Aside from its new outward appearance and upgraded driveline and underpinnings, the F-150 boasts one of the roomiest cabs in the industry. Our tester was the full-zoot Lariat SuperCrew model outfitted in leather captain's chairs with the optional flow-through center console and floor-mounted shifter. While the seats could use a little more lateral support, the interior of the Ford ranked at the top of the list in terms of room and comfort. It was also one of the quietest rides of the group.

It's no secret that the new F-150 is aimed directly at the general truck buyer. Unfortunately, our Truck of the Year test weighs heavily on performance and this is one department where the truck scored below par. Despite having a new three-valve engine with noticeably more power, the added size and weight of the new truck seems to negate any overall engine performance improvement. In fact, we thought the engine was lacking in the power department. While it had great grunt from the hit of the throttle, it was lacking in the midrange, but came back strong above 3,800 rpm. And with other makes boasting power figures in the 350 range, we felt Ford could have upped the ante.

On the plus side, the ride and handling qualities of the big Ford were good, even when pushed to tire-squealing limits. A smooth ride, combined with a quiet cabin, makes this truck the long-distance winner in any book. Unfortunately, the Ford scored poorly in the brake testing, with cold stops in the 150-foot range. While pedal feel was good around town and the braking is excellent in most situations, hauling the big beast down from freeway speeds takes some extra room.

Overall, we found the new F-150 had all the potential to be an excellent choice for Truck of the Year, but it came up short in areas where it counted: power and braking. The redesign will elicit a love-it-or-hate-it reaction, while the interior room and apportionments are class-leading all the way. And the new SuperCrew has more leg and head room than its GM counterparts. In the end, we feel that the new version of the F-150 will still keep Ford at the top of the pickup truck sales charts for years to come.

Sport Truck of the Year Score
Acceleration: 8.4 of 24 possible
Ride and Handling: 11.76 of 18 possible
Ergonomics/Style/Build Quality: 13.23 of 18 possible
Total: 33.40 of 60 possible

The new F-150's lack of power and longer cold-stop braking distance gave it a very low score in the portion of our testing with the most value. It was fastest of the fullsize crew in the slalom and scored good marks in the subjective evaluation of drivetrain performance and ride and handling, indicating a good-handling pickup with enough in reserve to make towing all of its 9,500-pound maximum a reasonably comfortable affair. In terms of comfort, styling, and build quality, its score placed it third overall behind the Titan and the SRT-10.

Likes:
* Luxurious and roomy Interior
* Soft ride; compliant suspension
* Excellent model and cab configurations

Dislikes:
* Needs more power
* Needs better brakes
* Lack of sporty exterior styling in 2WD SuperCrew Lariat

'04 Toyota Tundra Double Cab
Four Doors, More Cabin Space, and Near-Luxury Ride Quality
Toyota has finally built what some think is its first real fullsize pickup, the '04 Tundra Double Cab. The Tundra platform has been winning over truck buyers for a number of years, and this incarnation has grown in length to equal trucks currently offered by the Big Three. The Double Cab is an exciting entry into an already competitive fullsize truck market, and it's available with some exciting and innovative new features to entice domestic truck buyers. Our test model came armed for battle with a supercharged V-8 engine, an extra-deep cargo area, and even a roll-down, limousine-type rear window. Its performance during our testing backed up the hype that this truck is ready to take on anything.