Ford Super Duty pickups pull some serious loads

May 11, 2007|by MALCOLM GUNN / Wheelbase Communications

There are pickup trucks and then there are serious pickup trucks.

In this category, the new Ford F-Series Super Duty is at the top of the heap.

The F-Series has been a best-seller for close to three decades because it has been specifically built to haul you, your family and friends and plenty of associated gear wherever you want to go.

However, for those really big jobs, especially where your vehicle is directly responsible for earning a paycheck, the F-Series Super Duty (SD) becomes an invaluable work partner. It's a truck that tackles the tough jobs of moving extreme loads and towing trailers of a size and weight that would cause lesser pickups to stop dead in their tracks.

Ford has traditionally gone all-out by designing a separate body and chassis for its SD series. For 2008, the automaker has reinforced this distinctive look with a bigger grille that's designed to allow more fresh air to reach the radiator. As well, the reshaped front fenders include side extractors that vent hot air from the engine compartment.


The lineup, which previously consisted of F-250 and F-350 models, now adds the F-450 to the roster. This is the bad boy you need for hauling in excess of three tons along with a maximum towing capacity of more than 24,000 pounds (5,000 more than the F-350). That's the equivalent of pulling eight Ford Fusion sedans, by the way.

To accomplish these extreme tasks, the F-450 gets its own beefed-up chassis and rear-leaf suspension. As well, the newly developed front suspension allows the truck to turn more sharply, which is a big help when attempting to maneuver an extra-long travel trailer into your favorite camping spot (90 percent of SD purchasers use their trucks for towing).

Ford didn't forget about the SD's interior, which doubles as a mobile office for many buyers. The control panel has been reorganized for ease of use, the climate-control system is quieter and more efficient and the fold-down-seat console can now hold bulkier items, including laptop computers.

But perhaps the most crucial element for any SD buyer is powertrain availability. Back this year with only minor mods are the base 5.4-liter V-8 with 300 horsepower and 365 lb.-ft. of torque and the optional 6.8-liter gas V-10 that puts out 362 horses and 457 lb.-ft. of torque.

The big (actually really big) news for 2008 is an all-new 6.8-liter twin-turbocharged diesel V-8 that delivers 350 horsepower and 650 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine, standard on the new F-450, is considerably more powerful than the outgoing 6.0-liter V-8 turbo-diesel (an additional 25 ponies and 80 lb.-ft. of torque) and is also quieter and cleaner burning.

Both the 5.4 and 6.4 turbo-diesel can be connected to a six-speed manual transmission or optional five-speed automatic while the V-10 is offered only with the automatic.

The SD fleet includes the usual variety of box and cab sizes (regular, extended and four-door Crew Cab), all available in two- or four-wheel drive. What has changed is the addition of the four-wheel-drive-only FX4 model to a list that includes the base XL, mid-grade XLT and range-topping Lariat with its available luxury-laden King Ranch option.

Among a host of innovative features are power-folding and extending (by nearly three inches) trailer tow mirrors that are twice as large as last year's offerings. Also available is a step that drops from the lowered tailgate to provide safe and easy access to the cargo area. The system also includes a bar-like support handle that folds out from the tailgate, design for easier box access.

Staying ahead in the race to be the biggest and the best is no easy task, but Ford, for now at least, has the power and the strength to own the top spot in the heavy-duty pickup segment. As before, it's a serious truck for serious truck buyers.

Copyright 2007 Wheelbase Communications

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