The V-10 engine hasn’t been drawing much attention lately in heavy-duty
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
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.