Ford F-250 Super Duty Review
Sometimes, a regular coffee just won’t do it. You need something on the order of a double cappuccino to get the job done — something with more kick, more muscle. For pickup truck buyers needing a similar boost, there’s the ever-popular Ford F-250 Super Duty. Thanks to a mind-boggling variety of body styles, powertrain options and trim levels to choose from, finding a Ford F-250 Super Duty that suits your needs is pretty much guaranteed. Another reason that Ford’s heavy-duty hauler is a fave is that it can handle massive payloads while also being easy to drive and comfortable to ride in.
Recent improvements have yielded a stronger turbodiesel V8, even better ride and handling dynamics and a redesigned cabin with higher-quality materials. Still, there are a few other choices to consider, as Chevy and Dodge also offer worthy choices in this powerhouse field.
Current Ford F-250 Super Duty
The Ford F-250 is available in three body styles (regular cab, extended cab, crew cab) and five trim levels (base XL, midlevel XLT, luxurious Lariat, horse-saddle-inspired King Ranch and ultra-plush Platinum). There is a choice of two powerful engines — a 6.2-liter gasoline V8 (385 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque) and an optional 6.7-liter turbodiesel V8 cranking out 400 hp and 800 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard and four-wheel drive is optional.
Inside the cabin, hard plastics dominate the interior on lower trim levels. Opting for the Lariat will add a decidedly upscale experience with rich leather and added amenities, while the King Ranch and Platinum models take it up a few more notches with luxuries such as a heated steering wheel and the MyFord Touch electronics interface. Of course, the F-250 is also ready to work, with options such as the available Ford Work Solutions package that adds an in-dash computer that is customizable to suit commercial users and fleets.
In reviews, we’ve found much to like about the latest F-250. We’re duly impressed by the Super Duty’s flexibility that allows it to be configured for a variety of uses — from a down-and-dirty work truck to a luxurious hauler. Regardless of which route you choose, you’ll also be treated to refined ride and handling and high feature content.
Used Ford F-250 Super Duty Models
The latest generation of the Ford F-250 Super Duty debuted for the 2008 model year. Compared to earlier F-250s, it had revised styling, a stronger frame, better handling dynamics, a nicer interior and an improved turbodiesel engine. Initial engine choices consisted of a standard 5.4-liter V8 (300 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque), an optional 6.8-liter V10 (362 hp and 457 lb-ft) and the optional 6.4-liter PowerStroke turbodiesel V8 (350 hp and 650 lb-ft). Transmission choices were a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic.
The following year saw a wealth of new features become available that included the Sync voice control system. This was also the first year for the Harley-Davidson package, complete with plenty of chrome badges and black leather trim, and the off-road-oriented package dubbed Cabela’s (after the outdoor enthusiasts retailer).,The current 385-hp gas V8 and 400-hp turbodiesel engines debuted for 2011, as did updated exterior styling. Other changes were minimal until 2013, when upgraded brakes, the posh Platinum trim level and the MyFord Touch infotainment interface all debuted. The latter could be prone to glitches, so make sure a used F-250 has the latest software updates.
The previous-generation Ford F-250 Super Duty ran from 1999-2007. The debut of this version marked the first time that Ford gave its heavy-duty pickups their own style. Compared to the soft contours of the F-150 of the time, the angular Super Duty with its massive grille looked every bit the square-jawed brute that it was under the skin.
Initially, the typical trim levels of base XL, decently-equipped XLT and plush Lariat were offered in standard, extended and crew-cab body styles. Engine choices included the standard 5.4-liter V8 as well as the optional 6.8-liter V10 and 7.3-liter PowerStroke turbodiesel V8. A five-speed manual was standard, with a four-speed automatic optional.
If you’re looking for a used Ford F-250 Super Duty, there are a few year-by-year changes to be aware of. In 2001, updates were made that included standard four-wheel ABS for all trims, an available reverse parking sensor, heated seats for the Lariat and more power for the Power Stroke engine. The following year brought a six-speed manual, new seats and the option of power-adjustable pedals.
For 2003, the FX4 off-road package debuted, as did (for crew cabs) an optional power moonroof and the King Ranch edition. A smaller, yet more powerful, 6.0-liter Power Stroke replacing the 7.3-liter version debuted that year as well. (Buyers should be aware, however, that the 6.0-liter diesel engine has a poor reputation for reliability.) For 2005, the big news was a new five-speed automatic transmission, an upgraded front suspension, a new grille and headlight design and increased towing and hauling capacities. The next few years saw just minor changes to feature and package availability.
In our review of this generation Ford F-250 Super Duty, we found it to be a strong performer. Even with a 15,000-pound trailer hitched to the back, acceleration was smooth and linear thanks to the diesel V8. The firm suspension provided a compliant ride along with relatively crisp handling. We also felt that the integrated trailer brake system is a great idea, as it links the trailer brakes to the truck’s electronic ABS system for smooth emergency stops.
Although the cabin’s fit and finish was unimpressive in our XLT-trim truck, the seats were supportive and the interior was mostly quiet (though under hard acceleration there is a fair amount of powertrain noise) and rattle-free. Overall, this F-250 Super Duty makes for a likable companion on a long haul.
Previous to 1999, the Ford F-250 (it wasn’t called the Super Duty yet) was visually virtually indistinguishable from the F-150. However, with available muscle that included a 7.3-liter V8 and the PowerStroke turbodiesel, it was obviously up to much more demanding towing and hauling tasks.