I’ve been watching. Yes, I see them. Everywhere. Here in Colorado we seem to be sort of at a crossroads for people traversing the country from West to East and South to North. And the other way around too. A lot of those people are in trucks. Big trucks. And bigger trucks. Some small trucks too, but mainly big ones. There’s a lot of area to traverse and a lot of stuff to take along that needs to get from wherever it was to wherever it needs to be. The locals use a lot of half-tons for commuting and hauling toys such as boats and campers around. The people from really far away with the really big trailers with horses or a few cars use the huge 1-ton trucks with the dual rear wheels and almost always diesel powered.
But there’s also the middle of the road. Those that need something more powerful than a half-ton for work (think roofers and construction crews) or play (bigger boats that stay in the water much of the year and campers you’d be willing to live in for longer than a week but not permanently). That’s where the 3/4 ton class comes into play and with fuel prices low and likely to stay that way coupled with increasing technological complexity of diesels, gasoline power is coming back into style. Hence we have here a large semi-luxury Ford F-250 Crew Cab with Ford’s new 7.3liter V8 gasoline engine.
The Lariat trim level of this truck marks sort of the beginning of the owner-operator levels – the base XL is definitely for the Home Depot rental truck or your work crew, the XLT you might purchase for your supervisor level field employee but the Lariat and above (there are several higher levels) are for those that will themselves use what they are paying for.
We all like to think and post that we’d buy and be happy with the basic white truck with rubber floors but if you’re buying it new and spending the $42,065 that the F-250 XL in 4×4 CrewCab starts at with the weak sauce (comparatively only of course) entry level 6.2l engine, you’re not stopping there, don’t kid yourself and the rest of us.
Of course you’re not made of money either or more likely didn’t get to where you are by spending foolishly and so instead of ponying up for the diesel engine, it can make much more sense to save a whopping $8,250 and only upgrade to the new 7.3 gasser for a $2,045 premium to the 6.2. That also covers the mandatory 10-speed automatic transmission as opposed to the old 6-speed. Note that many commercial operators around here will easily put in excess of 50,000 miles a year on something like this and sell it a few years later with intergalactic mileage figures.
Ford marketing had a masterstroke of an idea when they named their heavy-duty line the “Super Duty” and has it emblazoned on the front, back and below the doors of the truck along with on the glovebox cover inside it. The font is as large as the truck itself, you know what you’re getting into from a distance.
The truck itself is larger than the half-ton line but as tall as it looks I (at 6’1″ with a 32″ inseam) was still able to stand flatfooted next to it and reach over and touch the bed floor. It’s still tall and my armpit was clamping the bedrail but it’s not completely ridiculous. As a positive aspect, if you keep your chainsaw or whatever in the bed and pop into Dunkin Donuts for a coffee it most likely won’t have walked off by the time you return. This particular truck was also equipped to haul gooseneck and fifth-wheel trailers as well so it wasn’t any kind of weakling spec to begin with.
Of course the running boards were welcome and were used by me to enter and exit the cab along with everyone else I had ride along with me. Once on the wide step and rotated into the cab, the big leather seats are cushy, there’s knobs, buttons, and gauges galore along with a not unexpected vast amount of space.
In this case, mirror controls alone accounted for about ten separate buttons, with adjustments for the mains as well as the little convex ones, powered extend and retract, separate buttons to turn the mirror mounted lights on and off, and also to control the heating for them. Oh, and to decide whether or not you’d like them to fold in or not.
That was just the mirrors. There’s a knob for the 4WD system, controls for the integrated trailer brake, the normal HVAC controls, then seat heating and ventilation, audio, camera system including specific sets having to do with whatever trailer might be being towed this week, and seemingly a million more.
The gauges immediately ahead of the driver have physical ones for the speedometer and tachometer and all the others are digital renderings that were just as easy to decipher as the larger ones. The whole center portion (known as the 8″ productivity screen in Ford parlance) changes depending on which tab is selected, currently it’s set to the Trip/Fuel tab but there are others to do with the truck, trailer, general settings, and more. And of course the main touchscreen in the center stack takes care of even more.
Most people are likely somewhat familiar with Ford’s SYNC3 system by this point although it is apparently due for an imminent upgrade. I mentioned recently that I was impressed by GM’s current system (and have always liked RAM’s), especially in regard to the Navigation and this week was able to compare them back to back – the main difference is the font is less readable in the Ford, the typeface is a bit fuzzier and not as crisp while the rest of the imagery is similar.
Ford will apparently also be upgrading their screen sizes soon, the 8″ as here was fine but you sit kind of far away from it, it’s starting to look a little small which is more a function of the size of the truck than anything else. Still, it got the job done and is easy to intuit and figure out how to get the information you want or adjust stuff as needed.
Below the center stack is a large center island (that’s really the best word for it) with cupholders and at the front a bin with a wireless charger for the phone. Good idea, but the execution could be better in that it’s physically difficult to retrieve the phone once it’s dropped in there and the edges have some pretty sharp-edged plastic present. The main issue is that it is tilted toward you which seems good, however the aperture is not very large and if you grasp the top edge (side of the phone) there isn’t enough room to rotate it out and it’s difficult to get in there and grab the bottom edge (other side).
So in the end you sort of awkwardly grab one of the ends (top or bottom of the phone) and try to wrest it out while making contact with the surrounding edges. For reference my phone is a standard iPhone 11, which is a very common sized device these days and hardly the largest out there. If you’re still rocking a flip-phone, my apologies, you’re not getting that time back. I ended up not using the charging pad unless and until my battery was low, which sort of defeats its purpose in my eyes.
The dual cupholders with a large open space to their left have a cool party trick, the top quarter inch of the cupholders is actually a sliding panel that can move to the left and thus give you two more cupholders. So you and your passenger can each have a drink as well as a backup at the ready. That’s of course in addition to the bottle holders in the door panels as well. Gloveboxes number two, one bin style and another above it shelf style. And of course the center console bin under the elbow pad is ginormous. There are various charge/connection ports including a household socket in the dash for pretty much everything you’d need.
In general it’s quite functional, if plasticky. I did take a look at the Home Depot rental truck last weekend based on the same platform and the XL base interior is really plasticky, this is significantly better but not on the level of some of the competition. Durability is good and well-advised, however at some level it’s not just one’s careless employees thrashing on things, some people can be responsible and care for things too.
There are different levels of durable plastics too; too many of Ford’s buttons have a bit of a loose feel and hollow sound to them, they just feel kind of cheap, there’s lots of room for improvement there. In the Lariat trim you get a bit of imitation wood trim, mainly on the door panels where the latches are as well as the bin lid for the phone cubby, it could look more convincing or better yet, actually be real veneer for the price premium. I had to also verify that the steering wheel was in fact leather covered as there was a stitched cover on it, but it felt and looked just like textured urethane. The shift lever was bare plastic.
The back seat seems even more spacious than the front and the seat bottom can fold up in a 60/40 split format. Under it is a foldout cargo organizer than can either be erected to form sort of a fence or folded down to create a not quite flat load floor. But overall there’s plenty of space to put stuff away and keep it organized.
It’s hard to overstate just how much room is back here. This, along with most every full-size truck on the market is now just as comfortable in the back seat as in the front and in some cases even more so. The fact that it starts with the 6 3/4 foot bed as the base and that you can option an 8footer is just icing on the cake, as opposed to the half-tons there is no 5 1/2 foot bed option.
To those still wondering why one would need something this large, this is the entry point to getting a full crew cab to carry, well, the whole crew and also be able to get an 8foot bed attached to it, it’s not offered on any half-ton. Sometimes that alone makes the difference between having to bring a trailer or a second vehicle to the job.
This truck had the 6 3/4 foot bed (as stated an 8footer is an option) and was equipped with the preparations to mount a gooseneck ball or a fifth wheel apparatus. The bed had plug connectors for those trailers built into the left side close to the tailgate. The tailgate is electrically actuated and folds down under power by either pressing the latch, a button in the cab or one on the key fob, however closing it again is a manual affair. One of the crew can do that for you.
This one had the “Man-Step” built into the tailgate which does make it much easier to get in and out of the bed but would really only be used if there were repeated trips into it necessary, to just get in once you’d more likely curse a little, clamber up and hop back down. Or tell your boy to get you whatever you may need.
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