2007 Ford F-350 Vs. Ford F-450 Review - Evolution brings new monsters to the road.
Another “Short Shift”*
By Rex Roy
What monsters. In our “Mine is bigger than yours”-obsessed culture, Ford’s new Super Duty pickups reign supreme. Case in point: the all-new Ford F-450 is almost twenty-two feet long with a beam just under eight feet and a curb weight of more than four tons. Driving on the expressways, you’ll be eye-to-eye with kids on school busses and long-haul truckers. Hubba hubba for sure.
Even with fuel approaching all-time highs, Ford revamped their line of Super Duty pickups in response to increasing demand. Ford told us that there is a segment of the market that wants to haul bigger and heavier campers, boats, and trailers. In response, Ford expanded its Super Duty line from the F-250 and F-350 to include the F-450—previously available only as a commercial chassis cab. While not as large as a Kenworth, the biggest of the Super Duties is a hauling machine. Need to pull 24,500 pounds? No problem for the F-450. Not far behind is the F-350, fully capable of towing over 18,000 lbs.
Powering these beasts are several engines, but the two power brokers include Ford’s gasoline powered 6.8-liter V10 (362 horsepower/457 lb-ft torque) and their all-new Diesel V8 (350 horsepower/650 lb-ft torque). Displacement for the next generation Power Stroke Diesel is up to 6.4 liters from an even 6.0. More significant than the cubes is the twin-turbo common-rail induction system. The system requires ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel and matches the tailpipe emissions of gasoline engines. Standing alongside the quietly idling truck, there’s none of that “eau de bus stop” that heretofore made diesels so unattractive to the nose.
The new 6.4-liter fired up quickly in the freezing temperatures that Texas served up for our drive in the line-topping King Ranch Crew Cab 4x4. (This is significant, as Diesel engines didn’t used to like to start when cold.) Unladen, the ride is firm but not harsh. The engine is so quiet that conversation is easy, even when the speedo indicates 80 miles per hour. Truly massive thirteen-plus-inch discs haul the rig down with little drama. For its size, the F-450 proved reasonably responsive, with our only issue being the steering’s on-center dead zone. This is an unfortunate characteristic of its heavy-duty recirculating-ball steering gear, but feel and feedback built quickly when steering was dialed in.
The ride smoothed out dramatically when we hooked up a 17,000-pound trailer. Like a draft horse, the F-450 enjoyed its work. It easily pulled 6-percent grades without dropping speed. Trailer unhooked, we took the big truck off-road. With all six wheels biting into the Texas mud, the F-450 seemed downright unstoppable.
Inside, the King Ranch features distinctive, saddle-type leather trim that while soft, matches anything from BMW for quality. The iPod-friendly audio system works well with the optional, quick-thinking navigation system. Less opulent trim levels will adorn most Super Duties, but Ford expects to sell more than 20,000 King Ranch editions this year. Every trim level features innovations like the available retractable step built into the tailgate and a practical cargo gate.
Once back in Detroit, we sampled an F-350 regular cab with the V10. The two trucks differ considerably in character. While the F-450 felt like a commercial vehicle trying to make it in the consumer world, the F-350 felt much more at home in the hands of a private citizen. Perhaps it was the missing wheelbase due to our tester being a regular cab model (137” wheelbase vs. the F-450’s 172.4” stretch), but there are other reasons behind our observations. For example, the F-350’s steering is more responsive than the F-450’s—a trait traceable to the “super•er” duty wide-track front suspension and steering systems used in the F-450.
The F-350’s V10 felt powerful, with the same kind of never-ending power flow we liked so much in the Diesel. The 5-speed automatic shifted smoothly and quickly, helping the truck accelerate like a much smaller vehicle. Our tester was equipped with the 4 x 4 Off-Road package, so it looked as if it could drive over and clear small cars without even scraping its formidable skid plates. While it looked cool, the step up and in was a big one. Once inside the standard cloth interior provided useful and comfortable. While not opulent like the King Ranch (also available in F-350s), the space was relatively quiet and rattle/squeak free. The ride with the bed unladen was bouncy, but this is not supposed to be a smooth riding driveway truck—this truck should be working with either a big trailer behind it or a big payload in the bed.
We see Ford’s new Super Duty models as perfect towing and hauling machines. Never have trucks offered so much comfort and such great capabilities.
*What’s a Short Shift? This moniker describes the fuel-efficient technique of shifting a manual transmission up to a higher gear at a lower engine speed.