FORD F-250 LARIAT

4 x 4 Australia - - Driven -

IN AUS­TRALIA, Toy­ota’s Hilux oc­ca­sion­ally tops the monthly new-car sales chart, yet in the USA, Ford’s F-se­ries trucks have been the best-sell­ing ve­hi­cle for decades. Part of that comes from the huge range of F-se­ries, start­ing with the F-150 and grow­ing through the F-250, F-350, F-450, F-550 and mon­strous F-650 rigs. But we’re con­cen­trat­ing on the pop­u­lar F-250 Su­per Duty model that’s sold in Aus­tralia via sev­eral out­lets – this Lariat-spec 2015 Effie came from Har­risons in Mel­ton, where it’s a $152,000 of­fer­ing.

DRIV­E­LINE & CA­PAC­I­TIES

YOU’LL gen­er­ally find all the Su­per Duty Effies are pow­ered by the Pow­er­stroke 6.7-litre turbo-diesel V8 en­gine in Aus­tralia. They come with a petrol V8 in the US, but there’s no call for that here. The Pow­er­stroke 6.7 makes a plate-shift­ing 1166Nm from around 1600rpm, which is enough to haul a 7.6-tonne trailer or a 1900kg pay­load, al­though these fig­ures are gen­er­ally down-rated for Aus­tralia so that Aussies can drive them with a reg­u­lar driver’s li­cence. Check with your im­porter/dealer for specifics.

The V8 en­gine is backed by a six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion and part-time 4x4, while the F-250 is the only ve­hi­cle on this test to be fit­ted with a se­lectable rear dif­fer­en­tial lock (RDL). Elec­tronic Trac­tion Con­trol (ETC) is stan­dard.

CHAS­SIS & HAN­DLING

THE Ford F-250 Su­per Duty rides on a heavy-duty lad­der chas­sis with live axles front and rear. The front end sits on coil springs, while the rear is on tra­di­tional leaves. These trucks each use old­style steer­ing boxes that have ei­ther been re­lo­cated to the right­hand side of the chas­sis or, in some cases, re­man­u­fac­tured in a mir­ror im­age of the OE steer­ing box.

The steer­ing in the Har­ri­son F-250 feels very light at all speeds, which makes it nice and easy to park, but on the high­way the front end is very re­ac­tive to bumps, re­sult­ing in the driver need­ing to make con­stant cor­rec­tions. It other­wise of­fers a re­laxed high­way gait as the big en­gine lopes along at low revs, while it’s rel­a­tively easy to punt swiftly in the bends. None of these trucks are sports cars, but they aren’t as mon­strous as one might ex­pect.

OFF-ROAD

OFF-ROAD test­ing was done at the Mel­bourne 4x4 Train­ing and Prov­ing Ground, where we chose a long, steep and rut­ted climb to eval­u­ate the trac­tive abil­i­ties of the trucks. It’s a hill we’ve seen stop many 4x4s when they hit the deeper holes near the top.

With the rear diff lock en­gaged, the F-250 made the climb with rel­a­tively lit­tle scram­bling or loss of trac­tion. We put this down to the longer wheel­base of these trucks over more con­ven­tional 4x4s, and where it placed the tyres on the track. On the de­scent it de­liv­ered rea­son­able en­gine brak­ing, while Hill De­cent Con­trol worked well. Even without the RDL en­gaged, the F-250 crawled its way up with ease, seem­ingly flex­ing more than the other trucks.

TOW­ING

WITH pay­loads that barely amount to that of the av­er­age one­ton­ner in Aus­tralia, you may be for­given for think­ing these big trucks are a bit ‘style-over-sub­stance’, but tow­ing is what they’re all about. All three are torque mon­sters with big-dis­place­ment en­gines, so we de­cided to hitch the best part of three tonnes to

The F-250 feels the most com­fort­able off-road, with its sup­ple chas­sis al­low­ing the wheels to crawl over rough ter­rain for a more con­trolled ride

the back of them and see how they han­dled a de­cent load.

Sure, we’d like to have hitched some­thing heav­ier be­hind them, but all three were only equipped with 50mm tow balls and stan­dard hitches – which only al­low a load of up to 3.5 tonnes, af­ter which we’d need a 70mm ball up to 4.5 tonnes. Any­thing above that needs a Pin­tle hitch or fifth wheel set-up.

The Ford has the most torque and high­est tow­ing ca­pac­ity, at 1166Nm and 7500kg re­spec­tively, so it was a front run­ner to be the best tow tug. While there’s no doubt the driv­e­train hauled the load the eas­i­est, the big F-truck didn’t feel so set­tled on the open road. There was a ten­dency to­ward bump-steer that kept us busy on the wheel dur­ing the test loop. With a load on board, the rear end of the two-fiddy felt planted and solid, but the front end let it down. Tow mode on the Select­shift trans­mis­sion made the most of all the horses thun­der­ing into it, and down­shifts were su­perb, but we were ex­pect­ing bet­ter road man­ners when haul­ing.

CABIN AND AC­COM­MO­DA­TION

THIS is one of the most ac­com­mo­dat­ing cab­ins on the mar­ket, with acres of space in the front and back seats; cushy leather seats; fa­mil­iar Ford Sync A/V sys­tem; ex­tra switches in-dash for ac­ces­sories; and buck­et­loads of stor­age op­tions. It’s got the lot. The sat-nav wasn’t op­er­at­ing, but the guys at Har­risons tell us they’ve sorted that and it can now in­stall lo­cal maps.

The cabin in the Effie is so wide my el­bow didn’t reach the win­dowsill while driv­ing, and it’s the only one in this trio like that. The ex­te­rior mir­rors are huge and power-ad­justable, and slide out (mo­torised) for tow­ing vis­i­bil­ity. The rear seat back­rest is still a bit too up­right, but it’s more com­fort­able than any Asian ute.

PRACTICALITIES

THE Yanks love big and bold tow­ing hooks, and the F-250 has a pair of fat chrome ones up front – there’s noth­ing at the back of the truck, ex­cept for the re­ceiver for the tow hitch. The Lariat’s chrome wheels are wrapped in 275/65R20 tyres, so don’t ex­pect to find a re­place­ment at your av­er­age out­back ser­vice sta­tion. That said, there are plenty of op­tions avail­able in that size from the US.

Un­der that mas­sive hood (that’s bonnet to you and me) the V8 en­gine takes up most of the real es­tate, with no room for a sec­ond bat­tery. The air in­take is be­hind the off-side front head­light, while the air cleaner can be ser­viced without tools. The F-250 car­ries 140 litres of diesel in its tank.

Handy in­clu­sions in the tray are a fold-out bed-ex­ten­der that al­lows you to drive with the tail­gate down and re­tain goods in the tray, and a clever fold-out step with a lever post to help lard-ar­ses haul them­selves up into the back.

SUM­MARY

THE F-250 Lariat is as big and brash as they come! Its V8 en­gine might only be a tad big­ger than the oth­ers here, but it makes the most grunt and you can feel that be­hind the wheel. It used 21.93L/100km of diesel on test to be the thirsti­est of the trucks, but it did more tow­ing than the oth­ers as it pulled our car trailer to and from Wer­ribee. The Effie feels the most com­fort­able of­froad, with its sup­ple chas­sis al­low­ing the wheels and tyres to crawl over rough ter­rain for a more con­trolled ride.

That same chas­sis pro­vided the only blem­ish on the Effie’s per­for­mance, with the afore­men­tioned ten­dency to bump-steer in the front end, which was ev­i­dent on rough high­ways. This does be­come tire­some on longer drives, and let’s face it: these trucks are made to cover the miles.

The fit-and-fin­ish in the cabin is as good as any Aus­tralian­made Ford, and the qual­ity of the left-to-right con­ver­sion gave us no rea­son to think it’s any­thing but top-notch. Har­ri­son F-trucks backs its new ve­hi­cles up with a full four-year/130,000km war­ranty, with pre­mium road­side as­sis­tance for three years.

More chrome than a rap­per’s smile on the front of the Effie. Thun­der­ous Pow­er­stroke V8 brings the noise we love.

The cabin of the F-250 qual­i­fies for its own zip-code.

A com­pli­ant chas­sis crawled over rocks and ruts.

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