Barbara – There’s a hint of invincibility that comes with cruising down any road in the new Ford Super Duty F-250 pickup. Except for the semis and delivery trucks, it’s the biggest thing on the road – four doors, large deep cargo bed, massive tires and a 6.7-liter turbocharged diesel engine. I can just hear Tim Allen’s famous “Awk, awk, awk” chant from his1990s “Home Improvement” sitcom as he admires the size and power of the Super Duty.
Getting up into the tall Ford requires some work for five-foot three-incher like myself, but once in the cab it’s spacious and comfortable. On the road, I was surprised to hear none of the diesel noise or even much of the road howl from the 20-inch all terrain tires. Contributing to the quiet, at highway speeds, is the gearing which has us barely above an idle, 1500 rpms, while traveling 65 mph. However, there is no question that you are driving a diesel when exiting the truck with the engine running, as we discovered when we stopped at the mailbox.
Bill – I may not be a truck aficionado but if I put myself in the boots of a typical heavy duty truck owner, the new Super Duty certainly appears the kind of vehicle I would want. The big Ford has a massive, rugged appearance that goes well beyond being a handsome face -- it’s designed to handle a 6,520-pound payload or to pull up to 24,400 pounds when properly equipped.
I was especially impressed by the interior, which looks as if it might have been designed by Rubbermaid. The doors, sections of the dash and parts of the center console are molded from heavy duty plastic. That’s not a bad thing though, because these surfaces should easily handle scrapes from misplaced muddy boots or a bang from a tool carried into the cab. Of course, order the upper trim levels and the trucks take on a more luxurious look with some masculine leather and wood surfaces. Either way there is no question that Super Duty defines a no-nonsense approach to truck building.
The cab is filled with storage spaces to handle all kinds of notebooks, paperwork and tools, plus the lockable center console is large enough to hold a laptop computer. Most of the controls are large enough to accommodate gloved hands, but the steering wheel-mounted buttons are a little small and tightly grouped for gloved hands – at least warm gloves.
Barbara -- There’s no confusing the Super Duty Ford with an F-150. In fact, Ford appears to have won the battle over which heavy-duty truck has the largest chrome grill by taking up the entire front end between the headlights. We haven’t actually measured the grills, but there certainly seems to be a ‘bigger is better’ mentality between the big three U.S. truck manufacturers.
Bill – What really makes the difference in the big trucks is the drivetrain. In this case, the F250 4x4 Crew Cab we drove was equipped with the (optional $7,835) 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8 turbocharged diesel engine. That’s a lot of name, but that’s a lot of engine, too. Rated at a best-in-class 390 horsepower and best in class torque at 735-lb.ft., the engine almost reeks of power. Without cargo or a trailer, the big diesel feels fast even spinning the rear tires on dry pavement when tromping the accelerator to the floor – torque is an amazing thing. On a drive from our home in the Portland area to central Oregon, we averaged 17.5 mpg in mostly highway driving.
Standard engine fare for the Super Duty is an all-new 6.2-liter V-8 gasoline engine also best-in-class with 385 horsepower and 405 ft.-lb. of torque. The engine has 85 more horsepower and 40 ft.-lb. more torque than the current 5.4-liter V-8 gas engine. It can also run on the E85 fuel. Both engines utilize the heavy duty TorqShift® six-speed automatic transmission, which has been optimized for the increased torque of the new diesel engine and the higher speeds of the new gas engine. The new transmission has the SelectShift Automatic™ capability which allows the driver to shift manually for better engine control and engine braking.
Barbara – Like most trucks made by the domestic automakers, the Super Duty has hundreds of available options so each truck is literally custom made to meet the needs of the owner. In its base configurations, the Super Duty F-250 is offered in four trim levels (XL, XLT, Lariat and King Ranch), three cab styles (regular, crew cab and SuperCab), two engine choices, three wheel base lengths, two bed lengths and a choice of two- or four-wheel drive. Pricing ranges from $29,480 including the $975 destination charge for the two-wheel drive regular cab XL and tops out at nearly $65,000 for the four-wheel drive King Ranch with a diesel engine and all the available options.
I really don’t care for big trucks either, but having spent time around horse people and building contractors, I can certainly appreciate the need for such vehicles. I was impressed with how quiet and comfortable our XLT test vehicle was. On the downside, however, it did not have the overhead passenger-assist (OMG) handles I think are necessary when Bill is driving or just for my comfort. I need something to hold onto, and the handles on the front windshield pillar, is only good for pulling myself into the cab.
Bill – The Ford is loaded with tech features that make it more user friendly. I especially liked the 4.2-inch LCD Productivity Screen mounted between the tachometer and speedometer. It is controlled by a group of buttons on the steering wheel and shows interesting things like position of the vehicle, steepness of hill, how far the front wheels are turned and many other bits of information about the truck. I also like the very useful built-in tailgate step and grab bar that makes getting into the cargo bed much easier than trying to climb up on a high bumper. There is also a tow/hall mode that provides the same engine exhaust braking the semis use.
On the downside, I had a problem with the dash lights. I like to drive with the headlights on during the day on two-lane roads and in bad weather. I could not see the instruments when the headlights were on during the day, even with the brightness maximized. I ended up having to fool the system by covering the light sensor mounted in the middle of the dash so it would turn on the instrument lights. We checked the owner’s manual and could find no other way to make the lights work.
But that’s one small problem, overall, it’s easy to see why the Ford trucks have been the best-selling trucks for 33 consecutive years - they are very, very good.