Underhood, the new 5.4-liter Triton uses variable intake and exhaust cam timing for better response, a wider torque curve, lower emissions, and reduced fuel consumption versus that of the old 5.4. The system shifts intake and exhaust timing simultaneously. The engine is paired exclusively to a new 4R75E four-speed automatic, and a two-speed, 4WD transfer case is optional. The 4.6-liter Triton carries on as the standard V-8, but now also with electronic throttle control and only with an automatic transmission.
What? No manual? A V-6-powered F-150 available with a five-speed manual arrives for the 2005 model year. Meanwhile, Ford will produce the current F-150 as a fleet/loss-leader featuring the 4.2-liter OHV V-6, concurrent with the new model.
Skip the loss-leader: The 2004 F-150's frame is designed to make it the stiffest light truck extant, with twice the torsional rigidity and 50 percent more bending stiffness compared with the 2003. It's connected to a long-spindle double-wishbone front suspension with a cast-aluminum lower control arm and an oversize cross-section and 3-inch-wide rear leaf springs. Rear shocks have been moved outside the frame for better roll control and to help eliminate head toss, Ford says.
Ford also contends that the F-150 offers great ride, handling, comfort, and quietness, with no tradeoffs. That's a big promise for cars, let alone pickup trucks. Will it unseat the GM trucks for supreme ride and maneuverability, or will it be too harsh, like some of Ford Motor Company's latest SUVs? We'll have answers by the time the 2004 F-150 goes on sale this autumn. Meanwhile, we can say this: The new Ford truck has the coolest, most carlike interior in the industry, and its freshly muscular sheetmetal will put the wimp factor to rest. Stay tuned: First drive coming up.