Jeff Ford
September 1, 2004
Photos By: Ford Motor Company

When given the opportunity to flog blue oval iron at the behest of Ford Motor Company we take our job seriously. Though it might be unwise to admit to it, we treat the vehicles as if they were our own. we don't eat in the cars and trucks delivered to us, but we do make them "ours" for the limited time we have them.

A few months ago, Sergio Gutierrez, our source for Ford press vehicles, dropped off an '04 Ford F-150, followed by an '04 F-250 Harley Davidson truck. Both were here for about two weeks. The F-150 did some light towing and light-duty dust and dirt off-roading (we're not ones to wash undercarriages). We came away impressed, and thought you might like our thoughts on what could be your next towing vehicle.

The F-150 we tested was equipped with the four-wheel-drive option, as well as all the bells and whistles that come with the Lariat package. Though we aren't quite married to the look of the '04, we will say it is distinctive and might grow on us.

On a long haul trip from Lakeland, Florida, to Macon, Georgia, the brawny Super Crew got an average of 17 mpg and was way more comfortable than any 4x4 truck has a right to be-in fact, it's interior reminded us of the Lincoln Navigator. The Audiophile sound system just rocked with its ability to make the windows rattle. We used our test CD, ZZ Tops' Mescelero and its tasty cut "Crunchy" (I don't know what that means) to test the speakers and found them excellent.

On the ride-and-drive front, we expect a truck to feel . . . well, like a truck. This new Ford is more like a passenger car than a big ol' knuckle-dragging four-wheel drive. With its new metallurgy, Ford has produced one of the quietest and best mannered trucks we've seen. Towing was good, but only done locally so no long haul numbers could be pulled for mileage. The 5.4 was not strained too terribly by the weight of a '72 Mach 1, though we suspect that mileage on the big green Effie would suffer. We also used an all-aluminum Ultralite trailer that cut our weight by a sizeable number. Still the '04 is a capable performer.

THE F-150
• Deluxe Heated Seat Package $645
• Trailer Towing Package $350
• 5.4L 3V EFI V-8
(payload cap. 1650 GVWR 7200)
Standard on This Model
• Electronic four-Speed Automatic
Transmission with Overdrive
(Higher Torque Capacity)
Standard on This Model
• 3.73 Axle Ratio Standard on This Model
• Leather trimmed Captain Chairs $595
• Audiophile system $250
• Six-disc changer $295
• Destination Charges $795
Total MSRP $37,425

It was big, it was orange and black, and no one wanted to borrow it. That was really too bad because we ended up liking the Power Stroke 250 as much or more than the {{{F-150}}}. Normally when we get a test vehicle, everyone on the {{{Ford}}} team wants to borrow the thing. We are continually fending off requests for the keys. Not so with the Harley Davidson truck. We think it had something to do with the Halloween black and orange paint. That aside, we like the truck (which is available in a more subtle overall black or a nice black and Dark {{{Shadow}}} Gray). From where we sit, it is a paragon of power with its Power Stroke turbo diesel, and it bests the F-150 in fuel mileage at a hair over 18 on the highway. After playing around with it, we have no qualms saying the thing could move a house. The one thing that seemed to bug some who did acquiesce to riding in the bad boy was the noise of the diesel and the whine of the turbo-both of which were music to our ears. All we needed was a trucker hat, a chain wallet, some Justin Ropers, and we'd fit right in down at Tilly's Truck stop just off the super slab headed to Shytown. But make no mistake, the {{{F-250}}} is a truck of the old line and feels more like it than the F-150.

We did spec out an XL standard cab for towing (we really were impressed with the diesel), and it came to a whopping $30,290 with the following options: XL Decor Group, Camper Package, 6.0L Power Stroke Turbo Diesel V-8, six-Speed Manual Transmission with Overdrive (no charge), LT235/85Rx16E BSW All-Terrain Tires, Electronic AM/FM Stereo with Cassette/Clock, Air Conditioning, Speed Control/Tilt Steering Wheel, Built Ford Tough Trailer Hitch Receiver (12.5K Capacity).

THE HARLEY TRUCK
* Heavy-Service Suspension Package $125
* 6.0L Power Stroke Turbo Diesel V-8 $5,085
• Electronic TorqShift Five-Speed Automatic
Transmission (6.0L Diesel) $1,480
* 3.73 Axle Ratio, Limited Slip Rear ${{{300}}}
* Harley Davidson Two-Tone Paint Scheme $225
• Premium Electronic AM/FM Stereo with In-Dash
Six-Disc CD Player/Clock $300
* 4X4 Electric Shift-on-the-Fly $185
• Built Ford Tough Trailer Hitch Receiver
(12.5K Capacity) $175
Total MSRP $48,956