Full 2008 Ford F-350 Super Duty Review
What's New for 2008
The Ford F-350 Super Duty one-ton pickup has been redesigned for 2008. Under the skin, a number of major upgrades take place. Ford says the chassis is stronger than before and now has a new type of coating for improved corrosion resistance. The rear suspension has also been tweaked to improve ride and handling without compromising capability. The PowerStroke diesel engine grows from 6.0 to 6.4 liters and now makes an impressive 350 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque. Also new this year are higher-grade cabin materials, a standard MP3 audio jack, available power telescoping/folding side mirrors and a unique, drop-down tailgate step that makes getting into the bed easier.
Do your towing and hauling requirements run toward the super-size category? We're talking about pulling things like six-horse trailers, 35-foot boats and travel trailers that resemble rolling luxury condos. If so, then a 1-ton pickup truck is the obvious tool for the job. Ford's F-350 Super Duty is the company's entry in this draft horse segment, and a number of major improvements for the 2008 model year push this capable beast of burden to the front of the pack.
More robust than even the capable F-250 Super Duty, the F-350 is fit for even more extreme grunt work thanks to features like the availability of a dual rear-wheel setup (commonly called a "dually"), which greatly improves stability when towing.
Although a capable and very popular workhorse, the outgoing Ford F-350 Super Duty was a dated design compared to the more recently revamped rivals from GM and Dodge.
The Ford's performance lagged behind and the cabin didn't offer the comfort, storage and luxurious feel that the newer trucks had. For '08, Ford has revamped the F-350 Super Duty pickup considerably, giving this sales chart superstar greater work capacity along with a much improved interior.
More than just the aggressive, in-your-face looks, the freshened front end styling brings a functional advantage. The higher hood, bigger grille and redesigned front bumper all allow more cool air to reach the radiator. Available behind that grille is a larger PowerStroke diesel engine. It's now at 6.4 liters, versus 6.0 liters last year, and features twin turbochargers (a small one for quick response off the line and a larger one that kicks in to beef up the midrange) and common-rail fuel injection with high-tech injectors. Because these injectors administer fuel in up to five metered spurts per combustion cycle rather than all at once, reliability is improved, emissions are reduced and the engine even runs quieter. Another benefit is quick startup — this diesel can fire up in under 2 seconds at minus-20 degrees.
Supporting the new engine is a stronger frame. Ford says it's tougher than before, thanks to new reinforcements and increased use of high-strength steel. There's also a new rear suspension design; it's said to improve stability during acceleration, braking and cornering. It should also lower the truck's rear end for easier towing of tall gooseneck or fifth-wheel trailers.
Previously, we lauded Ford's heavy hauler for its work capacity and smooth ride and handling qualities, but took issue with its back-of-the-pack performance and cold interior ambience. This year's major improvements, namely the more potent PowerStroke engine and revamped cabin, go a long way toward putting the 2008 Ford F-350 Super Duty back at the top of the class.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Ford F-350 Super Duty comes in Regular Cab, SuperCab (extended cab) and Crew Cab body styles. The SuperCab has a pair of small rear-opening rear doors, while the Crew Cab has four conventional full-size doors. SuperCabs and Crew Cabs are available with a short (6.75-foot) or long (8-foot) bed; regular cabs are long-bed only. A dual-rear-wheel setup is offered as well, which allows more weight to be carried in the bed as well as providing greater stability while towing a heavy trailer.
Four trim levels are offered: base XL, midlevel XLT, off-road-oriented FX4 (4WD only) and luxurious Lariat. Regular cabs are available only in XL and XLT form. The XL is meant for those who just need a bare-bones work truck; it comes standard with plain vinyl upholstery, a basic AM/FM radio, 17-inch wheels and not much else. Additional comforts such as air-conditioning are optional, or one could move up to the XLT, which adds cloth upholstery, an MP3 audio jack, a 40/20/40 front bench, air-conditioning, a CD player, cruise control, chrome wheels and full power accessories. The FX4 provides serious off-road hardware, including skid plates, heavy-duty shock absorbers, a limited-slip rear axle and a manual-shift transfer case. High-line Lariats come with features like 18-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, power front seats (driver only on Regular Cab) and dual-zone automatic climate control. All trims come with a clever flip-down tailgate step that hides within the tailgate when stowed.
Numerous options, such as reverse park assist, a navigation system, power folding and telescoping mirrors and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, are also available. The XLT Sport package includes a monochrome treatment with color-matched bumpers and grille, foglamps, chrome step bars and privacy glass. The King Ranch Package provides two-tone paint, 20-inch alloy wheels and fancy leather seating and trim inspired by a western saddle. Highly recommended for those who tow is the Tow Command system option, which seamlessly integrates the control of the trailer brakes with those on the truck.
Powertrains and Performance
There are three engine choices for the F-350 Super Duty: the standard 5.4-liter gasoline V8 (which makes 300 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque), an optional 6.8-liter V10 (362 hp and 457 lb-ft) and the most popular choice (and the one recommended for those who do serious hauling and towing), the available 6.4-liter PowerStroke turbodiesel V8, which now makes 350 hp and 650 lb-ft. Regardless of engine choice, buyers have a choice of transmissions ¯ a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic ¯ and may select either two- or four-wheel drive.
Properly equipped, the 2008 Ford F-350 Super Duty can tow up to 15,000 pounds and handle a 23,500-pound Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) when fitted with the optional 4.10 rear axle.
Antilock disc brakes are standard, but neither side- nor side-curtain airbags are available. Power-adjustable pedals are optional on XLT and Lariat models (equipped with automatic transmission), as are rear parking sensors.
Interior Design and Special Features
A rugged, industrial theme marks the revised cabin, and materials quality is improved over the previous truck. Chrome accents surround the gauges and air vents, while the new center stack puts controls in easier reach. Dual door pockets and a massive center console/armrest address our previous gripes about inadequate storage. In fact, the center console box is now big enough to accommodate a laptop and/or hanging files. In crew cabs, folding the rear seats up reveals a flip-out utility tray that keeps the load floor flat.
Though we've driven the new Ford F-450 and come away impressed, we've yet to sample the 2008 Ford F-350. Check back later for specific F-350 commentary.