine speeds. The extra juice allows the F-150 to claim a maximum tow rating of 9,500 pounds, the highest rating in the half-ton class.
During a towing demonstration in which the F-150 was pitted against its current rivals while pulling a 7,000-pound trailer, the newly invigorated Triton proved to be a smooth and refined hauler. The broad power band enabled the truck to maintain a steady pull on moderate hill climbs, and it did so with less interior noise than a Hemi-equipped Dodge Ram.
Unfortunately, the Triton's impressive towing ability doesn't translate into usable power during normal stop-and-go driving. Acceleration off the line feels soft and even full-throttle downshifts fail to elicit much snap. The apparent sluggishness could be chalked up to increased levels of refinement that mask the actual performance, but we've got a feeling it's something else entirely namely weight. Compared to its predecessor, an '04 extended cab F-150 comes saddled with nearly 800 pounds of additional weight enough extra baggage to cause even its more powerful engine to feel sluggish.
Whether a truck's 0-to-60 performance is something to be concerned about is debatable. After all, the idea of a truck is to buy it for what it can do, not what it can beat at a stoplight. In this regard, the F-150 stacks up well as its capabilities, both in towing and hauling, are now class-leading. Factor in its larger, more appealing interior, top-notch build quality and brawny looks and the F-150 has undeniable appeal.
But even with so much going for it, we can't help but feel that this new F-150 lacks the kind of innovative features that will make it stand out from the crowd. Bigger, faster, stronger may have been enough to impress a decade ago, but these days such improvements are expected. Whether this shortfall will make a serious dent in the F-150's status as the best-selling vehicle in the world is hard to tell, but there's no doubt that it leaves the door wide open for the competition to come storming in.
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What's a good price on a used 2004 Ford F-150 ?
Save up to $300 on one of 99 used 2004 Ford F-150s for sale at dealerships within 25 miles of Ashburn, Virginia with prices as low as $5400 as of Feb 24, 2018, based on data from 18 dealers and 60 consumer-driven dealer ratings ranging from 2.3 to 5 out of 5 stars.
Price comparisons for used 2004 Ford F-150 trim styles:
The used 2004 Ford F-150 STX is priced around $11345 with average odometer reading of 119118 miles.
The used 2004 Ford F-150 FX4 is priced around $9888 with average odometer reading of 154402 miles.
The used 2004 Ford F-150 XLT is priced around $9516 with average odometer reading of 108908 miles.
The used 2004 Ford F-150 Lariat is priced around $11488 with average odometer reading of 104631 miles.
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What options are available on the 2004 Ford F-150?
Available Ford F-150 2004 Submodel Types: SVT Raptor, SuperCab, SuperCrew, Extended Cab, Regular Cab, Harley-Davidson, SVT Lightning
Available Ford F-150 2004 Trims: Platinum, King Ranch, Raptor, SVT Raptor, Limited, XLT, Harley-Davidson, FX4, Lariat, FX2, 60th Anniversary, STX, XL, Lariat Limited, Eddie Bauer, SVT Lightning, Special
Exterior Colors: Oxford White, Shadow Black, Magnetic Metallic, Ingot Silver Metallic, Blue Jeans Metallic, Tuxedo Black Metallic, Ruby Red Metallic Tinted Clear Coat, Lightning Blue Metallic, Race Red, White Platinum Metallic Tri-Coat, Magma Red Metallic, Lead Foot, Sterling Gray Metallic, Stone Gray Metallic, Blue Flame Metallic, White Gold Metallic, Guard Metallic/Magnetic Metallic, Ruby Red Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, Green Gem Metallic, Sunset Metallic, Lithium Gray, Tuxedo Black, Blue Flame Clearcoat Metallic, Black, Bronze Fire Metallic, Dark Blue Pearl Clearcoat Metallic, Sterling Gray Clearcoat Metallic, Caribou Metallic, Guard Metallic/Stone Gray Metallic, Guard Metallic, Vermillion Red, White Gold, Black Clearcoat, Kodiak Brown Metallic, Red Candy Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, Oxford White Clearcoat/Arizona Beige Clearcoat Metallic, Pale Adobe Metallic, Dark Shadow Grey Clearcoat Metallic, Ingot Silver, Sterling Grey Clearcoat Metallic, True Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Vermillion Red (Fleet), Arizona Beige Metallic, Aspen Green Clearcoat Metallic, Molten Orange Tri-Coat, Oxford White Clearcoat, Arizona Beige Clearcoat Metallic, Bright Red Clearcoat, Bright Red Clearcoat/Arizona Beige Clearcoat Metallic, Dark Copper Clearcoat Metallic/Arizona Beige Clearcoat Metallic, Dark Stone Clearcoat Metallic, Medium Wedgewood Blue Clearcoat Metallic/Arizona Beige Clearcoat Metallic, Oxford White/Arizona Beige Metallic, Silver Clearcoat Metallic, Silver Metallic, Amazon Green Clearcoat Metallic, Avalanche, Black Clearcoat/Dark Shadow Grey Clearcoat Metallic, Black Clearcoat/Sterling Gray Clearcoat Metallic, Black/Arizona Beige Metallic, Blue Flame Metallic/Magnetic Metallic, Bright Red, Bright Red Clearcoat/Dark Shadow Grey Clearcoat Metallic, Brilliant Silver Clearcoat Metallic, Dark Amethyst, Dark Blue Pearl Clearcoat Metallic/Pueblo Gold Clearcoat Metallic, Dark Shadow Grey Clearcoat, Dark Shadow Grey Clearcoat Metallic/Black Clearcoat, Dark Shadow Grey Metallic, Dark Toreador Red Metallic, Deep Wedgewood Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Golden Bronze Metallic, Medium Wedgewood Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Oxford White Clearcoat/Pale Adobe Metallic, Oxford White Clearcoat/Sterling Gray Clearcoat Metallic, Oxford White Metallic/Dark Shadow Grey Clearcoat Metallic, Oxford White/Caribou Metallic, Oxford White/Ingot Silver Metallic, Pueblo Gold Clearcoat Metallic, Redfire Clearcoat Metallic, Royal Red Clearcoat Metallic, Ruby Red Metallic Tinted Clear Coat/Caribou Metallic, Terrain, Toreador Red Clearcoat Metallic, Toreador Red Metallic/Silver Metallic, True Blue Metallic, White Platinum Metallic Tri-Coat/Pueblo Gold Clearcoat Metallic
Interior Colors: Medium Earth Gray cloth, Medium Earth Gray vinyl, Black leather, Black premium cloth, Steel Gray cloth, Black cloth, Medium Light Camel leather, Medium Light Camel cloth, Medium Earth Gray leather, Dark Earth Gray cloth, Black premium leather/cloth, Kingsville leather, Steel Gray vinyl, Dark Earth Gray/Medium Earth Gray cloth, Pale Adobe cloth, Medium Stone vinyl, Steel Gray leather, Black premium leather, Pale Adobe leather, Mesa/Java leather, Steel Gray premium cloth, Black (Fleet) premium cloth, Mesa premium leather, Tan leather, Medium Parchment, Tan, Chaparral w/Pale Adobe Accents premium leather, Marina Blue/Black premium leather, Black, Black leather/sueded microfiber, Black/Smoked Silver premium leather, Brunello/Black leather, Medium Flint cloth, Navy Pier leather, Chaparral premium leather, Medium Graphite, Red/Black premium leather, Tan cloth, Medium Flint vinyl, Medium Stone cloth, Medium/Dark Flint, Black leather/cloth, Black/Lava premium leather, Chaparral w/Black Accents premium leather, Dark Marsala leather, Medium Flint, Medium Stone (Fleet) cloth, Mojave premium leather, Pecan premium leather, Black Leather, Black w/Blue Accents premium leather, Black w/Orange Accents premium leather, Black/Orange premium leather/cloth, Castano Brown/Tan, Dark Flint, Medium Flint premium cloth, Medium Stone premium cloth, Mojave/Black premium leather, Sienna Brown premium leather, Tan vinyl
The used 2004 Ford F-150 is offered in the following submodels: SuperCab, SVT Lightning, Regular Cab, SuperCrew. Available styles include 2dr Regular Cab SVT Lightning Rwd Flareside SB (5.4L 8cyl S/C 4A), 4dr SuperCrew XLT Rwd Styleside 5.5 ft. SB (4.6L 8cyl 4A), and 4dr SuperCrew XLT 4WD Styleside 5.5 ft. SB (4.6L 8cyl 4A). Pre-owned F-150 models are available with a 0-liter gas engine, with output up to 0 hp, depending on engine type. The used 2004 F-150 comes with rear wheel drive or four wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 4-speed automatic.