Model tested: 2011 Ford F-250 XLT 4 x 4 Crew Cab Super Duty; Base MSRP: $39,420; Price as tested: $48,600 (gasoline engine; includes destination/ delivery); EPA Fuel Economy: Ford reports 20 mpg to 26 mpg, with gasoline and diesel. Payload capacity: 2,690; Towing: 22,500; GVWR: 9,600
First Glance at the 2011 Ford Super Duty
I liked the bling on the uplevel XLT; the outside is accented with a chrome bar-style grille; chrome bumpers with grained top covers; privacy glass on rear doors and rear window; along with perimeter anti-theft alarm and remote keyless entry. Checking the XLT box, you’ll get an extensive list of standard accoutrements. Our truck was also set up with plentiful options, including 18-in. aluminum wheels (17’s come standard) with LT275/70R/18E AT tires; 4 x 4 off-road package w/ electronic shift-on-the-fly; 3.73 electronic locking axle; engine block heater; power telescope mirrors and sliding rear window; Ford Work Solutions in-dash computer and Tool Link.
Up front is a mono beam suspension with coils springs, shocks and stabilizer bar; a rear-live axle gets leaf springs, staggered shocks and stabilizer bar. The truck comes with standard power-assist steering, 4-wheel ABS brakes, rollover stability control and an 81.8-ft. cargo box, optioned with rearview camera; tailgate step, spray-in bedliner, bed extender and cable lock.
In the Driver's Seat of the Super Duty Truck
Stowage is maximized, with cubbies and nooks (smooth edges and great touch feel) and a locking center console with sixty percent more storage and room for a lap top, 12-volt power, and a false bottom. Rear riders get another power source, ventilation and under-seat lockable stowage, ideal for firearms, and other prized gear. Ford claims best-in class cupholders both in numbers and size.
New is a 4.2-in. LCD Productivity Screen, with standard driver info; the new High End Cluster brings an array of information that rivals the electronics of a space shuttle, with impressive feedback for off-roading and trailering. There is improved ease of access to gauges and the instrument panel, and a redesigned, more organized flow-through on the center stack and center console.
Optional is Ford’s SYNC voice-controlled technology that enables BlueTooth and cell phone, as well as MP3 and voice-activated navigation.
On the Road in the Super Duty Pickup
The best surprise and delight features are the lushness of the ride and the interior quietness. The drive of the diesel is hushed; the new engine gives only a hint of diesel sound (no knock!), when under hard throttle. A pleasant throttle note has been dialed in to both engines. Both have ample power throughout the rpm range and are matched to a new, smooth-shifting, driver-adaptable 6-speed automatic transmission that lets you shift gears via a ‘select’ button on the steering-column-mounted shifter. When towing, you can manually limit the top gear.
Super Dutys’ plush and stable ride quality comes from retuned shocks, engine and body mounts; there is improved steering response, with power assist steering; the steering ratio has been dialed back to make less effort for parking and trailoring.
Off-road mode is engaged by a knob; when pulled out, it adds the benefit of an electronic locking axle. Hill Descent Control, a first in tucks of this size, is a big-brother-like braking system that gently guides you down steep or slick terrain.
For me, Ford’s latest prodigy hits the bull’s eye as a truck with multiple personalities and good looks. Its ergonomics and motoring upgrades make it a family vehicle that you can drive around town; its cutting-edge engineering and equipment give you a safe and efficient tow and hauling vehicle, with capability on both the tarmac and in the dirt, mud and snow; and its business-based technologies make it a mobile office on wheels.
Our single complaint? The cloth seats, standard on the XLT; while attractive and high quality, we prefer leather, which comes on the special edition versions. And, the best news of our drive day? The 2011 F-250 XLT Crew Cab Super Duty, with a gasoline engine, is priced the same as the 2010 model.