- The Washington Times - Friday, September 14, 2001

Attempting to write an umbrella review of a vehicle as diverse as Ford's F-150 pickup truck is an auto writer's nightmare. Where to begin? What to talk about? There are so many versions, attempting to generalize, beyond saying it's a nice truck, is virtually impossible.

There are seven configurations of cab and cargo-box combinations. Each is offered in two wheelbase lengths. For the most part, each can be fitted with any of three engines and can be powered by the rear or all four wheels.

Standard content is determined by choosing one of three trim levels — XL, XLT and Lariat. After all of this, I still haven't mentioned the SVT Lightning edition, which is fitted with yet a fourth engine. Hey, it's a nice truck.

I have driven several iterations of the F-150 this year, including the supercharged 5.4-liter, V-8-equipped Lightning and the new-for-2001 SuperCrew with its four hinged doors. As a group, they have been comfortable, well-constructed, solid performers.

Representative of this group and a statement of our times, the Harley-Davidson edition is as good to focus on as any, particularly because it features the new SuperCrew cab design. It was a 4x2 Lariat with the 139-inch wheelbase and flareside cargo box.

While Ford doesn't price out the Harley-Davidson package as an option, it appears to add about $8,000 to the bottom line of a 4x2 Lariat SuperCrew F-150. For that extra dough, you get the 260-horsepower 5.4-liter V-8 in place of the Lariat's 220-horsepower 4.6-liter V-8, upgraded Goodyear Eagle rubber, a limited-slip rear axle, overhead console, fog lamps, cargo cage, cargo-box extender, special aluminum wheels, Harley-Davidson captain's chairs and black paint. It's an ominous-looking package.

At the top of the F-150's engine food chain is the explosive supercharged 5.4-liter V-8. Packing 100 more horsepower and 90 additional foot-pounds of peak torque than the normally aspirated 5.4-liter V-8, the supercharged version isn't for the faint of heart. For those looking for brisk acceleration and determined towing, the normally aspirated big V-8 powering my test Ford will do just fine.

Arriving at 60 mph from a standstill takes about nine seconds. With the 5.4-liter V-8, the SuperCrew can pull 8,000 pounds. The four-speed automatic is the only transmission available in the SuperCrew. If fuel economy is important to you, buy a Focus. This version of the F-150 has earned an Environmental Protection Agency miles-per-gallon rating of 15 in the city and 19 on the open highway.

Ride quality on this pickup is surprisingly high. It is a truck, but the ride is quite smooth, and even choppy surfaces don't invoke much chattering. Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes are standard. Confined parking areas can be a challenge, but steering response is very good.

A decade ago, who would have thought there would be pickup trucks with four hinged doors? But here they are, offering carlike convenience and comfort to rear-seat passengers. No, that split-folding rear bench seat won't be mistaken for the back seat of a Lincoln Town Car, but it is remarkably comfortable.

There is lots of room front and back—plus plenty of concealed storage.

There are very few amenities available in upscale sedans that aren't available in full-size pickups today. Leather seating, six-way power driver's seat, power-adjustable pedals and automatic headlamps were just a few of the standard features on my test truck.

Base price of the F-150 SuperCrew Harley-Davidson 4x2 pickup is $35,995. Other standard features not already mentioned include air conditioning, dual front air bags, power door locks and windows, remote keyless entry, dual power outboard mirrors with turn-signal indicators and AM/FM stereo/CD player. Tacking on the $715 delivery charge brought the price as tested to $36,835.

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