Ford F250: All Hat, All Cattle

By Casey Williams

There’s a saying in Texas about a cowboy being “all hat and no cattle”. You see them all over – driving their pickup trucks and SUVs to collect the kiddies at dance class or pulling a lone Jet Ski to a mud puddle. When these over-starched cowpokes really need a truck, they choose some whimpped-out pretenders that can barely wheeze under their own load. Buying a Ford F250 Super Duty with a diesel engine will put to rest all rumors about the size of their cattle.

If you want to scare the night out of pesky drivers of Smarts and Buicks, hoover up to their bumper at 70 mph and see what happens. If the air you’re displacing doesn’t displace them, they will quickly displace themselves to the right-hand lane. Let them get a load of that meteor-sized chrome grille and Ford Oval as big as a football. When I see the crew cab truck in prairie-hued metallic brown livery, I don’t know if I should run from it or polish it. For sure, you can’t deny it.

2011-SUPD-ford_350_Lariat_OHIP.jpgClimbing into the saddle may be tough as you step on the big step chrome bars and heave up to the A-pillar-mounted grab-handles, but once seated in leather thrones, you’ll have an easy view of your cattle and all they graze. Inside, notice the urban-outback themed woodgrain and silver metallic dash panels, camo leather seat inserts, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and huge center storage console. Automatic climate control will roast and freeze with ease. Ford’s SYNC system allows for voice-activated calling, audio, and navigation. Truck stops with B20 diesel can be found just by asking. All prepped for work, the F-250 comes with trailer brake controllers and 4 uplifter auxiliary switches on the lower center control stack. A cool step with grab bar slides out of the tailgate to ease entry to the bed. Side and side curtain airbags are optional to enhance safety.

2011-ford-SUPD_NavSIRIUS.jpgYou don’t buy a Super Duty because you want a pick-up truck for domestic duties. There are far better choices for commuting to work and carrying a little mulch. This is what you buy to pull the mini-yacht, a stable of horses, or a 30-ft. fifth-wheel through the mountains without loosing your (or your truck’s) cool. Open the hood and try to count all of the radiator coils. If it uses or moves fluid, there is probably a coil up front to cool it. Properly-equipped, Super Duty trucks can tow 24,400 lbs. or haul 6,520 lbs. of payload, or roughly equivalent to 13.5 Smarts in tow or 3.5 in the bed.

To do this, the Super Duty requires lots of power. You can get a 6.2-litre gasoline engine in the truck, but I wouldn’t. There is no comparing ponies with Power StrokeĀ® 6.7-litre turbo-diesel V8 that produces 735 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,600 rpm and 390 hp at 2,800 rpm – 85 lb.-ft. and 40 hp more than the 2010 model. Ford claims best-in-class fuel economy and the ability to run on B20 biodiesel fuel. In mixed driving, much of it running at super-legal speeds on the Interstate, the truck achieved just under 16 mpg. Given the truck’s capability, that’s impressively frugal. There are many 1970s cars that couldn’t get 16 mpg going down a mountainside, and they could barely pull six Christians to church and back.

Gas and diesel engines are mated exclusively to six-speed automatic transmissions, with column-mounted selectable gear capability, that enable Power Take Off. On Super Duty diesels with the PTO option, the truck can be equipped to power auxiliary equipment like snowplows, aerial lifts, tow truck lifts, cement mixers, or dump trucks. Power is available whenever the engine is running.

2011-Ford450CHAS_XL_Lo34Frt.jpgOn the highway, the big truck is a dream. All of the diesel’s torque is at the ready while a unique turbocharger, featuring a dual-sided compressor wheel in a single housing for improved noise and harshness control, breathes easily. The single unit provides the benefit of a twin-turbo, but with faster response (less turbo lag). Empty or loaded, the truck always has an obscene amount of power in reserve.

Since most Super Duty diesels will pull trailers, engineers went the extra mile in providing for safe towing. Trailer Sway Control works with Advance Trac electronic stability control and Roll Stability Control to detect trailer sway, apply brakes, or reduce engine torque to correct unwanted motions. The built-in trailer braking works with the truck’s anti-lock brake computer to minimize the potential for trailer wheel lockup. During a sway event, the system can apply brakes to stabilize the trailer. Hill Start Control (sets brakes to hold the vehicle on an incline), Hill Descent Control (creeps down inclines), and an electronic locking rear differential work in concert to get the most of friction.

I think it was Christine Baranski’s character Tanya in Mamma Mia! who was messing around with the kid that was “all mouth and no trousers.” Drive up in the F250 and everybody will know you’re packing a full set of pants. Price as tested came to $60,810 including the $7,835 Powerstroke Diesel V8 option, 4×4, Crew Cab with 6.75′ bed, and Lariat package. Competitors with heavy-duty diesel models include the Dodge Ram, Chevy Silverado, and GMC Sierra.

2011 Ford F-250 Diesel
Five-passenger, 4×4 pickup
Powertrain: 390-hp 6.7-litre diesel V8, six-speed automatic transmission
Suspension f/r: I-beams, solid axle
Wheels: 18″/18″ f/r.
Brakes: Disc fr/rr with ABS
Must-have feature: Engine, style
Manufacturing: Louisville, KY
As tested price: $60,810