Test: 2005 Ford F-250 Super Duty FX4 4x4
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The V-10 engine hasn’t been drawing much attention lately in heavy-duty consumer trucks.
First, Dodge dropped the V-10 from its 2500/3500 line. Only the base Hemi engine and the venerable 5.9-liter Cummins I6 diesel can be ordered in the big Rams. There are wide gaps between the work potential of the two engines, depending on your needs. For 2500 models, the Hemi truck’s tow rating is about 2000 pounds lower than similar diesel-equipped models. In 3500 configuration, the difference is just over 5000 pounds. The upside for the Hemi is that diesel-powered trucks weigh about 800 pounds more, boosting the payload rating of the gas-engine version about 600 pounds when comparing similar models.
On the Ford side, the 6.0-liter Power Stroke diesel is ordered in about 63 percent of all F-250/F-350 SuperDuty pickups. The remainder is divided between the base 5.4-liter V8 and the 6.8-liter V10 Triton. The V8 is preferred in fleet vehicles, so its price point is well respected. But the V10 is just a $600 option over the V8, giving the average consumer a chance to pull heavier loads without spending $5100 for a diesel engine. Some customers need more choices, and Ford comes through with a hearty V8 that received a major upgrade for 2005. But it still doesn’t get the respect it should.
I spent a week in a new F-250 Super Duty SuperCab short-bed 4x4 with the FX4 off-road package. The severe Southern California rain storms prevented me from scheduling a tow test but I did take the truck on quick weekend run up the coast. Bottom line: the V10 certainly gives the impression it can handle heavy-duty work chores, and there were plenty of times I wished there was a heavy load in the back. The Super Duty has a king-of-the-road character, muscular good looks and incredibly powerful stance. But sometimes one wonders how much one must sacrifice to be stylish when you don’t use a truck the way it was designed.
I drove a couple of different Super Duty trucks last year when Ford reengineered its heavy-duty lineup. Most of my recollections center on the Power Stroke models that were involved in head-to-head tests with other competitive diesel products in towing and payload. But I don’t remember any truck I drove that day that was as brutally harsh as this empty Super Duty was on the highway. Concrete expansion joints on the freeway sent the 141.8-inch wheelbase rocking with all the force of a ¾-ton paint shaker. One of my trips was to Disneyland, and my stomach was properly prepared to take punishment from any roller coaster. Had I passed a materials yard, I would have asked for a ton of gravel in the bed to help soak up the road impacts.
Ford redesigned the front suspension, going with coil springs and radius arms instead leaf springs but keeping the solid axle on 4x4 models. I’m not sure the FX4 package is to blame for the extra stiffness. All that package really adds to the suspension is a set of Rancho shock absorbers. The rest of the $225 FX4 option includes skid plates and graphics.
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