Ford F-150Click to enlarge picture

Completely redesigned for 2004, the Ford F-150 continues to lead vehicle sales in America.

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In an industry that has seen the rise of the sport utilities and minivans at the expense of the traditional passenger car, the full-size pickup continues as the nation's most popular vehicle. In 2003, the Ford F-Series extended its reign as the top-selling vehicle in the U.S.—for the 22nd consecutive year. Moreover, the Chevrolet Silverado and the Dodge Ram (redesigned in 2002) were No. 2 and 3, respectively, in 2003 sales.

Like the SUV and minivan, the full-size pickup has also become more car-like in its creature comforts, while still retaining the workhorse qualities of a pickup. Leather trim and high-power stereo systems are no longer strangers to the pickup truck. With extended-cab and 4-door versions of these trucks offering nearly the interior room of some midsize passenger cars, many consumers are opting to use their pickups as they would the family car. This helps explain how light truck sales made up more than half of all vehicles sold in 2003.

Pickup News

Nissan entered the full-size pickup fray last fall with its all-new Titan pickup. Every bit as large as the domestic offerings, the Titan features a powerful 305-horsepower V8 as standard equipment, which provides a towing capacity in excess of 9,000 pounds. Nissan chose not to produce a regular cab version of the Titan, offering only an extended King Cab or four-door crew cab.

At the same time, Ford introduced the next-generation of its best-selling F-150. Completely redesigned for the 2004 model year, the F-150 features a new 5.4-liter V8 engine, more interior room and a deeper bed for better cargo capacity. All 2004 F-150s offer four doors with the addition of rear-hinged access doors for the Regular Cab. The additional 6-inches of interior length results in 13 inches of storage space behind the seat.

Hummer will be joining the pickup truck market later this year with the all-new H2 SUT. Unveiled at the 2004 Los Angeles Auto Show, the H2 SUT features all the styling and abilities of the current H2 with the addition of a short pickup-truck bed in place of the cargo area.. The new SUT features a midgate similar to that found on the Chevrolet Avalanche, making it possible to fold the rear seats down and extend the cargo bed into the cabin.

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