People who use trucks for real work usually rely on a full-size diesel pickup. One like Ford’s F-250 Super Duty, with its legendary power stroke turbo-diesel V8. But you know this year there is a new chapter in that legend, an all new PowerStroke powertrain, which Ford claims makes the Super Duty stronger, quieter, and cleaner. Is this the hardest working truck of the year? Ask a Ford truck fan, and they’ll tell you that the folks in Dearborn have carved out yet another top notch heavyweight workmate, this 2003 Ford F-250 Super Duty pickup. And like kids in a candy store, workmen are scrambling to get a hold of this Gobstopper of pickups. But, having changed little in looks since its 1999 debut, what makes the latest Super Duty such a blue plate special?
Well, it’s a tasty two-for, the all-new 6.0 liter, PowerStroke turbodiesel V-8 engine, and 5-speed TorqShift automatic transmission. This 32-valve pushrod giant produces 325 horsepower and 560 pound feet of torque. That’s more of both than its larger 7.3-liter predecessor, and GM’s Duramax. It’s bested only by the manual transmission version of the Cummins diesel in the Dodge Ram. But when it comes to refined power delivery, the PowerStroke is the hands-down winner.
Yet despite a reduced rumble, the PowerStroke, with a 373 rear, easily moved our 6,270 pounds of Crew Cab off the line, and keeps it trucking. Hitch on a towing capacity of 13,700 pounds, or drop in a maximum payload of 2,495 pounds, and this mammoth 4-door hauler digs deep to get the job done.
The completely new TorqShift tranny is easily the smoothest shifting heavy duty automatic we’ve ever tried, and includes Tow/Haul mode. Available in 4X2 and 4X4 fitment, it is a robust design that should prove far more durable than last year’s 4-speed. Standard with PowerStroke is a 6-speed manual that will still deliver concrete efforts.
At the track, this F-250 PowerStroke automatic proved it could also sprint when it needs to. It took only 9.7 seconds from 0 to 60 and raked in the quarter mile in 17.3 seconds at 75 miles per hour. Our Super Duty 4X4 never seemed under strain, resting firmly on a massive boxed frame and front and rear live axles, both with leaf springs. Like all F-Series Super Duty before it, turn ins are greeted by resistant understeer, but it still maneuvers and feels like a much smaller truck. Moderate side to side front-end weight transfer and slight rear wheel sway can be expected from a truck this large. But the precise recirculating ball power steering made it easy to keep Super Duty on track.
But while this F-250 was made to move, stopping short isn’t its strong suit, resisting with a long braking distance of 161 feet from 60-0. Anti-lock four-wheel disc brakes are standard. With far too many variations to list, we think that everyone looking for a big, tough pickup will find an Super Duty F-250, or even stouter F-350, to their liking.
Our four-door Crew Cab had a 6 -foot Styleside bed. Its mammoth proportions spill out from every angle, so it’s hard to believe that this F-250 is the smallest in Ford’s Super Duty line- up. And at 246 inches from the tip of the nostril grille to the lockable tailgate, it’s one big truck. The wheelbase is 156.2 inches and is flanked by 16’’ 8-bolt wheels.
Now if you want to add some more style to this tough exterior, step up to our Super Duty’s dandy King Ranch package, complete with lighted running boards and bright aluminum wheels. Inside you’ll find a feast of premium-leather and comforts that are guaranteed to really strike your fancy. The saddle-worthy heated buckets gush with warm amber hides. A leather- wrapped steering wheel, comprehensive gauges and ‘‘Crown-Vic’’ size controls make for a pleasing and effective layout. The workmanlike dash has been transformed into a luxury ride with high end trim, an optional 6-disc CD changer stereo, and super-clean climate controls. A storage-friendly console, deep, dual-leather pouches on seat backs, and sunroof finish off the cabin’s great appeal. A second row bench seat allows three more adults on board, with leg room and head room extending 41 inches up and out to keep them comfy.
Indeed, from its big truck power and pulling capacity to its leather-laden cockpit, the F- 250 is a real Renaissance rig. But what price would you pay to dance the dirt road with Ford=s baby grand? Well, a spin with a Super Duty F-250 Crew Cab will run you $26,080 to start. The PowerStroke adds a cool $5,085 more. But to tango with our 4X4 King Ranch automatic, expect to part with $48,330. That’s a lot of green, but it’s for a lot of pickup.
The 2003 Super Duty F-250 is indeed built Ford tough, just like those Marlboro men of yesteryear demanded. But with more power and a more sophisticated character than ever before, this F-250 is sure to also please the hard-working urban cowboys of today.
Engine: 6.0 Liter, Powerstroke Turbodiesel V-8
Torque: 560 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 9.7 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 17.3 Seconds @ 75 MPH
60-0 MPH: 161 Feet