It To High Fuel Prices!
Road Test: 2008 Regular Cab Ford F-250 Manual Diesel V-8
By: Mike Levine Posted:
07-08-08 09:37 PT
© 2008 PickupTrucks.com
tough for diesel truck owners. New emissions hardware and advanced
automatic transmissions have pushed diesel powertrain prices to their
highest levels ever. Diesel fuel costs a record $5 a gallon or more
in many places ($4.80 a gallon is the national average), making filling
up a 35-gallon heavy-duty pickup a $175 wallet shredding experience.
can’t control diesel prices, but you still can manage hardware
costs and how your truck burns its valuable fuel, if you’re willing
to get hands-on.
drove a three-quarter-ton two-wheel-drive 2008 Ford F-250 XLT Super
Duty with a 350-horsepower, Power Stroke 6.4-liter V-8 diesel (650
pound-feet of torque) and six-speed ZF manual transmission. For hard-core
diesel enthusiasts, nothing says, "I'm in control" like
an oil burner with a 22-inch-tall, floor-mounted hand-shaker to swap
are six forward gears, the transmission's true
first gear is an extra-low 5.79:1 cog to get heavy loads moving when
maxed out towing or payload capacity. When the truck is unloaded, you
can skip low and use the truck's standard 3.30:1 first gear. Sixth
gear (fifth, if you're skipping low) is an overdrive that works
best on the highway, so what you’re using most of the time are
the F-250’s four middle gears.
The truck’s clutch is stiff
(like five times stiffer than the clutch in my 1.9-L Jetta TDI commuter
car, which I nearly pushed through the floor shifting the first time
after driving the F-250 for five days) but not overly heavy, which is
surprising considering how much mass is being moved as you shift gears.
It’s the throws that beat you up
if you’re driving in stop and go traffic. They feel as long as
the truck’s 137-inch wheelbase, but you’re rewarded with
a satisfying “shoonk” when the shifter finds its notch and
you release the clutch. During some of the shifts I heard extra
clacking from the gears, usually in the lower numbers.
shifting through the entire tree several times before I was comfortable
with the transmission’s feel and pattern. Twice I accidentally
started rolling unloaded from a dead stop in 3rd gear. I immediately
noticed the truck bog down, but there was so much torque from the Power
Stroke that by the time the F-250 hit 1,100 rpm it was moving without
lugging. Not recommended but doable without stalling.
sweet spot is between 1,500-2,100 rpm. It’s
a rocket ship in that range and I think it responds noticeably faster
than the five-speed automatic when you accelerate. The 6.4-liter V-8’s
dual sequential turbos barely lag if you upshift through the gears just
I also like
the extra control the manual transmission provided during braking in
the F-250. The engine and transmission work extremely well together
to slow the truck. If you want to crawl up to a stoplight, you can
leave it in first gear and the truck will inch its way forward without
needing the accelerator and without stalling until you shift the transmission
to neutral and apply the brakes.
spooky how smart automatic transmissions have become in heavy-duty
pickups during the past five years. Automatics use tow/haul mode to
hold rpms and downshift on steep grades when you're
moving big loads, but there’s something infinitely more rewarding
about controlling those same mechanisms manually with all four limbs
working in sync to drive the truck.
But it seems
it’s only a matter of time before this
last bit of control is lost in heavy-duty pickups.
General Motors has stopped offering manual transmissions in its heavy-duty
pickups and, according to our friends at Four
Wheeler magazine, there
are rumors that Ford could soon follow. Only Dodge would be left with
a hand shaker, which could also disappear when the new 2010 Ram HD pickups
arrive next year.
hasn't entirely pulled the plug on manuals, it seems Ford is trying
to discourage their purchase. You can’t order a manual shifter for
trims above Lariat, so if you want a King Ranch or Harley-Davidson version
you’ll have to order those trucks with an automatic. Captain’s
chairs and adjustable pedals aren’t available as well.