We flew into
Las Vegas for the drive out to Bullhead City and picked up a dark shadow
gray metallic Ford F-350 Super Duty Crew Cab 4x4 dually to make the 100
mile trip. Its many features included optional Sport and FX4 packages.
The Sport Package includes chrome tipped 3-inch exhaust pipe, monochromatic
sport grille, chrome side steps and unique front and rear bumpers. The
FX4 off-road option is new on Super Dutys for 2003 and adds Rancho shocks,
skid plates and a steering damper to the base 4x4 package. Our F-350 also
had a moonroof, a Ford exclusive in the heavy duty segment, and a 6 disc
in-dash CD changer.
We were disappointed
with the F-350's interior though. The Super Duty's dash and IP design
is definitely showing its age next to the newly revised Dodge and GM trucks.
A great looking truck on the outside should have great looking inside.
up the F-350, it was our first chance to build hands-on impressions around
the new Power Stroke and TorqShift.
fired up with a tighter and quieter clatter than what we were used to
hearing from the 7.3-liter Power Stroke. When we were inside the truck
with all of the doors closed the clatter was reduced even more thanks
to Ford's aggressive cabin noise insulation efforts.
onto the street we immediately pulled up next to a raised 2002 F-350 4x4
at a stoplight. Sure it was a coincidence but a purposeful comparison
couldn't have been staged any better because we certainly heard the clatter
of the other F-350's 7.3-liter Power Stroke much more loudly in the cabin
of our truck than we heard our own 6.0-liter engine.
handling has also been unexpectedly improved and refined.
many Super Duty trucks over the years the ride quality jumped out at us.
The feel from the steering wheel was firm and positive with very little
shake or any other vibrations at all. Ford engineers on-hand attributed
this to time well spent increasing the amount of rubber in the body mounts
to improve isolation. The confidence that the ride and steering feel inspired
proved to be valuable on the trip across state route 95 from Las Vegas
state route 95 we quickly found ourselves stacked up behind big rigs,
motor homes and blue hairs headed back to Sun City having lost the remainder
of this month's social security check at the $1 slots. It was the perfect
opportunity to test unloaded performance and the Power Stroke did not
fail to meet the high performance expectations set by Stoehr.
We have driven
some very powerful vehicles as part of media tests but never one this
information says that the new Power Stroke performs much like a gas engine.
We are sorry to disappoint the Ford engineers that worked so hard on this
engine, but if we had a gas engine that ran the way the Power Stroke runs
we would never ever consider a diesel.