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The Ford F-150 SuperCrew (2000), Pickup, Sport Ute or Limo?

SEE ALSO: Ford Buyer's Guide

By Larry Weitzman

Choices is the name of the game in automobiles and trucks. In the 1950's, there were about basic 18 makes of cars, each with several trim levels. In 1954, Ford had a Mainline, Customline and Crestline available in two door, four door, station wagon and convertible. There were two engines a six and a V-8. But they were basically the same car with different trim levels.

Now within the Ford line up are the Focus, Taurus, Crown Victoria, several types of Sport Utes and two different models of pick ups. All are different. There is nothing interchangable with a Crown Vic, Taurus and a Focus. And within each model, there are several trim lines. Gone are the days of Henry Ford saying "you can have any color you like as long as it's black".

Ford has now given us another choice in pickups. A full size, pickup with four full doors and a very short bed all in the length that is the same as a SuperCab short bed. It is built on the same 138.5 inch wheelbase chassis as well. At 225.9 inches it is a couple of inches shorter than the largest of all SUV's, the Ford Excursion and over 15 inches shorter than other short bed full size crew cabs. But in comparison to the F-150 based Expedition, it has a 19.5 inch longer wheelbase and 21 inches more length. Width is the same at 79.9 inches.

The pickup box is 67 inches long with a 50 inch width at the wheelhouses. It is over 20 inches deep giving a capacity of over 44 cubic feet. With the optional $195 cargo cage, bed length becomes a full seven feet. It is very usable.

From the front doors forward, it is the same as an F-150, Expedition. But then things start to change. The second doors are huge. Room in the rear seat is as big as any limo, maybe bigger. The Sacramento Kings could use this as team transportation, fitting the five biggest Kings in regal comfort (with front buckets). Shoulder room is nearly 64 inches and a ten gallon hat can stay on your passenger's head. The seats themselves could be used in any living room. The rear seat area is 50% bigger than some other wannabees.

But with a turning circle of only 45.9 feet, the SuperCrew maneuvers like a midsize sedan. Parking will not require the services of a harbor master pilot. There is no other truck or sport ute like it.

Ford did a great job of integrating the rear bed into the cab body. The extra height on the bed gives the SuperCrew a balanced look. It is the best looking of the Ford Trucks. The front end has been freshened and cleaned. The headlamps and honeycomb grille work well with their lack of chrome. The rear taillights also deserve special mention along with the rear quarter panel's integration into the rear bumper.

Under the hood are two familiar engines, a 4.6L SOHC 220 hp Triton V-8 and a 5.4L stroke motor that produces 260 hp. The engines are identical except for a lengthening of the piston stroke by .62 inches. which means big torque. The 4.6L pumps out a respectable 290 pounds at 3,250 rpm, but the addition of 49 cubic inches of displacement with the additional stroke brings the torque production up to 350 pounds at a basement dwelling 2.500 rpm.

With torque like that, towing anything but the Queen Mary becomes easy. It's rated for 8,000 pounds in 4X2 configuration, but since most SuperCrews in El Dorado County will be 4X4's towing capacity is reduced by 300 pounds, a very small penalty for go anywhere ability.

Horsepower means the ability to do work. One horsepower of work is equal to lifting 33,000 pounds one foot in one minute. When pitting 260 hp against 5,032 pounds of curb weight, the horsepower wins. This SuperCrew can hustle to 60 from a standstill in just 9.3 seconds, slightly quicker than the 9.6 seconds required for an Exhibition. Passing is easy with 50-70 taking only 5.6 seconds and a steep hill will only slow that time to 8.7 seconds.

Tranny choices are a four speed electronically controlled automatic and a four speed electronically controlled automatic. If you want a manual, buy another truck. The tranny operates smoothly and reacts to throttle pressures and performance demands almost intuitively. Gearing is well thought out with second gear being good to over 80 mph at the engine's 4,800 rpm shift point. Only one axle ratio is offered, a 3.55 which gives an engine speed at 70 mph of a just off idle 1,850 rpm making the SuperCrew incredibly quiet and fuel efficient.

The EPA rates the SuperCrew 5.4L 4X4 at 13 mpg city and 17 mpg highway. My test vehicle averaged 14 mpg overall, but is one 200 mile highway stint, the SuperCrew averaged 17 mpg in traffic that was moving 70 plus mph. Expect 14-15 mpg in El Dorado County if you can refrain from burying the throttle in the carpet. The Triton engines beg to be driven, emitting great V-8 sounds with a soothing smoothness rivaling an electric motor. Expect at least one more mpg with the 4.6L V-8. Contrary to what you have been told that this kind of vehicle damages the environment, this Ford is an example of high tech engineering at its best. The SuperCrew qualifies as a low emission vehicle. It runs so clean that a few years ago, it would have been considered pollution free. No need to feel any guilt from the complainers who are just envious of your good fortune to drive a SuperCrew.

The Super Crew stands tall. It is nearly 77 inches tall giving one the impression of a high center of gravity. But the SuperCrew's ability in the corners was most surprising. The suspension is standard F-150 independent short long arm in front with torsion bars for springing and a live axle with variable rate leaf springs. Whatever Ford did it flat out works. This was one of the easiest and most natural handling full size trucks I have driven.

You forget your driving such a big vehicle. Cornering power with 17 inch wheels and 265/70 tires is remarkable. Roads like Green Valley and Bass Lake can be driven at maximum legal speeds with out stress. It simply goes where you point it. The tires do emit sounds of some protest, but the big SuperCrew hangs on with only moderate body roll and some predictable understeer. When the road starts to bend, the fun begins.

On the washboard of Ponderosa, the SuperCrew ties the other make of full size trucks for honors as the washboard truck champ approaching the ride quality of a fine sedan. In the two 90's with bumps, the SuperCrew tracked perfectly at speed. It flat out handles. Steering has near perfect off and on center feel with a linear power assist that gives the best steering feel of any Ford Truck and as good as any truck I have driven.

On the highway, the SuperCrew is as quiet as any sedan. No engine noise, wind noise or other mechanical intrusions. The ride is well controlled and very smooth, however on a couple of sections of highway, there was some chop from road joints, which may have been caused by the wheelbase length and the distance between the joints.

Braking was performed by four wheel discs with standard antilock. Stops were straight, sure and powerful.

The front captain chairs are sublime, especially with the optional six power adjuster and manual recline ($360) My test vehicle had a luxurious thick cloth which comes with the XLT trim, but I have also sampled the leather which is standard with Lariat trim. The leather smells good and is rich looking, but so is the cloth. It's a tough call, but the leather may hold up better to hard use and coffee spills. This is one comfortable truck.

There is also a 60/40 front bench option. It is just about as comfortable as the captain chairs, but gives you the option of three in the front. The center cushion is quite comfortable, but the seat back which also serves as pull down storage and an armrest isn't to conducive to pleasurable travel. But in the short haul (under an hour) it would be just fine.

Trucks have never been known for door panelling, and neither will this one. Just for once I would like to see some deep dense material instead of hard plastic with a simulated soft insert.

The dash is standard F-150/Expedition. A tach and speedo share center stage, with four ancillary gauges groups in pairs left and right. Clean and easy to read. The center pod holds the easy to use AC system controls and the great sound system with standard CD. Dual airbags are standard, but there is no passenger switch because of the full size rear seat.

The shifter is on the column and between the seats is a large console with and upper and lower storage area and cupholders which gives the front seaters four cupholders to choose from. Two in the dash and the two in the console. My wife didn't know about the dash cupholders for over a year after we bought her Expedition. She never needed them I guess.

Pricing is competitive when compared to other sports utes. A base (XLT 4X2) stickers at $26,700 plus $690 for destination. but comes standard with full power including windows, mirrors and locks and even a CD. It's loaded out of the box. But the 4X4 will be the truck of choice in El Dorado County. The XLT sticker for exactly $30K with destination. The Lariat lists for $31,815 with destination, but comes standard with a power driver's seat ($360) 17 inch wheels and tires ($340) and keyless entry ($150), so the real cost of the leather is $965 (that's a pretty good deal).

Options which I consider mandatory is the 5.4L V-8, $800, trailer tow package ($340), limited slip axle ($285) and cab steps (this is really mandatory if you are under 5'4", $250), the six disc CD changer which is a bargain at $210, skid plates ($160) and the tire and wheel upgrade to 17 inch wheels and 265/70 all terrain tires ($340). One other bargain is the power moon roof for $810, not a necessity, but very reasonably priced especially if your are overstocked at home with SPF 18 or better.

Figure about $33K for the superbly equipped XLT, add a grand for leather.

Harrell Motors, Placerville's Ford Center has a good supply of this new offering from Ford. One test drive will convince you who needs a sedan anymore? It does everything including moving refrigerators and your friends. Maybe on second thought this may not be such a good idea.

Specifications

Price                       $26,700 to about $34,000

Engine(s)
4.6L SOHC 16 valve V-8      220 hp @ 4,500 rpm
                            290 lbs-ft of torque @ 3,250 rpm 

5.4L SOHC 16 valve V-8      260 hp @ 4,500 rpm
                            350 lbs-ft of torque @ 2,500 rpm

Transmission
Four speed electronically 
controlled automatic

Transfer Case
2 speed part time four wheel 
drive, electronically switched

Configuration
Longitudinal front engine, rear
wheel drive, four wheel drive

Dimensions
Wheelbase                  138.5 (138.8 4X4) inches
Length                     225.9  inches
Width                      79.9   inches
Height                     76.9   inches
Weight                     5,032  pounds
Track (f/r)                65.4/65.4  inches
Turning Circle             45.9   feet
Fuel Capacity              25     gallons
Trailer Towing             7,700  pounds
GVWR                       6,750  pounds
Tires                      265/70X17 inch

Performance
0-60                        9.3  seconds
50-70                       5.6    seconds
50-70  uphill               8.7  seconds
Top speed                   triple digits easily possible without
                              government or electronic intervention   
Fuel Economy   (4.5L 4X4)   EPA 13/17 mpg city/highway.  Expect
                              14-15 in El Dorado County and 17-18
                              on the highway at legal speeds.            

 

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