The heavy duty truck market is dominated by three players, Chevrolet, Ford and Ram--formerly Dodge. With nearly 50% of the market, Ford is the clear-cut sales winner. Though, Ford's not resting on its sales laurels, as they have a completely new Super Duty lineup ready for 2011.
|2011 Ford F-250 Lariat Crew Cab|
Base Price: $44,095
At-Tested Price: $60,810
Built in Louisville, Kentucky, and Mexico.
LT275/65 OWL Tires
Limited Slip Differential
Engine Block Heater
200 Amp Alternator
Stowable Bed Extender
Tough Bed Spray Liner
Lariat Ultimate Package
Engine: Turbodiesel 6.7-liter V8
Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic
Drive Wheels: Four-Wheel Drive
The new Super Duty comes in F-250, F-350, and F-450 chassis and competes with the Chevrolet Silverado HD/GMC Sierra HD and Ram 2500/3500. New for this year are freshened styling, updated interiors and more-powerful engines.
F-250 and 350 are available in regular cab, extended cab and crew cab variations. The F-450 comes only in crew cab form. All cabs offer an eight-foot cargo bed, extended cab and crew cab versions also offer a 6.75-foot bed. Available only on the 350 and 450 is a rear axle with dual rear wheels.
Buyers choose between two new-for-2011 V8 engines: a 6.2-liter gasoline engine with 385-horsepower or a 6.7-liter turbodiesel with 390-horsepower. Both engines mate to a six-speed automatic transmission that features a tow-haul mode. Maximum towing capacities range from 11,800 to 24,400 pounds. Most models are available with rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive that can be left engaged on dry pavement and includes a low-range gear for off-road driving and low-speed towing applications.
Trim levels include XL, XLT, Lariat, and King Ranch. Available safety features include antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, rear-view camera, park assist, and dual-front and curtain-side airbags. Newly available is a 4.2-inch LCD screen that integrates with an in-dash computer. The system includes Internet access with available printer, a tool-inventory program, and vehicle tracking for fleet users. Also offered are hill-descent and trailer-sway control.
All Super Duty models have a $975 destination charge and is built in either Louisville, Kentucky, or Mexico.
Get Up and Go The new Super Duty is a HUGE truck. It weighs more than 5000 pounds and is nearly 22 feet long. So, short of dropping in a top-fuel dragster engine, the Super Duty isn't going to feel quick. Still, the new engines offer more than enough pop to keep up with around-town traffic. Highway passing power is adequate as well, though the diesel seems to run out of breath at speeds above 60 mph.
As you might expect, adding payload decreases either engines' responsiveness but the diesel, with its massive 735 pounds-feet of torque, seems to take up the slack the best. So, if you do a lot of towing or hauling, the diesel may be worth the nearly $8,000 extra expense.
You'd never expect a transmission that's capable of towing more than 24,000 pounds to be smooth, but the six-speed slushbox in the Super Duty is quite impressive. There's hardly a stumble between upshifts and downshifts happen promptly and without undue fuss. Occasionally, there's a burp when coasting to a stop, but that's not unexpected in this class of vehicle.
Ford and the EPA aren't required to release fuel economy numbers on the Super Duty and they don't. Best estimates peg the diesel at about 15-20 mpg, but those numbers don't take into account payload or trailer. The gas engine numbers will be considerably lower, probably in the 10-15 mpg range.
On the Road While the Chevy Silverado HD has the most absorbent ride and the Ram 2500 has the firmest ride, Ford plays the middle ground with the new Super Duty. Minor impacts are nicely absorbed with little aftershock. Large bumps tend to get the body pitching a bit, but not to the point where it is annoying. The long wheelbase helps smooth the highway ride and eliminate some of the porpoising that's common in many large SUVs.
Ford worked very hard at giving the new Super Duty a more athletic driving feel. No we're not talking sports sedan or even sporty SUV here, but at least the new Super Duty is much more controllable than before. It's large and unwieldy in tight quarters, but comfortable and composed on the highway. The steering still disappoints with too much play and no on center feeling.
A big improvement has been made in interior noise levels, at least in the upscale Lariat. Road noise is quite low and wind noise is only noticeable when really pushing the highway envelope. Unfortunately, there's still quite a bit of racket from the diesel engine, especially at idle.
Behind the Wheel Ford engineers took a fresh approach inside starting with a very functional layout that works on all trim levels. Materials and features improve as you step up the model line, but even in base form the new Super Duty seems upscale.
The control layout is excellent as is the integration of Ford's Sync command system. Seats are comfortable, if a bit upright. Front-seat head and leg room are generous. Drivers get a commanding view of the road and the outside mirrors are quite large. Still, there are blind spots to the rear three quarters.
Extended cabs have room enough for kids or smaller adults, but leg room is tight if the front seats are all the way back. Conversely, the crew cab offers a commodious rear seating area that comfortably seats three adults. Step in is brutally high no matter the model.
Cargo space depends on the bed. The eight-foot bed makes sense for contractors, but the smaller bed is quite appropriate for trips to Menards or college move-ins. The tailgate step is an interesting option of dubious merit. Interior storage is great with lots of open and covered bins. There's so much storage, you can forget where you put stuff.
Bottom Line Heavy-duty truck buyers know what they want--the power to haul and tow. In this capacity the new Super Duty is the undisputed king. Throw in the top-notch interior, composed road manners, and surprising level of available features and there's a lot going for the Ford.
That's not to say the Chevy or Ram are bad trucks. They are quite capable as well. One advantage they have over the new Ford is price. The margin isn't great, but, feature for feature, they are less expensive.
In many cases it comes down to personal preference and this is where the Ford has a leg up.
|Specifications, 2011 Ford F-250 Lariat Crew Cab|
|Dimensions||4-door crew cab pickup||Engine||Turbodiesel OHC V8|
|Wheelbase, in.||141.8||Size, liters/cu. in.||6.7 /406|
|Length, in.||232.4||Horsepower @ rpm||390 @ 2800|
|Width, in.||79.9||Torque (lb.-ft.) @ rpm||735 @ 1600|
|Height, in.||80.4||Transmission||6-Speed Automatic|
|Weight, lbs.||NA||EPA Estimates, mpg||NA city / NA highway|
|Cargo Capacity, cu. ft.||NA|| || |
|Fuel Capacity, gals.||26.0||Manufacturer's Warranty|
|Seating Capacity||5||Bumper-to-Bumper||3 years / 36,000 miles|
|Front Head Room, in.||40.7||Powertrain||5 years / 60,000 miles|
|Front Leg Room, in.||41.1||Corrosion||5 years / Unlimited miles|
|Second-Row Head Room, in.||40.8||Free Roadside Assistance||5 years / 60,000 miles|
|Second-Row Leg Room, in.||42.1||Free Scheduled Maintenance||None|