Super Duty’s cab, occupants are left to wonder if this could possibly
be a work truck, considering the abundant leather in the Lariat and King
Ranch versions (and in the Harley-Davidson edition in the future). But
professional drivers practically live inside their trucks, and personal
users tend to employ them on long drives towing trailers to distant locations,
making virtually all of the Super Duty’s customers sensitive to
the amenities available.
Sirius Satellite Radio, dual-zone climate control, quiet steel laminated
dash panel, more insulation and thicker window glass all combine to make
the Super Duty’s cabin a comfort palace unrecognizable to those
of use whose first trucks had AM radios and no A/C.
For those diesel veterans accustomed to freezing on cold days, the Super
Duty offers a welcome innovation in the form of an electric heater. The
Rapid-Heat cab heater starts making heat instantly and supplements the
diesel’s meager heat output whenever needed.
The TowCommand system looks like another electronic doodad, but it is
in fact a miraculous breakthrough in trailer brake technology, as anyone
who has used the system since it appeared on the previous generation Super
Duty well knows. The device is an electronic trailer brake controller
that is built into the truck, so it has the benefit of knowing everything
about the vehicle’s systems and the driver’s inputs, so that
it can provide the correct amount of braking force to the trailer, rather
than having to guess at the correct amount as add-on brake controllers
New for the
‘08 models is smarter software that lets the trailer brakes work
better on slippery surfaces where the truck’s antilock brake system
is active, and especially in those tricky situations when one side of
the truck is on, say, the dry crown of the road, while the other side
is on a wet or icy edge. Forget the tailgate step; TowCommand continues
to be a reason to buy a Super Duty over a competitor.
Hammer the brake pedal with the truck pulling a massive 20,000 lb. fifth-wheel
camper and it hums uneventfully to a stop in a normal-seeming distance.
The truck’s brake pedal is long, as seems to happen with hydraulically
boosted brakes on diesel trucks under heavy braking, but keep pressing
and it keeps slowing the truck more. There was simply no indication of
any activity from the trailer. It didn’t seem to push us onward,
it didn’t wiggle, and it certainly didn’t smoke or flat-spot
any of its tires. It just stopped.
The F-450’s precise steering is appreciated when pulling such a
big trailer, making it easy to keep the rig in the center of the lane
with no difficulty. On the open road without the trailer, the F-450 rides
better than we have any reason to hope, its longer leaf springs working
as advertised to soak up bumps without punishing the occupants. Broken
pavement makes itself known, as should be expected, but in regular conditions
an empty F-450 dually gives the driver no reason to wish for a payload.
Duty F-450 still falls short of the tow rating of vehicles such as the
Chevrolet Kodiak medium-duty truck with a pickup bed conversion performed
by a an aftermarket company such as Monroe. The Ford would be easier to
live with when unhitched, more comfortable and better-equipped with luxury
features and at a lower price too. The massive commercial-duty rear axle
and brakes, combined with the smart brake controller make the F-450 an
impressive hauler. But if exorbitant towing capacity is the overriding
issue, an almost-big rig like the Kodiak is the way to go.
The F-250, which we also drove unladen, has the ride and handling of
a half-ton truck. At least that of a half-ton truck before the latest
generation of half-tons moved more solidly into car-like ride. Personal
use owners won’t regret the days they have to use their truck as
a car thanks to the many upgrades to the Super Duty’s frame and
suspension, as well as the interior amenities.
Off-road, in more-than-axle-deep slime, even in four-wheel-high, the
truck powered through uneventfully. This included impressively deep ruts
and some very steep climbs over wet rocks, with no instance when the truck
felt out of control, in danger of getting stuck, or had the driver wishing
he’d selected the low range in the transfer case.
You will never get stuck, but if you ever need to pull anyone else out,
the Super Duty has 27 mm closed tow hooks that will support 33,000 lbs.
So you can lift out a couple of the other guys at once.
Ford guys can add that test to the fire and ice trial next time around.