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Tough on the Outside, Soft and Supple on the Inside

Any celebrity will tell you it pays to stand out in a crowd. Perhaps that’s the reason so many of them dress, act, and style—or even shave—their hair the way they do. Standing out can get you noticed and that just might be the motivation behind the Ford revamping of the complete 2008 Super Duty pickup lineup that is so important to Ford’s future.

While the last few years has seen the 8,500 plus lb. Super Duty break away from the styling mold of its Lighter duty F-150 contemporaries, the 2008 model permanently breaks any visual connection to the Ford half ton world.

Ford offers plenty of choice for Super Duty drivers, right up to the “Rotate the world off its axis” F-450 with an unheard of 24,000 lbs tow capacity, perfect in case you have a backhoe or two to tote around.

But we figured we would scope out a Super Duty that might be equally at home tugging your loaded toy hauler or playing nice with soccer mom minivans and crossovers during the weekly carpool duties. Our test subject is the 2008 F-250 Super Duty crew cab powered by the proven Triton V-10 gas engine. We got to see all the luxuries, since we tested the ultra upscale “King Ranch” edition fitted with some rich hides on the inside. More about those in a bit.

FACE OF A TOUGH GUY
Squared off chin, steely eyes, and bulging muscles are great attributes for a Hollywood tough guy and perhaps a heavy duty pickup as well. Ford wanted to build the toughest looking truck they could, so they started by raising the grill four inches over last year’s model. Two vertical bars support the centered blue oval logo, while two horizontal “nostrils” help the V-10 ingest air. And lest anyone forget that you are behind the wheel of a Super Duty, designers have seen fit to boldly emboss SUPER DUTY across the top of the grill’s frame.

The hood gets the power dome treatment, while the fenders are both muscular and crisp in design. Stylists have also mounted side fender air vents which seem to be all the rage in Detroit, appearing on everything from the new Ford Taurus to Cadillac Escalades.

Up front, lighting is stacked with headlights on the bottom to match up height-wise with lower vehicles. While this set up is functional, it also serves to add a very modern look to
this truck.

The Super Duty also retains the “semi tractor” style stepped down belt line detail that was first introduced on the F-350 Tonka concept truck. And you thought those concepts were just for show!

The tailgate, perhaps the most abused and often removed part of any pickup, gets a lot of attention to detail on the 2008 Ford Super Duty. First there is a new Lift-Assist system that prevents the old “slam down on the chains” syndrome. Our test vehicle was also equipped with the optional tailgate step that stows invisibly in the gate when not in use but extends to a 16.7 by 4.5 inch step pad when deployed. That’s another reason to leave that tailgate in place.

We also really liked the power scope mirrors. In the past extended mirrors have usually detracted from a truck’s style having more function than looks. The power scopes that electrically fold and telescope worked well with the tractor trailer styling of the cab and featured an integrated turn signal.

FRAMED AND SUSPENDED
You would have to flip your Super Duty over to check out all of the hidden “tweaks” the Dearborn engineers have performed for 2008. Since that might be a bit dangerous and expensive, I’ll just tell you about some of these key improvements. First, all frames get an electrostatic coating (or E-coating) for improved corrosion protection. A new fully boxed front section also features a blocker bar so the Super Duty will not ride up over smaller vehicles in a collision. Remember, I told you this heavy duty truck can play nice with the smaller set.

Upsized 6.7 millimeter outer rails have cross members fastened with both welds and rivets, a fact Ford takes pride in as a segment exclusive.

Our F-250 test vehicle—along with the rest of the Super Duty line up—had a revised leaf spring system dialed in for better road feel. Engineers employed eight inch longer springs with new attachment points to put a stop to wheel and acceleration hop. Those changes resulted in a lower rear ride height, a big benefit to fifth wheel or gooseneck trailer owners.

Since our test rig was a four-wheel drive, the front suspension was equipped with coil springs. Two-wheelers get the venerable twin I-beam system that has been around for decades. We appreciated the fact that the curb to curb turning radius came in at 56.6 feet for the 4x4 crew cab long bed we tested. By the way, that’s two feet less than a similarly equipped two-wheel drive.

PROVEN POWER
Our test truck came with the V-10 that is a carry over from the previous year. With 415 cubic inches on tap, the Triton V-10 gets a horsepower rating of 362 at 4,750 rpm and stout torque numbers totaling 457 lb-ft at 3,250 rpm.

A five speed TorqShift automatic transmission handled the shifting duties, while power was spooled to the rear tires by 4:10 rear gears. Also available with this engine and transmission setup are the 3:73’s and 4:30’s stump puller rear gears.

Our 4x4 crew cab long bed F-250 had a towing capacity of 10,000 lbs with a maximum GCWR of 21,500 lbs.

SADDLE UP COWPOKES AND HEAD FOR THE RANCH
Oh-so-tough on the outside and oh-so-soft on the inside, our tester was loaded on the inside with the King Ranch package. It was almost like being transported to an old west tack room filled with saddles emitting the aromatic smell of high-end leather. Our seats were covered in luxurious dark brown chaparral leather with tooled King Ranch logos.

In addition to the four captain’s chairs, other items like the two thick console lids, steering wheel, and door armrests got the luxo leather coating. The package also included heated front seats, power sliding rear window, and special badging plus other power and appearance amenities.

All 2008 Super Duties enjoy lowered cab noise levels due to the use of Quiet Steel, a brand of laminated sound deading steel sheets. Also employed are a new rear bulk head panel and thicker side glass.

Dashboard buttons and controls as well as door pulls were redesigned with glove wearing ergonomics in mind. Ford has also integrated the trailer brake controller into the center dashboard stack. The result looks cleaner and avoids skinned knees.

With a bulged-up power dome in the middle, the new dash board is immense. Vertical ribs appear on everything from the glove box door to the driver side airbag cover. The ribs are supposed to simulate a tool box or the side of a dump truck—yes that’s what the designers had in mind. Somehow the rib detail reminded me more of a Star Wars movie set. They seemed out of place and in my opinion cheapened the look of an otherwise stunning cabin.

All ribbing aside, with tough chiseled features, proven power, great tow ratings, and tons of engine and wheelbase choices, the 2008 Ford Super Duties will be a big players in the land of ultra heavy duty pickups. For more informatiomon on this truck or any other Ford vehicle, please visit www.ford.com.

Specifications
Length: 262.4
Wheelbase: 172.4
Cargo Bed Length: 98.0
Cargo Width between wheelhouse: 50.9
Curb Weight: 6685 LBS.
Engine: 6.8L 3V Triton V-10 Iron Block,
Aluminum heads 415 Cubic Inch.
Horsepower: 362hp@ 4,750rpm
Torque: 457 lb-ft @ 3,250 rpm
Transmission: 5 Speed TorqShift Automatic Over Drive
Brakes: Front 13.66-inch Disc/Rear
13.39- inch Disc
Suspension: Front Twin-Coil Mono Beam/ Rear Non Independent Live Axle with leaf springs.
Towing Capacity: 10,000 LBS.
Max GCWR: with 6.8L and 4:10:1 axle 21,500 LBS.
Key Options: King Ranch Package, Triton
V-10, 4:10:1 Rear Gear, Tail Gate Step,
Rear Seat DVD,
Price as tested $42,353 Estimated

-Frederick Staab


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