2004 F-150 New Car Test Drive
When you are the absolute market leader, as Ford is with the F-150 pickup truck, you don't take change lightly. The F-150 is the most important, most profitable vehicle Ford makes. With nearly 900,000 annual sales, the F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle (car or truck) in America for 21 consecutive years.
Now, they've thrown away the old formula and created a brand new F-150 from the ground up.
Ford admits the new F-150 is bigger, heavier, and more expensive to build than the wildly successful previous version. It is also the best-handling, quietest, most car-like full-size pickup truck in the history of the world. All of the new F-150 models feature all-new interiors that show attention to detail. The seats vary, but all are comfortable and supportive. Ford says the F-150 will be sold at competitive prices, model for model, against the traditional American as well as the new Japanese competition.
To better meet the needs of different types of buyers, Ford created five distinct iterations of the F-150: XL, STX, XLT, FX4, and Lariat. Each boasts its own interior style and features engines, suspensions and cab configurations designed to meet specific needs. A myriad of configurations and options within these five model lines ensure buyers can select the right pickup for them.
XL is the budget-priced truck. It features an all-new work-truck interior and comes with all the basics such as 40/20/40 bench seats in vinyl or cloth, an all-plastic dashboard, a black grille and 17-inch steel wheels. XL is available in regular cab or SuperCab styles. XL is powered by Ford's 231-horsepower 4.6-liter V8 and comes with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. An F-150 XL Regular Cab 2WD automatic retails for $21,215, while a long-wheelbase (145-inch) 4x4 is priced at $24,855.
STX is sportier than the XL, with a body-colored grille surround for the black bar grille, and 17-inch cast aluminum wheels. STX comes in Styleside (flat) and Flareside (fendered) body styles, in regular cab or SuperCab, with either a 6.5-foot or a 5.5-foot cargo box. An audiophile sound system with subwoofer and six-disc CD changer is optional. An STX starts at $22,215. (Manufacturer's suggested retail prices do not include the destination charge of $795.)
XLT is Ford's volume model and comes with its own egg crate grille style. XLT comes in regular cab, SuperCab and SuperCrew four-door variants, with a choice of 5.5-, 6.5- and 8-foot bed lengths, and Styleside and Flareside body styles. A premium cloth interior is standard on the bench seats or optional captain's chairs. The XLT instrument panel gets more flash than either the XL or STX dash. SuperCrew and SuperCab versions offer power rear windows. The XLT comes with the new overhead rail console system and fog lamps when ordered as a 4X4. XLT SuperCab 4x4 4.6-liter V8 automatic retails for $30,085 MSRP.
FX4 is a specialty 4X4 off-road model. FX4 comes only in a stepside version with special chrome interior trim and markings, and a floor console with floor shifter. FX4 is available in regular cab, SuperCab and SuperCrew body styles with either 5.5-foot Styleside or 6.5-foot Flareside or Styleside bed designs (no 8-foot bed). The standard engine is the 300-horsepower 5.4-liter 3-valve-per-cylinder V8, which Ford says has the best fuel consumption of any V8 engine it has ever built. The FX4 has its own instrument package as do the rest of the models, with carbon mesh accents on the metallic dashboard. Captain's chairs in cloth or leather and the Audiophile system are optional, and 18-inch cast aluminum wheels are optional. An F-150 FX4 SuperCab 4x4 5.4-liter V8 automatic retails for $32,185.
Lariat is the luxury model and, for the time being, sits at the top of the line. Lariat has its own grille design and comes standard with 18-inch wheels. It amplifies the all-new interior with black-on-cream instrumentation, lots of wood trim and brushed metal, a multi-function steering wheel, and a shiny floor shifter mounted in a floor console. A power 40/20/40 split bench seat with seat memory is standard, along with power adjustable floor pedals, an in-dash message center, and climate control. Heated power leather captain's chairs are optional. Lariat 2WD models are available in all three body styles, but 4X4 versions are only available with Styleside fenders. An F-150 Lariat SuperCrew 4x4 5.4-liter V8 automatic retails for $35,570.
The new F-150 takes off from these five model lines into 26 variations by the time you count two- and four-wheel-drive, short bed, medium bed, and long bed, manual and automatic and the five trim levels. The nearest competitor has only 12 variations, a fact that Ford hopes will bring more people into its dealerships. In addition to the 26 variants of the F-150 within the five model ranges, there are dozens of options,.