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  • 2008 Ford F250 Super Duty 4X4

    Posted on September 1st, 2008 ninarussin

    Ford’s F250 Lariat may be the most posh, heavy-duty truck on the market.
    By Nina Russin

    2008 Ford F250

    2008 Ford F250

    My mind drifts back to Reatta: the ranch in “Giant.” Giant is the last film James Dean made before he died: he plays opposite Liz Taylor and Rock Hudson in the screen adaptation of Edna Ferber’s novel, about the disappearance of the cowboy way. Everything about “Giant” is giant, especially the ranch, which encompasses enough land to house a medium-sized city.

    The Ford F250 Lariat is the Reatta of pickup trucks: epic in scale, and containing every possible creature comfort the well-dressed cowboy could ask for. The test truck, equipped with the optional off-road package, also has the King Ranch option: leather heated captain’s chairs, satellite radio, navigation system, power sliding rear window, power moonroof, automatic climate control, and the gaudiest two-tone paint job imaginable. The exterior looks like one of those oval-shaped buckles the rodeo queens wear, only much bigger.

    On a greener note, it has a clean diesel engine. Fuel stats aren’t available because the EPA doesn’t certify super duty trucks, but I was able to log about a hundred miles on just over a quarter tank of gas. The fuel tank holds thirty gallons.

    For buyers planning to tow trailers, diesels offer exceptional low-end power. The Powerstroke V8 produces 650 foot-pounds of torque, and develops maximum torque as low as 2,000 r.p.m. Its 350 horsepower rating is close to Ford’s gas-powered V10

    All models come with the option of six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmissions. The test truck has the automatic, which I prefer for this type of vehicle. While manual transmissions give the driver more control in extreme off-road conditions, automatic transmissions are better for towing. A tow-haul mode in the five-speed automatic improves uphill and downhill control by varying the shift points and applying engine braking as needed.

    The off-road package provides everything necessary for aggressive off-road driving: two-speed transfer case, skid plates under the chassis, and ample ground clearance. But because of its size, the F250 can’t navigate narrow, winding trails. Wheelbase on the crew cab is 156 inches. There’s not a chance of getting it into my garage, and it barely fits in the driveway. Turning radius is almost 52 feet. With a curb weight of 6500 pounds, it takes a pretty serious winch and tow truck to pull the F250 out of a rut.

    On the highway, the F250 has exceptional performance for a truck of its size. The tow mirrors provide excellent visibility to the rear. Even without a trailer, the mirrors make it a lot easier to see low profile vehicles to either side. The mirrors incorporate large, redundant turn signals: a nice safety feature for other drivers on the road.

    Twenty-inch aluminum wheels and all-season tires are part of the King Ranch option. The all-season tires provide a comfortable ride on the highway, but won’t provide as much traction off-road as trail-specific tires. Those who plan to drive off-road might want to buy a second set of smaller wheels that will have a narrower footprint and a higher profile.

    Because of the diesel engine’s low-end torque, it’s easy to accelerate hard from a stop, and merge into high-speed traffic. Steering is responsive without being too touchy, and the disc brakes are big enough to stop the truck fairly quickly. I didn’t have a chance to drive in rain or snow, but drivers in colder climates will appreciate standard antilock brakes.

    A limited slip rear axle keeps the truck tracking straight if one of the back wheels contacts ice, oil, or soft sand. The test truck also has optional traction control, to prevent excessive wheel spin in bad weather.

    Because it’s engineered for towing, the F250 has a live rear axle. The solid axle doesn’t have the compliant ride of independent suspension, but it doesn’t bump passengers all over the road either.

    Inside: a casita on wheels

    Equipped with two rows of captain’s chairs, the crew cab seats four adults. Both rows of passengers have enough room to be comfortable on longer drives. The driver’s seat has six power adjustments. A tilt and telescoping steering wheel and adjustable foot pedals allows smaller drivers to sit a safe distance from the airbag. The leather steering wheel has redundant controls for most comfort and convenience options. The passenger seat on the Lariat model also has power adjustments.

    Running boards make it easier for passengers to climb into the high profile vehicle. There are grab handles near all four doors for the same purpose.

    A large shelf on top of the instrument panel holds a clipboard or a laptop computer. There are two, huge bottle holders in both front and rear center consoles. The bin in the front console is large enough to hold a small backpack or purse. Smaller trays in the bin hold change or small electronic devices.

    Controls on the instrument panel are easy to reach from either front seating position. The navigation screen doubles as a touch screen for audio controls. There are redundant buttons for the automatic climate control and audio system.

    The doors have two tiers of map pockets. There is a 12-volt power point in the instrument panel, and a second on the back of the front center console. Large, leather map pockets on the front seatbacks provide additional storage for second-row passengers. The power sliding rear window allows fresh air into the rear of the cab.

    Buyers who live in extremely cold climates will appreciate the supplemental cab heater and engine block heater options. Since diesel engines use glow plugs rather than traditional spark plugs, they can be harder to start in cold weather.

    The crew cab has enough interior space to hold groceries and a moderate amount of luggage. It wouldn’t be too hard to load a bicycle inside with the front wheel removed.

    Because the crew cab extends the truck’s overall length, buyers can opt for a shorter cargo bed. The bed on the test truck is about six and a half feet long: a standard cargo bed measures eight feet.

    An optional bed extender on the test truck makes it long enough to hold sheets of plywood, or other large items. Width between the wheels is just short of sixty inches, and the cargo bed is twenty-inches deep. An optional tailgate step folds down to make loading the back easier.

    Payload for the F250 is 2,830 pounds: the truck easily exceeds our ALV towing standards. Maximum gross vehicle weight is 10,000 pounds.

    Base price on the F250 Lariat is $37,305, but the option packages add a significant cost. The automatic transmission alone is almost $7,000. Sticker on the test truck is $57,225, including a $925 destination charge.

    The Ford F250 is built in Ford’s Kentucky truck plant, and is currently on display at dealerships nationwide.

    Likes: Diesel engine provides the best possible fuel economy and reduced emissions. The F250 has excellent road manners for a truck of its size. The interior is versatile enough to function as a mobile office or home away from home. The optional upgraded audio, leather trim, navigation system and automatic climate control are nice features for drivers who take frequent long road trips.

    Dislikes: The two-tone paint and extra chrome badges makes the exterior look gaudy.

    Quick facts:

    Base price: $37,305
    Price as tested: $57,075
    Horsepower: 350 @ 3,000 r.p.m.
    Torque: 650 lbs.-ft. @ 2,000 r.p.m.
    0 to 60: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: N/A
    First aid kit: No 
    Towing Capability: Yes
    Off-road: Yes
    Bicycle friendly: Yes
    Fuel economy: Not available.

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