Work horse more than mere transportation
On a farm or job site, this pickup’s brawn and power make it a real problem solver
Contractors love Ford’s threequarter-ton pickup for its payload and towing power; the truck is able to haul diggers as well as dirt. I know some of these gents and know they have strong backs. But they must have stout spines, too, because the Super Duty can’t be much different from riding a Spanish fighting bull.
I say that in a good way, coming from an urbanite who normally drives a softly-sprung halfton that can barely tow 8,800 pounds, not the 15,000 on a conventional hitch this 2018 Ford F-250 Limited FX4 test unit can. On a farm or job site, that kind of power solves a lot of problems, and a payload of 3,450 pounds is seriously valuable when there’s more than a ton of drywall, plywood or feed to move about. Super Duty trucks are for people tasked with getting stuff done, not for mere transportation.
Much of that muscle for moving comes from Ford’s revised 6.7-litre Power Stroke diesel V-8. On the Limited, the diesel comes standard; it’s normally an $8,800 option. Developed by Ford, the engine gets a revised and compacted iron-graphite block from the previous-generation Super Duty, and uses a single, sequential turbocharger and dual compressor. Fairly quiet by diesel standards, there’s still enough clatter to let you know what’s under the hood, but it’s never annoying or intrusive while driving. On the highway, there’s barely a hum.
The transmission is still a TorqShift six-speed automatic that feels suited to the truck; Ford’s 10 speed, if it could handle that much torque, might prove to be too busy. Fuel consumption dropped to a low of 12.4 L/100 km during some light highway driving at 100 km/ h, but the average long-term consumption was closer to 18.
More importantly, horsepower is up 10, to 450, while torque — ready for this? — sits at 935 pound-feet, also up 10. Ford simply had to increase that number, not just because the 6.7-L diesel is the most popular engine for Ford’s Super Duty buyers, powering 50 per cent of these trucks sold in Canada, but because Ram’s 3500 produces 930 lb-ft — although a new HD Ram is in the works.
Off the line, the diesel is able to hit 100 km/ h from a standstill in about seven seconds. That’s slightly slower than the Chevy Silverado diesel, although axle ratios can fudge those figures to make one or the other come out ahead. But that’s as fast as most mid- or full-size SUVs that don’t have even a fraction of this truck’s capabilities.
The FX4 off-road package adds skid plates and probably rode even stiffer than normal because of the firmer shocks mounted to the F-250’s mono-beam front axle. Ford did retune key suspension components to provide a quieter and more compliant ride, but there’s no mistaking this truck for what it is: One seriously heavy duty hauler. The suspension is hooked to a fully boxed frame with side beams and cross-members. Ford says the current frame uses much more high-strength steel and is several times more rigid than the last gen’s C-Channel frame.
Unchanged for 2018, the F-250 comes in six trims, starting with the base XL at $33,500 and shooting up to the top-line Limited that starts at $91,849 before options or discounts (currently $12,600 off ). The Limited — which comes only as a Crew cab but can be had with either an eight-foot or six-and-three-quarter-foot box — gets most features as standard kit, including a twinpanel sunroof, upfitter switches, power running boards, adaptive steering and a cushy interior with two-tone leather seats, a microsuede headliner and ashwood trim. The look and feel inside is pretty much the same as most high-end F-150s: logically laid out with good storage.
Instrumentation is still analog gauges with an informative digital display screen in between.
The Limited also gets an excellent camera system. Up to seven cameras provide a 180-degree forward view and a 360-degree overhead view, reducing the challenge of manoeuvering such a big beast in tight spots. An auxiliary camera can also be mounted to the rear of a trailer to help with backing it up, and there’s one in the third brake light to keep an eye on stuff in the bed, or when using a gooseneck trailer connector.
Other trailering aids include Reverse Guidance and StraightLine Backup Guidance that use cameras to recognize the trailer’s position, relying on decals placed on the trailer to help prevent jackknifing.
Super Duty cabs use the same aluminum structures used in the F-150, but the hood, fenders and box are unique to HD trucks. A big LED C ring frames quad LED headlamps that look excellent at night. In fact, all the lighting on the F-250 is spectacular; the side lights, tailgate light, puddle lights around the doors, and interior ambient lighting are all an indication that Ford went bananas over illumination. All automakers should do the same.
A unique grille and a tailgate with satin finish further confirm the Limited as the F-250 the boss gets to drive. Ford’s very handy rear tailgate step, standard on the Limited and necessary because of the long climb into the bed, has been improved over the years, but the small hole to release the step is a bit wimpy. It’s also sharp around the edges.
The truck itself, however, is anything but soft. Able to tow more, haul more and drag more than others in this competitive class, the F-250 Limited might be a bit of a bull on the street, but it’s also a truck that won’t back down from a fight with anyone.
The 2018 Ford F-250 Super Duty is a powerful ride.