Mountain Wheels: Extra-massive Ford F-250 Super Duty rules the road
The funny thing about a vehicle as gigantic as the 2020 Ford F-250 Super Duty — which poses access and mobility issues in spots including Sonic drive-in slots, multilevel parking structures, narrow highway lanes and parallel parking — is how absolutely effortless it is when you are just out driving the damned thing.
You can casually roll over Loveland Pass and drive it like a vehicle one-third its size, or weight, without any problem. You have to mentally recompute that mass, width and length, plus the sometimes terrifying reach of its oversized, double-decker trailering mirrors into oncoming lanes, or street signs, or cyclists, but once you’ve got it figured out, it’s totally simple to handle.
Well, sorta. The Crew Cab/4×4/Lariat package-equipped F-250 I got to drive earlier in the summer and again this week is a whole lot of vehicle, made specifically for towing a whole lot of trailer. The ultra-roomy cabin also makes it the largest family vehicle I can imagine; I am just hoping that you really do pull trailers if you’ve decided to invest in this much truck, shimmery and leathery and comfortable as it might be.
Heavy Duty is all about the numbers, so here we go: The major shock-and-awe feature is the new 7.3-liter V-8, capable of a very impressive 430 horsepower and a trailer-friendly 475 pound-feet of torque. If that’s not quite enough for you, the bigger option is a 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel, which jumps to 475 horsepower and a class-leading 1,050 pound-feet of torque.
Both those engines get a new 10-speed TorqShift automatic transmission.
Vehicle weight came in at about 6,568 pounds — the spreadsheets concerning Super Duty builds and capacities are very data-rich — and my understanding is that towing capacity with my 160-inch wheelbase, engine, 4×4 and other variables was a rather remarkable 15,000 pounds of regular trailer, or up to 19,100 pounds of fifth-wheel trailer, with a maximum payload of up to 3,500 pounds.
Super Duty indeed. Those gigantic mirrors will definitely help with that, and the range of onboard trailering technology — camera connections running the hands-free Pro Trailer Backup Assist to do the piloting, or comprehensive Trailer Reverse Guidance to help you do the steering — will definitely help in making those moves a little more easy.
Remember that this is a 250-inch-long personal vehicle that is also over 80 inches tall. For fun, I tried to get it into my friends’ garage and, minus the XM radio antenna on the roof, it almost got in but would have stuck out onto the sidewalk. You do indeed need a shed, or a tennis court, to more happily park your machine.
That 7.3-liter certainly gets all that American-made metal rolling, especially when you are not pulling a house-sized trailer, and it will cruise all day somewhere north of 75 mph with no problem at all, with 13.8 mpg being a pretty reasonable result, all things considered.
I got it off-road this week and headed out on washboard gravel roads still drying out from snow up in northern Weld County, and I noticed that you will either shake your own fillings out or, if you drive fast enough to smooth out the washboard, float along like there’s not a care in the world. In-cab controls switch you quickly from two-wheel drive to four-high or four-low.
It’ll also bounce clean up in the air over big concrete cracks on the freeway; keep the scale and mass in mind, and you’ll be fine.
Getting in and out of the F-250 is about as truckly as you get, with the super-gigantic chassis-length running boards an absolute necessity, plus door frame and steering wheel holds to clamber aboard. Once you’re up there, you’re really up there, and driving gives you more the feeling of running a BNSF diesel locomotive than a standard day behind the steering wheel.
Finishings and fixtures are all pretty classy, with normalized controls with actual knobs, a super-massive center console and storage box, and comfortable leather seating.
In the equally gigantic rear, the seats flip up and reveal a collapsible cargo/grocery storage bin and loads of legroom.
Total price? Using Ford’s online configurator, I am estimating the build I tried was about $65,000. That is absolutely a whole lot of truck.
Andy Stonehouse’s column “Mountain Wheels” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Stonehouse has worked as an editor and writer in Colorado since 1998, focusing on automotive coverage since 2004. He lives in Greeley. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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