Low, loud, and menacing. That describes the unique machinery that's rolled out of Harley-Davidson for decades. Likewise, it's also an apt summary of the latest limited-edition truck from Ford. H-D and Ford inked a five-year plan for cooperative products starting in 2000. Since then, Ford has introduced a truck each year. Both the 2000 and '01 models were derivatives built on the F-150 platform. The '02 Edition successfully captures the spirit of Harley-Davidson: brash, strong, American. Louis Netz, director of styling at Harley, and Willie G. Davidson, vice president of styling and descendent of the company founder, worked with the design team at Ford to pen this bold rolling statement.
For '02, Ford started with the popular F-150 SuperCrew 4x2 pickup, a versatile, durable vehicle, and Ford engineers already had a history of modifications. Built in Kansas City, Missouri, it's been lowered 1 in. and fitted with 20x9.0-in. wheels. The chrome, five-spoke aluminum rims have the H-D Bar & Shield embossed on the center cap. Surrounding all that alloy are Goodyear 275/45R20 Eagle GTII VR-rated tires.
Set onto each front fender and rear tailgate are Harley-Davidson/Ford F-150 emblems, big enough to use as a serious belt buckle. The grille is a tasteful chrome tubular piece, and both front and rear bumpers are body color for that stealth look. Like last year, the H-D F-150 comes in black, but new for '02 is Dark Shadow Gray.
Also new for this year, Ford surprised a few people by dropping a detuned Lightning motor into the newest Harley F-150. Both supercharged and intercooled, the Triton 5.4L V-8 puts out 340 hp at 4500 rpm and 425 lb-ft of torque at 3250 rpm. The engine is mated to the 4R100-HD four-speed automatic transmission, typically kept for SuperDuty pickups and its biggest SUVs. A two-piece driveshaft turns the differential, which is filled with limited slip and 3.73:1 gears. Exhaust exits through a tuned high-performance system to slash-cut 3-in. chrome tips.
What's it like to drive? Pushing the stainless and rubber performance accelerator pedal increases the supercharger soundtrack and the earthly growl from the exhaust. Midrange response is especially addictive, as you find yourself hanging back in traffic, then mashing the pedal for that fix of thrust.
Slowing the H-D F-150 SuperCrew is low-drama, four-wheel ABS and a gigantic tire footprint conspiring to rein in wayward speed. Turn-in is brisk, as the low sidewalls require little distortion to change the vehicle's direction. Body roll is surprisingly low, contributing to the overall feeling that you're behind the wheel of a high sport sedan--until a sharp series of turns requires you to wedge yourself steady. The seats are comfortable on long, straight drives, but the flat lower cushion and lack of side bolsters leave the driver sliding around, hanging onto the steering wheel as much for giving directional inputs as staying on the left side of the vehicle.