2001 Ford F-150 Expert Review:New Car Test Drive
New Car Test Drive
New SuperCrew is best light-duty crew cab available.
The F-150 is available in every imaginable pickup truck configuration. Depending on what you want, it can be short or long, tall or low. It can act like a serious work truck, an off-road toy, or a luxurious everyday vehicle that doubles as a highly capable weekend tool. There's even a hot rod.
It comes in a myriad of bed lengths, two different body styles, and now three distinct cab configurations. This means the overall length and wheelbase can vary tremendously, the latter from 120 inches to 157.4 inches.
The newest variation is the SuperCrew, which features luxurious rear-seat accommodations and four full-size doors. Crew cabs have become the big fad in compact and mid-size trucks the past couple of years, but with the exception of the tried-and-true super-long heavy-duty models, this new full-size Ford crew cab is by far the most comfortable of the new trucks. Overall length is kept short by using an ultra-short bed that measures just 5 1/2 feet; though the bed is a compromise, it relieves the driver of the daily burden of maneuvering a pickup that's as long as an aircraft carrier. The SuperCrew is equipped like a luxury sport-utility, with power-adjustable pedals and optional moonroof, rear-seat entertainment system, and a handsome leather interior.
As for the rest of the 2001 F-150 line, power-adjustable pedals are standard on all Lariat models and optional on XL and XLT trim lines. Antilock brakes (ABS) are standard throughout the F-150 line, and remote keyless entry is now a standard feature on XLT models.
Three engines are available: The standard engine is a 4.2-liter V6 engine that generates 202 horsepower. The optional 4.6-liter V8 produces 220 horsepower. The 5.4-liter V8 produces 260 horsepower. There are 5-speed manual and 4-speed automatic transmissions available.
Body styles include short and long cargo beds; Regular Cabs, SuperCab four-door extended cabs, and SuperCrew four-door crew cabs; flat (Styleside) and fendered (Flareside) bed styles. Two- and four-wheel drive models are available. And there are three trim levels: XL, XLT, and Lariat. With colors and options thrown in, the model matrix is huge.
The F-150 is a stylish truck, with much more attention paid to aerodynamic performance than either the Dodge or GM pickups. It is rounder, friendlier and looks much more like a car than the Dodge or GM. That may be part of the reason it outsells all other pickup trucks by a considerable margin. The current Chevrolet and GMC trucks are still pretty new (they were redesigned for the 1999 model year), but their conservative styling doesn't look as modern as the Ford's. The Dodge Ram looks long in the tooth, by comparison. The F-150's aerodynamic hood falls away very rapidly from the base of the windshield so it's easier to see what's immediately in front of the truck; that's handy for maneuvering off road, for parking, and when maneuvering in tight city traffic.
In some ways, the Ford F-150 interior is superior in flavor to the GM and Dodge trucks. The F-150 takes its interior design cues from the company's successful passenger cars, such as the Ford Taurus and Lincoln Continental. The designers adapted these cues to the pickup's large cab. The curves, surfaces, textures, instrumentation and graphics inside the Ford F-150 are more adventurous, more modern, and better executed than the competition, big and bold but not outsized for a big vehicle.
The F-150 XLT has dual air bags with a passenger-side deactivation switch. It comes with air conditioning, a back panel cover and rear storage tray, dual map lights, map pockets, an upper vinyl applique, courtesy lamps, color-keyed carpeting and headliner, complete instrumentation including a tachometer, an auxiliary 12-volt power point, power windows and locks, an electronic AM/FM stereo CD/cassette system with four speakers, cloth split bench seats with recliners, armrests, and manual lumbar support on the driver's side, speed control, tilt steering wheel, remote keyless entry, and speed-dependent interval windshield wipers.
Compared to full-sized cars, pickup trucks come with ample amounts of head, leg, hip and shoulder room. They offer a lot of interior space for the money. Even the F-150 XLT regular cab, which comes without the rear seats and without the extra rear doors, offers plenty of room to stretch out. The XLT's cloth seats have a recline feature and a lumbar support on the driver's side for even more driving comfort.
All pickups share another trait: a relatively high ride height, even on 2x4 models. That can be a blessing when you're trying to see out over the traffic ahead, but it's a curse when trying to load equipment into the bed, nor does it help when trying to go around corners. Bed heights on the two-wheel-drive models are three inches lower than on four-wheel-drive trucks (32 inches vs. 35 inches on the SuperCrew, for example), a huge difference when loading heavy items.
The 2001 SuperCrew Lariat we drove had handsome leather seating surfaces. Getting into and out of the rear seats was easy. The rear seats are comfortable and offer good legroom, allowing passengers to slide their feet under the front seats. Rear-seat comfort is such that and adult should be able to ride back there for longer trips.
SuperCrew's rear seats fold down (and are split 60/40), offering a nearly flat cargo space. It's a great place to put cargo or for big dogs. Small storage compartments behind the front seats add utility.
Two-wheel-drive F-150s use conventional steel leaf springs at the rear and a coil spring independent front suspension. This yields a pretty solid ride when it's unloaded, but quite a good ride when you're hauling a refrigerator over bad pavement.
The 4X4 versions use a torsion bar front suspension.
Power steering is over-assisted to make it easier to park and maneuver in tight quarters. We find the brakes on Ford trucks to be average in stopping power and average in fade characteristics.
Although the optional 4.6-liter V8 engine is rated at 220 horsepower and 290 foot-pounds of torque, we don't think it's as good a performer in many respects as the small V8 engines from GM and Dodge. It's a good, solid engine, with millions of examples on the road, and it sounds good at full throttle, but we find it a little duff for all-around street use, and we would certainly find it wanting if we had to haul anything heavy or tow a trailer up a mountain road. For any customer contemplating those kinds of duties, the 5.4-liter V8 engine is a much better choice.
Ford's F-150 is still among the most car-like of the full-size pickup trucks, with slick looks, pleasing performance, a comfortable cabin, and a proven powertrain.
Ford's new F-150 SuperCrew is the most comfortable of the light-duty crew cabs currently available.
4x2 Styleside 120-in. wheelbase XL ($17,045); 4x2 Styleside SuperCab 157-in. Lariat ($26,830); 4x4 Flareside 139-in. XLT ($27,695); 4x4 SuperCrew 139-in. Lariat ($31,495); 4x2 Lightning 120-in. ($31,745).
Options As Tested
4.6-liter V8 ($750), automatic transmission ($1095), Sport Group ($595), air conditioning ($805), upgraded tires ($125).
4x2 XLT 120-in wheelbase regular cab ($20,025).
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