- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Moving up to a larger class of pickup truck beyond the half-ton into the three-quarter ton or larger is a major decision. Do I really need a heavy-duty truck, or will a lighter truck do the job? When it comes down to the need for buyers to consider the upward move it is usually for good reason. That reason usually entails hard work, even if it may be done at a leisurely pace.

Real truck work comes in many variations; it can be on the job site, or it can be on the highway with camper in tow. These trucks are not for the weekend warrior.

This is certainly the case when folks look to the new Ford F-250. This is particularly true when the power source is the brutish Power Stroke Diesel engine. Couple the payload capacity of the F-250 with the stump-pulling power of the Power Stroke diesel and you get a real truckers’ truck.

It didn’t seem fair to put the Ford F-250 through the run-of-the-mill testing I put family sedans through. So, I loaded the cargo bed full, strapped on a car trailer loaded with a classic Ford and took to the hills.

This adventure proved to be quite a surprise for me in many ways. The F-250 is far more comfortable than I imagined. And this truck preformed flawlessly.

Out on the highway the F-250 pulled its 6,010-pound weight up to highway speed as if it had no load at all. It climbed country roads that wound through mountain passes that would have choked lesser vehicles. And, amazingly, the truck hugged the road better than I can remember any other truck of this size.

The advances made in developing suspension, brake and power-train systems have brought us a whole new generation of vehicles that do so much more.The 6.0-liter V-8 Power Stroke diesel opens a new range of opportunities for the person who needs to haul, or tow, large amounts of cargo. With 325 horsepower, and more importantly 550 foot-pounds of torque, this truck brings the performance you need to easily tow that fifth-wheel to every national park in the country.

The cab of this truck is well appointed, providing plenty of passenger comfort. And, the extended-cab configuration provides ample interior space for all my personal gear.

Although the rear-seat accommodations are a bit sparse and the seating position is far too upright for my body, I was able to have just enough leg room even behind the driver’s seat that was correctly adjusted for my favorite driving position.

One of the biggest complaints directed toward these diesel-powered trucks is the rattling noise projected from a diesel engine. Most of the complaints come from folks who do not drive such vehicles.

On the other hand most diesel truck owners see this as badge of pride in ownership. At idle, while stopped at traffic lights, the “diesel rattle” can be disturbing.

But get this truck rolling, especially out on the road, and it settles down to cruising speed and intrudes no longer. On my trip the truck averaged 15.7 miles per gallon.

Capacity of the fuel tank is 25 gallons.

I wouldn’t suggest this heavy-duty truck to just anyone. If you are a light-weight truck user, or a typical weekend hobbyist, I would suggest you stay with the F-150.

But, if you need a work truck and one that can handle just about any job you can throw at it, then look to the Ford F-250.

This is a truck that can comfortably handle the job and keep you comfortable while doing it.

The base price of the test truck was $32,810 but the price as tested was $42,325.

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