Work horse more than mere trans­porta­tion

On a farm or job site, this pickup’s brawn and power make it a real problem solver

Calgary Herald - - DRIVING - DEREK MC­NAUGHTON Driv­

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.

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