What’s It Like Driving a Ford Dump Truck?

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I write about cars and trucks for a living. I don’t get an option to play with the proper big boy toys that construction workers, landscapers and the sort get to play with. That’s why when I learned that Ford put a bright orange F-650 dump truck in to the Detroit area press fleet, I knew I had to drive it.

If you’re not familiar with the F-650, it is the smaller of the two trucks in their medium duty truck line. It’s a Class 6 truck that can be configured for a variety of needs. In the case of this truck, it is set up in a way a municipal dump truck might be. That means it has a SuperCrew cab — for hauling the whole work crew in one vehicle — and a Triton V10 gasoline engine.

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The V10 adoption rate is growing, according to Ford’s Kevin Koester. For the newest models of the F-650 and F-750, Ford even started offering the V10 in the larger Class 7 F-750 offering. The gasoline makes sense for certain customers because there’s not the initial extra diesel cost up front, or the extra cost of the diesel emissions controls throughout the life of the truck. Plus, some municipalities might not have a solid diesel infrastructure in place.

Configured as a dump truck with the V10, the truck I drove carried a Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) of 26,000 pounds. For those counting, that’s literally 1 pound less than the limit for requiring a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Thankfully that means any idiot can drive it, and I was the designated idiot for the day.

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First impressions are quite impressive. While you do sit higher up in the air than a traditional Super Duty, the truck itself isn’t really wider than a dual rear wheel F-450. While it is definitely wider than most passenger cars, it’s not really that intimidating to drive and feels relatively maneuverable in traffic. To bring a sports car reference into it, it feels smaller than it is.

The Ford-built 6-speed Torqshift HD automatic transmission is obviously geared for torque and hauling, so it’s not a barnstormer off the line. But the V10 also doesn’t have the turbo lag that exists in the diesel version of the truck. Throttle response is solid.

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The steering wheel is larger than a Super Duty, but the rest of the interior is lifted from the 2016 Super Duty. That includes the dashboard, the radio, and other interior trim bits. The cab itself is from the last-generation Super Duty. The only major difference is the driver’s seat has air ride, making the bouncing around much more tolerable.

Without air brakes and without needing a CDL, the F-650 is easy to get into and drive for anyone. Seriously. That’s not to say it’s not a good idea for some driver training before hitting the road, the F-650 impresses in how easy it is to drive, operate, and control. A comfortable driver’s seat, Bluetooth audio and phone, and air conditioning really would make this a nice distance cruisers.

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Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to haul a load, which would’ve improved ride quality. But the cabin is quieter than I thought it would be and the Noise, Vibration, and Harshness (NVH) was really kept in check. Seriously, if it wasn’t for the aluminum dump truck bed bouncing around, it’d feel like a normal Super Duty driving down the road.

While there will be purists who lament that the truck is too easy to drive and doesn’t require skill, the fact that the new F-650 is more capable than ever while being easier for fleets to get drivers for is definitely a win. Also, letting me pretend like I’m 8 years old again is also a win!

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below or over in the forums!

Chad Kirchner is a regular contributor to Corvette Forum and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other auto sites.

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