By on February 10, 2012




A TTAC lede should intrigue and excite, yet what’s to snark on a Ford Super Duty with an aluminum bed? So here I am, being good friend to a girl that bought a home, tore it apart and reassembled with over 1600lbs of stone flooring: stuff that’ll eat up an Urban Cowboy’s prissy $30-50,000 rig. Or in this case, a self-made woman’s stainless steel infused Lincoln Blackwood. Is it any surprise she’d need a rental?



The F-350 isn’t a lovely beast in XL-grade black plastic, and Home Depot’s tagging doesn’t help. Even worse, Ford’s latest Super Duty takes the trend of “inflated styling features” to the point there’s no room for sheetmetal on the front facade.  Insurance companies rejoice, but fake fender vents further prove that modern trucks are out of scope. Side mirrors cleverly attach to a droopy DLO (day light opening), with rooftop clearance lights and anti-bling steel hoops: all hallmarks of the XL lifestyle, but I long for the days when trucks weren’t so proportionally silly.



Luckily, the rough-and-tumble lifestyle receives a supple 40/20/40 vinyl bench. The “20” folds to make an armrest with storage. Rubber flooring encourages muddy boots. And the requisite hard plastics?  NFL linemen use ballet to up their game, and Super Duties need the minimalistic soft vinyl from yesteryear’s F-350. Trust me; it wouldn’t lose an ounce of macho.



Home Depot trucks have a unique interior quirk: note the steering wheel lock, smell what must be a blend of sweat, dirt and the chemical used to remove dog/cat urine smells from carpeting. Like, awesome.

Fire up the Super Duty and something magical happens.  The 6.2L “BOSS” V8’s initial exhaust burble is pure muscle from the days of smog-belching big blocks and Nixonian secrecy. With a few (manly) twists of aluminum locks, the Super Duty’s cargo “walls” become a flat bed. Home Depot’s fork lift has ample room to offload the pallet, and the prodigious leaf springs easily take the load.  Ride height is now 2-3”lower, if that matters.



The ride is fairly smooth, only with the extra rearward weight. The numb, slow steering makes sense considering the value your heavy and brittle investment staying in one piece. There’s plenty of stopping power even with more nose dive than an ordinary car.

Which proves the point: as every decade passes, trucks improve at the same rate of cars.

Back to the stone: after pulling 20+ tiles out, the quality was a little suspect.  There’s enough body filler here to patch a fleet of Mazda Protégé 5s.  So we reload the F-350, unfold the bed’s walls and drive back.  Are those rain clouds up ahead? While she asked the boys at Home Depot to exchange the crate, I did my usual ADD analysis of the interior. The upfitter switches were a nice touch, ditto the abundance of cubbies and cup holders.  The basic information display was controlled by a PlayStation-worthy pad on the tiller. Then a familiar song emanated from the 2-speaker stereo. The electronic hi-hats were clearer than crystal and bass hit like a boxer fighting above his class. As the clouds threatened again, the lyrics came down on me like shelves of bolts from Home Depot’s hardware aisle:

You can Blame it on the Rain,

Cause the Rain Don’t Mind!

And The Rain Don’t Care,

You got to Blame it on Something!

Is this really happening? Why am I here, thinking about a future TTAC review? How did I not grow up, get married and whatnot? Was that guy in high school right about me, am I really an existentialist?



Oh dear. Mercifully, the new pallet arrived, and–escaping the rain–the new tile was unloaded. After a long evening, we returned the Super Duty and went back to the luxurious confines of the Lincoln Blackwood.  But wait…let’s talk about straight line prowess.

6-speeds, 385 horsepower, 405lb-ft of twist. A pair of stump-pulling camshafts happily rev to 5500RPM inside a delightfully retro-styled big block Boss mill. With the traction nanny off and the transmission locked in first, the Super Duty squats, hooks and absolutely flies off the line.



Whoa mamma!  Gear number two and you’re merging on the highway with authority: the Boss is an absolute beast. Once the howl of a thousand big block Galaxies left my eardrums, one thought remained: why can’t we have this damn powertrain in a Ford car?

But I digress. The F-350 Super Duty proves something: the base engine is far from entry-level.  Who cares if gas motors are 3-7 MPG worse (probably, but not rated by the EPA) than a Powerstroke Diesel? The Boss is just that.  With no purchase penalty ($7835), no urine supplements, cheaper fuel ($0.30 a gallon) and a stunning Muscle Car soundtrack, the Boss Super Duty equates to the perfect big truck for all but the most serious towing junky.

For everyone else? Instant bliss is just a Home Depot away, for about $20 an hour.


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57 Comments on “Review: 2011 Ford F-350 Super Duty...”

  • avatar

    “Once the howl of a thousand big block Galaxies left my eardrums, one thought remained: why can’t we have this damn powertrain in a Ford car?”

    The gubmint wants Ford to sell many many more hybrid versions of their passenger car line as well as, I don’t know, what do they call those squished little things I see the teenage girls in? Fiestas?

  • avatar

    Nice review of this truck.

    I have to take note of your mentioning the Mazda Protege5 link to a letter in Piston Slap whereby a fella’s 6 YO Protege5 is rusting out badly as I just bought a very clean, 03 Protege5 myself to replace my dying Ranger truck.

    As to the Super Duty, nice to know that you CAN get it in basic industrial materials that are easy to clean out etc and are rugged too.

    Question, are those toggle switches meant for things like USB ports and such or what? I like their modern take on an old style switch.

    Interesting how most factory audio systems these days sound great compared to those installed in the past and often are as good sounding as their aftermarket brethren.

    • 0 avatar

      “Question, are those toggle switches meant for things like USB ports and such or what?”

      They are typically used for aftermarket accessories, such as lights.

    • 0 avatar

      I initially wanted to call the Protege5 swipe a low blow, but…damn it if it hasn’t been true in my experience! Anger is one of the earlier stages of coming to terms with death, and I think I have finally made my peace with my steadily disintegrating Mazda.

      ciddyguy, cherish your Protege5 and give its still intact wheel wells a big hug for me.

  • avatar
    Speed Spaniel

    Either it’s vacation week at TTAC or there’s not much going on in the auto world. Did I just read a review about the local Home Depot rental truck? Really?????

    • 0 avatar

      Why the heck not? Many of us are curious about a basic, high-powered hauler.

      • 0 avatar
        Speed Spaniel

        I guess my interests aren’t that agricultural. Maybe if I go to the website, “The Truth About Rental Home Depot Trucks” I’ll find some articles about cars.

      • 0 avatar

        TTAC gave us a review of a car carrier transport ship – a rental truck review doesn’t seem like such a stretch. I like Sajeev’s enthusiasm for vehicles I never considered worthy of enthusiasm – TTAC broadens my world.

    • 0 avatar

      There’s also a review of a Ford F-350 Super Duty in there too.

      Do you know a better way to write a review about a truck with an aluminum utility bed? Because I’d love to hear it. And yes, we’ve covered trucks since I’ve been here, and I’ve been here a looooong time.

      • 0 avatar

        He says agricultural like it’s a bad thing.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        Some of us are old enough to remember when car magazines (especially Car and Driver) used to be freaking awesome about reviewing anything on wheels. I miss those days and love TTAC for it. Heck I could write a detailed review of the 2007 AWD 3400V6 powered Equinox that I spend many days in as the “fleet” vehicle provided by my employer and if cleverly written TTAC would publish it. THAT is one of many reasons I love this site.

      • 0 avatar

        “Heck I could write a detailed review of the 2007 AWD 3400V6 powered Equinox that I spend many days in as the “fleet” vehicle provided by my employer and if cleverly written TTAC would publish it.”

        We’re waitin’, Dan….

      • 0 avatar

        I used to look forward to the April issues of the magazines with the “tests” of anything that moved… or even tests of imaginary autos like the Cyclops they were most of the time the best thing that publication in question printed each year….

    • 0 avatar

      When I was a farm hand, I logged many miles in a 1985 1.5 ton Chev stake truck with the 6.2 diesel and a dog-leg 3-on-the-floor. No radio. No air.

      The thing was a joy to drive.

      How can you not appreciate stuff like that?

  • avatar

    I decided long ago that if I ever get a truck, I’ll buy an ute bed for it right away, get it customized with floor attachment points, tent hoops, and the like.

    • 0 avatar

      I didn’t make it clear, and I should: that bed is simply amazing. The first OEM that puts it on a 1/4-1/2 ton truck will get serious bragging rights. And I suspect a “ton” of sales.

      • 0 avatar

        You used to be able to buy a chassis cab truck, and then drive over to your nearest truck outfitter.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s almost certainly how this particular truck started. A F-350 regular cab XL cab and chassis like this has a retail MSRP of around $32K before rebates of discounts. You buy the truck and have either the dealer or your preferred body company put whatever kind of bed you want on it (utility, flat, dump, landscape, etc).

        If you go to any Ford dealer that does a decent fleet business you’ll likely find a few cab and chassis trucks sitting on the lot.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    The author obscured the truck’s license plate number, presumably to protect the innocent. Perhaps the truck fleet number, clearly visible in several photos, should also be fogged out.

    • 0 avatar
      Japanese Buick

      I hate the recent trend toward fogging out of license plates. License plate enthusiasm may be small and geeky, but it’s a part of car enthusiasm dammit!

      Who TF’s privacy is being protected by fogging out a license plate on a Home Depot rental truck? Maybe Sanjeev or someone can tell us why it’s so widespread, since he saw fit to do it here?

  • avatar

    So your friend owns a truck, but it is too nice to actually use as a TRUCK, so she needed to rent a truck. Priceless. And only in America.

    • 0 avatar

      Is the Blackwood a Lincoln “F-150” with more chrome bits? I don’t know if I’ve ever seen one in the flesh.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s still a bloody truck. Just the dumbest one ever made by man. The great American pass-time, hauling air in trucks.

      My local LM dealer had a single Blackwood on the lot for about three years, I wonder what it finally sold for? They took a dirtnap recently, the place is now the largest Enterprise Rent-a-car the world has ever seen.

  • avatar

    I wonder if the public can buy these used when the Home Depot lease is up? (I am assuming they lease rather than buy outright). Where to fleet trucks go to be liquidated?

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t know about home depot, but most fleet trucks get auctioned off. Individual sales just ain’t worth the hassle.
      A good rule of thumb to use when deciding how much to pay for an ex-fleet unit is this: Weigh the vehicle. Find out what scrap metal is worth per ton today. Multiply price per ton by weight in tons.
      Bid accordingly. Most fleets maintain thier units well and know exactly when to put a bullet in them.

  • avatar

    Sounds like Ford finally replaced an engine worthy of the 460 V8.

    • 0 avatar

      The 460 was a good motor, I’ve driven plenty of them. And worked on them. But they were never that great on power…except for maybe the ones in the early 70s Lincolns, especially the Continental Mark III.

      In truck terms, I seriously doubt there was ever a 460 that was worthy of this beast. Maybe the 454 SS Chevy. Maybe.

  • avatar

    So, would it be wrong to rent one of these trucks and return it with a SOHC 4.6L underhood in place of the Boss?

    I hope Ford does let this motor shine a bit. The Coyote is remarkable but the Boss builds on everything they learned from 20 years of Mod motors but without the dimensional limitations of of the Modular’s architecture. From what I’ve read, the there’s plenty of potential in the current 2 valve heads and I can only imagine what kind of horsepower numbers they could wring out of it with some 3 or 4 valve heads.

    Ford’s gone through the trouble of certifying one-off motors for Mustang Cobras before so maybe one day we will see the Boss in a car. Or, how about a full-sized Lincoln with an engine that never has to rev above 1200rpm like in the golden era of big block luxury.

  • avatar

    In addition to the purchase cost, diesel is now about +15% on fuel cost in the USA (not including the “cow piss”) , and given the complexity of the emission systems for 2010 and up, probably a LOT more in maintenance cost down the road.

    The old gassers aren’t dying off quietly it appears.

    • 0 avatar

      Tis true. With gasoline direct injection, modern-day turbocharging (ecoboost) and the like, the difference between gasoline and diesel engine fuel economy is narrowing. And let’s face it – today’s diesels are optimized for power, not economy.

      You can read plenty of tales of horror over at the Ford Truck diesel forums about the post-7.3l Ford diesel woes . . . with many current owners saying that they flat-out wouldn’t even own one that is not under warranty.

      • 0 avatar

        The new 6.7 liter has been rock solid so far. The 6.0 and 6.4 has too many compromises in the design to get the engines to do both what Ford and Navistar wanted, the 6.7 is an all new from the ground up in house Ford only design.

        When it comes to diesel vs gas, it really depends on what you will be doing with it. The 6.2 liter V8 is rated at 13/18 in a 2wd F-150, figure at least a little bit less in a considerably more heavy Super Duty. On the other hand, the diesel will get 15-17 in town and low 20s on the highway, at least from my experience and feedback I’ve gotten from customers. The urea injection does more than make the exhaust cleaner – it means the truck has to go into NOx trap burnoff mode a lot less often, so the mileage more than makes up for the cost of the urea.

        When you’re towing with a gas engine, the mileage drops off of a cliff. Towing with a diesel the mileage still takes a hit with a big enough trailer, but it’s a lot less of a hit than the gas engine takes. 800lbs fit of torque vs 405 means you can stay at lower RPMs and higher gears longer.

        A lot of it comes down to what you will be doing. If you’re living out of a trailer that you’re towing cross country and racking up 20,000 miles a year, or hauling cars/horses/etc as a business where you have a big trailer hooked up to the back almost constantly, the diesel makes more sense. If it’s an occasional use vehicle that doesn’t see more than 10,000 lbs behind it with any regularity, the gas engine can make more sense, and the close to $8,000 you save buys a lot of gas, though the diesel will make some of that up on resale value.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s true, the gassers are making a comeback. As a fleet manager I keep very close track of running costs and diesels in this size vehicle don’t make economic sense unless the unit is in use 24/7.
      Even then it’s a close call. As I’ve said before, I think the first manufacturer who realizes that a 200 bhp/30 mpg diesel(that doesn’t need urea) has a market will sell a lot of trucks in this size range.

  • avatar

    While I have never been fan of urban cowboy poser mobiles, I do love a working truck and this is one of the best. I wish that the aluminum bed was an option on all models as anything else just scratches at the first hint of real work.

  • avatar

    Of course, Sajeev would know a girl who owns a Lincoln Blackwood.

  • avatar

    I have rented many a Home Depot truck for their value and capacity. Recently I rented one at Home Depot and drove [approximately] across the street to Tractor Supply and loaded up my new Cub Cadet tractor to take home. They do great burnouts whn empty too.

    • 0 avatar

      A few months ago I rented the Home Depot truck, drove it two blocks down the street, picked up my new mattress set and took it home. At $20 for 75 minutes you can’t beat it.

  • avatar

    I miss the days of plain-jane barely styled trucks, they looked more “tough”, like a truck should.

  • avatar

    We’re not able to post pictures anymore right?

    I have a picture of my Subaru Legacy wagon loaded down with 950 pounds of floor tiling. I spread the tiles out from front to back as well as I possibly could. Made it home with no problems whatsoever.

    I could have made the same trip twice in my frumpy Subaru and saved $20.00

    • 0 avatar

      I believe we can post URLs, we just have to copy/paste them from comments now. HTML shows up as plain text to prevent any sorts of… exploits; aside from limiting our basic formatting abilities (boldfacing, italicising, those sorts of things) it doesn’t make much difference.

    • 0 avatar

      I wonder how much gas is left in your dampers after that bit of overloading. And those are certainly more than $20 to fix.

  • avatar

    The smell inside these trucks is usually from some selfish a-hole who thinks it is ok to smoke $hitty butts inside of it….

    • 0 avatar

      No evidence of it, but good point.

      • 0 avatar
        87CE 95PV Type Я

        So, they really are worried about these trucks being stolen and drive to Mexico I take? I just assume so because here in New York they never have a steering wheel lock.

        Thanks for the article and don’t ya miss the days when Homie Depot painted these truck orange?

        Habitat for Humanity of New Orleans got a few of 1998-2007 F-Series trucks like this donated to them by Homie Depot and their Orange paint made them stand out. Rumor has it that people were told to baby them a lot since most of the money should go toward house rebuilding not truck fixing from idiots. At least one of the trucks never had its marking removed, not sure how that happened.

  • avatar

    “A stump-pulling camshaft that happily revs to 5500 revs inside a delightfully retro-styled big block Boss mill.”

    So, the engine is rev-limited to 11,000 rpm? :P

  • avatar

    I had the option of buying a 6.0L 2500 HD Sierra for 33k or the same car with a diesel for 42k. True, the massive torque isn’t there, but so what? I doubt that I lost 10 grand worth of utility and sure as hell the fuel savings weren’t there for the oil burner in our heavily sanctioned atmosphere.

    I can still pull a medium sized farm tractor on a flatbed without holding up traffic.

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