Dallas/Fort Worth – From my second floor office I’m looking at the new Ford Super Duty occupying my driveway. While the exact dimensions of the driveway are sitting somewhere, know that its paved area is large enough for us to access – carefully – a 3-stall garage and all the junk it has to offer. This works, of course, unless you’ve docked the F-250 Crew Cab – all twenty feet of Super Duty Crew Cab – in the drive, after which you’re hard-pressed to access squat. Parking, of course, isn’t the reason for the Super Duty’s size, heft or capability; it’s working. And to its ever-lasting credit Ford’s wickedly capable workhorse does work – unless, of course, you’re parking.
This would have been the week to move something to storage, take something out of storage or buy, maybe, a horse. Instead, we had little to do but errand running. So know that despite the Super Duty’s FX4 off-road package we didn’t venture off-road, nor did we begin to exercise the Ford’s 6.2 liter 2-valve gasoline V8; even at $2.50 a gallon gas is simply too expensive. We did, however, evaluate the 4X4’s offroad-oriented ground clearance with a 29-inch inseam. The handhold mounted on the driver’s side A-pillar proved invaluable, while my 85-year old mother can’t access the cab even while using a step stool; she’d have needed a step ladder. And in a design era where a vehicle’s greenhouse is often transformed into little more than a darkroom, know that visibility from the Super Duty’s elevated perch is still all-encompassing, welcoming in Texas’ wide open landscapes as easily as the Texas Legislature embraces open carry.
With all of the hype surrounding Ford’s new aluminum-bodied F-150, Ford still sells a lot of Super Dutys to both commercial users and civilian wannabes. For the work-a-day guys with hauling, towing and/or the real need to own a truck whose capability exceeds anything they might throw at it, Ford’s big ‘un remains the gold standard among heavy duty pickups. And there’s a comfort in its relatively low-tech build, 2-valve gas engine (a 6.7 liter Power Stroke diesel is also available – it’s what Rudy would have ordered…) and upright, 3-box architecture.
Our XLT, finished in Ford’s Ruby Red metallic, was somewhat of an outlier in its spec. Unlike earlier press loans of Ford’s Expedition (see below), our XLT was decidedly midgrade, with cloth substituting for the subtle leather in the Expedition Platinum, or the more Rodeo-like ambiance of the King Ranch. Instead, we had Adobe Cloth, which looked durable enough; until, of course, you start dragging the stable in with you. After that, all bets are off; the Crew Cab’s windows, thankfully, do lower.
If a light cloth interior can be off-putting, so then, are the hard plastics used in the Crew Cab when molded in Adobe. If there’s one thing that’ll give away the age of this truck it’s the plastics, whose grain is visually coarse and, even worse, provides no tactile justification for a window sticker just this side of $50K. Black would work decidedly better, or (maybe) fifty shades of gray…
Get beyond the plastics and the cabin’s functionality simply works. As mentioned, you benefit from a high (for some, too high) hip point and expansive glass. The instrumentation doesn’t require – in most respects – readers, the audio controls are intuitive. And while Texans were coping with more moisture in one month than most of California will enjoy this year, we didn’t need to give the various knobs and switches the glove test, but know they would have worked just fine. This is a truck for big hands, big feet and – being Texas – big buckles.
On the road, the 6.2 liter V8’s 385 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque coped with the Super Duty’s footprint as well as could be expected. Acceleration was better than adequate, an 80 mile-per-hour cruise was almost snooze-inducing and shifts from the heavy duty 6-speed automatic were positive. Steering and braking, of course, were appropriate to the truck’s length and weight; you won’t confuse its athleticism with a Miata’s, but with an 8-foot bed you could put most of the Miata in it. And if you’re towing a Spec Miata to COTA, you’ll get to the southern reaches of Austin without breaking a sweat.
These are – and look to remain – interesting times for the new pickup prospect. The alloy F-150 not only reduced its overall weight by as much as 700 pounds, but at the same time increased its payload. General Motors has successfully updated its Sierra and Silverado with enhanced comfort and capability, and the public has noticed; GM’s truck sales are up significantly from year-ago levels. And Nissan – yeah, NISSAN – has a new truck this fall that, with an optional light duty diesel, will effectively split the difference between ‘1500’ and ‘2500’. In sum, the good reasons for a heavy duty pickup seem to be shrinking, but if heavy duty is what you need there are few better options than those offered by the Ford Motor Company.
And this just in…
A few weeks ago we sampled Ford’s Expedition EL, the long-wheelbase version or Ford’s big body-on-frame SUV with a freshened exterior, updated interior and EcoBoost-only powertrain. And we were impressed: http://carbuzzard.com/2015/02/2015-ford-expedition-el-platinum-4×4-best-supporting-actor/. But given its length we’re probably not sold, as it will be a long time – perhaps the next life – before we have a family of eight. A more recent week spent in the short wheelbase Expedition, with King Ranch trim, was informative, as the shorter wheelbase adds a liveliness to the platform the longer version simply can’t deliver. And while the shorter Expedition will still carry eight, know that you have little cargo space behind the third row seat when that seat is being used by the very young (or, if they can crawl back there, the very old).
Inside, the King Ranch trim probably plays better in Dallas than Des Moines, but we were pleased – in most respects – by its execution. The fake wood used on the audio surround and door panels provided a visual disconnect, looking like something taken out of someone’s den – in 1963. The rest of the interior looked positively Old World, at least within the context of referencing a gazillion acres of cattle and oil in South Texas. With a window sticker of $65K a King Ranch Expedition ain’t cheap, but then, being ‘King’ isn’t supposed to be cheap.
Specifications for Ford F-250 Super Duty can be found on next page…