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Monday, October 09, 2006

Ford Super Duty (2)

Continue from Ford Super Duty (1)
It’s no secret Ford had issues with this 6.0-liter diesel when it was introduced in 2003, but those have apparently been resolved. During two weeks and nearly 3,000 towing miles, our truck performed flawlessly.

With fuel over 3 bucks a gallon, I was appreciating the big Ford F-250 Super Duty diesel’s 18-mpg highway fuel economy during a drive from Durango to Montrose, Colo. The deer, on the other hand, were grateful for the high beams.

As we returned from the Durango rodeo one Friday night, we spotted along the 50-mile stretch of U.S. 550 between Durango and Silverton 16 deer, a fox and one unidentified beast grazing at the highway’s dark shoulder. Fortunately, the big Ford’s high beams light up the world, and each time we had plenty of warning before reaching Bambi’s dinner spot.

But returning roughly 30-percent better fuel economy than a gas truck and assuring we wouldn’t be stocking up on venison that night are just two of the characteristics that make the Supe diesel a marvelous companion for the travel-and-towing crowd.

Prime among them for me is the capability of the 2007 Super Duty Outlaw 4x4 we drove. Not only did it easily drag our two-ton travel trailer nearly 3,000 round-trip miles, including stretches over lofty mountain passes, it also proved a willing adventurer on some Colorado 4-wheel drive trails.

Sure, it easily climbed the Pikes Peak passenger-car road behind its 325-hp, 6.0-liter turbo diesel, but our Ford also effortlessly dispatched the Mt. Herman backroad outside Colorado Springs and, more impressively, the Clear Lake high-country 4x4 trail near Silverton.

In four-wheeling, the truck’s capabilities are never in question — just its size (we made more than one 3-point switchback turn on Clear Lake), so pick your trails with that in mind.

On I-70, with our trailer in tow, this crew cab Super Duty blew miles out the tail pipe hour after hour while returning just over 11 mpg — way better than the 8 we typically get towing with a gas truck — and running as cool as the other side of the pillow, despite a 104-degree outside temperature reading in Kansas.

Accommodations were roomy and comfortable, with only a few areas that, in my view, could use improvement. For example, the two kids, spread out in the spacious back seat, would have appreciated rear-door map pockets to hold CDs and books, not to mention a 12-volt power outlet for their portable DVD player. We wound up plugging it into a 12-volt outlet up front and snaking the cord rearward.

Also, I’d have liked a shuffle function on the six-disc CD stereo that mixed cuts from all six CDs. The Ford’s shuffle randomly mixes only cuts from a single CD, which is fairly useless.

But that’s small potatoes. Two weeks and nearly 3,000 towing miles provided plenty of evidence why Ford has the best-selling heavy duty truck. The Blue Oval had some early issues with this 6.0-liter diesel back in 2003, but our experience testifies that those have been resolved. This is a great tow/travel.