by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide
As the 2000s began to unfold, Ford demonstrated a focus on improving the models already on their roster, as well as adding more options to their lineup -- especially in the area of ever-larger trucks and SUVs.
Ford began the 21st century by releasing a new super-sized sport-utility vehicle bigger than anything else on the market -- or that had ever been on the market. Called the Excursion, it rode the Super Duty truck chassis that also hosted Ford's F-250 HD pickups. This maximum-duty behemoth dwarfed its closest rival, the Chevrolet Suburban, by being longer, wider, taller, and nearly a ton heavier.
Over the years the Excursion took some gaff for its poor fuel economy, but with gas prices relatively low at its introduction, buyers were attracted to its cavernous interior and high towing limits.
Ford also joined forces with Harley-Davidson as the new century began.
2000 Ford Trucks
In addition to the extra-large Ford Excursion for 2000, Ford joined forces with Harley-Davidson to produce a special-edition F-150 pickup truck called -- appropriately -- the Harley-Davidson F-150.
This marriage of two icons was a marketer's dream come true, as it had crossover appeal to both pickup truck and motorcycle enthusiasts. The Harley-Davidson F-150 came only as a SuperCab with Flareside bed, and it featured distinct interior trim, special wheels and grille, and unique Harley-Davidson badging. It was offered in any color the customer wanted -- as long as the customer wanted black.
2000 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson pickup and the Harley-Davidson motorcycle
An agreement with Harley-Davidson Motor Company produced the new-for-2000 F-150 Harley-Davidson pickup truck. Available only in SuperCab form -- and only in black --it was powered by a 260-hp 5.4-liter V-8.
2000 Ford Excursion
The big news -- literally -- in Ford-trucks for 2000 was the new full-size-plus Excursion. Based on the Ford F-250 HD Super Duty pickup truck platform, it was advertised as the world's biggest, heaviest sport-utility vehicle. Indeed, its 227-inch length stretched out 22 inches further than an Expedition's (no small fry itself), and at 7087 lbs., was nearly a ton heavier. Engine choices included a 5.4-liter V-8, 6.8-liter V-10, and a 7.3-liter turbodiesel V-8.
2000 SVT Lightning
The hot SVT Lightning with its 360-horsepower supercharged V-8 could run the 0-60-mph dash in under six seconds.
2000 Ford Explorer
Explorer was little changed for 2000, continuing to be offered in four-door form (shown) and as the two-door Explorer Sport.
2000 Ford Expedition
As a consolation for no longer being Ford's biggest SUV, the Expedition got optional front side airbags and rear obstacle detection for 2000.
With the exception of one compact SUV, Ford's offerings for 2001 were super sized.
2001 Ford Trucks
The 2001 model year was another big one for Ford truck enthusiasts. Balancing the huge Excursion SUV introduced for 2000 was the compact Escape, which came with either an economical four-cylinder engine or powerful V-6. Also arriving for 2001 was a version of the Ford Explorer SUV with a short, open bed in back rather than an enclosed cargo area. Called the Sport Trac, it was essentially a crew-cab pickup, but offered better interior accommodations than most compact rivals.
Speaking of crew cabs, the Ford F-150 also gained a version for 2001. Called the SuperCrew, it marked the first time a full-size 1/2-ton pickup was available with four full-size doors. Previously, crew cabs were only available on 3/4-ton-and-up trucks. So popular was this body style that the Harley-Davidson F-150 pickup truck became a SuperCrew for 2001.
Also for 2001, a more powerful engine was offered on the Explorer SUV and Ranger truck, and the Ranger gained a sporty version called the Edge. Buyers wanting to tow large fifth-wheel trailers in style were offered a decked-out four-door Ford F-650 truck model called the Super CrewZer.
2001 Ford Escape
Ford's biggest truck news for 2001 was the Escape compact SUV. The design was a joint effort with Mazda, Ford's Japanese affiliate, which offered its own version as the Tribute. Escape quickly rose to the top of its class in sales thanks to a winning combination of car-like driving traits, user-friendly utility, and attractively low prices.
A lone four-door wagon body style was offered with a choice of four-cylinder or V-6 power, front-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive, and initially, XLS and uplevel XLT trim. Anti-lock brakes and front side airbags were among the options.
2001 Ford Explorers
Explorer made few changes for an abbreviated 2001 model year.
2001 Explorer Sport Trac
Pickup or SUV? The Explorer Sport Trac was both. Released in early calendar 2000 as a 2001 model, it combined the Explorer's front end and cabin with a four-foot-long cargo bed.
2001 Ford F-150 SuperCrews
With the addition of a new SuperCrew crew-cab body style for 2001, the F-150 became the first 1/2-ton pickup to offer four conventional side doors. Previously, crew cabs were offered only in 3/4-ton-and-up pickups.
2001 F-650 Super CrewZer
New to the Super Duty line for 2001 was the huge F-650 Super CrewZer, which featured a 300-hp turbo-diesel V-8 and luxury interior.
The Ford Explorer SUV received a redesign after 11 years on the market in 2002.
2002 Ford Trucks
For 2002, the Ford Explorer SUV received a complete redesign, the first since its introduction 11 years earlier. New were a third-row seating option and standard independent rear suspension. Also that year, the popular Harley-Davidson F-150 pickup truck got a horsepower boost courtesy of a supercharger for its 5.4-liter V-8, and for the first time was available in grey as well as black.
2002 Ford Explorer
A redesigned Explorer was introduced as an early 2002 model.
2002 Ford Explorer in action
The 2002 Ford Explorer featured a roomier interior, available third-row seating, and class-exclusive independent rear suspension.
2002 Ford Ranger FX4
Ford Ranger added an off-road-ready FX4 four-wheel-drive version for 2002 with heavy-duty springs, 31-inch tires, and heftier skid plates.
2002 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson
An even hotter F-150 Harley-Davidson SuperCrew arrived for 2002 and came in the traditional Harley black, but also in a new Dark Shadow Grey, pictured here. Other features included a bright "billet" grille, unique 20-inch chrome wheels, low-riding suspension, and a posh cab with leather upholstery and brushed-metal accents.
Supercharged 5.4-liter V-8 Ford engine
This third limited-edition Harley-Davidson Ford F-150 pickup truck also offered a potent supercharged version of Ford's 5.4-liter V-8 making a stout 340 horsepower.
Ford celebrated its centennial in 2003.
2003 Ford Trucks
The biggest news for 2003 was not a product, but rather a celebration -- that of Ford's 100th anniversary. An event held in the company's hometown of Dearborn, Michigan, attracted thousands of Ford fans eager to join in the festivities. To commemorate the anniversary, Ford introduced special Heritage Edition F-150s with two-tone paint and interior treatment, along with "1903-2003" Heritage Edition badges.
Other specially trimmed pickups offered that year were the Harley-Davidson F-150 with "100th Anniversary Edition" badges and available black-over-silver paint, and the King Ranch F-150 with rich leather upholstery and other unique features. Also for 2003, Expedition earned a redesign, gaining independent rear suspension and the industry's first power-folding third-row seat.
Old meets new in a centennial press photo
Ford's PR department worked overtime on historically themed press photos to trumpet the company's 2003 centennial. Among them was this pairing of an early Model T touring car with a Super Duty F-250 crew cab pickup truck, one of the most popular models in Ford's "big rig" line.
2003 Ford Expedition
Expedition was redesigned for 2003, gaining independent rear suspension and availability of the industry's first power-folding third-row seat. Options included anti-skid control and curtain side airbags.
2003 F-150 SuperCrew
Top-line King Ranch trim, introduced with the F-150 SuperCrew (shown above), was made available for Flareside SuperCab models for 2003.
King Ranch trim seating in the Ford F-150
A closer look at Ford's luxurious King Ranch trim.
2003 Ford Lightning
The Lightning's supercharged 5.4 V-8 gained 20 hp for a total of 380.
Two new types of F-150 trucks and an abundance of design options highlight Ford's 2004 truck offerings.
2004 Ford Trucks
Two different styles of Ford F-150 pickup trucks were offered by Ford for the 2004 model year. The first was a selection of carry-over 2003 models in regular-cab and SuperCab form called F-150 Heritage. The other was a completely redesigned truck with new styling inside and out, as well as a new chassis.
Regular-cab versions of these Ford F-150 trucks gained narrow, rear-hinged "quarter doors" in back that were similar to the SuperCab's "half doors" and allowed easy access to the cargo area behind the front seats. Only the new version offered a SuperCrew body with four conventional doors. The Heritage disappeared after 2004, presumably kept in the lineup only until production could be ramped up on the new F-150 version.
The Harley-Davidson edition Ford truck returned for 2004, but instead of being based on the F-150, it appeared in the F-250 Super Duty line. It was offered in SuperCab or SuperCrew form, with four-wheel drive, a choice of 6.8-liter V-10 or 6.0-liter V-8turbodiesel power, and a black-and-orange (Harley-Davidson's official colors) paint scheme. Also for 2004, the Windstar minivan was updated and renamed Freestar.
2004 Ford Expedition
The Ford Expedition returned from its 2003 makeover with few changes.
2004 Ford F-150s
Ford's 2004 F-150 pickup trucks were offered in five trim levels, each with specific styling details. Shown (from left) are the XLT, STX, Lariat, and FX4.
Redesigned 2004 Ford F-150 interior
The new Ford F-150 truck interiors were redesigned with a modern, hi-tech look.
2004 Harley-Davidson edition F-250
This year's Harley-Davidson edition Ford truck was a 4WD Super Duty F-250 crew cab with standard two-tone paint.
A selection from Ford's 2004 heavyweight offerings
Ford's heavyweight F-650 and F-750 series trucks offered an expanded 2004 lineup with a bewildering array of choices. There were now no fewer than eight basic models spanning three cab styles, 38 wheelbase/cab combinations, three engines, 14 power ratings, 19 transmissions, and eight seating packages. Uplevel models, like the one shown above, wore a chrome version of the imposing "nostril" grille that made the big-rig Fords hard to miss.
Ford goes green and crosses over in 2005.
2005 Ford Trucks
Ford trucks began going green for the first time on a large-scale basis (never mind a few previous prototypes) in 2005. New this year was a gas/electric hybrid version of the Ford Escape compact SUV. Its drivetrain coupled a four-cylinder engine with an electric motor, and the vehicle would run on a combination of the two or on either source alone depending on conditions. Fuel economy was impressive, with EPA ratings (33 city/29 highway) that bested the regular four-cylinder model by a substantial margin.
Also new this year was a car/SUV "crossover" called the Ford Freestyle. Larger than the Escape, less trucklike than the Explorer, it could seat up to seven and featured Ford's first Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).
Dropped at the end of the 2005 model year was the big Excursion sport-utility vehicle. Its demise coincided with soaring gas prices but wasn't decided by them; Ford's determination to drop it had been made long before, as sales had been sagging for some years.
2005 Escape Hybrid
Although delayed by some two years, the 2005 Escape Hybrid was still in time to give Ford the first hybrid SUV. A special 2.3-liter gasoline four-cylinder engine and a battery-powered electric motor were combined with a continuously variable automatic transmission.
The vehicle could run on either or both power sources, depending on driving needs. The CVT helped optimize the maximum 155 horsepower for performance roughly between that of the regular four-cylinder and V-6 Escapes. Sales were strong from day one.
2005 Ford Freestyle
Freestyle was Ford's new 2005 entry in the fast-growing market for car-based "crossover" SUVs. Offered with front- or all-wheel drive, the Freestyles came with a 3.0-liter V-6 and new continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Three rows of seats could accommodate up to seven passengers. Front side airbags and curtain side airbags were optional, as were power adjustable pedals, rear-seat DVD entertainment, and rear obstacle detection.
2004 Ford Excursion
The Ford Excursion also got a fresh face for what would turn out to be its swan-song year. Sales of the gargantuan SUV had been sliding in the face of higher gas prices.
2005 King Ranch edition Ford F-150
The luxury King Ranch edition returned to Ford's F-150 truck line for 2005 after a one-year hiatus.
2005 Ford middleweight truck
Middleweight Ford F-450 and F-550 Super Dutys were restyled for 2005 with Ford's signature "nostril" truck grille.
The Ford Ranger truck and Explorer SUV get updated looks in 2006, but another SUV says goodbye.
2006 Ford Trucks
Since its introduction for 1991, Ford's Explorer had always been the number-one-selling SUV in the United States. To keep it on top, a revised version was introduced for 2006 featuring bolder styling, a redesigned interior, and an updated chassis. A more powerful V-8 was offered, too, mated to a new six-speed automatic transmission.
The Harley-Davidson edition Ford pickup truck returned to the F-150 line for 2006, taking the form of a SuperCab with two- or four-wheel drive and a 5.4-liter 300-horsepower V-8. Aside from that, other trucks received only minor changes that year, as Ford was concentrating its efforts on cars.
2006 Ford Ranger
The Ford Ranger pickup truck was restyled for 2006 to align it with the corporate "Ford Truck look."
2006 Ford Ranger's modernized dashboard
Ranger's 2006 updates included a more modern dashboard.
2006 Ford Explorer
Explorer fended off new competition with a comprehensive 2006 makeover. Among the many changes were a re-engineered structure, revised suspension, reworked interior, bold front-end styling, and an available 292-horsepower V-8.
2006 Ford Super Duty Lariat
Super Duty pickups with top-line Lariat trim added several formerly optional features. A new Amarillo package dressed the Lariat Crew Cab with Blazing Yellow paint and 18-inch forged-aluminum wheels.
Several of Ford's 2006 Class 6 and 7 offerings
The brawny Ford F-650/F-750 cab/chassis was a solid foundation for all sorts of applications. The choice of regular cab, extended SuperCab, and four-door crew cab was a big plus in the commercial Class 6 and Class 7 truck markets.
Ford's F-150 remained a top seller in 2007, and a new Harley-Davidson edition kept the F-250 at the top of its game.
2007 Ford Trucks
As Ford moved into the 2007 model year, its F-150 continued as one of America’s best-selling vehicles. For the first time this year, it was available with a navigation system. Base prices for the F-150 ranged from $18,275 for the two-wheel drive V6 regular cab to $39,355 for the four-wheel drive Harley-Davidson SuperCrew crew cab.
2007 Ford XLT F-150 FX2 Sport
This two-wheel drive XLT model Ford F-150 is equipped with the FX2 Sport package, which included such features as special interior and exterior trim, color-keyed bumpers, and a chrome exhaust tip.
2007 Ford F-250 Harley Davidson
The 2007 Harley-Davidson package added $5,450 to the base price of an F-250 pickup truck, and it included special badging, wheel lip moldings, chrome step bars, rubber bed mat, and polished 20-inch alloy wheels. The package required the 6.0-liter turbodiesel V8 engine, automatic transmission, and electronic transfer case.
2007 Ford F-250 Harley Davidson interior
The Ford F-250 Harley Davidson package spiffed up the interior with special leather upholstery, quad bucket seats, leather armrests, and unique adjustable pedals. It also included heated trailer-tow mirrors with integrated turn signals, and a power-sliding rear window.
2007 Ford F-250 Super Duty Outlaw
Available on Ford F-250 Super Duty four-wheel drive Lariat crew cabs was the $1,580 Outlaw package. It included front captain chairs, center console, steering wheel climate controls, color-keyed bumpers and grille, chrome tubular side steps, rubber floormats, unique interior and exterior trim, and chrome exhaust tips. The Outlaw package required heated power telescoping trailer tow mirrors.
Although the Ford Motor Company is currently suffering some financial woes, it has faced adversity before and come out stronger than ever. And if the company's activities in the early part of the 21st century are any indication, there's a lot to look forward to in the coming years.