By on August 17, 2018

2018 Ford F-550 front quarter

2018 Ford F-550 Super Duty Chassis Cab with Rugby Eliminator Dump Bed

6.7-liter Diesel V8, turbocharged (330 hp at 2600 rpm, 750 lb-ft at 2000 rpm)

Six-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel drive

EPA fuel economy: not rated

10.5 (observed mileage, MPG)

Base price: $46,890

As tested: $70,360

Prices include $1,495 freight charge.

Of course the majority of my childhood toys were wheeled in nature. How else did I end up here? From tiny Matchbox cars, to plastic Tamiya kits, to an expensive lesson in destroying a high-end Team Associated remote control car, the playthings of my youth neatly foreshadowed the obsession that would consume my life.

My favorites, of course, were the seriously solid Tonka trucks that invariably ended up rusting over the winter because I left them in the sandbox. Otherwise indestructible, I imagined myself hauling tons of whatever to build whatever… not realizing that upon reaching adulthood, such work would require physical labor on an already-sore back.

So, when physical labor presented itself in the Tonn homestead — namely, a brick patio project — I looked to my past for inspiration. Fortunately, a 2018 Ford F-550 Super Duty with a Rugby dump bed recently appeared in the press fleet, which piqued both sandbox Chris’ and aching-back Chris’ interest.

2018 Ford F-550 profile

Ford is somewhat unique among American-market automakers. While others offer a range of commercial vehicles alongside their passenger cars, Ford puts its big trucks right alongside the everyday stuff on the same website. Click the build-and-price tool, and you can build this F-550 (sans the aftermarket dump bed) just as easily as you can a Fiesta.

2018 Ford F-550 front

And, if so inspired, you can go incredibly wild building your truck. While the standard two-door model tested here is only offered in the relatively-low-key XL and XLT trims, opt for a Super Cab or Crew Cab and the rather nice Lariat trim becomes available. I wonder if I could head up to Ford’s Avon Lake big-truck plant and talk, Ohioan to Ohioan, to sweet-talk my way into a pimpy leather-lined King Ranch or Platinum interior in a medium-duty work truck?

2018 Ford F-550 rear

Nah. You want the vinyl floors and hard-wearing cloth seats on a truck that’s going to be more of a tool than a commuter. You don’t buy a Class 5 truck to drive to the office — though that’s what I did for a few days. You buy this because your office IS your truck.

2018 Ford F-550 gauges

Ford accomplished a remarkable thing here — it made its larger trucks feel much like the industry standard light truck. The interior layout are intimately familiar to anyone who’s spent time in an F-150. The materials don’t feel as plush, as they are built for long wear under extreme conditions, but I felt immediately at home behind the wheel of the F-550.

2018 Ford F-550 interior

This test truck was well equipped, of course, since journalists are loath to drive a stripped vehicle. The SYNC system worked quite well, with satellite radio and navigation serving as helpful aids to workers who may need to travel to an unfamiliar jobsite. I did need to crank the volume a bit to overcome cabin noise — it’s obviously not a luxury car. Most of the transmitted noise comes from either the big 19.5-inch tires or the squeaks of the big drop-side dump bed right behind the driver’s head, however — wind and engine noise was surprisingly muted.

2018 Ford F-550 seats

Really, after my first tentative drive, where I seriously feared I’d clip oncoming traffic, the F-550 disappeared around me. The bulk fades away. You always know you’re driving something different — mostly due again to the noise of the bed — but it feels much like a smaller truck once you spend a few miles in the saddle.

2018 Ford F-550 infotainment

Driving dynamics are dulled, of course, compared to a light duty half-ton truck. Those 19.5-inch polished aluminum wheels (as great as they look) and tires are built for hauling, not for comfort, and the tall sidewalls introduce a bit of slop to every movement of the steering wheel.

2018 Ford F-550 wheels

Similarly, the heavy duty springs, shocks, and sway bars that give the truck a 19,500 pound Gross Vehicle Weight Rating aren’t going to deliver Lincoln-like ride quality over speed bumps at the mall. The ride can be harsh, though it smooths out either with a load in the back, or at highway speeds. When I headed to the interstate in the F-550, it felt as if the truck hunkered down a bit on the springs to handle the ride.

[Get new and used Ford SuperDuty pricing here!]

That, or it just skipped over the bumps at speed rather than crashing over them individually.

As I mentioned, I have a brick patio to build. After grading the soil, the first real step in building a patio is laying down a layer of gravel for a solid base, allowing water to move through rather than upsetting the pavers. The typical homeowner move, at least for those who aren’t too cheap to pay someone else to do the work, is to load bags upon bags of gravel in a pickup at the big-box store on Saturday morning. That’s a lot of lifting.

My Saturday with the F-550 was a bit more simple.

2018 Ford F-550 Gravel in bed

I drove to a nearby landscape supply company, paid for a ton of gravel, and drove around back, where a bearded gentleman in a Bobcat swiftly tossed a couple bucketloads in the previously pristine dump bed. I drove home, backed up to my future patio, released the tailgate, and pressed a button on the pendant-style switch that hangs from a cord in the cab. I maneuvered the truck bit to redistribute my dump pile, and then grabbed a rake to smooth the gravel.

2018 Ford F-550 Gravel dumping

From rolling out of bed to the time I tossed the rake back in the garage, I was done in about an hour — and my back didn’t hurt.

No wonder those hard-working folks doing construction or landscaping don’t mess with light-duty pickups. Using the right tool for the job gets the job done quickly and efficiently. I’m not saying that I’m ready to give up my desk job for a shovel and a steering wheel, but I can see how this truck is the ultimate tool for moving a load.

2018 Ford F-550 rear quarter

Well, if you want to find me, I’ll be out in the sandbox, wondering where my beloved big truck has gone. I miss having such a capable tool in my driveway, even though I’d likely not use it to its capabilities but twice a year. The Ford F-550 Super Duty makes those tough jobs just a bit more possible.

2018 Ford F-550 badge

[Images: © 2018 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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37 Comments on “2018 Ford F-550 Super Duty Review – Put the Load Right on Me...”

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    A lifetime ago, I spent many a work day behind the wheel of one of these with a 460 CID and a 5 MT; all the options stake body, chip body, mason dump. I find the rear of the truck comforting, the exact same tail lights are used, same pinnle (sp) hitch, large loops for trailer chains. All very functional and zero dollars have been invested to fix it till they break it, nicely done Ford.

    • 0 avatar

      It is kind of surprising that they (and everybody else) have kept using those same taillights for the last ~60 years. I have to wonder just how many Grote has made over the years.

    • 0 avatar

      Not to pick at too many nits, but in the days of the 460 and 5-speed combo, Ford’s only truck between the F-350 and the F-600/700 line was the Class 4 F-Super Duty chassis cab, max GVWR 15K (the same as Chevy’s 3500HD chassis cab). The 1999 F-550 was their first Class 5, with a GVWR of 19K.

      And before either of those models, the wide gap between the more pedestrian Class 3s and the Class 6 trucks was usually bridged only by high-GVWR-package (or just plain overloaded) one-tons.

      • 0 avatar

        Overloaded 1-tons were just a way of life. They still are for some folks and small operation. There’s always been other options, but not based on everyday Big 3 pickups.

        Upfitters like you see above, no longer sell trucks pushing it too the GVWR limit, unloaded.

        Only Ford saw the need and followed through, 1988+. GM and Chrysler eventually stepped up. Or GM did from approx ’92 to ’02 with the HD3500 Silverado/Sierra based. Chrysler from about ’09+.

        • 0 avatar

          Our L700 is technically overloaded any time you fill its 18′ grain box up. A load that heavy isn’t supposed to rest on a single axle, and L700s only came with 14-footers from the factory. But it was purchased in the late ’70s, back when dealers would sell you a longer bed if it meant they could get you to take a model that was already sitting on their lot.

          • 0 avatar

            Liability lawyers must be something relatively new? I’m still amazed by Toyota 18′ motorhomes on a pickup/Hilux dually chassis’.

            They have to be way overloaded by the time owners are fueled up, water tanks topped off, and packed for a weekend of camping, plus passengers.

            I’ve heard that upfitters recommend replacing the wheel-bearings in the rear axle every 20K miles?!

  • avatar

    I find these kinds of articles /extremely/ distasteful. This is the second or third example I’ve seen on TTAC where an (ostensible) car reviewer says something to the effect of “I wanted to do XYZ so I got a free car from the press fleet”, then they write 500 words and take a couple lame pictures to ensure next time they want a car for free they can get it. I think last time it was someone who wanted to go on a family vacation so they got themselves a free Pilot or something. It reeks of payola and it’s exactly the kind of thing the editors of this site used to rail against.

    Maybe the reviewer fools himself into thinking he’s still providing an objective review even though he’s reviewing a vehicle that he specifically asked for, knowing that a bad review will decrease his chances of getting the car in the future. The reality is that his review is no longer objective. It’s bought and paid for, even if not for cash.

    I realize this is a tough line, by the way. It’s better to get a review of a dump-bed from someone who has a use for it than from someone who doesn’t. Though given that zero people on this site will be buying an F-550 with dump bed, perhaps that’s irrelevant. And moreover hauling a ton could be done in the bed of any F-150, so this is hardly a useful review of a medium-duty F-550 with it’s 6-ton payload. The rental car reviews are at least real people reviewing real cars that someone might actually buy without the threat of being excluded in the future for a bad review.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, those who use vehicles as intended are horrid people. Despicable.

      And they should ONLY review vehicles that, after a survey, most of us may buy at some point.

      • 0 avatar

        Please no, I don’t want to end up with reviews of used Golfs, Jettas, Imprezas and Ford Festivas exclusively.

      • 0 avatar


        That’s not the point though. Certainly, this review has value to some people who may need to buy a truck for work, or who just want to see what a Super Duty cabin looks like. I enjoyed reading about it, even though I will likely never own a dump truck.

        But this exact truck, or one very similar, is parked in front of big box home improvement stores across the country and can be rented for something like $39.95 for 90 minutes. It’s better for the optics of the review, as srh said, if we knew it was a bit more objective than calling up Ford and asking them for the truck for free.

        • 0 avatar

          Right. Thanks Jack for clarifying my point. And to your point I too enjoyed seeing the truck.

          And John, I never said the reviewer is a “despicable person”.

          The problem is that using a press fleet period is questionable, and using it to avoid renting the vehicle at Home Depot is, as Jack says, questionable optics. Imagine if JB or MB, on their various travels, hopped from press fleet to press fleet instead of renting cars and reviewing them. Those reviews would lose their integrity.

          For the 5-6 years that I’ve been reading TTAC it has prided itself on working outside that system, acknowledging that this may limit some of the review content. For example the rental car reviews. The type of review presented in this article lacks integrity.

        • 0 avatar

          The HD truck is a F250 and doesn’t have a dump bed, the last I looked. Certainly it will haul a ton of gravel dumped in but so will most 1/2 ton pickups and they’ll have sides on the bed that can contain that load.

          I say hey it is one of the perks of the job so why not take it. He isn’t going to be able to give the perspective of someone that used it daily, and I think most readers understand that and the point that being a press pool vehicle the review won’t be a hit piece.

          • 0 avatar

            Maybe it’s just my Home Depot that has a dump bed dually then. Admittedly, it may be an F350, I haven’t looked closely enough. I imagine the driving dynamics would be pretty similar, though the F350 would get the full 450 hp Powerstroke instead of the detuned medium duty version tested here.

          • 0 avatar

            I say hey it is one of the perks of the job so why not take it.

            It is both a perk of the job /and it is the job itself/. The transitive property of grammar therefore means that the job is a perk. Or something like that; it’s been a while since I took math or English.

            Let’s say, hypothetically, that Mr. Tonn is a restaurant “reviewer”. It is his kid’s birthday so he calls Chuck E. Cheese and says he’d like to review their restaurant. They let him throw his kid a party at Chuck E. Cheese for free, and he writes a review.

            Or he reviews airlines, and he happens to want to go to Hawaii. So he calls up Hawaiian Airlines and asks for a free ticket to Hawaii. And then he writes a review.

            See the problem there? This is why Consumer Reports sends anonymous purchasers to a dealer when purchasing a car. This is why restaurant reviewers (try) to remain anonymous and pay for their meals, and it is why TTAC pride(d?) itself on its rental car reviews. TTAC has written expose articles about (admittedly more egregious) examples of this type of review in the past.

          • 0 avatar

            I think you are mistaking pride that we do rental car reviews for the fact of TTAC was just one of those weird internet things, no way were mfgs giving them access to the press pool.

            All rental car reviews means all we will get are endless reviews of Camrys, Altimas, Tahoes, Suburbans, Ram 1500, and Hyundais.

    • 0 avatar
      justin j

      This review would not be useful for anyone interested in f550. The real questions that need to be answered is how it compares other brands. There isnt much competition chevy,gmc, Isuzu. Also are you getting the right size truck? How does it compares to f350 f450 f650 f750?

  • avatar

    What really bothers me about such vehicles is all the people that buy them to haul a load that could easily fit in the back of Prius or Tesla X (may need to fold down the seats to get the full ton of sand in). I say if it doesn’t fit in the back of a fuel efficient hybrid or EV you just don’t need it.

    • 0 avatar

      Trolling? Surely you can’t be serious? lol. It sounds super fun having to hire someone or rent a vehicle every time you want to buy something bigger then what’ll fit in a Prius or Model X.. and I’m sure it doesn’t take much especially if your into doing your own house work/repairs. Not to mention NO ONE is buying something this big to daily drive or keep just the few times a year

      • 0 avatar

        If you go to India or Vietnam you will be amazed how much stuff people can put on the back of a scooter or bicycle. Americans are just such wasteful people and lacking in creativity. For example, instead of buying an expensive expensive gym membership, just jog down to Home Depot and fill a 70 liter backpack with sand and jog home – and repeat as necessary – save money, the environment, and get a nice workout all at the same time.

        • 0 avatar

          “What really bothers me about such vehicles is all the people that buy them to haul a load that could easily fit in the back of … Tesla X ”

          ” Americans are just such wasteful people and lacking in creativity.”

          Doesn’t the model x weigh 5100-5500 lbs and starts at 80k? How’s that not wasteful?

        • 0 avatar

          I can appreciate and applaud the finely written troll. So just mentioning this because it’s relevant to your post.

          One of the blogs I read (dcrainmaker) is located in Amsterdam. He’s been building a sandbox in the yard, biking a couple miles each way to the hardware store, returning with 300 pounds of sand in his cargo bike each way… See #5 here

        • 0 avatar

          We’re Americans. I didn’t need a Hemi in my Charger… I just wanted one. I don’t need the house I live in, or the area that it’s in, but I value the fact that it’s far enough out of town to be considered semi-rural. And it’s exclusive enough to keep the riffraff out. 2015 was the first year I’ve been “truckless” in decades- but kids have full-size pickups if I need one.

          It’s not a question of being wasteful. It’s a question of me working hard for decades, and am able to entertain my wants as I see fit. Which I do.

          • 0 avatar

            ernest – you must be one of those Russian sympathizers that colluded with the Russians to kick Obama out of the White House because he wanted Americans to join the civilized world by forcing them to buy tiny little cars with tiny little motors (or better yet – tiny little batteries). As for your years of hard work – Obama also said you didn’t build that, and he likes to spread the wealth around.

          • 0 avatar

            Isn’t 5:06 a little early to start drinking?

            Eh, maybe not. It’s Friday, right?

        • 0 avatar

          “If you go to India or Vietnam you will be amazed how much stuff people can put on the back of a scooter or bicycle.”

          Oh, like my kids! Why didn’t I think of that? Yeppers, my Hyundai Accent and Dodge Caravan are pretty wasteful. Wasteful as they may be, my kids will still be alive if we collide with another vehicle.

  • avatar

    There’s talk at work that we might be getting one of these to replace our current old f450 “dump truck.” That interior looks really nice, but that wouldn’t last long lol.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    That extra-chunky penis-enhancer hood looks so odd with the pizza-cutter Budd wheels.

  • avatar

    You wouldn’t notice these things coming from an F-150, but compared to their commercial competition, the very unique “coil” front suspension gives it amazing ride characteristics, plus a tight (cut angle) turning circle not to be believed.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Oh noes, it won’t fit in someones garage. For many, their driveway too. I used to own a Superduty with a dump bed. It would also haul a trailer with a backhoe on it. The dirt from the backhoe went into the dump bed. It rarely got washed and the only times it was in a garage (barn) was for maintenance. Thank the heavens Ford made AC standard on XL trim.

  • avatar

    Nice BNL reference

  • avatar

    Didn’t Dick O’Kane say: “A sports car is nothing but a small truck”?

  • avatar

    Is there an XL Hybrids retrofit system for these things? That should certainly help out quite a bit on the fuel economy side of things. Based on the reported consumption, a 2 MPG increase is a jump of 20% which is FAR more impactful than a 2 MPG increase in a Prius where it’s only a 4% jump.

  • avatar

    Remind me of the thing I saw years ago, about marriage (I think), where kids were supposed to write advice. One kid wrote, “Tell your wife she’s beautiful, even if she looks like a dump truck.”

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