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by Steve Siler

Ford F-150
2004 Ford F-150

It's no secret that the F-150 has been the world's best selling vehicle for more longer than some of us have been alive. Yet while full-size trucks used to be able to go more than a decade without being significantly updated, nowadays, big trucks are being purchased just as much for everyday driving as for work, and often by female members of the family. Therefore, trucks have started to evolve a bit more quickly, integrating many the creature comforts and technologies found on today's passenger cars. Want proof? Check out Ford's all-new 2004 F-150, arguably the safest, the most modern, the most evolved pickup the world has ever seen.

All that modernity must be under the skin, you're probably thinking, since the F-150 is hardly radical in appearance. It looks a lot like the current F-150-which was entirely deliberate-although its more creased sheet metal remedies the too-soft look of the outgoing truck. Big, meaty wheels and a heaping of geometric shapes give the new F just enough some style to back up its substance.

The news of what's going on inside the F-150 might make you want to sit down -- literally. Not just one or two, but five trim levels are available, ranging from the base XL (workhorse), the STX (basic, but sportier), the XLT (comfortable, bound to be the most popular), the FX4 (4X4-only and overtly sporty) and finally, the top-of-the-line Lariat (cush-cush all the way).

Other nifty features include a standard tailgate-assist feature that dramatically lessens the effort required to close the tailgate. Also, each standard cab model has short, rear-hinged access doors to make getting things in and out from behind the seats much easier.

Between a new V-8 engine, dramatically stiffer structure that translates into a decidedly un-truck-like ride and, last but not least, a laundry list of safety innovations, there is just too much to talk about on the new F-150 in the space we have here. Just know that once again, Ford has demonstrated its innate ability to give truck buyers not only what they need, but what they want. They'll sell every one they can make.