PickupTruck.com First Drive: 2008 Ford Super Duty
Ford introduced its latest, burliest Super Duty pickups in a trial by fire and ice. The ice was in the form of a storm that closed south Texas highways and airports, and the fire was courtesy of the shotguns the Blue Oval boys provided for journalists to mercilessly slaughter clay pigeons. Shotguns not only smoke impressively in cold weather, but the warm barrel works as a hand warmer!
Full credit to Ford for having the guts to order up an ice storm for truck testing. Full-size pickup truck manufacturers will go to no end in search of new gimmicks designed to reinforce the impression of tough capability for their trucks. Pull locomotives? Done. Dropped from the sky? Done. Churn through mud in slow-mo? Done.
But Ford pioneered new frontiers of effort by arranging for journalists to sample the first of its burly new Super Duty pickups during a raging ice storm. That’s tough! Obviously, Ford had already used its weather control technology to verify the trucks were up to the challenge, because they performed perfectly in the slick conditions, both on- and off-road.
Recognizing the seemingly insatiable demand by truck buyers for ever tougher, more capable trucks, in 1998 Ford remade its heavy-duty line with the introduction of the Super Duty trucks. These are built on their own, stronger, chassis rather than using the same foundation as the high-volume F-150 half-ton pickups. The company now sells 380,000 of its work-ready heavy-duties each year and sales are growing because of increased use of the trucks by “personal use” drivers who might tow boats or horse trailers.
Now Ford has expanded the beachhead it established in the niche between light-duty pickups and medium-duty commercial trucks with stronger-than-ever F-250 and F-350 pickups. But Ford’s ace in the hole is a new F-450 pickup, a model never previously available, with a gigantic 24,000 lb. towing capacity. The company predicts it will sell 10,000 of these uber-pickups each year. The F-550 continues to be available only as a chassis cab.
The Super Duty receives an all new 350-horsepower, 650 lb.-ft., 6.4-liter PowerStroke diesel V8 and carries over the 362 horsepower, 457 lb.-ft., 6.8-liter Triton gas V10. The diesel is the focus of attention, and the company promises that the new PowerStroke, with a common-rail injection system and piezoelectric injectors, leaves behind all the headaches of the old PowerStroke’s injection system.
In addition to more payload and towing capacity, and more powerful engines, the new Super Duties also provide that key “Built Ford Tough” macho feature: more comfort amenities. The new trucks are better-riding, the seats are wrapped in rich Chaparral leather, and there is a nifty fold-out step built into the tailgate that makes it easier to climb into the bed.