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New Car Review

1998 Ford Super Duty Trucks

by NICK HROMIAK

ford
F150 XLT

SEE ALSO: Ford Buyer's Guide


Pity the poor folks who recently purchased three-door pickup trucks. Had they waited a tad longer, they could have bought a four-door, which to this truck connoisseur is the only way to go.

Chevy was the first on the scene with a three-door pickup. dodge recently debuted their `98 four-door Ram Quad Cab. Now it's Ford's turn, and their new four-door models are unlike any in its middleweight class.

Going on sale in January as `99 models, the totally new Super Duty (SD) F-Series trucks will now include four doors as standard on SuperCab configurations. It's interesting that ford decided to debut this very saleable feature on these medium-duty versions as opposed to the hot-selling light duty F-Series trucks. But rest assured, `99 F150s will sport the extra door on SuperCab models.

Because of their high Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) ratings, Super Duty trucks are not for everyone. Most will be purchased by agribusinessmen, horse breeders/trainers, construction trade folks, utility companies, local governments and RVers who tow large campers. But of the 26 million trucks Ford has sold worldwide this year, there are a few buyers who prefer a heavy-duty truck if for no other reason than to have an extra rugged, high capacity vehicle.

The new Super Duty Series includes an F-250 (up to 8,800 lbs GVW, which will also be available in light duty configuration), four weight/engine versions of the F-350 (9,900-lbs GVW, 11,200 lbs GVW LWB, 11,200 lbs GVW Chassis Cab, and the newly designated F-550 with either a 17,500 GVW or Regular Cab 4x2 at 19,000 lbs GVW.

According to Craig Breedlove, Chief Super Duty Program Engineer, a total of 44 configurations will be offered, up from the current 24.

This new line of Super Duty Series trucks brings forth a myriad of industry exclusives. They are as follows:

Wheelbases on Super Duty (SD) F-Series have been extended by four inches for the Regular and Crew Cabs, and three inches for the SuperCab to accommodate what is expected to be the largest cab design in this truck segment.

GVWs are also up 12-18 percent on F-350/450/550 models thanks in part to longer, wider springs. The front suspension on SD F-250/350 4X2 trucks carries an improved Twin I-Beam, whereas SD 4X4 trucks and all F-450/550s feature a single design monobeam leaf spring front suspension. The latter design does not require a steering damper and Ford has applied for a patent on this innovative idea.

With 751,000 trucks sold year-to-date, Ford intends on maintaining their sales superiority with these new Super Duty offerings. Added to that, the F-Series celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.