2002 Ford F-150 Expert Review:New Car Test Drive
New Car Test Drive
Stylish pickup with a comfortable four-door option.
From a working tool to a weekend toy, a luxurious family hauler or a hairy hot rod, the F-150 can be almost any truck you can imagine.
Like most full-size pickups, 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.
Three engines are available: The standard engine for the base-level XL is a 4.2-liter V6 that generates 202 horsepower. A 4.6-liter V8 rated at 231 horsepower is optional in XL models and Regular Cab XLT, and standard in all others. A 5.4-liter V8 rated at 260 horsepower is available as an option for most F-150s. Five-speed manual and four-speed automatic transmissions are available.
Body styles include short and long beds; Regular Cabs, SuperCab four-door extended cabs, and SuperCrew four-door crew cabs; plus flat (Styleside) and fendered (Flareside) bed styles. Two- and four-wheel drive models are available. All three cab styles are offered in XL, XLT, and Lariat trim levels; SuperCabs and SuperCrews can be promoted to ultimate King Ranch status, with leather captain's chairs, premium audio, and unique identification.
I love the SuperCrew, which features luxurious rear-seat accommodations that can be converted into covered cargo storage. The full-size SuperCrew far exceeds a compact four-door pickup for space and comfort, but it rides on a light-duty chassis rather than a heavy-duty platform with its excessive weight, rougher ride, and greater fuel consumption. Overall length is kept reasonable by using an ultra-short bed that measures just 5 1/2 feet. The bed is a compromise, but it relieves the driver of the daily burden of maneuvering a pickup that's as long as an aircraft carrier. The top-rung Lariat SuperCrew is equipped like a luxury sport-utility, with handsome leather upholstery, power-adjustable pedals and an optional moonroof and rear-seat entertainment system.
For 2002, even base-level XLs are air conditioned. 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.
With colors and options thrown in, the model matrix is huge. And this matrix includes some specialty models.
New for 2002 is the FX4 off-road package, which includes 17-inch cast aluminum wheels with exposed lug nuts, Rancho-brand shocks, three skid plates, a 3.55 axle and P265/70R17 white-outline tires. FX4 decals and Dark Shadow Gray accents announce your off-road intentions. The FX4 package is available only on 4x4 models, but the package price ranges from $620-$1165 depending on trim level and body style.
The high-performance SVT Lightning, packs a supercharged 5.4-liter V8 rated at 380 horsepower and 450 foot-pounds of torque. Specialized wheels, tires, and suspension are calibrated more for handling than for hauling. This limited production image-generator is available only as a 2WD regular cab on the 120-inch wheelbase.
Also available for 2002 is a new limited-edition Ford Harley-Davidson F-150 SuperCrew. It features a supercharged 5.4-liter Triton V8 engine, unique styling cues and a new color option: Dark Shadow Grey. The 2002 Ford Harley-Davidson F-150 SuperCrew is the third truck jointly developed by Ford Motor Company and Harley-Davidson Motor Company. (It joins two other limited-edition models: the 2000 Ford Harley-Davidson F-150 Super Cab and the 2001 Ford Harley-Davidson F-150 SuperCrew.
The F-150 is a stylish truck, one that pays more serious attention to aerodynamics than either the Dodge or GM pickups. It is rounder, friendlier and looks more like a car than the Dodge, Chevy, or GMC. 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 has been redesigned for 2002, but retains a retro look that won't appeal to everyone (at least not as intensely as it appeals to its die-hard fans).
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 navigating in tight city traffic. Like the Ram, however, its fenders seem to fill small rural roads. In tight quarters, this feels like a big truck.
The 2002 Ford Harley-Davidson F-150 SuperCrew incorporates styling cues of the past with an innovative flair. The front end of the vehicle features a new upper chrome billet grille, clear-lens headlamps and clear-lens parking lamps embossed with the Harley-Davidson Bar & Shield. For 2002, a distinct rivet design surrounds the center of the 20x9-inch five-spoke chromed cast-aluminum wheels, complementing the center caps that display the Harley-Davidson Bar & Shield. Flame pin striping and chrome accessories complement the overall package. As in the past, the Ford Harley-Davidson F-150 SuperCrew is lowered one inch. It features a specially tuned exhaust system with a dual inlet/dual outlet muffler, ending in chrome 3 1/2-inch 'slash cut' exhaust tips.
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 larger cab. The curves, surfaces, textures, instrumentation and graphics inside the F-150 are more adventurous, more modern, and in some ways better executed than the GM and Dodge, big and bold but not outsized for a big vehicle.
The mid-range F-150 XLT has dual air bags with a passenger-side deactivation switch. It comes with 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 does not have a rear seat or extra doors, offers plenty of room for the driver and passenger to stretch out. The XLT's cloth seats recline, and a lumbar support on the driver's side provides even more driving comfort.
All Ford 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. Still, 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 Lariat SuperCrew features handsome leather seating surfaces, front and rear. 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. Adults should be able to ride back there for longer trips. It's also a nice place to change into and out of driver's suits when we go racing.
SuperCrew's rear seats fold down (and are split 60/40), offering a nearly flat luggage space. It's a great place to put cargo or big dogs. I like putting all my equipment back there when I go fly fishing. Small storage compartments behind the front seats add utility. All in all, the SuperCrew offers lots of utility and is a great choice for people who don't seldom need a full-size pickup bed.
Two-wheel-drive F-150s offer a pretty solid ride when unloaded, but quite a good ride when you're hauling a refrigerator over bad pavement. This is because they use conventional steel leaf springs at the rear.
Up front, the 2WD pickups use a coil-spring independent suspension, while 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 231 horsepower and 293 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 ($18,240); 4x2 Styleside SuperCab 157-in. Lariat ($26,950); 4x4 Flareside SuperCab 139-in. XLT ($28,085); 4x4 SuperCrew 139-in. Lariat ($32,275); 4x4 Flareside FX-4 120-in. XLT ($26,005); SVT Lightning ($31,775).
Options As Tested
4.6-liter V8 ($750); automatic transmission ($1095); Sport Group ($595) includes color-keyed bumpers, mirrors, and grille surround, gray mesh grille, 60/40 split front bench seat with unique fabric, identifying decals, 17-inch, 10-spoke cast aluminum wheels, P275/60R17 all-season white-outline tires, 3.55:1 axle ratio.
4x2 XLT 120-in wheelbase regular cab ($20,415).
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