Ford F-150 Supercab
Ford is offering a brand-new off-road package for 2002. It's called the FX4 package, and it includes better wheels and tires, Rancho shocks, more skidplates, and lower gearing to take on the dirt. Much to our dismay, however, Ford was unable to supply an F-150 equipped with the FX4 package. Instead, a normal F-150 4x4 showed up to do battle.
Ford's 5.4L V-8 was nestled under the hood of our chestnut-colored F-150 tester. It's the biggest engine available in the F-150. Producing 260 horsepower and 360 lb-ft of torque, the 5.4L isn't a slouch, but it didn't impress our judges much, either, power-hungry degenerates that they are. Most described the power as adequate but not overly impressive. Feelings for the transmission and the transfer case were mostly neutral. Neither got much criticism or praise. Stepping inside of the F-150 also didn't do much to stimulate our judges. The interior of the Ford is in no way offensive, but it is not exciting, either. One color and texture is used throughout the whole dash, and that gives it a simplistic and bland appearance. Our judges found the front seats to be neither uncomfortable nor inviting, but merely adequate. The rear seat of the extended cab was found not to be a nice place for adults to spend time, but appropriate for cargo.
Out on the road, the Ford's suspension was very firm--so much so that every irregularity in the driving surface could be felt. This same stiff suspension did a good job of tossing the Ford's occupants around on our slow-speed off-road course. However, the Ford did go wherever we pointed it on the trail without too much effort. Also helping on the trail was the fact that the F-150 still sits up high like all good pickups should, and this trait provided it with enough clearance to cruise through most sections without problems.
As speeds picked up on our high-speed dirt road, the Ford did better. Though it was plenty stiff, the suspension did soak up the bumps without constantly bottoming. Some found the ABS braking system to be a little overactive in the dirt at speed, but for the most part the brakes did an OK job. In the dunes, the suspension did produce a bit of rear wheelhop, and the 5.4L V-8 had to be flogged hard to make the big Ford plow through the dunes.
While the F-150 has proven itself to possess few serious negatives, it really didn't do anything to get our judges excited. It neither shined nor drew harsh criticism in any of our judging categories. For that reason it finished toward the back of the pack.
The F-150 came to us with the largest cargo bed in the bunch. That's a good deal. Pickup trucks with miniature beds kind of miss the point of the exercise. The Ford doesn't miss this point.
The F-150's backseats, which are seats in name and style only. No adult would tolerate any time at all in these, and no thinking child would, either.
Check it out if...
You're a Blue Oval loyalist who wants to carry a full load in the largest pickup bed of this bunch.
Avoid it if...
You expect a cushy ride.
25 Words or Less
Ford's engineers have succeeded in making IFS feel and drive just like a beam axle, but without the beamer's benefits of strength and articulation.
The Ford just didn't do anything for me. It wasn't a bad truck, but it wasn't that great, either.
Payloadwise, this is the workhorse of the group. It's a good, solid truck that performs well, but it did not excel in any one area.
The F-150 is what a truck should be: rugged and ready to work hard.