Author: Ken Payne|
The Ford Super Duty pickup, long Ford's flagship for toughness, durability and power,
has been redesigned for the 2008 model year. Power, styling, drive quality and usability were all
improved. Ford Truck Enthusiasts attended the 2008 Ford Super Duty "Ride and Drive" in San Antonio,
Texas and we had a chance to drive this truck under less than ideal weather conditions.
Interior styling has been refined while maintaining a tough look. The dash is well laid out with
big controls that are easy to use while wearing gloves (it was below freezing in San Antonio).
Throughout the interior there are touches which make this truck useful to those who make a
living with their truck. Huge storage areas on both front and rear doors for stowage of
tools, flash-lights, cell-phone, paperwork and more will come in handy. The plastic used
is very thick, helping them to survive the abuse they'll receive on the job-site.
The center console is large enough for a laptop. It features a fold-down tray, and internal
power point. There are cup-holders galore. Extra cup holders aren't something you normally
think about until you don't have them.
Air vents are similar to those in the F-150 truck (they swivel and can point in any direction)
but they are much larger and feature thicker plastic and a bold bevel reminiscent of a large gear.
The center dash features a handy audio input jack for an iPod or other MP3 player.
Ford's staff kicked it into overdrive and provided warm gloves, hats and boots to help defeat the
frigid weather conditions prior to going out for the day. Kudos go out to them for the extra
effort they put in to make the best of the winter storm that blew into San Antonio. After gearing
up we took the trucks on a drive to a local ranch. I drove a King Ranch Edition Super Duty dually F-450.
This truck is the ultimate in power and luxury, without compromising either. Power and acceleration were
smooth and predictable. The unloaded truck drove without the bumpy ride normally associated with such a
large truck, thanks in part to improvements Ford made to the suspension. Ford claims the tightest
turning radius in its class for the Super Duty and I vouch for how handy this is. At one point I
missed our turn and had to turn this truck around in a small side-street not much wider than a
two car driveway. The relatively tight turning radius of the Super Duty allowed me to turn this
truck around with ease to get us back on track to the ranch.
I tested the acceleration several times and noticed how linear the power with the dual turbo
of the Power Stroke diesel. You cannot feel the transition from the smaller turbo to the
larger, nor was there much turbo lag. Despite the new diesel emissions laws this truck must
comply with Ford and International Truck and Engine really stepped it up and delivered more
power than ever. This, along with rear suspension improvements allows this truck to tow
practically anything with confidence from a boat on the weekends, a load of wood to the
job site, a trailer full of horses or a recreational trailer on a road-trip. Ford also made
improvements to sound dampening and engine noise, resulting in an engine no louder from inside the
cab than a typical gas engine.
Once at the ranch we received a healthy dose of Texas hospitality, featuring local cuisine, great
country music and friendly smiles under a warmed pavilion while we awaited instructions for the
day ahead. I then drove a Super Duty powered by the new 6.4L Power Stroke Diesel with a 10,000 lb
trailer behind us. This truck, with its 650 ft/lbs of torque, hardly noticed the load. No sway
from the load, smooth braking and easy acceleration up the grades.
The integrated trailer brake controller really helped when coming to a stop, removing the pitching
that can occur when towing without one (or with a controller not properly set up). On the way back
I had first-hand experience with the power telescoping mirrors. Not only do they extend with the
touch of a button, but they also have the ability to fold in so you can get the truck through tight
spots. At the ranch there was a slight traffic jam as we encountered another Super Duty coming
from the other direction towing a 5th wheel RV. Keep in mind that the trail we were on was one
lane only and it was very wet and muddy. We made it past them by powering the mirrors inward to
give enough space to clear the RV and a tree to our right.
Next, I drove an F-450 with 6,000 lbs of weight in the bed. Due to the improvements in the rear suspension with
the dual stage leaf spring setup it road very well without too much sway or sag. Acceleration was good.
Unfortunately, due to the weather interfering with the schedule we did not have time to drive with the 5th
wheel. However, I did take the time to talk to journalists, both men and women, who don't normally drive
with such large loads and they noted how easy it was for "amateurs" to drive with such a large trailer behind them.
Next, I took a Super Duty through its paces on an off-road course. Ford received more then they bargained for setting up
this course as it was covered with ice, water and mud. With a large truck "momentum is your friend" and not once
did I worry that truck didn't have the power to accomplish each stage of the course. I drove it up deeply
rutted muddy inclines, through large water pits and through a mud pit that bottomed out even the high undercarriage
of the truck. Heavy throttle and a little care with the steering got me through it all. My only complaint was
there wasn't a step on this truck and it was pretty high up and very muddy so getting in and out without slipping was a challenge. Just how muddy was the course? At the end they had a water truck with a large hole wash us down so we could see to drive back to the pavilion.
Our final drive for the day was during the last hours of the day and here we had the opportunity to try the
navigation system. A large screen navigation system with text to speech capabilities is available as an
option. I put this system to the test on the drive back to the hotel from the ranch. Each truck had
a set of directions printed with turn-by-turn instructions but they invited us to use the navigation system
instead. In spite of the freezing rain, darkened skies and unknown surroundings I made my way back to
the hotel with confidence, arriving on time with the rest of the group. This time I drove an F-350
with a standard transmission. I was a bit worried about driving a stick-shift wearing slippery boots
covered in mud through the streets of San Antonio but the clutch was not hard and gearing was smooth
and natural feeling. I arrived back at the hotel on time with the rest of group in the middle of the
pack despite not seeing any of them on the 45 minute drive back.
The 2008 Super Duty features many improvements over the current model and the fit and finish are
excellent. The new 6.4-liter Power Stroke diesel engine delivers 3 50HP @ 3,000 rpm and 650 ft/lbs
of torque at 2,000 rpm and handles heavy loads well. Maximum towing capacity is now between 16,900 lbs
and 24,500 lbs depending on model. All this power made this truck a pleasure to drive loaded,
unloaded and off-road in the mud. The interiors are top-notch. Dash layout is well thought-out
and everything is within easy reach with large buttons usable even with my gloved hands.
Interior touches such as the folding rear seats, large center console storage, large door stowage areas and
multiple power points makes this truck well suited as a people mover, mobile office and daily commuter.
There 4 cup holders in the front. If you're like me this is handy because they not only serve as a place
to put your coffee cup, but are also convenient when you need a place to put your cell phone or PDA.
I almost felt guilty getting into the luxurious King Ranch with extremely muddy boots. However, this is
what these trucks are made for and... someone else gets to clean it! Anyone looking to have the strongest and most capable truck made won't be disappointed nor will they be giving up any comforts to do it. Once again Ford delivers a truck which reinforces their position as America's truck leader.
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