- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 15, 2007

Forget the price of fuel and conspicuous consumption — big trucks are here to stay.

Ford’s all-new 2008 Super Duty lineup has grown larger, with more towing power, greater payload, additional features and further refinement. Ford says there are more than 1,000,000 available configurations but, even more important, the all-new 2008 F-450 Crew Cab can tug more than 24,000 pounds, and haul in excess of 6,000 pounds. It also has an industry-first integrated Tailgate Step (a step and grab bar handle for easy access to the bed) and a new stowable bed extender.

Additionally, there’s a new 6.4-liter Power Stroke Diesel; an upgraded TorqShift transmission; the industry’s only tow command system that integrates a trailer brake controller; and power-fold/power-telescoping trailer-tow mirrors.

Introduced in 1998 as a 1999 model, the Ford Super Duty pickup series has led the heavy-duty segment, utilizing a dedicated HD platform that has achieved best-in-class trailer tow ratings and payload. Whereas competitors to date have modified existing light-duty platforms, Ford has gone the dual architecture route, dominating this division in sales and contributing to the F-Series’ status as the best-selling pickup in America for 30 years straight.

For the 2008 model year, Ford says it has responded further to customer demand, adding the F-450 Super Duty to the lineup. for those who need powerful pulling machines that are maneuverable and comfortable. The 2008 Ford F-450 is “the most capable pickup truck we’ve ever built — period,” says chief engineer Pete Reyes.

All 2008 Ford Super Duty trucks are recognizable by their massive high-mounted grilles, with a snout that has grown even larger on the newest edition and sits four inches higher. Signature “nostrils” define the grille’s outboard edges, giving a visual element of muscularity, but also engineered to improve airflow. “Stacked” headlights sit four inches lower, keeping the lower main beam light and glare out of other drivers’ eyes. Large front fender flares appear as solidly attached components, while side air vents — red for diesel, black for gasoline — emphasize the engines’ performance potentials.

Of note are industry-first, power telescoping/power fold side mirrors. Wheel sizes range from 17 to 20 inches; the 2008 Ford F-450 gets exclusive 19.5-inch rims and tires.

The interior is themed “tough luxury”; and combines utility, comfort, quietness and refinement. Designers focused on creating an “extension of the customer’s toolbox.” The center stack embodies the “powerdome” styling from the hood. Trailer Brake Controller and other auxiliary switches are integrated into the center stack, improving ergonomics and appearance. Round air vents feature chrome ring accents on higher trim models, with shiny treatment that extends to cup holders, gauges, door bezels and console. Ford also uses a repeating “rib” styling element throughout, echoing the “the side of a dump truck.” The air bag cover, map pocket bottoms, seat side supports, steering-wheel bottom, storage bin above the instrument panel and doorsills all communicate the rib language.

Competent engines power the F250, F-350 and F-450. A 5.4-liter V-8 gasoline engine delivers 300 horsepower and 365 foot-pounds of torque.

More displacement arrives via the 6.8-liter V-10, with 362 horsepower and 457 foot-pounds. of torque. The newly developed 6.4-liter diesel V-8 employs sequential turbochargers for 350 horsepower and a staggering 650 foot-pounds of twist. A small variable turbo supplements a large fixed unit, providing zero turbo lag — or hesitation — in acceleration, typically associated with turbo engines. All F-450 models are fitted with the diesel as standard.

A six-speed manual and five-speed automatic transmission are available; the F-450 gets upgraded gearbox synchronizers. When properly equipped (with a fifth wheel), towing capacity rates more than 24,000 pounds, while payload is greater than 6,000 pounds.

The new trucks also have optional power telescoping/power-fold trailer tow mirrors that are integrated into the seat/steering wheel memory system with heated glass, integrated turn signals and a manually adjustable spotter mirror, twice the size of the previous version. A high-strength steel tailgate step, tested up to 1,000 pounds, is integrated into the bed and pulls out and down to give easy access to the rear, while a grab handle extends from its fold-flush position in the tailgate to steady climbing. A creative stowable bed extender separates and folds flat out of the way, when not in use. Also new is a supplemental heating system, Rapid Heat, bringing additional heating to diesel customers for a quicker warm-up in the cold.

All versions can be upfitted with the Ford Link System, a dealer-installed wireless system that enables customers to link with a mobile company through a wireless net card.

The new system will be compatible with computers and printers, allowing owners to conduct business from the cab of their trucks.

Ford has learned that one-third of its Super Duty owners use their trucks purely for commercial business; one-third are dedicated contractors that use their trucks for personal use on weekends; and one-third use their trucks for towing RVs, horse trailers, race cars or recreational vehicles, such as snowmobiles.

Ford found there is a very high use of the Internet among buyers, who will appreciate this new mobile system.

Three cab models and two bed lengths are available; Regular Cabs seat up to three and have an 8-foot-long bed. SuperCab models add a rear seat, seating up to five or six, and are available with a choice of a 6.75- or 8-foot bed. The full-size five- to six-passenger Crew Cabs also employ both bed lengths.

Single and dual-rear wheel (DRW) trucks are available; the DRW models measuring 95.5 inches in width. Both 2WD and 4WD configurations are offered. A 40-gallon fuel tank is standard, while an auxiliary 19-gallon tank is optional. A commercial F-550 has a GVWR of 19,000 pounds and can tow up to 24,600 pounds.

Base F-450 XL models include TowCommand integrated trailer towing, manually telescoping exterior mirrors, sealed beam halogen headlights, an AM/FM stereo with two speakers, heavy-duty vinyl upholstery, a bench seat, fixed rear window and black vinyl floor coverings.

Midlevel F-450 XLTs add dual-beam headlights, heated exterior mirrors, manual air conditioning, an auxiliary audio input, a single CD/MP3 player with four speakers, cruise control, power doors and locks, cloth 40/20/40 split bench seats and a tilt steering wheel.

Lariat trim models get fog lights, PowerScope Trailer Tow Mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, power driver and front passenger seats, leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with integrated audio and climate controls, remote keyless entry and keypad for easy entry.

A King Ranch package brings heated leather captains chairs, navigation system, DVD, MP3 capability, garage door opener, and a power-slide moon roof, along with a luxury leather package and unique trim and badging.

Options are PowerScope Trailer Tow Mirrors, navigation, satellite radio, six-CD audio, rear-seat DVD entertainment, Securilock, adjustable pedals, speed control, roof clear lights, fog lamps, trailer brake control, manual shift or Electric Shift on-the-fly 4X4, Flexgate, power slide moon roof, rear privacy glass and reverse sensing are also offered.

Packages include the King Ranch, Advanced Security Group, Driver’s Memory Package, Traction Control, Power Equipment Group and the Skid Plate Package.

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