Ford F150 Review 2004

The newest Ford truck, celebrates
Ford’s 100th birthday. There is a lot riding on this truck. And one of the
oldest Ford Dealerships turns 90.

All new from the ground up, it’s bigger, faster, longer and more Tonka er than before. I’m not a fan of the
wind tunnels that automobile manufactures design our vehicles in. I know
that helps make them quieter, more fuel efficient being aerodynamic, but
TRUCKS should not look like space ships. Tough looking trucks is what I like. I took me a
while to get used to the look of the Ford F150 1997 model. Ford F150 Review 2004.

All rounding an all. I did finally get used to it and was tickled that Ford didn’t do the
wind tunnel job to the F250/350 with the new Super Duties in the 1999 model.
And now, I can like the new 2004 F150 right off the bat with the bold tough
“in your face” look once again. Big grill, raised hood still with good
visibility and a wider track, rectangle mirrors, 300 horsepower and an off
road champion makes my job a joy! Even the inside is bigger and longer. Ford
remembered I’m a 2XL with wider door armrests, big butt seats with a large
cab that reminds me of the Ford Super Duties series inside and even the
notch cut door windows for the mirrors like big brother F250.

I pulled 7000# trailers in Texas
with Ford, Dodge, Chevy and Toyota.

There is a lot riding on this new truck being
the best selling vehicle in America for 21 years and the best selling truck
for 26 years. Competition is growing with the 5th full size 1/2 ton truck
line coming from Nissan this winter. Ford knows how much of the company’s
future depends on truck sales and went with a bold larger entry. Taking
bragging rights with the best towing rating, best payload rating, best cargo
volume, quietists cab, and most configurations in body types. Actually it
looks like each model of cab and bed length has it’s own Gross Vehicle
Weight Rating.

We drove two days through the wooded hill country
around San Antonio Texas. And you know I didn’t baby the trucks. Actually we
(press) wereturned loose with a map and loose we got. We drove through potholes I
thought would bottom out the springs and bend the rims, but they didn’t.
Driving on the dirt roads of Texas, (I should call them rock roads) the
truck cornered and hugged the road like a Baja racer. We climbed what looked
like 40 degree approaches up hills and into creek beds. Watching the trucks that
got ahead of us, (they had helmets I think) I could see the amazing wheel
travel over those speed bumps we call rocks. The new frame is boxed with the
front section hydro-formed. The frame is stronger and I noticed how little
flex the frame has. This gives you more control and better feedback from
what should be flexing, the springs not the frame.  Driving the new F150
now has less bounce and wheel hop from the new wider longer rear leaf
springs with  an exclusive new feature of shocks on the outside of the rear leaf springs. This
gives you more stable wheel travel for clearing obstacles off-road. The truck
responded unbelievably on the back roads and creek beds of
South Texas.

Regular cab isn’t
regular anymore. Six inches longer and a access  door.

Regular cab opened up. The
twin access doors can come in handy for throwing tool boxes and such in
out of the rain.

The all new F150 has a new 3-valve
over-head-cam, variable-cam-timing engine with electronic throttle control
in the revised 5.4L V-8. Variable-cam-timing is the future you will see in all trucks eventually. It’s an
efficient way to gain more power from the same displacement engine, a Ford
first in trucks. Just as the variable intake turbo (EVRT) in the Ford 6.0L
diesel Super Duty is going to be in all diesels someday. Ford is leading the
way in truck engine technology and still the only large truck V-8 with
overhead cam technology starting with the 1997 F150. Dodge has it in the
smaller 4.7L now. The new Ford  5.4L cranked up to 300 horsepower and 365
ft. pounds of torque which delivers 80% of it’s torque at 1000rpm, this engine is smooth and very response with or without
a trailer. The new electronic throttle control along with the
variable-cam-timing, work with the improved 4R75E auto transmissions to
expand  the response and feed back from the gas pedal. And running the
gas pedal is all you need to control the F150 with little effort. Actually
the whole truck is easier to accurately control.

The improved 4R75E automatic transmission has
some improvements over the previous 4R75 but is still a 4-speed. I asked Ford
F150 marketing manager Todd Eckart why they didn’t use a 5-speed automatic
and he said, “they didn’t need to.” I will admit the tranny shift points
handled the 7000# trailer well due partly to the new torque converter
turbine sensor, new air mass sensor and the variable cam timing
communicating instantly with the engine computer, probably the EEC V by now,
all to increase torque, power, tranny line pressure and advanced the timing
for that smooth, and I mean real smooth shifting the tranny does at 5000
rpm’s. Though I thought it odd that the 2003 Dodge 1500 has a 5-speed auto
option and the new Nissan Titan full size will have a 5-speed auto as the
standard tranny and yet the all new 2004 F150 will still have 4-geears in a
family of Ford trucks with 5-speed auto’s, like Ranger, Explorer and the new
6.0L diesel.

We pulled enclosed 8×20 car trailers loaded
to 7000#’s with the new 2004 Ford, and 2003 Dodge 1500, Chevy 1500 and
Toyota Tundra.  Ford as you might expect pulled the best and had the
least about of movement from the trailer. All the trailers had WD hitches
set at 10% tongue weight. The new frame is totally boxed, with the front
section being hydro-formed as is Dodge and the front section of the GM
frame. I was told that bed type hitches can be drilled to attach to this new
frame. This new frame we’re told is 9 times stiffer than the previous
C-channel frame.
The wider, longer rear leaf springs with shocks moved to the outside of the
rear springs and this stiff boxed frame all contribute to the remarkable
stability pulling a trailer and driving on tough country roads that grow
potholes at will. This is one of the best trucks for control on country
roads, (gravel or rock) that I’ve tested stock from the factory. I’m sure the 1.7 inches wider
wheel track front and rear is part of the over all equation for the improved
stability. Part of the better feedback you get from this truck is the all
new rack and pinion steering that replaces the recirculating ball system.
There is no free play in the steering so it steers like our front wheel
drive cars.

The new 2004 Ford F150 is bigger
than last year. Wider, tall and longer. Still room for my Stetson
and more with the power seat up. Trucks should look bold and
intimidating don’t you think?

Among the other improvement in this all new
F150, is a tailgate assist spring inside the 2 inch taller tailgate that
matches the 2 inch deeper bed, a power down window  in the 6 inch
longer Super Cab, the moveable and removable overhead console, and the
optional floor shifter for the auto transmission. Last years torsion bar
front suspension in 4×4 went away to be replaced by a “shock in coil” like a
strut. The short and long arm (wishbone) front suspension is massive as well
as the giant 13 inch front and 13.7 inch rear vented disc brakes second only
to Dodge 1500 brakes. 18 inch wheels for the F150 are a new option for 2004.
Maximum payload for the new F150 is 3000#’s, which sounds more like a 3/4

The new look of the 2004 F150 is boxy similar
to the nose of the 2004 Expedition. The design started with the Ford Tonka
concept truck. The new F150 has a 2 inch raised hood that doesn’t block
visibility. I like the bold look, cars may look good molded in a wind
tunnel, but a truck should have attitude like an Abrams tank.

The front section of
the frame is hydro-formed. All of the frame is boxed.

New shock system outside
of the rear leaf springs and 3″ wide rear leaf springs, the same as the
big boys F250/350. This truck was wonderful off road, a wider stance
with more wheel travel and control was effortless flying threw the pot
holes and washouts between the cattle guards and gates on the wooded
ranches near San Antonio TX.

The model lineup
is a little confusing, with only V-8 automatics in the new style, the
old style remains as the Heritage model with V-6 and manual
transmissions still available. The Harley Davidson model has switched to
the Super Duty F250 for 2004. It sounds like the 2005 model will have
all the models back to the new body style.

More room in the back
seat on Super Cabs, an extra 6 inches with adds 6 inches to the
wheelbase of all models except the SuperCrew which already has rear
seat room
for adults. More rear seat angle adds comfort, but I would have put
the jack behind the seat to give more floor space for cargo when the
seats are folded up.

New air filter sits on
top of the intake manifold again, with a slide out the front filter
tray. When there is room I like having this kind of direct filter
mount without the snorkels and hoses that usually connect the air
filter box to the intake manifold. Click on picture to enlarge

Bigger brakes, calipers
and CV joint spindle. Top row is 2004 and bottom row is 2003. Ford has put
the heavy duty back in 1/2 ton ton trucks. More versatility and

You will be hearing a
lot about the top moveable and removable console. Put it where you
want or add some compartments. The aftermarket folks will be going
nuts building TV’s, video games, toolboxes, gun racks, can openers,
fishing pole racks, etc, into the rail.

Nice dash which comes
in two flavors. I like the engine gauges in the middle like this
one. Then I only have to look in one place to see how everything is
running instead of looking at both sides of the dash to read all
four gauges.

Notice the damper on
the differential near the input yoke. Ford said it was to reduce

The Super Cab is well
framed in with a thick outer floor shell  that goes up the rear
of the cab for a solid mount for the rear doors. More safety
engineering. Click on picture to enlarge

shoulder seat belts are in the back wall in the Super Cab now
without being attached to the reverse opening doors. This STX
Flareside model has a narrower bed with bulging rear fenders and a
outward flaring tailgate top for the spoiler look. The new bed is 2
inches deeper as is the matching deeper tailgate which also has a
torsion spring mounted inside the bottom hinge to help lift the
bigger tailgate.

New rear headrests are
becoming a popular safety feature that folks are asking for. Ford
has improved the all around safety of the new F150 from the wider
axle stance, longer wheelbase and stiffer frame to go along with the
tougher look, it is a tougher truck.

Media folks, they keep
getting in front of my camera. Here we are chowing down on barbeque
at the famous Gruene Hall where George Straight and many more got
their start. There was a band playing, I guess I should have paid
more attention.

Was Ford trying to give me the bum steer from the
Lightning Ranch? I didn’t see a steer on the map they gave me but I’m
used to some bull. Click on picture to enlarge

Ford knows what it’s doing
when they hook up trailers for the car driving media. Having a Weight
Distributing Hitch adds to the control pulling heavy bumper type
trailers. The new F150 factory receiver hitch is well built and well
attached to the frame. At the Denver Auto Show in January, I crawled
under the new 2004 F150 to look at the new frame, thinking then that the
whole frame was hydro formed and wanted to see how the hitch was
attached. It’s braced right for the higher tow rating Ford has given the
new truck at 9500#”s. ( Ford upgraded trailer rating to 9900#/’s)

Round vents and bold
“Tonka” looking interior tells you it’s not a wimpy truck. I like the 4
post steering wheel for my fingers to rap around on long trips. A few
more buttons for more digital read out options and optional power

the 2004 Ford F150 has a hood like Dodge now which makes cleaning the
radiator much better. Click on
picture to enlarge

The Tundra surprised me
towing 7000#’s. The new Ford handled the best, but the Toyota Tundra did
well even with the shortest wheelbase and narrowest track as the
smallest full-size truck. Some of the credit goes to the well adjusted
Weight Distributing Hitch.

O’Meara Ford Turns 90

I missed O’Meara Ford’s new showroom groundbreaking 2 weeks after 9/11. I
was in Dearborn Michigan at Ford World HQ’s doing a live TV truck training
show for Ford. But this year right after driving the all new Ford 2004 F150 in
Texas, I did make it to the Grand Opening of O’Meara Ford’s new showroom in
Northglenn June 30th. It was a big event with several car clubs
participating displaying antiques, hotrods and classic’s. There was a
rock wall, live bands and my favorite, free hotdogs. Free food is very fattening, I’m living

It takes a whole lot of faith to invest
heavily in your family business immediately following 9/11. That’s what
separates the survivors from the retiree’s in the highly competitive
automotive retail business. I’ve seen the turbulence in the car business
the last 10 years in Denver, from the out of state mega franchises to
the internet buying services taking over the world. Each new thing that
came and fizzled can’t compete with commitment to your community. There are at least 14 Ford stores in the
Front Range and more than any other brand in Colorado. So to survive 90
years in Colorado with a family owned third
generation O’Meara in charge store, is quite a feat.

I think there are only a
couple older Ford stores in the nation. O’Meara Motors started in 1913
downtown Denver near where the Denver Library is today. Brian O’Meara
follows in the tradition of his father and grandfather who during the
uncertain times of world wars also had the faith to grow the family
business. This philosophy has paid off for the last 90 years with a true
investment in their community and servicing their customers. I’ve
personally seen the extra mile that O’Meara Ford have gone to keep their customers happy.
You will find generations of customers at O’Meara Ford that bring their
children and grandchildren in to buy cars and trucks there. Folks like doing
business with the same people again and again. Building relationships of
repeat customers is the foundation that has kept O’Meara Ford still family
after the competition as been swallowed up by national dealership chains.

Brian O’Meara the third
generation. Sounds like Star Trek. Brian loves the outdoors and is known
to climb a mountain now and then.

O’Meara Ford’s new auto showroom is a “Colorado
with life size bronze sculptures of our Colorado wildlife, Colorado wild flowers,
trees and water
falls throughout the 22 acres in Northglenn reminds me more of Estes Park
than a car dealership. But the
thousand or so new cars and trucks along the “nature trail” gives you a
chance to see several hundred vehicles without seeing several hundred
salespeople . O’meara Ford has the largest
service department in Colorado. This investment in facilities shows the
commitment that more generations of O’Meara’s will be continuing to provide
Ford leadership in Colorado. Nice to do business with a family that supports

90 years in the same
family, just the buildings wear out.


Copyright 2003-05 H. Kent Sundling and All rights reserved
including digital rights.



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