SEE MORE PHOTOS: 2007 Ford F-150 Roush Stage 3
What you have before you is no normal Ford truck derivative - but you knew that at first glance, right?
No, the latest creation from the Jack Roush racing and industrial empire is anything but normal. Roush's personal and corporate relations with Ford have led to numerous offspring, some widely accepted and others still on the down low. Roush's relationship with the big blue oval is so close, that Roush products like the recent Stage 3 Mustang and this Stage 3 F-150 are sold through Roush-authorized Ford dealers and carry full warranties.
The base for the Stage 3 comes from the high end of the Ford pickup line, the two-wheel-drive Super Cab in Lariat trim. In non-Roush form, this F-150 with an eight-foot bed features a competent 300-horsepower 5.4-liter OHC V-8 hooked to a heavy-duty four-speed automatic. Things change a bit once the pit crew at Roush finishes adding an in-the-valley supercharger, a charge cooler, and other enhancements. Horsepower increases to 445 and torque hits an even 500, up from 365 lb-ft.
To keep up with its new muscle, the Stage 3 ditches key suspension bits from Ford and replaces them with Roush-tuned units. The front coil and rear leaf springs are new, as are custom-valved Bilstein shocks and front sway bar. The results are obvious before the truck turns a tire. The front ride height drops two inches, while the rear drops three.
The extra inch of drop in the rear evens out the truck's landscape-biased profile so the long hood, roof, and box are all perfectly parallel with the pavement. This visually lengthens the Stage 3's look even beyond its considerable 18.6 feet.
The under-the-metal modifications are broadcast by a boy-racer exterior and interior graced by 22 (!) non-Ford logos. Beyond the obvious decals and badges, observant eyes will find the Roush name on each wheel rim, at the tips of the high-performance side exhaust, under the hood, and even under foot on the signature brake pedal.
Inside, the look carries through on the exterior's enthusiasm. The Stage 3 logos top the front buckets. Silver strips cross the seats, and match the silver Roush trim package that dresses up the doors and center stack. Unfortunately, in the transition from stock Ford chairs to Roush chairs, the front buckets gained a convex firmness that makes average-size drivers tend to roll off to either side. This is an interior that drivers named Tiny and Bubba should find just about perfect.
In keeping with Roush's attention to detail, inset where a stock F-150's "PRNDL" would normally show on the instrument cluster, there is now a ROUSH logo. When the cluster lights are on, it reverses out in a wash of red light. Touches like this make owners know they're driving something different than the 900,000 F-Series sold every year. Predictably, reactions from Michigan to Kentucky were universally positive, with frequent thumbs-up and numerous requests for stoplight burnouts. Like a happy dog ready to perform, the Stage 3 was always willing. Stomp the throttle and the supercharged mill fries the tires in a satisfying onslaught of instant power. The crowds went crazy.
When launched with even the slightest care for a quick getaway (as opposed to a grin-inducing burn out), the power flow is linear, and the 4R75E transmission executes firm shifts without ever missing a step. While Roush has not released performance figures, talk in the shop suggests that your grandma could run low 14-second quarter miles.
Like the engine modifications, the suspension changes make themselves immediately known on the road. The high-performance 20-inch tires and rims track well. Cornering is much flatter than any pickup has a right to be. Remember, this truck tips the scales at 5300 lb. The package loves smooth roads like we found on the way to Kentucky Speedway. The frost-heaved and pocked roads of Michigan were less loved, and Stage 3's performance in this theater reminded the author of a well-sorted muscle car from the late 1960s. Sharp bumps tended to cause a hint of axle hop, while large impacts caused minor shudders in the body structure. Given the massive amount of unsprung weight and its overall size (five feet longer than a BMW Z4), the Stage 3 comported itself well.
Beyond any specific performance metrics, what the Roush Stage 3 F-150 delivers is simple fun. It's largely unfettered by insulting electronic driving aids that can't be turned off. The Stage 3 relies on the driver for making everything happen. Drive well, you go fast. Drive poorly, you go less fast. How refreshing. Mostly.
There was one electronic nanny we could not keep in the closet - the artificial top-speed limiter. At your favorite drag strip or empty patch of interstate, drop the hammer and see what happens. Charging like a freight train down the mountain, the fun stops at 98 miles per hour with a soft-hit speed limiter. The Roush PR team sheepishly admits that their company does not disable Ford's stock F-150 speed limiter for liability reasons. (Is this not yet another reason to shoot all the liability lawyers?) But only 98 mph? A truck like this deserves better.
And a truck that costs this much deserves triple-digit bragging rights. As pictured, our test vehicle rings in at a suggested retail price of over $55,000. The numbers add up thusly: Ford F-150, around $33,000; base Roush Stage 3 package, $15,860; Roush options including side skirts, wheel flairs, stripes, and rear wing total another $5200. This is Chevrolet Corvette and Porsche Cayman money. But the Stage 3 F-150 seats five, has an eight-foot bed, a 1700-lb payload, and can tow your house (as long as your house is on wheels like ours).
However valid the math, value comparisons are silly with this truck, as prospects are not likely cross-shop it against anything except something with race numbers on it. This truck is what they want. At a July Craftsman Truck Series race at Kentucky Speedway, three different individuals stopped to admire the truck parked in the garage area. Expectedly, each one knew the Roush name, but surprising the author, each also guessed the price within five percent. And not one was put off by it. The team at Roush knows their customers as well as their trucks, and expects approximately 1500 sales in 2007.
For the authorized Roush dealers in your area, visit www.roushperf.com. With 300 around the country, there should be one near you.
2007 Ford F-150 Roush Stage 3
Base price: $55,000 (est.)
Engine: Supercharged 5.4-liter V-8, 445 hp/500 lb-ft
Drivetrain: Four-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Length x width x height: 224.0 x 78.9 x 71.5 in
Curb weight: 5300 lb (est.)
Fuel economy (EPA city/hwy): 11/14 mpg (2006 figures; 2007 figures not yet available)
Safety equipment: Front airbags; anti-lock brakes
Major standard equipment: Air conditioning with electronic temperature control; rear window defroster; message center with trip computer; leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls; power driver's seat; AM/FM/CD player
Warranty: Three years/36,000 miles bumper to bumper, three years/36,000 miles on Roush modified components, five years/60,000 miles on Ford powertrain components, five years/60,000 miles roadside assistance