Review: 2009 Ford F-250 Super Duty 4×4

Don Gammill
by Don Gammill

Thanks to soaring gas prices (remember them?), cliff face depreciation, chronic over-production and a withering economy, the majority of the “my-truck’s-an-extension-of-my-huge-ass-belt-buckle” crowd have flown fly the (turkey) coop. We can safely assume that both remaining pickup truck buyers have bona fide big-truck needs: towing, hauling and posing getting dirty. Yes, Virginia, some people really do “need” nearly five tons of truck. If that’s you, it’s hard not to wish for an F-250 Super Duty 4X4 under the Xmas tree. Unless you have a problem with conspicuous consumption…

As a study in “how to make a pickup look like a blinged-out semi,” the F-250 Super Duty shines. The colossal chrome grille and the “jewel effect” headlamps could’ve been pilfered from the show “Trick My Truck.” The slightly-out-of-proportion greenhouse (thanks, mammoth crew cab) recalls the most spacious big rig sleepers. As do the 20″ donuts. In fact, the F-250’s enormous exterior dimensions– a devilish 6.66′ tall– make you wonder if the Super Duty might have 18 of ‘em. The optional red and black two-tone paint adorningout tester helped camouflage this gargantuan hulk. But with only 7.8 inches of ground clearance (on a 4X4?), almost all of that height is just one massive slab of pure truck.

Climbing into this super-optioned Super Duty is like ascending into the tree house of an upscale biker bar. The F-250’s reasonably comfortable (if not entirely supportive) black leather seats look smart. The chrome-ringed gunmetal-on-silver gauges aim squarely for a chic, industrial look. Everywhere you look, black, silver, and chrome abound. Sure, it’s all plastic. And yes, it’s a cheap to the touch. So don’t touch it. Otherwise, BMW money buys a damn luxurious truck; the observatory-sized moon roof, booming stereo and penthouse views co-mingle extravagance and traditional truckness. Truckitude? Truckosity? Truck it.

Speaking of tradition, Ford’s low-end-torque legacy is safer than ever, thanks to the Power Stroke’s 6.4-liter oil-burner-from-high-tech-hell, which diesel- out 350 horses at 3,000 rpm and 650 lb.-ft. of the twisty stuff at just two grand. Twin turbos, Piezo fuel injectors and particulate traps make this diesel meaner and cleaner than nearly any other big mill in Ford’s storied V8 history.

Although I didn’t get to tow anything, I probably wouldn’t have noticed if I had. Ford says this mother can pull 12,500 lbs. with a conventional hitch and 15,300 lbs. with a fifth-wheel rig. But that’s partially due to the limitations imposed by the mandatory 3.73:1 axle ratios in the F-250 4X4. The same engine in the beefier F-450 4X2 (with 4.30 gears) can tow over twelve tons. Sheer size masks the truck’s accelerative prowess, but try checking your speed at the end of a quickly-devoured on-ramp: you’ll slam down the (spongy) brake pedal and strain your retinas scanning for cops.

It takes one helluva chassis to handle power like that, and as far as sheer strength goes, the Super Duty’s got all you’ll ever need. But when it comes to driving dynamics, it takes the tractor-trailer theme a little too far. The Super Duty doesn’t ride or handle much differently from its Reagan-era predecessors. Call me sentimental, but I liked the 1980s “Novacain” power steering better; over-boosted numbness is better than the Super Duty’s rubbery feedback in my book. Still, the deer-stand-high perch aft of the tiller provides strategic high ground for all but the most death-defying parking lot heroics.

Overall, the new F-250 Super Duty frustrates aesthetically and lacks dynamically. So what? It’s big, it’s intimidating and it’ll handle genuine big truck tasks with the best of ‘em— and not even break a sweat in the process. But its significant shortcomings should remind Ford never to rest on its laurels. After all, the whole point of “better ideas” is to keep having them.

Don Gammill
Don Gammill

More by Don Gammill

Comments
Join the conversation
2 of 60 comments
  • F250fx4 F250fx4 on Dec 04, 2009

    I have a 08 250 crewcab FX4 that I use to tow our boat. The rest of the time its a daily driver. So I'm I a bad person driving a behemoth everyday. What people don't understand is I'm getting the gas mileage as a F-150 but the protection of a tank. I feel my family is safe as can be in it and if little bobby wants to run a red light and T-bone my family, we will walk away. Basicly stop profiling people due to what they drive.

  • N8AZ N8AZ on Jun 10, 2012

    Have any of you ever thought that the truck would be used for towing a 5th wheel, toy hauler, boat, horse trailer??? Netherlands REALLY your a 3rd rate country Im surprised you have electricity.

  • TheEndlessEnigma The Mitsubishi hate and snark in many of these comments is expected. I really do need to challenge anyone here who bristles at the mention of Mitsu and immediately begins a Tourette's inspired flow of vitriol. Before you rant on about how bad Mitsu's are, get into one and drive it. Surprise surprise, they are good vehicles, it's just kewl and hip to be a lemming and blindly follow the "Mitsubishi Sucks Because Doug DeMuro Told Me So" crowd.
  • EBFlex Remember when they introduced legislation to take natural gas stoves away? Now they want to charge electric trucks with it? If liberals didn’t have double standards they wouldn’t have any at all.
  • Glennbk First, Cadillac no longer has brand cache. And as such, the prices need to drop. Second, reliability. Cadillac doesn't have that either. Dedicate GM funds to re-design the High Value Engines. Third, interiors are too gimmicky. Take a step back and bring back more buttons and less black plasti-chrome. Forth, noise isolation. These are supposed to be luxury cars, but sound like a Malibu inside.
  • Dave M. Mitsubishi for many years built stout vehicles for whatever market they were in (specifically citing Mighty Max and Montero). In the '90s they became the LCD for high-risk borrowers; coupled on top of mediocre and stale product, interest in them waned. Aim for the niches (hybrids, small pickup, base CUVs). I find it interesting that they have a plug-in CUV based on/made by Nissan, but Nissan doesn't.
  • Glennbk Please Mitsubishi, no more rebranded Nissan products.
Next