Posted: 04/06/07 11:10 AM
The Detroit news 2008 Ford F250 Superduty review
Truck is a bruiser that can pull its weight
TBAKER, W.Va. -- This is truck country, a place where people routinely haul heavy loads and pull big rigs. They are paid relatively little for their labors. The median household income in Hardy County, in which Baker is a tiny unincorporated community, was $31,846 in 2000, according to the Census Bureau. Now, local officials say, it's barely scratching $33,000, compared with a current national median income of $46,326.
That means the people here aren't spendthrifts. They aren't foolish. When they spend money on a truck, they want it to earn its keep.
Ruggedness and durability are premium truck qualities here and elsewhere in West Virginia. Fuel economy is important. Every cent saved here in this state of underpaid labor is, indeed, a cent earned.
But if a truck can't take the beating administered by work on West Virginia's farms and construction sites, or at the state's coal mines, it matters little how many miles it gets per gallon. Here, it is marked as a loser, which is why the "Ford Tough" truck campaign has been a perennial winner in Hardy County and in other communities where pickup trucks are an important part of daily life.
The latest embodiment of that "Ford Tough" slogan is the 2008 F-250 Super Duty Crew Cab FX4 equipped with an optional 6.4-liter, 350-horsepower diesel engine. It is not a pickup for poseurs -- for people who want to look cool in a big truck that has the ride and gentle manners of a limousine. Nor is it meant for daily commuting between genteel suburbs and gentrified city centers.
The F-250 Super Duty Crew Cab FX4 is a four-wheel-drive workhorse. It hauls manure as opposed to producing it in word-processing machines.
That is an important distinction in assessing its value and place in a political environment marked by concerns about fuel efficiency and global warming. On Capitol Hill, honorable lawmakers and their staffs, many of whom have never hauled anything except lobbyists' reports, or built anything except political constituencies, are apt to look at the big Ford truck and say: "Aha, see! That is why we need higher fuel economy standards."
But here on the ground in Baker, where hardworking people are waiting for Congress to do something about the federal minimum wage, there is a different view. They want trucks that work hard, that are worth every ounce of fuel they consume. They are not enthralled by politically convenient notions of fuel economy -- getting more miles per gallon in a vehicle that otherwise can't pull its weight, while attempting to placate consumers with the myth that cheap fuel is an American birthright.
What makes sense to them is a truck such as the F-250 Super Duty Crew Cab FX4 that can plow snowy roads, haul a payload of 3,170 pounds, and pull a rig weighing as much as 12,500 pounds. What makes sense to them is a five-year/60,000-mile warranty on vital components such as the engine and transmission, because that means Ford has the confidence that its big truck won't quit on the job. And what makes sense to some of them, the few here who can afford it, is Ford's optional V-8 Power Stroke diesel engine that comes at an additional cost of $6,895.
That engine runs on ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel, which is better for the environment because it produces fewer tailpipe emissions than traditional diesel fuel. The diesel engine is about 35 percent more fuel-efficient than its gasoline counterparts.
Carrying only one passenger and no cargo, I averaged 22.5 miles per gallon in the diesel-powered F-250 Super Duty Crew Cab FX4 -- not bad for a vehicle with a factory weight of 6,560 pounds (for the four-wheel-drive, short-bed version).
It is not a truck for everyone, just as working on a West Virginia farm or construction site, or hauling coal out of a West Virginia mine, isn't for everyone. It is first and foremost a heavy-duty work truck, a vehicle for the real world where much of America's wealth is produced, but where not much of it is returned.
In all probability, versions considerably less expensive than the fully loaded F-250 Super Duty Crew Cab I drove will be sold here. As I said, the people in this town are not spendthrifts. They buy what works and tend to buy only as much as they need. The big Ford truck works for them.