Super Duty Power
Ford sells more fullsize pickups than anybody. The Blue Oval also sells more diesel-powered trucks than Chevrolet, GMC, and Dodge combined. These guys know a thing or two about maximizing power for towing and hauling. The F-250, F-350, and F-450 are available with the following powertrains:

ENGINE 5.4L V-8 6.8L V-10 6.4L V-8
VALVETRAIN Single overhead cam,
three valves per cylinder
Single overhead cam,
three valves per cylinder
Cam in block,
four valves per cylinder
HORSEPOWER 300 @ 5,000 rpm 362 @ 4,750 rpm 350 @ 3,000 rpm
TORQUE 365 lb-ft @ 3,750 rpm 457 lb-ft @ 3,250 rpm 650 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm
TRANSMISSION Six-speed manual Five-speed automatic Five-speed automatic

Model Options:

MODEL 250 350 450
MAX PAYLOAD 2,830-3,170 lb 4,040-5,690 lb 5,720-6,120 lb
MAX TOWING
BALL/HITCH 5,000 lb 6,000 lb 6,000 lb
FIFTH WHEEL 16,800 lb 18,700 lb 24,500 lb
CAB OPTIONS Regular / Super / Crew Regular / Super / Crew Regular / Super / Crew
6.75 BED — • • — • • — • •
8 BED • • •
• • •
• • •
WHEELBASE Regular / Super / Crew Regular / Super / Crew Regular / Super / Crew
137.0 • — —
• — —
• — —
141.8 — • —
— • —
— • —
158.0 — • —
— • —
— • —
156.2 — — •
— — •
— — •
172.4 — — •
— — •
— — •

Unlike the responsive rack-and-pinion steering found in most light-duty trucks these days, the Super Duty's heavy-duty recirculating ball gear is rather dead feeling on center. Feedback builds once you dial in some steering. The trade-off is strength versus feel, and in a work truck like this, strength wins.

Even with an empty bed and nothing hitched to the standard receiver, the F-450 rode reasonably well. As expected, there was some harshness, but it was nothing like what we've come to expect. Once we put a few thousand pounds in the bed or hooked up a 17,000-pound trailer, the ride smoothed out.

With a huge fifth-wheel travel trailer in tow, we had a chance to test Ford's factory-installed TowCommand brake controller. Just like the best of the aftermarket units, this one helps balance trailer brake bias, but it's cleanly installed and factory tested.

Another important feature for those who tow is the five-speed automatic transmission with the TorqShift feature. When you engage the towing mode on the tranny, the powertrain senses when you're driving down a grade and will downshift to a lower gear to provide compression braking. While the huge disc brakes are designed to manage the weight of a loaded truck, plus a maxed-out trailer, this feature makes managing all the weight much easier.

With ambient temperatures so low during our test, engine cooling wasn't a factor. Ford, however, did engineer significant cooling into the Super Duty line. Behind the big grille are banks of radiators and coolers designed to keep all of the major mechanicals happy when the mercury rises.

Stopped along a Texas interstate with some other journalists, two more characteristics of the diesel-powered Super Duty made themselves obvious: First, the new Power Stroke is gasoline-engine quiet when you're standing beside it. Second, the big diesel doesn't smell like a diesel. The new engine runs on ultra-low sulfur diesel and uses sophisticated emissions controls to scrub out soot and other nasties. The result is that the F-450 won't coat your clothing with that Eau de Bulldozer fragrance if you happen to stand by your truck while it's idling.

If your daily duties or recreational needs are big enough to need something more than a light-duty truck, the '08 Super Duty is certainly worth a long look. Prices for gas-powered F-250s begin in the low-$20,000 range with a maxed-out King Ranch F-450 spanking your bank account for more than $50K.