A Familiar Truck with Some New Equipment
For our 2002 Pickup Truck of the Year competition, which appeared in the January issue of Four Wheeler, we tried to get our hands on an F-150 equipped with the new FX4 package. Unfortunately, one could not be made to roll off of the assembly line in time for us to grab hold of it. By now, however, we've turned a couple of calendar pages, and we've found an FX4 to put through its paces. So was it worth the wait?
The FX4 moniker is applied to both the F-150 and the Ranger, but though the name is the same for each of these trucks, the packages are different. For the F-150, the FX4 package consists of 17-inch cast aluminum wheels, Rancho shocks, skidplates, 3.55 gears, and 265/70R17 tires. Oh, yes...and the FX4 decals. All of these components... except obviously the decals...are geared to make the F-150 a bit more adept on the trail.
While the components of the FX4 package were new to us, the rest of the F-150 is quite familiar. Under the hood of our tester was the 5.4L V-8 that produces 260 horsepower at 4,500 rpm and 350 lb-ft of torque at a very low 2,500 rpm. Just as in our previous test of the F-150, we again found the power of the 5.4L V-8 to be merely adequate. Additionally, the F-150's general performance was not helped much by the 3.55 gears with which it was equipped. The optional 3.73 gears would have been a better choice to help wake up performance.
Other familiar components include the 4R70W four-speed automatic transmission. It provides firm shifts without being overly harsh. Indeed, downshifts are immediate and are made without hesitation. This truck's BorgWarner 44-06 transfer case is another component that works very well. Operated by an electronic shifter, it went into and out of gear whenever asked without any fuss, and it provided a low-range of 2.64:1 to crawl around in.
Moving from the underneath to the inside of our F-150 Lariat, we found leather captain's chairs that seemed worth the $490 they cost as an option. They provided plenty of comfort and support, and a wide range of adjustment. However, the adjustments for the chairs were half manual and half power. This arrangement always strikes us as somewhat odd. Power seats ought to be power seats... or at least that's how we reason. Another odd area of the Ford is the dash that is all one color and texture, which some of us feel provides a bland appearance. At least the instrument panel does provide plenty of information through a full contingent of gauges.
Access to the rear of the SuperCab is gained through two smaller-sized rear doors. While the doors make it easy to load and unload people, we wouldn't want them sitting in the rear seat for long. Quarters back there are cramped, with little legroom and with an almost vertical rear seat-back. The rear of the SuperCab just isn't suitable for fullsize humans. It is, however, a handy and secure place to store cargo.