By on May 6, 2009

Many years ago, in the pages of CAR, the inimitable LJK Setright considered this question: Presented with the last gallon of fossil fuel on earth, how would you burn it? The elaborately justified answer: he would spend it flying a “motor glider,” flying from thermal to thermal across the majestic open sky until the last drop was spent. Setright, regrettably, was not an American. Had he been, he would have understood that the proper way to burn the last gallon of fossil fuel would be to dump it into a Ford Super Duty.

At its electronically managed speed limit of one hundred miles per hour, the F-250 PowerStroke FX4 Crew Cab Cabela’s Edition covers just four and a half miles per gallon of precious, overpriced diesel fuel. Traffic vanishes ahead of the Ford’s metallic-green, tractor-trailer-tall bluff nose, flitting out of the left lane with silent, cooperative felicity. Each off-camber curve of the wandering Kentucky highway causes the massive, high-pressure, high-sidewall rubber to sing angrily and the steering to twitch as this three-ton road locomotive finds and loses grip.

Potential buyers of three-quarter-ton and one-ton trucks should be aware that the suspension and tire choices necessary to pull and carry big loads significantly affect handling and braking. A half-ton F-150 can be hustled along like a Crown Victoria, but disaster awaits the Marlboro Man who treats an F-250 in similar fashion.

Like the modern Porsche 911, Colt Gold Cup or Gibson Les Paul, the Ford Super Duty pickup represents a near-perfect meshing of design, inspiration and ceaseless refinement. As a consequence, it is immensely satisfying to own and operate. Every feature is useful, every sharp corner has been made smooth, each aspect has been improved over and over again. The competing Dodge Ram is alternately clever and masculine while the Chevrolet is deliberately dowdy and businesslike. But neither has the sheer self-confidence which permeates the Super Duty.

The diesel-train impression engendered by the Ford’s flat flanks, massive size, and storming power is only reinforced from inside the cabin. The luxury of space, long abandoned in upscale cars in favor of gadget-laden, thick-consoled claustrophobia, is provided here in spades. It’s possible to stretch out, relax, and let the F-250 more or less drive itself.

Unlike heavier-duty pickups of old, the Ford does not follow highway camber, tramline on road imperfections, or wander in crosswinds. There’s plenty of time to fiddle with the on-board electronics, which aren’t quite up to the standard of Ford’s recent automobiles.

SYNC in particular is almost useless thanks to the noise from the clattering diesel. Nearly every request is met by the SYNC Tutorial. In the unlikely event one gets far enough in the menu to select a song, the frustrating nature of the interaction is likely to end up delivering a song which happens to rhyme with “uck.” The same’s true for the Bluetooth compatibility. This vehicle is simply too noisy at higher speeds to have an effective phone conversation.

Still, the fact that we are discussing the ease of Bluetooth-enabled conversation in a three-quarter-ton, off-road-focused truck is an indicator of the rather bordello-esque level of comfort enjoyed by F-250 passengers. Six people can ride very easily in this vehicle, and motorcycles fit easily in the bed thanks to the outstanding bed-extension device. The ride is surprisingly good, almost as decent as an F-150’s. Ford’s sublime “Tow Command” integrated trailer-brake controller is provided for those of us who pull heavy loads and it’s worth ten times what they charge for it.

It is very possible to drive five hundred miles with a heavy load behind you and arrive as refreshed as if you’d undertaken the same journey in a current-generation S-Class. It’s very far from being a motor glider, but it’s still a tremendously satisfying way in which to burn some dead dinosaurs.

With that said, there are a few issues which require discussion. The first is the PowerStroke diesel. The installation of Dodge’s dead-reliable, effortlessly powerful Cummins engine would make this a nearly perfect vehicle. As it is, the various PowerStroke engines haven’t been perfectly trouble-free over the years. So, once again, as in the half-ton market, Ford has the best truck with a second- or third-best powerplant.

Also problematic: this particular F-250 variant. Ford already makes the best-possible F-250: The King Ranch. It’s a sublime combination of fantastic seating and heartland-appeal visuals. This “Cabela’s Edition” is crass on the outside and regrettable on the inside, replacing the King Ranch’s buttery leather seats with three-tone, logo-infested affairs that are neither comfortable nor handsome. The off-road-specific stuff is nice, if you’re into that kind of thing—but if you are, chances are you aren’t looking at giant crew-cab trucks. Priced similarly to a Hublot “Big Bang” watch, the Cabela’s package is just about as visually offensive.

Reasonable people might also wonder about the current appropriateness of selling a fuel-guzzling, six-thousand-pound, fifty-six-thousand-dollar truck which trades towing capacity, comfort and aesthetics for purported nature-crushing “off-road” ability. Out in the real world, these trucks will be rare, glimpsed occasionally behind a sea of XLT and King Ranch F-250s plying America’s highways. That’s as it should be.

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43 Comments on “Review: 2009 F-250 Powerstroke FX4 Crew Cab Cabela’s Edition...”


  • avatar

    Minor contradiction in the review: with so much engine noise, can one really feel as refreshed after a long trip as in a luxury sedan?

    And why is the diesel so noisy, anyway? I drove a 335d recently. Except at idle, it was hard to tell that car was a diesel. The days when even truck buyers will put up with this sort of behavior from a diesel are numbered.

    TrueDelta has no reliability information on the HD pickups yet. The F-150 tends to be at least average, and even better than average. In general we have fewer participants with pickup trucks, and need more.

    http://www.truedelta.com/car-reliability.php

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    I’m not much of a truck guy, but after sitting in my brother-in-law’s F-150, I’ve got to say, that it is a very nice vehicle indeed.

    I haven’t driven a pickup truck in over a decade and driving the new F series is almost a bit weird. If you haven’t driven a truck in a while, you will be amazed at how “car-like” these trucks have become.

    The first thing I noticed was the lack of noise at highway speeds. His F-150 has a gasoline engine, not a diesel, so i’m sure his truck is quieter than the F-250 reviewed by JB here.

    The next surprise was the handling. I expected a wallowing over-steering mess, but the truck was fairly well-mannered and pretty good off-road as well.

    I’m still not a truck guy (wagons suit me better), but they have come a long way in 10 years.

    -ted

  • avatar
    GS650G

    This vehicle gives the finger to everyone that matters in the battle over fuel economy. When Hummers disappear this will be the new standard.

    See what you can build when you don’t go into business with the government?

  • avatar
    paris-dakar

    The Rifle case built in to the Rear Seat is a nice touch.

    Great vehicle. Damn shame Ford dumped the Excursion, a HD SUV with Three Row Seating based on this vehicle would be SWEET.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    If you think the Smart has limited utility and market, then you better be prepared to shovel the same criticism at this thing, because it’s just as much of a niche model, and just as pretentious, though in a completely different “gun-rack-vs-latte-holder” way.

    That said, even as a greenie I don’t object to this car because, quite frankly, it’s a rarity. It’s too expensive and impractical to show up in every driveway, and “normal” SuperDuties are bought by people who need them.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    See what you can build when you don’t go into business with the government?

    What, you mean Chrysler and GM aren’t making HD trucks? Please, the government has nothing to do with the reason those two companies are basket-cases. They (and Ford, very soon) will not have the ability to make discretionary toys like this because there will be no market for them.

    Ten percent unemployment and tight credit really kicked the ass of the Tonkas for Grown-Ups market.

  • avatar
    Eric Bryant

    @ Michael Karesh: “And why is the diesel so noisy, anyway? I drove a 335d recently. Except at idle, it was hard to tell that car was a diesel. The days when even truck buyers will put up with this sort of behavior from a diesel are numbered.”

    First, it’s pretty tough to keep quiet a 6.4L turbodiesel. It’s not just the combustion noise (which is substantial when there are 800cc explosions occurring on a regular basis); injectors, sequential turbos, cooling fans, and coolant pumps all make noise. The heavy truck industry has put a lot of effort into this problem over the past couple of decades (as the noise from heavy trucks is a major “noise pollutant” in urban areas), and frankly, the problem just isn’t that easy to solve.

    Second, your assumption about truck owners not tolerating this noise is just plain wrong. Most guys who shell out $7,000 for a diesel want to hear that thing rattle, whistle, and roar.

  • avatar
    geeber

    psharjinian: They (and Ford, very soon) will not have the ability to make discretionary toys like this because there will be no market for them.

    There will be a market for this truck. We may be looking at the Panther platform of the 2010s.

    There just won’t be a market for three trucks, made by three separate companies, all competing for the same dwindling customer base.

  • avatar

    Psarhjinian, so true your comment about the niche models. Hey, imagine you can put two Smart cars on the truck bed and have them as escape pods just in case you run out of diesel. Even better, you can put a Smart car inside Mercedes B200, and put that on the truck bed and have that like those Russian nesting dolls (and perhaps throw a moped in the Smart).
    Maybe that’s the future of car marketing – car bundles.

  • avatar
    jomatt

    A few of my friends drive these down here in South Florida, we are all in the construction industry. I have never met a Ford F250 owner that is not passionately in love with his truck. 9 out of 10 people who drive these, need them for hauling and really utilize the power. I have more than once raced them off the line with my 2008 Yukon Denali only to get smoked. The sheer torque is pretty amazing on these trucks. I have had the pleasure towing my Boston Whaler with both my Yukon Denali and an F250 and the Ford pulled my 6,000lb boat on a triple axle trailer like a Freight Train pulling a match box car.

  • avatar
    dean

    The gun case is a neat touch, but if you’re going hunting in a huge crewcab, is one rifle enough? Seeing as how your buddies are probably with you…

    I would definitely take the King Ranch version if forced to choose. The logo’d seats on the Cabela’s look horrible.

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    psarhjinian :

    It’s not “Smart”, it’s “smart” (small “s”). Pretentiousness can even be found in the name of the company

  • avatar
    ajla

    Could TTAC please do a review of a non-crew cab V10 F-250?

  • avatar
    srh

    I recently bought a Chevy 2500HD diesel after test-driving the 6.4L Powerstroke. The Powerstroke is indeed a louder engine. From either the inside or outside, the Duramax is only slightly louder than a gas engine.

    I really like that the Chevy feels more refined. The new Fords have an “in your face” bigness about them, even on the inside. The Chevy looks comparatively subdued (as subdued as a 22 foot long truck can look).

    And the reliability of the 6.4L is an interesting question. I had a 7.3L Powerstroke in an F-350 that was bulletproof. The more recent iterations have been much less reliable.

    Both my old F-350 and my new 2500HD are effortless highway cruisers. Around 20mpg if I stick to the speed limit, and I get wherever I’m headed feeling like I’ve just sat in an easy chair for the last 12 hours.

  • avatar
    jaybread

    “Second, your assumption about truck owners not tolerating this noise is just plain wrong. Most guys who shell out $7,000 for a diesel want to hear that thing rattle, whistle, and roar.”

    Bravo!! My 08 F350SD DRW is much quieter than the 05 I had, and the 05 was much quieter than the 03 I had.

    One advantage of the silencing efforts is that it is easier to hear the twin turbo’s spool up. It’s magic!!

    Here in New Mexico, which might be the hidden pick-up capital of the known world, HD pick-up’s are very common, to say the least. And I don’t know anyone that has one that doesn’t have a large trailer to pull…So I am a little concerned when some say these are the new Hummer’s–all show and no go. I’d say SuperDuty’s are all go with very little show, but I am heavily biased.

    And yes–I had a snot nosed kid in an older Nissan Z-Car try to punk me from a stop light one evening, and once the turbo’s pressurized he was left breathing highly filtered, catalytic converted, Ultra-Low Sulfur Fuel Only diesel fumes from my F350 CrewCab, Dually, Long Bed with 4:30 Rear End vapor trail. (Did I mention Satellite Radio and Navigation, Back up camera and radar, traction control, sunroof, electric extending and folding mirrors…etc)

    If you haven’t been around these trucks before, they are not what you might think. If you have to tow something, nothing beats them. Literally.

  • avatar
    paris-dakar

    The gun case is a neat touch, but if you’re going hunting in a huge crewcab, is one rifle enough? Seeing as how your buddies are probably with you…

    Definitely not, but it’s a nice secure place to keep a trunk gun. Or a Shot Gun for the unplanned times you get the opportunity to bust some clay.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    One of the more entertaining venues in which to see these mastadons is at the dragstrip. I’ll never forget the first time I saw a couple diesel behemoths lumber up to the Christmas tree (no burnouts necessary) and take off, spewing great clouds of black smoke down the entire 1320.

    What was amazing was seeing the unbelievable times of vehicles that have all the aerodynamic qualities of a concrete block. IIRC, I think I saw some regular cab 4×4 Dodges (which admittedly seemed to be modified) get into the thirteens. Of course, as noted in the article, the gas mileage would obviously be on par with that of an Abrahms tank, i.e., gpm or gallons per mile…

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    The 6.4 Liter PowerStroke is worlds better than the outgoing 6.0 in terms of reliability, output, and noise. In fact, the current DuraMax, Cummins, and Powerstroke are all neck in neck in power, the Powerstroke and Duramax both relatively quiet when not being pushed to ridiculous lengths (like motivating a Superduty to 100mph), and all are much cleaner than they used to be.

    What issues there were with the 6.0 and 6.4 are thankfully soon to be a thing of the past, as the upcoming 6.7 liter diesel is a pure Ford design, with no Navistar input to mess things up. Ford likes to keep engine designs for a long, long, time, so it shows how comitted they are to getting the best possible engine into the truck that they are jumping from 6.0 to 6.4 to 6.7 so quickly.

    Also of note is the optional 6.8 liter V10, which has the best torque output at the lowest rpms of any gas engine available in the heavy duty pickup market.

    Rudiger –
    Pick up a copy of Diesel Power Magazine if you see it on a stand sometime. There are trucks running 11s and 12s without the need for nitrous, and 10 second trucks with heavy modifications and nitrous shots. A lot of these beasts have been tuned to the point where they are producing close to 1000hp and well over 1500 lb/ft of torque.

  • avatar

    Might as well put the last gallon of petrol into this baby. That way you only have to walk 4.5 miles home after you burn up the last drop. Put it in something “greener” and you will have to walk as much as 10 times the distance.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    The fact that even work-truck type pickups share interior furnishings with $40K suv’s means that any late-model pickup is very likely to have well-thought-out and nicely-operating switches and controls. I find this to be true on my 2003 Silverado. It’s a short-box regular cab truck, and the bottom trim line, but the black color matches the rub strip on the door. As far as quietness, it’s quieter on the highway than my Accord sedan, but it’s just got the small V8.

    I never did get the idea behind having your friends think from the sound that you’re driving up in a bread van.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Stay away from the Powerstroke. Besides the $7k price premium and reliability issues, there is so much routine maintenance that comes with it: filters to changes, water traps to empty(from under the vehicle). Get the V-10 and 90% of the capability with none of the drawbacks or costs.

  • avatar
    NickR

    This prompts my question of the day…if ’28 Days Later’ really happened, what vehicle would you want in your driveway?

  • avatar
    GeeDashOff

    What was amazing was seeing the unbelievable times of vehicles that have all the aerodynamic qualities of a concrete block.
    There are trucks running 11s and 12s without the need for nitrous, and 10 second trucks with heavy modifications and nitrous shots.

    meh, here’s a full size school bus running a bit over 12 s.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxZ59a53ln8

    And all these trucks are about as practical as that bus depending on the type of driving you do. I guess they’re fine for long stretches of straight road somewhere in Kansas, but any sort of suburban/city stop and go traffic, which is 90% of my driving, must be an absolute nightmare.

    And yes–I had a snot nosed kid in an older Nissan Z-Car try to punk me from a stop light one evening

    And then while making a right turn you had to slow down to under 5mph…

  • avatar

    If there’s interest in a V-10 review, I have an unpublished 2008 V-10 review in the archives. Unfortunately, it *is* a crew-cab.

    Last year, I also drove a six-speed manual, regular-cab Powerstroke F-250. Now that was a frickin’ hoot and a half.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    This prompts my question of the day…if ‘28 Days Later’ really happened, what vehicle would you want in your driveway?

    A horse wearing plate armour.

  • avatar
    jaybread

    “And then while making a right turn you had to slow down to under 5mph…”

    Slowing down not so easy, but believe it or not, with 4 tires on the drive axle, stiff suspension and load range E tires I can corner at much higher speeds than you might expect, as long as I have at least a football field to do it in…

  • avatar
    commando1

    My F150 entry level no option bottom feeder does everthing this phallic symbol does at 1/3 the price.

    Power “STROKE”. C’mon now……….

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Interesting theory about the usefulness of monster trucks in apocalyptical times. If I was an end-of-days kinda person, I might believe in it.

    As it is, I take my ideas about how life in a dark future would be from science fiction, so my last ride might well be a Fiat Multipla:

  • avatar
    paris-dakar

    Heston did OK in the early 70s LTD Convertible. Also drove a White Command Car and a really cool Citroen Mehari.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Heston did OK in the early 70s LTD Convertible…

    Heston, ugh…

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    This prompts my question of the day…if ‘28 Days Later’ really happened, what vehicle would you want in your driveway?

    Yo RF! There’s a Question Of The Day!

    For zombie or rage-plague events, I’d go all the way: An International MXT. Or a Kevlar Hummer. Although any large diesel with a manual would do.

    Stay away from the up-armored Hummer. Too much weight for effective off road use.

    That movie did lack credibility with it’s vehicle choices and later plot swings. Solid start though…

  • avatar
    paris-dakar

    For zombie or rage-plague events, I’d go all the way: An International MXT. Or a Kevlar Hummer. Although any large diesel with a manual would do.

    Can’t go wrong with an MRAP.

    Heston, ugh…

    Classic Obama-bot reaction.

    This is a Thread on a diesel Pick Up with a zombie movie tangent. What do you expect?

    And Heston was a great American, by the way.

  • avatar
    jaybread

    “My F150 entry level no option bottom feeder does everthing this phallic symbol does at 1/3 the price.”

    No it doesn’t, and you should know better.
    Have you tried towing a 14K pound 5th wheel with an F150? I know you haven’t, because you can’t.

    You just have phallic symbol envy.

  • avatar
    dolorean23

    This prompts my question of the day…if ‘28 Days Later’ really happened, what vehicle would you want in your driveway?

    So….when the end of our civilization is eminent, you actually think it matters what car you’ll be driving? I suppose the better to run over Zombies with and load up the back with as much diesel fuel as you can carry. For this ridiculous hypothesis I would be driving in the 1970’s British Racing Green Jaguar XJ from Shaun of the Dead followed closely by the severely modified Ford Falcon from Mad Max. Either would make as much sense as a 6.0L tuna boat painted in Cabela’s livery. How fitting.

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    the rather bordello-esque level of comfort enjoyed by F-250 passengers.

    Really isn’t that level of comfort illegal in most states?

    and I can’t imagine wives or girlfriends approving either.

  • avatar
    paris-dakar

    So….when the end of our civilization is eminent, you actually think it matters what car you’ll be driving?

    Since I’ll be using the vehicle I’m driving to put as much space as possible between myself and the suckfish and vermin who are actually causing the end of civilization (think Katrina Superdome), yes I think it matters a great deal.

  • avatar
    ajla

    @Jack Baruth:
    If there’s interest in a V-10 review, I have an unpublished 2008 V-10 review in the archives. Unfortunately, it *is* a crew-cab.

    I’d be interested in reading it. Even if it’s for a crew cab. Better than nothing.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    I’d be interested as well, actually, I think all reviews should be posted, I mean, we get less than one a day, so as long as they aren’t coming so frequently that they get pushed off the page before everyone has the chance to comment, keep ’em coming.

  • avatar
    davey49

    “This prompts my question of the day…if ‘28 Days Later’ really happened, what vehicle would you want in your driveway?”

    Yamaha XT250

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    With this and the “new” F-150 on the road, Ford has the ugliest trucks made today.

    “Get the V-10 and 90% of the capability with none of the drawbacks or costs.”

    I have driven a 6.0 PSD Super Duty and a 6.8 V10 Super Duty. They sound the same. Only difference is that the 6.8 holds true to it’s modular roots…it is a boat anchor. Sure it makes a lot of noise…but thats about it.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    The biggest issue with trucks like this is that the fuel economy isn’t that great considering they are diesel. Then you have to deal with the ride of a 3/4 ton suspension. Just wait for a smaller more fuel efficient diesel to start being offered in a 1/2 ton chassis and demand for these will drop signifigantly.

  • avatar
    justin.82

    It’s a nice truck but damn ugly! Ford makes a good truck for 2 reasong 1. They are not run by the government and 2. They know the market – That’s why they were so successful in the 90’s because of trucks! I just wish I could desingn for them. I would make the truck look better. It just looks ugly but I’d still drive it because it’s built well!

  • avatar
    Shooter04

    “The biggest issue with trucks like this is that the fuel economy isn’t that great considering they are diesel.”

    Uhm…poor fuel economy because they are diesel? I own a 2000 F250 7.3 diesel and my friend owns a 2004 F250 V10 gas. I get 20 mpg highway, he gets 12. Lets not even get into his city mpg. (9 anyone?)

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