2004 Ford F150 SuperCrew Lariat 4X4
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Story and photos by Russell Purcell

Ford brass knew that in order to retain their sales leadership in the hotly contested light-truck market they were going to have to offer consumers a stylish, durable package with modern accessories and comfort levels never before seen in a truck. Increased competition from recently revamped trucks from Dodge, Chevrolet and GMC were nipping at the company’s sales charts, while an improved Toyota Tundra and Nissan’s recently launched Titan provided new, and impressive competition.

All New

Ford loyalists will embrace the new F-150, as it brings a new look to the driveway with its increased size, aggressive styling and muscular stance.

2004 Ford F150 SuperCrew Lariat 4X4

2004 Ford F150 SuperCrew Lariat 4X4
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It immediately evokes images of Ford’s Explorer Sport Trac, with the extra tall cargo bed walls, long, 4-door passenger compartment, and available fold out cargo cage. Large wrap around headlamps with differentiated lenses sandwich an enormous egg-crate grille that brings a big rig look to the F-150.

Ford fans will also note the shape of the front side windows, which now feature the step-down window treatment first featured on the F-350 Super-Duty trucks. The increased visibility this provides is surprisingly substantial, as the large side mirrors can be seen by drivers of all statures.

Inside, the look is all new, and the choice of materials and the design of the buttons, levers and trim in my Lariat test vehicle are more akin to those fitted to a luxury sedan than a pick-up truck. I had the chance to peruse the interiors of a few of the other models and must say that the quality and appearance of each one is substantially improved over the old design.

Ford’s bean counters aren’t playing fair, as pricing for the 2004 F-150 has been set at or below the cost of the out-going model. This means that buyers that decided to wait for the new truck will be getting a lot more truck for the money. Some buyers may lament the fact that the V6 engine and manual transmission are both notably absent from the build sheet – all models now come equipped with automatic transmissions and V8 engines as standard equipment.

More Room

The 2004 F-150 is bigger in every dimension and there are three cab choices available – Regular Cab, Super Cab and Crew Cab – and three box sizes – ranging from 5.5′ to 8.0′. The big news is that even the Regular Cab model now offers FOUR doors as it has been stretched 6-inches. Twin suicide type doors with frame mounted handles allow occupants to make much better use of the 13″ of storage space behind and under the seat.

2004 Ford F150 SuperCrew Lariat 4X4

2004 Ford F150 SuperCrew Lariat 4X4
Click image to enlarge

My Crew Cab tester proved to have so much room that even with the driver’s seat set at its rearmost position I still had about 15 cm of space between my knees and the seat back, and I stand 6’2″. My only complaint would be the rear seatback which seems almost vertical, so comfort over a long trip might be an issue for rear seat passengers. I was surprised to discover that the rear side windows retract all the way down. Nice.

Up front the truck can be ordered with two very comfy captain’s chairs, separated by a raised console that houses a big storage bin, four cup-holders and the ventilation system for the rear occupants. A modern looking console mounted shifter replaces the column mounted one on bench seat models, and gives the truck a sporty look and feel.

The new F-150 can be offered with cargo boxes in 8-foot (2,438 mm), 6.5 -foot (1,981 mm), and 5.5-foot (1,676 mm) lengths. Two designs are available, “Styleside” or “Flareside,” the latter only in 6.5-foot length and is similar to that found on the Lightning, with fender-like wheel flares and spoiler-like tailgate flare.

The boxes on the 2004 F-150 are steel, and bolted directly to the frame so are less prone to rattle. They also offer the largest cargo volumes of any pickup truck (under 8,500 lb. GVWR) and are 12 percent larger than that of the 2003 F-150. The boxes are just over two inches deeper than the out-going model, which in large part explains the increased volume. They also benefit from a feature Ford calls Lift Assist, a clever mechanism designed to make it easy for people of all statures to open and close the tall tailgate.

More Luxury

2004 Ford F150 SuperCrew Lariat 4X4
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The Lariat is the luxury liner of the Ford pickup fleet. Once I slid behind the wheel I immediately recalled the short-lived Lincoln Blackwood, as this truck was so luxurious that it reminded me of a Navigator with a cargo box. Power operated seating and adjustable pedals allowed me to customize my seating position, while heated side mirrors (with integrated turn signals) allowed me to survey my surroundings. An advanced HVAC system kept all occupants warm and cozy and air flow could be directed exactly where you wanted it with clever vents that rotated almost 360-degrees. Standard features include integrated fog lamps, dark privacy glass, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a keyless entry system. This truck is so well-equipped, and so confident on the road, that a lot of consumers might by-pass the traditional wagon-esque SUV for the utility of the cargo box.

2004 Ford F150 SuperCrew Lariat 4X4
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My truck had almost every option available including a power moonroof and sliding rear window, an upgraded audio system with sub-woofer, decadent leather-clad heated captain’s chairs, and a rear parking sensor. On the outside, my truck benefited from two-tone paint, full-length running boards, 18 inch wheels and meaty all-terrain tires. A heavy-duty towing rig peeked out from under the rear sill and a flip-out bed extender hid in the cargo bed, making this rig the perfect vehicle for owners who may have a boat or trailer, or tend to haul longer loads.

A roof-mounted DVD entertainment system is also available for $1,790. This snaps into an innovative overhead console rail system, and includes the DVD player, a high performance 7″ flip-down overhead LCD screen, rear seat audio controls, two pairs of infrared headphones and a handheld remote control. For carpoolers or busy families, this system will make long trips much less tedious, and the system is OEM so it’s perfectly suited for this application, as well as covered by your warranty.


F-150 logo
A pair of trips up the Coquihalla Highway with a substantial load and three extra-large adults proved to be less of a test for the new F-150 than I had hoped, as the truck never missed a beat. Slippery early winter roads and rutted highway lanes were no match for this smooth riding rig. Even at triple-digit speeds on long, high-altitude climbs, the optional 5.4-litre Triton V8 engine and its 300 ponies and 356 lb.-ft. of torque smoothed out the hills and made short work of kilometre after kilometre of sloppy highway. I was also impressed by the sound-deadening, as the cabin remained quiet even when the truck was under the most stressful conditions.

Acceleration is brisk for a full-size truck, especially when free of a load, and the truck has been so well designed, with a real emphasis on ride and handling, that the truck feels confident even when cornering at speed. An advanced independent coil-over-shock front suspension and the innovative placement of the rear shock absorbers on the outboard side of the frame rails combine to make this truck very stable and responsive.

2004 Ford F150 SuperCrew Lariat 4X4
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Most light trucks transmit a feeling of instability whilst rounding corners, especially when roads are wet and slippery and the cargo bed is empty, as the lightness of the rear end has a tendency to promote fish tailing. At no time during my 7 days with the F-150 did I feel this sensation, and for most of this time period, the roads were a rain-soaked mess.

The V8 engines offered on the new F Series trucks represent the first to use variable cam timing, which makes optimal use of the engine’s performance based on user and situational demands. This was immediately evident during the transition from the low-stress flats to steep upgrades as the truck would hint at its extra workload with a slightly louder growl but the tachometer would continue to register rpm levels within its optimal torque range (2,250 to 4,750 rpm). This set-up also benefits your pocketbook as it generally improves fuel economy as well as lowering emissions.

The 4-speed automatic is all new as well, and has been designed to handle the increased torque of the new engine. It provided near seamless gear changes and shift points were right on the mark, as the combination of the new electronic throttle control and the aforementioned variable cam timing have made this truck a smooth operator in all mechanical departments.


The new F-150 has a fully boxed frame with hydro-formed front rails that Ford claims is approximately nine times stiffer torsionally than that of its predecessor.

2004 Ford F150 SuperCrew Lariat 4X4
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This provides a solid foundation for improved durability and driving dynamics, plus reduces shake and shudder on irregular road surfaces. Ford also claims that the front rails also improve the F-150’s crash worthiness as they provide a better crush zone to absorb energy, and improving the truck’s “compatibility” if impacting smaller vehicles. (Ford’s F-150 recently received “Good” and “Best Pick” ratings in a 40 mph frontal offset crash test from the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety – ed.)

Front passengers benefit from next-generation airbags that feature multiple deployment levels depending on a set of four factors – crash severity, seat-belt use, driver seat position and passenger classification. The passenger seat benefits from an occupant classification system that will inflate the bags in a manner best suited for the size and weight of the occupant.

Advanced anti-lock brakes are present on all four wheels and seemed to be resistant to fade. They are supplemented by a standard electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) system which manages brake-force to the rear wheels ensuring maximum braking under heavy load conditions.

2004 Ford F150 SuperCrew Lariat 4X4
Click image to enlarge

For buyers that select a model equipped with four-wheel drive, they will be surprised at how simple it is to activate the system at the simple twist of a dash-mounted switch. The truck will operate in two-wheel drive until the driver selects either 4Low or 4High- the former to be used at low speed and when the driving conditions are extra treacherous, the latter when roads are slippery or wet and the truck is at speed. The system can be engaged or disengaged on-the-fly, and kicks in immediately.


Ford recently celebrated its position as North America’s truck sales leader for the past quarter century (37 years in Canada), and the 2004 F-150 is so well thought out, that it is likely to maintain its dominance for some time to come. And just to make sure that the company isn’t alienating fans of the previous style, for 2004 you can order an F-150 Heritage model in either traditional Regular Cab or Crew Cab models, which is basically a continuation of the previous platform. This rare opportunity will be popular with fleet buyers or consumers looking for a bare-bones truck, as the V6/manual transmission package can still be had.

Technical Data: 2004 Ford F150 SuperCrew Lariat 4X4

Base price (XL reg. cab) $27,485
Base price (Lariat crew cab) $45,360
Options $4,830 (275/65RX18 all-terrain tires $420, 3.73 limited slip axle $375, running boards $465, power moon roof $1,020, power sliding rear window $165, towing package $475, Audiophile stereo upgrade $330, cargo box extender $285, reverse sensing system $325, captains chairs $630, two-tone paint $340)
A/C tax $100
Destination and delivery $1,045
Price as tested $51,335
Type 4-door full-size pickup, ladder frame
Layout longitudinal front engine, 2WD (optional 4WD)
Engine 4.6 litre V8, SOHC, 2 valves per cylinder
Horsepower 231 @ 4750 rpm
Torque 293 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm
Optional Engine 5.4 litre V8, SOHC, 3 valves per cylinder, var. cam timing
Horsepower 300 @ 5000 rpm
Torque 365 lb-ft @ 3750 rpm
Transmission 4-spd automatic with overdrive
Brakes (front/rear): disc/disc, four-wheel ABS
Curb weight 2,226 kg (4,908 lbs) – 2,946 kg (6,495 lbs)
Bed Length 1,676/1,981/2,438 mm (66.0/78.0/96.0 in)
Cargo Volume (bed) 1,841 litres (65 cu. ft.)
Passenger Volume 1,841L (65.0 cu.ft.) – 3,514L (124.1 cu.ft.)
Towing Capacity 3,765 – 3,992 kg (8,300 – 8,800 lbs)
Payload 907 – 1,315 kg (2,000 – 2,900 lbs)
Fuel consumption 15.7/12.4 L/100 km – 16.8/13.1 L/100 km (city/highway)
Warranty 3 yrs/60,000 km

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