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New Super Duty truck brings extra muscle to the job

October 22, 2006|by TIM SPELL / Motor Matters

The workhorse grunt of the newly unveiled Ford F-450 Super Duty - scheduled to go on sale in early 2007 - was praised by Mark Fields, Ford Motor Co. executive vice president and president of the Americas.

Fields said the F-450's new 6.4-liter Power Stroke V-8 turbodiesel out-tugs the 2007 6.0-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel, which is rated at 19,000 pounds.

"This new F-450 moves that number to an amazing 24,000 pounds," he said. "You know, we're starting to run out of things to pull. The F-450 also has more than 6,000 pounds of payload capacity."

Assisted by dual turbochargers, the 6.4-liter delivers 650 lbs.-ft. of torque at 2,000 rpm and 350 horsepower at 3,000 rpm. Its turbos come in two sizes - a small, variable-geometry one that provides an assist at launch and a larger fixed one that kicks in to boost torque at the middle of the curve. It's estimated the F-450's 0-60 mph time is 1 second faster than the 6.0-liter's. Fuel economy figures aren't available.

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Transmission mates are a choice of a six-speed manual or TorqShift five-speed automatic. Both two- and four-wheel-drive configurations will be offered.

Along with being powerful, this diesel is clean. Using Ford Clean Diesel Technology, which highlights an advanced particulate filter, Ford reports it reduces particulate output by more than 90 percent and posts emission figures on par with gas engines.

Engineers and designers worked to cool the engine with a combination of function and exterior style. The larger, bolder grille, stamped with "SUPER DUTY" at the top, allows greater cooling. Distinctive vents at the front-fender sides, filled with red egg-crate texture, help dissipate engine heat.

Pete Reyes, Super Duty chief engineer, who has worked on every heavy-duty Ford truck since 1986, said the '08 model is the finest pickup he has worked on, boasting of its advancements in power, capability, refinement and innovative convenience features.

Highlighting Reyes' presentation was his demonstration of the optional Tailgate Step. He dropped the tailgate and pulled an integrated steel step out and down in a single motion. He then lifted a pole-like grab handle from its tailgate-inner-panel cradle and locked it into place.

Using the step and grab handle, Reyes easily climbed into the bed. While standing in the bed, he showed off another clever optional feature. It's a bed extender that serves the same function as others, but has an edge over the typical pivoting, fixed-size tubular cages. This polypropylene unit is stowable. It separates at the center, leaving a piece at each side that folds neatly away at the bed walls.

Reyes also showed off extenders of another type - power-telescoping, power-fold side mirrors. At the touch of a switch they extend 2.75 inches or fold. A driver's mirror positioning is "saved" via an integration with the seat- and pedal-positioning memory feature.

Occupants sit in an upgraded interior with a design Ford tags "tough luxury." It features a chiseled dashboard with easy-to-reach switches on a prominent center stack. Storage is improved with door panels that incorporate map pockets and a large center console that can accommodate a laptop computer. Seats get the visual pop of contrast stitching and the high-end King Ranch edition is upholstered in Chaparral leather.

"The Super Duty was introduced in 1999, and it's been the leader ever since," said Al Giombetti, president of Ford and Lincoln-Mercury. "Why? Because we didn't just introduce a bigger version of the F-150. Super Duty is a unique product with a unique chassis, designed specifically to meet and exceed customer expectations for a heavy-duty pickup."

As Giombetti boasted that the Super Duty exemplifies the "Built Ford Tough" tagline, the number "250,000" illuminated on a giant screen behind him. He said Ford has more trucks on the road today with 250,000 miles on them than any other brand. And, he said, Ford expects to carry on this tradition of durability with the 2008 F-450 Super Duty.

(Tim Spell is the automotive editor for the Houston Chronicle Cars & Trucks section.)

Copyright, Motor Matters, 2006

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