Tow Test: Ford F-150 SuperCrew

Ford's F-150 SuperCrew provides a comfortable ride while towing your boat.

Do you need that big daddy, tow-and-go power that only a 4x4 pickup with a V-8 can muster? Do you need to haul the whole gang, too? A large, four-door crew cab would work, but most crew cabs are as long as a freight train - and handle like one, too. Now ask yourself this: Would you sacrifice a foot of cargo bed? If so, the Ford F-150 SuperCrew could be your dream truck come true. Yes, crew cabs have been popular for years; check out any construction site. But lately, ordinary civilians have been signing up for crew cabs. The ability to haul four adults comfortably over long distances is oh-so-tempting.

Ford is betting that there are lots of truckers out there who want that comfort but don't need a full cargo bed. The F-150 SuperCrew combines full-size back doors, a genuinely roomy back seat, and a 67.2" cargo bed. Overall length is only 18.8', but keep in mind the SuperCrew still needs more than 40 feet to make a U-turn. A 4.6-liter V-8 is standard, or you can upgrade to the 220-hp, 5.4-liter V-8 that we tested. Both engines are modern designs with overhead cams. We hitched the SuperCrew to a 21' Sea Ray Sundeck on a Trail Rite tandem-axle trailer. The towing weight was 4,690 pounds, nearly two-thirds of the maximum recommended load. Yet, this rig never broke a sweat - even while climbing the long, steep grades we found east of Irvine, California. With an 11.6' wheelbase and 2.5-ton curb weight, the SuperCrew burned about 7 mpg.

Impervious to crosswinds, it doesn't jiggle over rippled roads like a smaller truck would. Its shock absorbers are firm, and the power steering feels nicely weighted. A button on the end of the shift lever locks the four-speed, electronically controlled automatic transmission in an intermediate gear that allows the SuperCrew to maintain cruising speed over hill and dale. Our test proved the four-wheel disc brakes with ABS to have ample fade-free stopping power.

The outside panels of the cargo bed are molded from reinforced plastic that resists dents and can't rust. (The inside of the bed is steel.) The cargo bed is rated to carry 1,715 pounds and an extender is available to haul longer loads. As is, it can only handle a small tender. Inside the cab, the rear backrests fold down, making more cargo room, and there are two stowage compartments inside the cab's rear wall.

Options? You can add leather upholstery, a power moonroof, a slide-open rear window, and a six-disc CD changer. If you have kids, get the VCR system. Although the SuperCrew starts at $26,000, with extras it will easily convert into a $30,000-plus flagship.

MODEL Ford F-150 SuperCrew
Engine 5.4-liter SOHC V-8
Net hp/rpm 220/4500
Net torque (ft-lb/rpm) 290/3250
Transmission 4-speed automatic
Front suspension control arms, torsion bars
Rear suspension rigid axle, semi- elliptic leaf springs
Wheelbase (in.) 138.8
Length (in.) 225.9
Width (in.) 79.9
Height (in.) 76.9
Brakes (front/rear) disc/disc; standard 4-wheel ABS
Tires Goodyear Wrangler RT/S, P265/70SR-17
Curb weight (lbs.) 4,914
Towing capacity (lbs.) 7,700
Cargo capacity (max. cu. ft.) 44.2
Fuel capacity (gal.) 25
Estimated city/highway towing fuel economy (avg. mpg) 7
Price (as tested, estimated) $33,205

LAST WORD. Car owners take note - you will be amazed how comfortable life can be with a pickup, if it's Ford's new F-150 SuperCrew.