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2008 Ford F-350 4x4 DRW Review

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    A Full Zoot Work Truck
    By Steve Purdy
    Detroit Bureau

    Just over a year ago the Ford folks brought waves of journalists to Texas hill country to introduce the new Super Duty trucks - F-250, F-350 and F-450 series. After all, Texas is truck country and proud of it. I was in the second wave and missed the opportunity to experience the mud, dirt, trailering and other fun – that is, the serious evaluation – because of a debilitating ice storm that kept us in the hotel. I was able only to get some limited road time. Our colleague, Martha Hindes, was in a later wave and she got to play in the mud. You can read our joint report HERE on

    I was pleased to have an opportunity to spend a little quality time with one of these great trucks this week – an F-350 4X4 Crew Cab Duelie. This is a beautiful, big truck. And I mean BIG - eight feet wide at the rear wheels, over 3 tons curb weight. It’s so big I ran over the edge of my flower bed getting out of the driveway. Fortunately, I didn’t run over any of the cats. If you’re one of those lucky people able to justify and afford this decked out truck I hope you have a generous driveway.

    I’m a steadfast believer that we have an inalienable right to drive whatever we want but unless you’re a contractor, a rancher, a fifth-wheeler or have another substantial use for this much size and power you’re likely to take some abuse from the tree-huggers around you. This F-350 has an International 6.4-liter twin-turbo diesel that cranks out 650 pound-feet of torque. The EPA does not require fuel economy ratings with this size vehicle but our experience this week revealed a range of 10.5 to almost 14-mpg in two-wheel drive mode. The lower number is what we observed on mixed freeway and city driving and the latter we garnered on a 100-mile back road trip feathering the foot-feed and not going over 50 mph. With a 38-gallon fuel tank we could spend close to $150 filling up at today’s diesel prices.

    A 5-speed Torqshift ™ automatic transmission gets all that power properly to the road. Just remember you can’t necessarily just downshift with the column shifter to pass. I was a bit surprised when I tried that to pass a dawdler going 50-mph in front of me. I shifted down to 4th and pressed the pedal putting the big diesel instantly at the maximum of 3,500 rpm. It’s apparently governed right there because it did not accelerate from there. It felt like it just went into neutral and I had no acceleration whatsoever. How embarrassing.

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    Perhaps my favorite feature of this Super Duty beauty is the King Ranch interior with the comfortable, generous leather seats the color of a pure-bred Hereford, that is, a rich dark redish-brown. The King Ranch, by the way, was (and maybe still is) the largest cattle ranch in the country and ran mostly Hereford cattle in its hay day. My father was a Hereford breeder, hence my affinity for the color and the breed. The interior would be a fine place to do business with a center console big enough for your computer, a generous flat storage space integrated into the top of the dash and extra power outlets.

    This is a heavy-duty truck and rides like one. Plenty stiff, it jumps and skips over the potholes on a neglected back-county dirt road I found shunpiking back to the city. It is spring here and the mud holes are now hardened pot holes. If that suspension were any more compliant then it wouldn’t have the massive towing and hauling capacity for which it is built. The coil spring mono beam suspension up front represents an advance in heavy-duty truck philosophy but the sold axle rear with leaf springs is conventional. This F-350 will carry nearly three tons in the bed and will tow 13,000 pounds.

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    Lots of thoughtful details adorn this hauler. Most notable are: the power periscopic outside mirrors that move out and in about 3-inches to accommodate wide trailers, the pull-out step hidden in the tail gate and a high resolution back up image integrated into the inside rear-view mirror.

    This F-35- 4X4 DRW Crew Cab Lariat Styleside with 172-inch wheelbase, 6.4-liter diesel and TorqueShift 5-speed automatic shows a base price of $39,100 and nearly $20,000 worth of options. The $6,500 Preferred Equipment Package includes the 6.4-liter turbo-diesel. The King Ranch Package includes that beautiful interior at $4, 085. A dozen other options add up quickly but to baffle the accountant in me the final entry on the option sheets shows “Other Optional Equipment” . . . $1,445. What is that, I wonder? Bottom line here is $59,160 including the $925 destination and delivery charge. If you just want the utilitarian F-350 with a 350-hp V8 engine, 5-speed manual transmission and none of the fancy stuff it’ll start at just $23,615.

    Warranty covers the truck bumper to bumper for only 3-years/36,000-miles and the powertrain for 5-years/60,000 miles.

    The practical elements of this F-350 are hard to beat though the marketing folks might call this an “aspirational” truck. I don’t suppose anyone needs the kind of luxurious appointments that characterize this haughty hauler but, hey – if you can afford it, go for it.

    Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved