American Pick-up Showdown: Ford F-250 Superduty

By: Matt Wood


Full-sized American pick-up trucks may only be a niche market in Australia but it appears to be a growing one. Matt Wood pits three of the biggest sellers against each other. First cab off the rank is the Ford F-250 Superduty

 

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America’s love affair with pick-up trucks doesn’t look to be dissipating anytime soon. The Ford F-150 for example, has been the best-selling vehicle in the US since 1978.

According to last year’s American sales stats, the second vehicle on the list is the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and in third place is RAM. To put that in perspective, in 2015 nearly twice as many people bought F-150s than bought Toyota Camrys in the US.

The F-250 Superduty is the steel clad big brother to the now aluminium bodied F-150, and if numbers on paper mean anything, it’s a brute.

The 6.7-litre Powerstroke V8 diesel makes a whopping 440hp and 1,166Nm of torque, which gets power to the paws via a 6-speed SelectShift automatic transmission.

As it’s a current US model, emissions regs are ahead of Oz, so this donk uses SCR and EGR to trap the nasties in the exhaust. The Effie will deal with a tonne payload in the tub and with the right hitch and braking it will also haul 7,600kg.

The F-250 is also a dual-range 4x4 with the usual shift-on-the-fly dial. And it comes standard with a diff-lock.

The only problem is that the truck comes from the factory with the steering wheel on the wrong side. So that’s where a local conversion comes into the picture.

This truck comes from Harrison F-trucks who use Melbourne based F-series converter VDC for the steering switcheroo. VDC specialise in Ford conversions and handle the whole F-series range.

The company also has a subsidiary based in Detroit to handle conversions for the global market and has vehicle modification certification from Ford, which basically means that head office trust them to mess with their stuff.

The VDC trucks are sourced from a Kentucky dealer, and just to make sure that the conversion passes safety muster, VDC has also crash tested one of their converted trucks to make sure that everything works should the worst happen.

Interior

Sitting in the leather lounge that is the interior of the F-250, the truck feels every bit as big as it is. And I actually like that big chrome grille.

The interior feels very much in line with Ford’s global design, though the plastics feel a little hard-edged, which cheapens the feel of the cockpit.

As you’d expect the rear seating has plenty of room and there’s lockable storage underneath as well. It’s well laid out and less busy than the inside of the GMC.

The infotainment system and touch screen is Ford’s Sync 2 system, so anyone familiar with the Aussie Sync system will find their way around it easily.

The driver’s footwell is a little cozy. As these trucks weren’t designed to be right hand drive, there tends to be more firewall intrusion into the cockpit on that side of the truck.

That said VDC has managed to gain some more left legroom over the last 18 months. I still found myself hooking my left leg across the floor to rest behind my right foot.

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Drive time

Fire up that chunky bent 8 and you are rewarded with a subdued yet gruff rumble that emanates from the twin dump style exhaust tips. It sounds and feels tough.

Put the foot down and the Effie launches, the rear wheels scrabbling on blacktop until the traction control grabs hold. Without a load on board this thing’s a beast. 

On road the F-250 was a smooth performer, the Ford tranny is a really nice bit of gear. However, the Ford doesn’t steer all that great, it has a tendency to bump steer which keeps your hands moving the wheel more than I’d like. What I’d prefer to be doing is sitting back with the rear sliding window open and listening to that awesome V8 diesel soundtrack.

Off road, the F truck snarled its way up our hill climb with sheer brute force. Even without the rear diff-lock engaged, it just growled and threw rocks at the climb like an enraged Neanderthal.

There is just so much grunt on tap, you can’t help but grin when giving the loud pedal a nudge. Interestingly, the F truck has manually lockable front hubs as well as the now usual shift-on-the-fly set up.

With our 3-tonne of loaded trailer on board the Effie treated our piddly load with the contempt it deserved. It hauled effortlessly. The auto’s tow mode also worked well providing excellent engine braking on our descent.

The rear end felt planted, but again the front end doesn’t feel settled. The rest of the truck is smooth but, perhaps not surprisingly, it handles like a truck.

However I’m told that even LHD F series trucks in the States don’t handle that well either.

Final details

Fuel economy over our two-day test came in at a hefty 21.93-litres/100km. However, that was a mixture of heavy-footed off-roading, towing, and city driving. So it’s probably not as thirsty as it sounds.

Our F-250 Superduty Lariat has a list price of $152,990 and comes with a 4-year, 130,000km warranty which includes 3 years of 24-hour roadside assist.

The F-trucks VIN will also show up on an Aussie Ford dealer’s database.

 

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