LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. — The pastel glow of sunrise colors the sandstone canyon walls as I motor along a twisty, California two-lane into the foothills that nip the Pacific coast here. I feel like I’m in a moving breakfast room, with coffee and a muffin tucked conveniently in the SuperCrew’s center console, soulful tunes serenading from the F-150’s audio system, a seat with power controls contoured to hold me in comfort, my camera gear and a backpack of warm clothing stowed conveniently in the rear, and a four-wheel-drive system that will allow me to leave the pavement and traffic behind.
It doesn’t get much better than this I decide — a woman and her truck out for an early morning ride. True, a woman behind the wheel of a pickup is hardly a head-turner anymore, but the truck I’m driving — the new 2001 F-150 SuperCrew — clearly is. Not only attractive, this new Ford truck is tailored for this ever-expanding segment of the market.
When opportunity knocks, car companies can be a little sluggish to answer the call. Historically Ford has taken this advice to heart, elbowing into niches and emerging market segments and answering the call of consumers. Their immensely popular Explorer SUV, which sells in droves at a good profit per vehicle, made its debut at the birth of the SUV boom. Likewise, the Expedition continues to be one of the company's hits. And they’ve been successful with one model for what seems like forever: the F-150 is the best-selling nameplate in automotive history worldwide (beyond the Beetle or Model T) and the best-selling vehicle — car or truck — in the U.S. for the past 17 years.
More golden opps
We think Ford has seized yet another golden opportunity with the 2001 F-150 SuperCrew. Introduced last January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit and slated for first sales early in 2000, the SuperCrew builds on the successes of the F-150 line of full-size pickups by offering an SUV-like four-door cabin and a five-and-a-half-foot cargo box.
2001 Ford F-150 SuperCrew
The SuperCrew answers the call of consumers who are looking for ever-more versatile pickups. Some simply want more interior space yet still need the "chuck it in the back" utility of a pickup bed. Others are attracted to the SUV concept but, as traditional pickup buyers, psychologically gravitate toward the F-150 line. (A slightly smaller vehicle, similar in concept, the Explorer SportTrac, will also debut in 2000 as a 2001 model.)
In profile, the SuperCrew is quite handsome. Its rear doors, hinged at the B-pillars and complete with conventional handles and windows, are full-size and swing widely for easy access to the back seat. A full foot more cab space than the current SuperCab model allows for an Expedition-style rear seat; leg room is more than adequate with four extra inches of knee room, the seating position is tall and inspiring, and plenty of glass reduces the cave-like effect of many second-row pickup accommodations.
Sharing the same wheelbase (138.5 inches) and overall length (225.9 inches) with the SuperCab pickup, the SuperCrew remains maneuverable despite its cargo capacity, with a respectable turning circle of 45.9 feet, curb-to-curb.
Tritons and torque
Also shared with the rest of the pickup line are the two V-8 engine offerings: Ford’s V-6 will not be available with the four-door body style. At 4.6 liters of displacement, the standard Triton powerplant produces 220 horsepower at 4500 rpm and 290 lb-ft of torque at 3250 revs. The upgrade to the 5.4-liter V-8 (and its 260 hp, 345 lb-ft performance) is expected to cost about $1000. Either way, gear selection is via a four-speed electronically-controlled overdrive automatic. Four-wheel-drive versions sport pushbutton shift-on-the-fly, no-nonsense traction and a two-speed transfer case for heavy hauling. Four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes are standard on all models. Towing capacity is as high as 8000 lb with the 5.4-liter engine and optional 3.55:1 final drive.
2001 Ford F-150 SuperCrew scuba
Review continues below
The Scuba Supercrew sports yellow trim and room for oxygen tanks in back.
2001 Ford F-150 SuperCrew
Although the standard F-150 comes in a number of bare-bones configurations, the SuperCrew starts with XLT trim and therefore sports a long standard equipment list. Unique in the market and now standard in this truck are Ford’s electronically adjustable pedals. Thoughtful storage details and generally high-quality plastics make this Ford's interior an attractive one. Air conditioning, tilt wheel, cruise control, 40/60 split front bench, center console, power windows, mirrors, and door locks, four-speaker AM/FM/cassette, privacy glass, overhead console, tachometer, and alloy wheels are all standard equipment. Lavish Lariat versions step up to the plate with leather upholstery, a six-way power driver's seat, keyless entry, AM/FM/CD, color-keyed grille, and special tires. A host of options packages and special trim options are available, making nearly every truck unique. Also coming is a rear-seat entertainment unit.
Making a splash at the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association show in Las Vegas this past November was the "Scuba SuperCrew." Designed to show "how our versatile truck line-up can be personally customized to take on any kind of outdoor activity," according to Ford design guru J Mays, the black-with-yellow accent truck wears 17-inch TSW wheels and low-profile rubber in addition to trim items specifically designed to protect the body from the harsh marine environment. Inside, the yellow-on-black theme is used extensively in the neoprene seating surfaces. Most interesting though, is the truck's equipment list, including an on-board compressor, an inflatable boat, storage centers, and diving gear for two. Scuba SuperCrew not only shows the direction pickup trucks might take, but more importantly, proves that Ford is aggressively riding oncoming waves.
|2001 Ford F-150
Base Price: $26, 090 (4x2 XLT); $27,670 (4x2 Lariat); $29, 310 (4x4 XLT); $31,125 (4x4 Lariat)
Engines: 4.6-liter V-8, 220 hp; 5.4-liter V-8, 260 hp
Transmission: electronically controlled four-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 138.5 in
Length: 225.9 in
Width: 79.1 in
Height: 73.9 in (4x2), 76.9 in (4x4)
Weight: 4581 — 5032 lb