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

review 2009 ford f 250 super duty 4 215 4

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.

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  • 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.

  • Islander800 That is the best 20-year-on update of the Honda Element that I've ever seen. Strip out the extraneous modern electronic crap that adds tens of thousands to the price and the completely unnecessary 400 pd/ft torque and horse power, and you have a 2022 Honda Element - right down to the neoprene interior "elements" of the Element - minus the very useful rear-hinged rear doors. The proportions and dimensions are identical.Call me biased, but I still drive my west coast 2004 Element, at 65K miles. Properly maintained, it will last another 20 years....Great job, Range Rover!
  • Dennis Howerton Nice article, Corey. Makes me wish I had bought Festivas when they were being produced. Kia made them until the line was discontinued, but Kia evidently used some of the technology to make the Rio. Pictures of the interior look a lot like my Rio's interior, and the 1.5 liter engine is from Mazda while Ford made the automatic transmission in the used 2002 Rio I've been driving since 2006. I might add the Rio is also an excellent subcompact people mover.
  • Sgeffe Bronco looks with JLR “reliability!”What’s not to like?!
  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
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