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Ford F-150: Reinvented for 2004

Originally Published in Trailer Life Magazine

Ford’s F-150 pickup, America’s best-selling vehicle for 21 years running, has been
reinvented for 2004. Grabbing appearance cues and engineering elements from its Mighty
Tonka concept truck and adding a host of fresh tricks, the 2004 F-150 is essentially a
new-from-the-ground-up refined and sophisticated next-generation hauler. Five distinct
series are available this year, from entry-level XL’s on up to the well-appointed and
accessorized FX4 four-wheel drive (4WD) and top-of-the-line Lariat. Three cab choices are
offered: a regular cab, an extended two-door SuperCab and a four-door SuperCrew. Also on
hand are three bed lengths up to 8 feet that are 2 inches deeper this year and come in
flare-side and style-side configurations. A new, fully boxed main frame with hydroformed
sections adds improved torsional and bending strength to the truck, and is nine times
stiffer than its predecessor, according to Ford data. It also adds durability to the
overall platform and imparts improved ride dynamics and drivability. Rear suspensions have
been upgraded and include wider leaf springs with outboard-mounted shock absorbers for
more-precise turning and reduced body lean. All-new, coil-over-shock front suspensions
feature aluminum lower control arms. Four-wheel-disc brakes with anti-lock braking system
(ABS) and electronic brake-force distribution are standard on all models and come with
larger and thicker rotors and calipers. Maximizing passenger safety, comfort and cargo
space were the priorities for the interior. A striking contoured dash and angular center
console feature prominently in this layout. With edgy styling, easily readable gauge
clusters, rounded air-conditioning registers and accents of chrome, brushed aluminum and
wood (on select models), the cockpit is ultrahip, yet thoroughly functional. A “clean-sheet
design” approach has been taken with the F-150’s new 5.4-liter Triton V-8 that delivers 300
hp, 365 lb-ft of torque and improved fuel economy. Carried over from 2003 is a 4.6-liter
V-8 that achieves 231 hp and 293 lb-ft of torque. The 5.4-liter is a direct descendant of
Ford’s proven modular V-8 engine technology, sporting all-aluminum heads, a cast-iron
block, variable-cam timing and three valves per cylinder. A torque-based electronic
throttle control reads driver input at the accelerator pedal to actively modulate torque at
the drive wheels. The mechanical throttle linkage has been replaced with an
accelerator-position sensor, a control circuit and an actuator at the throttle valve.
Matched up to the 5.4-liter engine is a new, 4R75E, four-speed automatic transmission,
which is an upgraded version of the 4R70E that appears with the 4.6-liter, and was created
to handle the 5.4-liter’s extra torque. Trailer towing and cargo hauling have been made
easier than ever. With a maximum tow rating of 9,500 pounds (6,500 pounds with the
4.6-liter), an appropriately equipped truck should be capable of handling many midsize
towables. Gross vehicle weight ratings (gvwr) are generous, ranging from 6,600 to 8,200
pounds. In addition to a solid, energy-dissipating frame structure, the F-150 features
Ford’s Personal Safety System, which is a suite of restraint technologies designed to
tailor their response to the severity of a crash. The more-prominent features within the
system include forward air bags with two deployment levels, three-point belts, Occupant
Classification Technology (weight-sensing passenger seats) that help to assess air-bag
deployment levels, Smart Buckles and Pyrotechnic Pretensioners that keep belts secured and
adjusted correctly and latch fixtures and upper tether anchors on select models to
facilitate installation of child safety seats. The 2004 truck, which is slated for a
midsummer 2003 production launch, has improved hauling and towing power with enhanced
driving dynamics and offers a revolutionary interior that is chic, safe and
ultracomfortable. Pricing on the F-150 will no doubt be competitive, but no figures have
yet been announced. Trucks should begin to appear on showrooms near the end of the summer.

Ford TrucksTrucks for Towing

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