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Do most people need a heavy-duty pickup truck with a maximum towing capacity of 24,500 pounds? Probably not. Just in case you think you do, there's the 2008 Ford F-450 Super Duty.
Class-leading towing and hauling capacities, relatively small turning circle, strong performance, comfortable ride when towing, standard trail-brake controller.
Wider front end than F-250/F-350 makes F-450 more unwieldy in traffic and parking lots, stiff ride when unladen.
Available F-450 Super Duty Models
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The Ford F-450 Super Duty pickup, previously a commercial-grade vehicle sold in cab and chassis form, debuts for the general public for 2008. Boasting even more extreme work capacity than its already rugged siblings, the F-450 Super Duty benefits from the same major 2008 Super Duty upgrades, such as a stronger chassis that's coated to resist corrosion, a revised rear suspension that improves ride and handling, and a bigger PowerStroke turbodiesel engine that 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 access to the bed easier.
In previous years, the Ford F-450 Super Duty has been sold in cab and chassis form (the unfinished one that comes with naked frame rails behind the cab) to emergency vehicle manufacturers, tow truck companies and moving truck makers. For the 2008 Super Duty's major update, however, Ford has decided to make an F-450 variant available with a pickup bed and market it directly to the general consumer. Although it shares sheet metal with its F-250 and F-350 Super Duty siblings, the F-450 has work capacities that are simply astounding. Able to tow up to 24,500 pounds and haul 6,000 pounds, the F-450 provides those who own a fleet of horses, a large boat or a luxury condo on wheels a way to transport their prized possessions with ease.
The 2008 Ford F-450 Super Duty benefits from the same revisions made to the F-250 and F-350 Super Dutys, namely a more aggressively styled front end and a nicer cabin that offers more luxury and storage than before. The available PowerStroke diesel engine is larger and more potent as well. 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, Ford claims reliability is improved, emissions are reduced and the engine even runs more quietly. Another benefit is quick startup -- this diesel can fire up in under 2 seconds at minus-20 degrees F.
There are a number of key differences, however, that allow the F-450 to perform its more incredible feats of strength. The front track is more than 6 inches wider to allow greater load capacity, yet the front wheels can turn more than those in the 250/350, meaning the F-450 has a smaller turning circle (51.5 feet versus 56.5 feet). The heavy-duty, commercial-grade tires run at 80 psi and don't contribute much in the way of absorbing bumps, so the F-450 gets much longer, multistage leaf springs out back (as do the 250/350) that do their part for ride comfort. Understandably, the F-450 still rides stiffly when unladen compared to a smaller series truck, but that is the price one pays for such impressive work capacity.
The bottom line is that this is way more truck than most pickup consumers would ever need. If you don't require the immense towing capacity of the F-450 chassis, the less bulky and less expensive F-250 and F-350 pickups offer the same revamped interior and exterior styling, and both can be equipped with the new 6.4-liter PowerStroke diesel engine. But if you're considering retirement in a three-axle fifth-wheel travel trailer with dual sliders and granite counter tops, and want a leather-lined workhorse to effortlessly yank it about, the new 2008 Ford F-450 Super Duty pickup deserves serious consideration.
The 2008 Ford F-450 Super Duty pickup comes only in a Crew Cab body style, with a long (8-foot) bed. All F-450s come with a dual-rear-wheel setup, which allows more weight to be carried in the bed while providing greater stability while towing a heavy trailer.
Three trim levels are offered: base XL, midlevel XLT and luxurious Lariat. 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, 19.5-inch alloy wheels with commercial-grade tires, a heavy-duty towing package and the Tow Command system, which seamlessly integrates the control of the trailer brakes with those on the truck. 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. High-line Lariats come with leather upholstery, power front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, power telescoping side mirrors and foglamps.
Numerous options, such as reverse park assist, a power moonroof, a navigation system and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, are also available. The King Ranch Package provides two-tone paint, 20-inch alloy wheels and fancy leather seating and trim inspired by a western saddle.
Standard (and the only engine offered) on the 2008 Ford F-450 is the 6.4-liter PowerStroke turbodiesel V8, which makes 350 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a five-speed automatic is optional. There is also a choice of either two- or four-wheel drive. Properly equipped, an F-450 Super Duty can tow up to 24,500 pounds and haul 6,000 pounds in its bed.
Antilock disc brakes are standard, but neither side nor head curtain airbags are available. Power-adjustable pedals are optional on XLT and Lariat models (equipped with automatic transmission), as are rear parking sensors.
A rugged, industrial theme marks the revised cabin, and materials quality is generally good. 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. Folding the rear seats up reveals a flip-out utility tray that keeps the load floor flat.
For such a large vehicle, the 2008 Ford F-450 is relatively easy to handle, thanks in part to a turning circle that's smaller than that of the 250 and 350 Super Duty trucks. Still, maneuvering in traffic and parking is tough, as its front end is considerably wider than that of its siblings. An unladen F-450 has a stiff ride, the downside of a chassis that has such impressive towing and hauling capacities. But with a trailer hooked up to it, the F-450 rides more smoothly, and the PowerStroke turbodiesel performs admirably, even when said trailer weighs 20,000 pounds and is being pulled up 6 percent grades.
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