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2005 Ford F-150 4 x 4 SuperCab

Leader of the Pack

Ford’s venerable F-150 still tops industry sales charts.

The song “The Leader of the Pack” by The Shangri-Las was a Top 40 hit in 1964. The song ran its inevitable course, dropped off the charts and eventually found its home on the oldies stations. Imagine if that song had remained on top of the charts for nearly three decades and you get an idea of the success Ford’s F-150 has enjoyed for 27 years.

Redesigned in 2004, Ford’s F-150 received only minor trim and equipment changes for 2005. Powertrain additions included a new 4.2-liter V-6, which is available with a manual or automatic transmission. Since so many F-150 models come in trim levels too nice for hauling heavy equipment or bags of cement, the company now offers a Work Truck Group package, either for entry level or commercial applications.

As for trim and interior options, the 2005 F-150 is available in a King Ranch edition, complete with the Castano leather interior—and the powerful rawhide smell that accompanies it. Also, the right front seat gets a new occupant position sensing system.

Mounted on the seat track, the sensing system can discern among an adult, child or, say, a pair of work gloves and adjusts the activation force of the air bags, or shuts them off entirely. According to company literature, the air-bag system also takes into account the severity of the crash, whether the driver’s seat belt is in use and seat position.

The system is an intelligent enhancement, but the front bucket seats themselves received mixed reviews from our staff. Some thought they were comfortable, but one of our taller drivers panned the seats, saying that they weren’t deep enough to afford ample thigh support and offered little in the way of side bolstering. This shouldn’t be, especially since the Lincoln Navigator—another Ford Motor Co. product—we tested in April had some of the best seats in its class. Why not equip the F-150 with the same seats?

The bucket-seat arrangement also comes with a console and a first-in-class console-mounted shifter. If you require more room, Ford offers a 40/20/40 split front bench, which comes with a column-mounted shifter, and is available only with the XL, STX and XLT packages. Anything fancier, such as the FX4 we tested, the Lariat or the King Ranch, comes with buckets and a console.

Our test model came with power adjustable pedals, a $120 option that topped the charts with our staff, since we were able to tailor them to each person who drove it. If more than one person drives your tow vehicle regularly, the setup is worth looking for.

In back, the test model had a rear bench that split 60/40, with cushions that lifted with one hand—convenient if you’re holding a bag of groceries or a child in the other—and flipped up and back to reveal a small storage well.

The rear bench had shoulder restraints for three passengers and an optional power sliding rear window, a $250 option also available by itself. However, the coolest aspect of the rear passenger area was the doors. Because of the truck’s clever handle design, rear-seat passengers could let themselves out. What’s more, the windows actually powered up and down, something you don’t get on any other 2005 truck with rear-hinged doors.

We sampled a SuperCab, but even Ford’s conventional cab has rear-hinged doors—though they’re narrow—which provide access to the storage area behind the front seat.

The current truck comes with a fully boxed frame, which Ford literature says is 50 percent more rigid than the model it replaced.  The result is a nice rigid cabin, with dramatically decreased noise, vibration and harshness.

The ride on the freeway was firm, but certainly livable. Unlike the Super Duty series of trucks, the F-150’s ride didn’t improve with a trailer in tow. On the other hand, it didn’t get any worse.

With a 3.73:1 rear axle, the truck loafed along the freeway at 1,500 rpm at 55 mph. Climbing a 7-percent grade, the truck’s speed dropped to 45 mph. We switched off the cruise and stood on the accelerator, and as the motor revved to 3,250 rpm, it climbed back up to 50 mph before we crested the hill.

Power came courtesy of a 5.4-liter Triton V-8 that sang to the tune of 300-horsepower. The single-overhead came engine produced 365 pound-feet of torque at a very useful 3,750 rpm. Mated to a four-speed automatic with a 0.70:1 overdrive fourth gear, the Triton engine offered ample acceleration, excellent tip-in and passing power at freeway speeds.

When it came time to stop, the F-150 delivered with or without a trailer. Braking power was good, as was the feel at the pedal. Antilock mode worked seamlessly right up to the last 20 or so feet of stopping distance, when the tires chirped a bit.

Even with a trailer in tow, the stock mirrors provided great rear visibility. The mirrors also were equipped with LEDs that flashed in sync with the turn signals, in case motorists behind can’t see your taillamps. Good idea and well executed, since they weren’t intrusive at night.

We also applauded the interior appointments. The headline act was, well, the headliner. It came fitted with a unique modular overhead rail system, which allows owners to customize the interior storage options. Owners can snap in additional modules, such as first-aid kits, toolboxes, flashlights and two-way radio holders.

The dashboard was handsomely appointed with big HVAC vents that closed positively and allowed the driver to precisely direct air flow. Controls were easy to reach and all the chrome-bezeled gauges were easily legible, day or night.

It’s difficult to imagine anything staying on top for so long. In this case there is no need to imagine. Ford’s vaunted F-150 has continued to top the sales charts for longer than any pop song ever could.


EPA Fuel Economy Estimates
City... 14
Highway... 18

0-60 towing... 25.22 seconds
40-60 towing... 14.51 seconds
0-60 non-towing... 10.78 seconds
40-60 non-towing... 5.9 seconds

Engine... 5.4-liter Triton V-8
Horsepower... 300 at 5,000 rpm
Torque... 365 pound-feet @ 3,750 rpm
Compression ratio...  9.8:1
Transmission...  Four-speed automatic with overdrive

Axle ratio... 3.73:1
Fuel capacity... 27 gallons
Tire size... P275/65R18
Brakes... Four-wheel disc with antilock
Suspension... Front: coil on shock double wishbone; Rear: live axle on multileaf springs with outboard shock absorbers.

Curb weight... 5,471 pounds
Tow rating... 9,300 pounds
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating... 7,200 pounds
Gross Combined Weight Rating... 15,000 pounds

Overall length... 229.8"
Maximum width... 78.9 "
Wheelbase... 144.5"
Base price...$32,605
Price as tested... $37,135

Formula 271 FAS3Tech
8,000 lbs.

Customer service... 800-392-3673
Web site...

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