May 7, 2008 > Auto Review: Ford F-250 Super Duty pickup truck
Auto Review: Ford F-250 Super Duty pickup truck
Our test "car" for this week's report was a little out of the ordinary for us. It was a 2008 Ford F-250 Super Duty 4X4 pickup with the Lariat trim package.
Huge gobs of torque (650 foot pounds) and power (350 HP) were supplied by Ford's big, 6.4-liter Power Stroke diesel V-8 coupled with a 5-speed automatic transmission. This engine produces 97 percent less particulate emissions compared to the diesel engine that it replaces by using Ford's Clean Diesel Technology and two sequential turbochargers.
This is the first diesel truck I have ever driven (I have driven a number of diesel cars). It was quite an experience in many ways. Upon starting, the unique "diesel clatter" of the engine was not annoying, just different. For the vast majority of time, I could not hear the clatter while driving as the road noise drowned it out, but under hard acceleration, diesel clatter was easy to hear.
The F-250 Super Duty was somewhat slow to accelerate, but you don't buy one of these to drag race. It's a work truck designed to carry and/or tow large loads and would make a great tow vehicle for a large racecar and trailer. In fact, a 12,500 pound trailer hitch is standard on this truck. It also had the $600 option that added a built-in trailer brake controller and extendable (and foldable) right and left side mirrors.
Ford's TorqShift automatic transmission can be changed to tow/haul mode at the touch of a switch. This changes the transmission shifting points to better handle heavy loads. It also provides down hill braking by using the engine compression to maintain steady speeds.
The downside of the particular combination of options on our test F-250 was ride comfort, or lack thereof. The ride was choppy and jouncing. Normal freeway driving was not smooth and calm because the truck bounced across every road surface imperfection. I'm sure the ride would have been better if I were carrying a heavy load, but how often do most people do that? To make ride matters worse, the seats were neither comfortable nor supportive.
Another distraction was a dashboard light that indicates what gear the automatic transmission is in. It was red and every time I looked down at the dash, my brain yelled, "Red Light = problem." Ford should change it to any color other than red.
The F-250 Super Duty is offered in three cab styles: Regular Cab, SuperCab and Crew Cab so you can choose what seating capacity you need. There is a choice between six and three quarters or eight foot bed lengths. Next is a choice of two-wheel or four-wheel drive. In addition to the diesel engine, a 5.4-liter, gas, V-8 (300 HP) and a 6.8-liter, gas, V-10 (362 HP) are available.
Our test truck started with an MSRP of $34,755. The Power Stroke diesel engine added $6,895 with an additional $1,490 for the automatic transmission. The navigation/audio system added $1,375. By the time all the $100 - 600 options were tallied up, the bottom line was $51,040.
If you are looking for a work truck, the F-250 Super Duty should be on your short list. If you are looking for a truck to drive around town and down the freeways, I'd recommend a long test drive. That will give you a chance to evaluate how it rides before making a final decision.
By Dick Ryan
Freelance Automotive Journalist
Member of the Western Automotive Journalists