Unlike the acceleration-addicted MT staff, the majority of surveyed owners bought trucks fitted with the 4.6-liter/220-horsepower SOHC V-8. For them, the half-second disadvantage in the 0-60-mph dash was outweighed by thriftier fuel economy and lower upfront investment. While 83.8 percent rated acceleration above average, the most commonly cited weaknesses remain fuel consumption and lack of power. The 15.1-mpg survey average trails our 15.4 mpg with the larger, thirstier 5.4-liter. (This is a rare occurrence that may tarnish the staff's reputation as mutants possessing heavy right feet.) For light-duty users to whom gas mileage is more of a concern than towing capacity, the excellent available 4.2-liter/205-horsepower V-6 has proven to have nearly the same unladen acceleration as the small eight-cylinder, making it a solid alternative to a traditional V-8. Needless to say, the brisk 8.3-second 0-60-mph time from our two-ton, 5.4-liter truck failed to elicit a complaint from the editors. One early logbook entry says, "My kids think this thing rocks, and I agree."
As the only pickup in our fleet, the SuperCab earned its keep pulling a variety of trailers ranging from simple two-wheel utility types, to dual-axle car carriers and boat haulers. With an 8000-pound tow capacity, the F-150 handled its workhorse chores without complaint, pulling heavy loads up mountainous grades with commendable strength. Recreation-hungry owners exploited the F-150's talents to perform a variety of grueling tasks, and complaints were virtually non-existent. A typically pleased Texas owner wrote, "It rides good, handles well, has plenty of power, and when I tow a trailer, it still handles great." Midyear, we increased the pickup's functionality by installing a SnugTop Top Gun shell on the 8-foot bed. Instantly, the F-150 was transformed into a sporty Expedition wannabe, with the security of a lockable cargo bed. Leaving stuff in the back more often, one editor observed, "It would be great if the keyless entry system tied in with the tailgate lock."
Open the third door, fold the rear bench flat, and a wonderfully useful cargo shelf is exposed with a protective surface on the seatback. Three people can be accommodated with reasonable comfort in the rear, though two passengers would be preferable. Of surveyed owners, nearly 75 percent rated the rear bench as providing above-average comfort. In daily living, it elevated the pickup to a true passenger car replacement, making it possible for families even with dogs to travel together, especially with the remarkable ease of ingress/egress. An Army mom wrote, "The third door is great. I have a 14-month-old girl, and the car seat fits in the middle of the rear bench really well, plus she sits high enough to see out." A logbook entry from a staff parent expresses thanks to Ford for including a passenger-side airbag shut-off switch, allowing small children to ride up front, rather than automatically being relegated to the rear.
With a full complement of power equipment, our long-term F-150 was downright luxurious and satisfying. Owners agreed, with 95.1 percent rating overall comfort above average. A mildly bolstered leather bench offers comfortable perches for three up front, though our staff would have preferred more contouring and support. Its slippery cowhide surface proved resistant to an onslaught of diverse potentially staining elements. A large, fold-down armrest in the center featuring a storage compartment and cupholder was constantly deployed in our long-termer. The clean, flowing dash is as inviting as a sedan's, with logically placed controls and intuitive, ergonomic design. The optional CD changer was positioned behind the driver's seat, making it nearly impossible to reach while the vehicle was in motion, though with six discs in the magazine, this wasn't much of an issue.