Ford F250 Super Duty Powerstroke Diesel: A 21st Century Clydesdale

According to Wikipedia, the Clydesdale is “a breed that was extensively used for pulling heavy loads in rural, industrial and urban settings.”  If that doesn’t fit the 2011 F250 Super Duty Powerstroke diesel like a custom measured Savile Row suit, then nothing does.

Like the Clydesdale the F250 Super Duty is large and imposing.  It’s a truck that you don’t get into so much as you climb up and mount.  Unless you are driving an 18-wheeler, you will be looking down at all the traffic around you.

Short of hooking up a 53 foot semi trailer, there is little that you can think of that the this truck couldn’t pull with it’s 800 ft/lb of torque at the ready.  The motor has so much power and torque you often think it could tow the Space Shuttle to the launch pad.

What this truck was meant for though, was not runs to the local big box home improvement store, so much as it was for pulling 24-40 foot long trailers full of tools and construction equipment, racecars and horses.  Even then, you get the feeling that the truck would shrug that off as if it was just a light workout.

From the front of the car the F250 Super Duty has a strong presence.  The big two horizontal chrome bars give it a very muscular appearance.  If you see the grill of the F250 coming up quickly in your rear view mirror, you’ll move over right away.

Climbing up into the truck you are greeted by a wide-open, spacious cabin.  It’s a comfortable place to do business from with a commanding view of the road.  The revised instrument panel has a new LCD screen between the speedometer and the tach,  which has six different menus for the driver to choose from.  There are the ubiquitous fuel readings for instant mileage, average mileage, miles to empty, and there is a bar graph in it that tracks the information to give you a different take on it.  There are also menus, if you are going off roading, that show you pitch, roll and yaw angles graphically which is a cool touch.

With the new layout for the I.P. there is also a new layout for the buttons on the steering wheel to control the center LCD as well as the 7” touch screen with SYNC.

 The center stack has a seven-inch touch screen, which does a good job providing information but inside the massive cabin it feels a bit small in scale.  The center stack also includes four auxiliary switches for trailer lights or other off road lights.  There are inputs for USB, 1/8th inch aux and several 12V plugs as well.

As everything in the Super Duty is larger, not only is the center console extra wide, it’s about two feet deep!  There are also four cup holders between the two front seats rather than the usual two.

Outside of a Maybach 62, there are few vehicles that have more back seat leg room than in the Super Duty Crew Cab.  If you are bringing a crew with you to a job site, out to the lake towing a boat, or to the racetrack, throwing three full size adults in the back will draw no complaints.

With a three quarter ton truck this large you’d be surprised if the ride wasn’t a bit rough without any weight in the bed, or a trailer hooked up, but you would be wrong.  The ride is no worse than any standard SUV these days, the only exceptions were on some choppy freeways at times but it wasn’t too objectionable.  You would have no complaints if this was to be your daily driver.

Let’s make no mistake about it: this is a very large truck, in height, width and length.  We’ve talked about how you don’t get into the truck so much as mount it: it’s so tall that even with the tail gate step down and the grab bar up, it’s still a really tall step to get up into the bed.  In width it is right at seven feet wide in the rear track, with the side view mirrors brought in all the way you can add another eighteen inches to that, push out the telescoping side view mirrors to their full extension and it’s 28” wider!

If you live in an older neighborhood as we do where driveways are narrow, street can maybe fit one car down the middle if cars are parked on both sides, and if someone parks up close to your driveway, game over.  There were multiple times we had to execute a seven-point turn to get into the driveway.  The rear view camera was indispensable in situations like this since it’s difficult to judge those distances behind you.

Let’s talk about the all-new PowerStroke engine that’s in the Super Duty.  This is an all-new design by Ford.  The 7.3 PowerStoke that was designed by Navistar is still a well regarded engine, but the 6.0 and 6.4 had multiple problems that are still involved in litigation and ultimately killed the long standing relationship between Navistar and Ford.

This new engine is a world-class effort.  It is quiet; not something that could be said for the Navistar engines.  When you go through a drive through you don’t have to turn off the engine so you can place your order.  On the inside you occasionally get some noise from the injectors, but that is fairly subdued, and there is almost no diesel clatter that comes through into the cabin.  You aren’t going to mistake it for a gasoline engine in sound, but it’s not what you are used to from a big truck.

Power-wise, with the factory ECU re-flash, the engine produces 400 horsepower and 800 ft/lb of torque.  You can tell just how much power this is when you put your foot into it with the traction control fully engaged.  By 1,900 rpm, you can feel the power being pulled pack and if you stay in the throttle you can really feel how much the computer is holding back the truck.  Turn off the traction control and it’s night and day.  When the turbo builds up to full boost, which it does very quickly you can smoke the rear tires at will.

Pulling away from stop lights or merging onto the freeway, you never have a problem getting where you need to go, and with a truck this big, when people see you coming they tend to yield to you since they know they aren’t going to win that fight.

The other part of the engine is the fuel mileage.  When we had the Ford Raptor with the 6.2 V8, we were light on the throttle and just squeezed out 11mpg city and 14 highway; there were often times we were seeing single digit numbers for fuel economy.  With the SuperDuty diesel, which is a larger truck that weighs another 1,500-2,000 pounds more than the Raptor, we never tried to take it easy with the throttle, and still we saw 15.5mpg in the city and 19mpg on the highway!  You see that and you no longer have to wonder why so many people want to see a diesel in the Raptor or any half-ton truck.  Our highway loop is a 90-mile run where we can set the cruise control at 78mph and never touch it, and with that we got 19 mpg on the highway: for us, that is an amazing number for an 8,000 pound truck.

When you see a $60,000 sticker price on a pickup truck it’s a bit shocking to say the least.  But when you look at the level of equipment and technology that comes with that sticker price, it’s a little easier to take.  Compared to the SuperDuty’s peers from GM and Dodge, the price is right in line, and for the people that would buy a crew cab 4×4 diesel truck, you know what you are getting into.

Would we buy this truck?  Not at the moment as we don’t have a racecar, boat, RV or heavy equipment to move.  If we did, this truck would be very high on the list because it does everything you could ask of it, and does it with style and class, and if you are going to drop sixty larger on a truck, you are going to demand perfection, and the F250 SuperDuty comes very close to that.

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