However much power you need, Ford F-350 has it

John Gilbert

The continuing battle for supremacy among the makers of full-sized pickup trucks is a fascinating endeavor. The facts are, Ford continues to lead the segment to there point of domination, having been the top seller for 47 years now, but it’s also a fact that Chevrolet makes a highly competitive sSilverado to Ford’s F-Series of big trucks, and Ram — formerly known as Dodge — has risen dramatically in recent years and became No, 2 to Ford.

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to test s Ram Rebel, with a large Diesel engine and absurd amounts of power and towing capacity, and it reaffirmed my belief that big pickups are very competitive, nd i you prefer one brand, you can pretty well make a case that you believe it’s the best of all, and you will find your position quite easily defensible,

But as if to blow a whistle and yell, “Hold it!” I recently spent a week at my Duluth home with a Ford SuperDuty F-350, armed with a 6.7-liter turbo-diesel Power Stroke V8 engine, as if to settle the argument once and for all. Well, maybe.

What it did prove that Ford has all its bases covered with pickup trucks. It has a tip-of-the-line pure electric pickup, then it has the F-350 giant, one down to the F-250 middle-powered and sized model, then the hugely popular F-150 that defines Ford’s edge in the class. But there’s more. Ford also makes a downsized model in the Ranger, which is sort of a scaled down F-150.

And a couple years ago, Ford brought out the Maverick, a new, smaller still pickup with front-wheel drive or all-wheel-drive, and it comes in either normally aspirated or hybrid powertrains.

In case that doesn’t fill all your niches, Ford has suggested it might come out with still another new downsized pickup, somewhere smaller than the Maverick, which has created an amazing demand for yet-to-be-built trucks.

But amid all those new and different diverse models, we can’t lose sight of the fact that Ford doesn’t ever skimp or overlook what it’s already built, and instead continues to improve tham. The F-350 is a perfect example of that.

As if the corporation realizes that there is some backlash out there about Diesels being dirtier from a pollution standpoint, so in all the information I got on the F-350, it never mentions the word “Diesel” and instead refers to it as the PowerStroke engine. Ford surprised the industry a cuople off decades ago when it built its own in-house Diesel, which was cleaner and quieter than anyone had a right to expect from a Diesel.

Ford still makes the smaller and quieter Diesel, but the F-350 comes with the gigantic 6.7-liter turbo-Diesel, which has 475 horsepower and 1,050 foot-pounds of torque in its “high-output” version, which is enough to tow your whole neighborhood out of the neighborhood. With a 10-speed heavy-duty automatic transmission and a 3.55 electronic-locking rear axle, all that power is assured of going to the wheels — either the two rear or all four, at the touch of a console switch.

In fighting off the challenge of the new Ram Rebel, Ford made sure to offer a couple of user-friendly and owner-appreciated features — most notably power operated running boards, which slide out from being hidden to being very useful. As you open the door, the running board comes out to meet you. In the Ram, I was able to have fun with needing a smack one-step stool to climb aboard, and then haul it inside with a well-placed shoestring. Otherwise, you need to be an Olympic class high-jumper to easily enter, and maybe a sky-diver to exit. No such challenges in the Ford.

Other features that aid in driving and owning the F-350 include MonoBeam coil springs in the front suspension, with front stabilizer bars for added smoothness and stability. No question, the suspension helps the gigantic pickup “drive small,” as if it is not gigantic. You still, of course, want to be fully aware that you’ve pulled far enough past whatever is on the corner before you turn that corner, otherwise you could take out several objects on your way.

With that high-output turbo-Diesel, you could drag-race this monster and those who have driven it wouldn’t be against you. But it has that sports car in truck disguise demeanor.

Along with all the contemporary safety devices, the big Ford also offers you comfort touches. The beautifully finished bucket seats fully recline and are firmly padded for support and comfort.

The better to allow you to set the dual-pane moonroof — which covers the whole roof with either a sliding panel or a fixed rear panel — right where you can enjoy it most. And the sounds emanating from the 18-speaker Bang Olufsen audio system fill the spacious cab with wonderful sounds.

The information sheet says the F-350 price is $77,025, but that’s a tease, because after you start choosing your favorite things from the option list, it easily climbs to $95,185 for all that was included on the test vehicle.

As for the number of horsepower and amount of torque, who can quarrel with whatever the manufacturers claim? In this case, 475 horsepower seems like a lot, but driving the truck and stepping hard on the gas from a stop convinces you there is abundant horsepower. Same with the torque — 1,050 foot-pounds is unheard of, but Ford claims that what this F-350 has. As you leave two black streaks on the asphalt while accelerating, you are totally impressed. I don’t know how much they can be, but it’s a lot.