Payne: Ford F-250 Super Duty is huuuge
You think politics is partisan these days? You ain’t see nuthin’. Big Three truck owners make the Senate floor sound like an afternoon tea social. Invite three in-laws who own a Ford, Chevy and Ram for dinner and ask them to debate pickups.
You’ll wish you had stuck to Trump vs. Hillary.
There will be broken furniture, gouged eyes and bruised feelings. Call 911, but then be very afraid the ambulance isn’t a Ford, Chevy or Ram, lest the war start all over again.
I don’t know where these loyalties come from. Maybe they start at birth like religion. I was born Presbyterian, will always be a Presbyterian. Once a Ford guy, always a Ford guy. My neighborhood truck expert, Pickup Bob, is a Ford F-series guy. Show him a Silverado or a Ram and he’ll circle it with interest, considering strengths and weaknesses like a New England fan comparing quarterback Brady to Ryan, Rogers and Stafford. But would he trade his for theirs? Dude, are you mad?
Which brings me to this week’s tester, the 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty. The biggest, baddest heavy-duty truck that anyone has ever introduced.
This thing is, to quote The Donald, huuuge. I’m 6-foot-5 and can’t see over it. The truck lists at 6-foot-8 but feels taller. It dwarfed the Cadillac Escalade (which shares its steel frame with the Chevy Silverado pickup) that I was also testing at the time. When Mrs. Payne (who needed a full mountain-climbing harness just to get in) and I headed out to the movies, we chose the Escalade simply because I feared the F-250 might not make it into the theater parking garage (it would have barely cleared the 6-foot-10 entrance).
The F-250, of course, wasn’t built with movie night in mind. Based on the already supersized, all-new-for-2015 F-150 light-duty, the six-inch-taller Super Duty shares little brother’s revolutionary, all-aluminum skin and robust steel frame — but beefs it up to tackle the daily chores apparently expected of a heavy-duty these days. Like mulching The Henry Ford, fording Lake Michigan, towing the space shuttle.
The aluminum body shaves 350 pounds off the last-generation heavy-duty, but that’s well shy of the 700-pound savings in the F-150 due to extensive strengthening of the F-250’s steel skeleton. The fully boxed frame gets nine cross-beams and 95 percent high-strength steel. Sir, need help pulling your tank out of the mud?
When mated to the F-250’s preferred (60 percent of sales) 6.7-liter, V-8 turbodiesel — with a redonculus, class-leading 925 pound-feet of torque — the fortified F-chassis can pull 32,500 pounds in dually, F-350 trim. My single-rear wheel tester was rated at 18,000 pounds. That’ll do.
And like Superman, Super Duty has a handsome face to go with the buff bod. So well received has been F-250’s “double I-beam” grille that the F-150 has adopted it for its mid-cycle, 2017 refresh. Little brother has also adopted the heavy-duty’s letter stamping on its rear end.
Beauty is more than skin deep. My Platinum F-250’s interior won’t be mistaken for Donald Trump’s apartment, but its liberal use of fine materials make it a luxurious office for anyone. There was wood trim, silver accents and so much leather that I half expected a raucous, animal-rights protest. For all the fancy frocks, the interior’s blocky style is male butch with two-by-four arm rests and Lego-block console cut outs. There are no swoopy lines like that Escalade. It looks like Patriot tight end Gronk modeling Dior.
I’m a sports car guy, but I get why truck guys get all sweaty around heavy-duties. Like supercars, modern trucks boast eye-bulging performance numbers, yet are remarkably compliant daily drivers.
After adapting myself to the F-250’s ride height (Hey, I can see in the second floor of that office building!), I found colossus remarkably comfortable. The diesel clatter is a distant roar given extensive sound-proofing, the heated/cooled seats fit like BarcaLoungers — even the leaf-sprung, solid rear axle jounce was contained.
My friend Scott saw the F-250 and sank to his knees. A businessman, avid outdoorsman and Ford partisan, the diesel F-250 is his dream truck. The behemoth is a Brobdingnagian Swiss Army Knife for his every need. It’s a rolling office, family camper, fishing trip vehicle, farm implement. Given the cost of my Platinum F-250 — a cool $77,600 — he could use its palatial confines as a second home.
What has always distinguished Ford for truck guys like Scott is technology, and my F-250 Platinum doesn’t disappoint. Like its car and crossover cousins, Super Duty is available with everything shy of self-park assist (parallel parking still requires a tugboat). There’s adaptive steering, blind-spot assist, SYNC 3 infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone capability, 360-degree camera, trailer-hookup guidance and dual-zone climate control. Innovation doesn’t need a chip, either — the pickup box comes with the F-series’ clever BoxLink Cleat tie-down feature.
What are the F-250’s shortcomings? I’m sure your friends driving competing brands could come up with something (“It rides like a washboard compared to my coil-sprung Ram!”), but flaws aren’t obvious.
I defer to my colleagues at the enthusiast mags who’ve done the towing tests — and they are in awe of F-250. Motor Trend named it their 2017 Truck of the Year. PickupTruck.com calls it “revolutionary (with a capital R).” You get the idea.
As docile a daily driver as the diesel F-250 has become, its super-size girth and price still mark it as an exotic. Most buyers will choose this truck as a business tool — a mechanical ox for tow and work.
There are still individuals who will covet the truck for its diesel chops — but that case is tougher now that the F-150 is offered with a diesel for the first time. Granted, little brother’s 3.0-liter oil burner is a shadow of big brother’s ship engine, but it still brings plenty of torque without Super Duty’s price tag. For those who don’t need the F-250’s extra towing bravado the light duty’s 10,000 pounds-plus of towing will do fine, thank you very much.
That’s a lot for F-series to boast about. But remember, be careful talking politics or pickups in polite company.
Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @HenryEPayne.
2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty
Front-engine, rear- and four-wheel drive, five-passenger, heavy-duty pickup
6.2-liter V-8; 6.7-liter turbodiesel V-8
7,898 pounds (diesel as tested)
$33,657 base ($77,600 as tested)
385 horsepower, 430 pound-feet of torque (V-8); 440 horsepower, 925 pound-feet of torque (diesel)
0-60 mph, 6.9 seconds (diesel, Motor Trend)
No EPA rating
Luxurious interior, super techy
Size of a pet dinosaur; tech options will cost you