- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 29, 2007

There is no doubt trucks mean a great deal to the North American auto industry. Look at how the foreign makers are bursting at the seams to get a foothold on the multimillion-dollar market.

Ford is not holding back, waiting to see what might shake out of the bushes in this fight for supremacy. It is stepping up to the plate with many innovative features on the newly redesigned heavy duty F-series.

The popularity of the Super Duty F-series trucks is highly noticeable. Just look around you, they seem to be everywhere you drive. Whether it is towing a boat, horse trailer or a massive RV, these trucks are a big favorite for this mode of travel.

The redesigned version is more muscular in appearance and abilities. The broad front hood and fenders relate the aggressiveness these trucks have when tackling a job. Yet the interiors are more livable and refined to keep you comfortable on long drives.

Granted, the ubiquitous diesel engine is a favorite with Ford truck buyers, and I understand their loyalty. This engine is also redesigned to offer more power and run cleaner. At 6.4 liters, this diesel produces an admirable 350 horsepower. But where it shines, most importantly for truckers, is the whopping 650 foot-pounds of torque. This is truly stump-pulling power, to say the least.

While the diesel is the pick of the litter for dyed-in-the-wool truckers, the two gas engines available make me quite happy, particularly the V-10 sitting under the hood of my test truck. I would be quite happy for Ford to drop one of these trucks in my driveway and forget where they put it. Yes the diesel gets better mileage out of a gallon of fuel, but have you noticed the price of a gallon of fuel oil compared to gasoline? In my neck of the woods it is resting on the $3.10 mark and has for some time.

These working-class trucks do not receive EPA ratings but I was getting about 10 miles to the gallon towing a trailer loaded with my Montana tractor. Not bad considering the load. So, no matter what your power preference might be, one of the power trains on the Super Duty will fit your needs.

Before we turn our attention to the interior, let me tell you about a cool feature Ford engineers have come up with for their trucks. They obviously have had to climb up into the truck bed as many times as I have in the past decade. It isn’t the easiest thing to do, no matter how nimble you might be, and gets more difficult as the years roll by.

Well, Ford has incorporated a very cool step into the tailgate. In a few easy moves the step pulls out of the top of the tail gate as it drops down, ready to make it easier to climb up into the bed. This by itself would have been fine, but these folks went further with a folding grab rail that pulls up out of the tailgate. So, not only can you climb up easily, you can steady yourself with ease. I can see this feature showing up on all other entries soon.

The interior is far nicer than trucks should be, at least by pickup truck standards of a decade ago. A high-quality cloth is standard for seats but the move to leather surfaces is easy and worth the move, particularly when you add the heated seat feature. No matter where you live, heated seats are as soothing as a massage.

The attention that passenger vehicles get is being transferred to trucks and it is making these work horses much more comfortable on the ranch or towing the boat to the lake.

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