Full 2009 Ford F-450 Super Duty Review
What's New for 2009
For 2009, the Ford F-450 Super Duty can now be had in Harley-Davidson and Cabela's FX4 special edition trims. There's additional standard equipment available in every trim level, while the Tough Bed heavy-duty bedliner, Sync and Sirius Travel Link are offered on the F-450 for the first time. Also new this year is a collection of "Work Solutions" options (such as an in-dash computer with Internet access and a large lockable compartment between the cab and bed) that are meant for those who work out of their trucks.
Everybody says his pickup is the toughest, meanest, beefiest, macho-est truck you can buy. But everybody is lying, because there is really only one truck that fits this description: the 2009 Ford F-450 Super Duty. It can tow 24,500 pounds when properly equipped (and with a fifth-wheel hitch) -- that's 8,000 more pounds than the most capable 1-ton pickup. It can haul up to 6,000 pounds, which is like sticking a Ford Expedition in the bed. The F-450 itself weighs around 8,500 pounds. It's big, it's bad and it can do things nothing else can. If this is the sort of utility you need, then the F-450 is your next truck.
For 2009, the F-450 enters its second year of mainstream availability. It was previously sold only to commercial and institutional entities for use as tow trucks, ambulances and U-Hauls, but now you can traipse down to your local Ford dealer and purchase one of these behemoths for yourself. There are a number of key features that allow the F-450 to thoroughly outdo all of its competitors. The 6.4-liter turbodiesel V8 is the only engine available, providing a prodigious 650 pound-feet of torque along with decent fuel economy. The F-450's front track is more than 6 inches wider than its lesser Super Duty siblings, enabling greater load capacity, yet the F-450 has a tighter turning circle by 5 feet, thanks to the commercial-grade monobeam front suspension. The F-450 also has heavy-duty, commercial-grade tires run at 80 psi. Not surprisingly, the F-450 still rides stiffly when unladen compared to less capable trucks, but that's the price you pay for the ability to tow a house.
New for 2009 are a pair of special-edition packages. The Cabela's FX4 package pays homage to (and advertises for) the popular outdoor recreation store -- according to Ford, 76 percent of Super Duty buyers hunt or fish. Apparently, a goodly number also own Hogs, because the new Harley-Davidson package (it was previously offered on other F-Series trucks) adds blue flame paint graphics inside and out, along with black-and-blue two-tone perforated leather. All 2009 F-450 models can be outfitted with the Sync voice-activated entertainment and communications system, as well as Sirius Travel Link, which allows you to access real-time weather, sports scores and movie times via the optional navigation system. Contractors and others who work out of their trucks have Ford Work Solutions to make life at the job site easier. This optional system offers an in-dash computer with Internet access, a "midbox" storage system (a lockable compartment located between the cab and bed) and the Tool Link system.
The 2009 Ford F-450 is the only widely available truck that boasts such awe-inspiring towing and hauling capabilities. Of course, most truck buyers will find that the Ford F-350 or one of the GM or Dodge 1-ton pickups will more than meet their needs. Still, just knowing the F-450's enormous towing and hauling potential gives us unmatched piece of mind behind the wheel, not to mention a distinct feeling of superiority. Owning the toughest, meanest, beefiest, macho-est truck you can buy certainly has its advantages.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Ford F-450 Super Duty is available 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 towing stability.
Three trim levels are offered: base XL, midlevel XLT and luxurious Lariat. The six-passenger XL is meant for those who just need a bare-bones work truck, with standard 19.5-inch alloy wheels, commercial-grade tires, a heavy-duty towing package and integrated trailer-brake controller, running boards, vinyl upholstery, a front bench seat, a 60/40-split fold-flat rear seat, trailer-tow mirrors, air-conditioning, manual accessories, a trip computer and a basic two-speaker AM/FM stereo. Moving up to the six-passenger XLT nets cruise control, a tilt steering column, tinted glass, keyless entry, full power accessories with heated, power trailer-tow mirrors, a 40/20/40 front bench, cloth upholstery and a four-speaker stereo with a CD player, MP3 playback and an auxiliary audio jack. The FX4 package adds to the XLT power-folding and -telescoping mirrors, power front bucket seats and satellite radio. The five-passenger Lariat gains these items plus foglamps, dual-zone automatic climate control, a back-up camera, a power-sliding rear window, faux wood trim, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather upholstery, heated seats and the Sync audio and cell phone integration system. Many of the Lariat's standard features are also available on XLT models.
Numerous options are offered, including the Tough Bed spray-in bedliner, a series of Ford Work Solutions options, reverse parking sensors, power-adjustable pedals, a sunroof, Sync, a navigation system with Sirius Travel Link, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, a six-CD changer and an eight-speaker upgraded sound system. The Cabela's FX4 package is essentially an XLT FX4 with a two-tone paint scheme, running boards, mud flaps, special cloth upholstery, wood trim, lockable interior storage compartments and Cabela's decals. Two-tone leather upholstery is also available with this package. The King Ranch package takes a Lariat and adds two-tone paint, 20-inch alloy wheels, an eight-speaker sound system and ox-blood red leather seating and trim inspired by a western saddle. The Harley-Davidson package is also a Lariat, but with a unique blue flame paint job, matching interior trim, perforated black and blue leather upholstery and trim, an upgraded stereo and special Harley-Davidson badges.
Powertrains and Performance
The only available F-450 engine is a 6.4-liter turbodiesel V8 engine that pumps out 350 horsepower 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, the F-450 Super Duty can haul 6,000 pounds in its bed or tow up to 24,500 pounds (with a fifth-wheel hitch).
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.
Interior Design and Special Features
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 bin address our previous gripes about inadequate storage. In fact, the console bin 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. The arrival of Sirius Travel Link and the Sync stereo and cell phone interface gives the F-450 a high-tech leg up on competing heavy-duty trucks.
For such a large vehicle, the 2009 Ford F-450 is relatively easy to handle, thanks in part to a turning circle that's smaller than that of the F-250 and F-350 Super Duty trucks. Still, parking and maneuvering in traffic are tough, as its front end is considerably wider than that of its already-gigantic siblings, not to mention the dually rear end. An unladen F-450 has a stiff ride, the downside of a chassis with such prolific towing and hauling capacities. But with a trailer hooked up to it, the F-450 rides more smoothly, and the turbodiesel engine performs admirably, even when said trailer weighs 20,000 pounds and is being pulled up 6 percent grades. The brakes are also confidence-inspiring when towing a big load.