First Look: 2004 Ford F-150

Reinventing the world's best-selling vehicle

Todd Lassa
Mar 6, 2003
Injected with hormones from last year's Mighty F-350 Tonka concept, the '04 Ford F-150 pickup is trucklike on the outside and carlike on the inside.

That's the inverse of the current F-150, the exterior of which tried to look too sleek and modern, earning it a wimp image in some camps. Beefy, heavy-duty F-250s and F-350s have taken a bigger share of F-Series sales (912,000 for all F-Series in 2001) and Chevy's rival Silverado has been gaining, too. Ford's answer is heavier-duty styling, evident mostly in the more upright front-end design, riding on a much revised, fully boxed, partially hydroformed frame. Other new F-Series highlights include rack-and-pinion steering, four-wheel discs, and a more powerful 5.4-liter/300-horsepower 365-lb-ft 24-valve Triton V-8 engine option.
The 2004 F also has innovations designed to entice people migrating out of sedans into trucks. New this year is a tailgate with a torsion bar that reduces the effort required to raise the gate. The cargo box is two inches deeper than the old truck's for more capacity than competitors' beds, Ford says. Even the blue oval badges on the nose and tail have been widened to nine inches.
Photo 2/3   |   F-150 interiors will have a center console shifter and luxo sedan (think Audi) textures and details.
The F-150 continues to offer three cab configurations, now exclusively with four doors. The Regular Cab has two narrow rear-space access doors, and the SuperCab returns with conventional access doors. Both have six more inches in passenger compartment space, providing 13 inches of storage behind the seat of the Regular Cab and seating for three in the rear of the SuperCab. The SuperCrew continues with two rows of seats and four full doors for all the comfort of a big sedan.
These cabs will be available with 5.5-foot, 6.5-foot, or 8-foot Styleside boxes, or a 6.5-foot Flareside box with rubber-covered footsteps and three exterior-panel tiedown hooks per side. Trim levels are XL, STX, XLT (mid-level volume model), FX4 (sporty 4WD model), and the Lariat, with standard leather seats and 18-inch wheels. SVT Lightnings, Harley-Davidson specials, and other new niche models will roll out over the next few years.
The interiors are truly impressive. Dashes have accents on the center stack and vertical flourishes along the HVAC vents on each edge--charcoal in XL and STX, charcoal with chrome vent rings on XLT, "warm steel" chromed rings and fake carbon fiber in the FX4, and chrome and real wood in the Lariat. Seat materials, whether vinyl, cloth, or the leather standard (heated optional) in Lariat, are the best we've seen in a pickup. If you order buckets (or captain's chairs in the Lariat), the floor gearshift is a bold chrome-handle grip. An overhead-rail system is standard on XLT, FX4, and Lariat SuperCabs and SuperCrews, with moveable and removable compartment bins that can accommodate PDAs, cell-phones, CD changers, DVD players (backseat passengers only), and the like.
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.
Photo 3/3   |   2004 Ford F 150 Pickup rear Seats
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.

2015 Ford F-150 Specifications

Fair Market Price $24,640
MSRP $26,030
Editors' Overall Rating
Mileage 18 City / 25 Highway
Engine 3.5L V6
Horse Power 283 hp @ 6,500 rpm
Torque 255 ft lb of torque @ 4,000 rpm
See all Specifications
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Truck Trend Network


Ford F 150

Fair Market Price
Editors' Overall Rating
Basic Specifications
MSRP: $26,030
Mileage: 18 / 25
Engine: 3.5L V6
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