High payload and towing capacities and a wide variety of configurations and special-edition models help make the 2006 Ford F-250 Super Duty a viable option for those who need a hard-core pickup civilized enough for everyday use.
The Ford Super Duty trucks, introduced in 1999, are built on a separate platform from the smaller F-150. Bigger, stronger and more robust, they are meant to perform feats of which the F-150 isn't capable. In an effort to stay competitive in a \more is better\ marketplace, Ford increased payload and towing capacities for 2005.
Thanks to a new fully boxed front frame clip and revised engine choices, the Ford F-250 can haul an extra 500 pounds. Tow ratings have also jumped, with the F-250 diesel model now capable of dragging an incredible 15,000 pounds. Under the hood, the base-level 5.4-liter Triton V8 gets a slew of new technology lifted from the F-150 line, including three-valve cylinder heads and variable valve timing responsible for a bump in output to an impressive 300 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque.
Also available is the venerable Power Stroke diesel, which happens to be the most popular engine choice in the Ford Super Duty lineup with a stump-pulling 570 lb-ft of torque on tap. All Ford trucks equipped with an automatic transmission come with a tow-haul mode. The front suspension on four-wheel-drive models uses coil springs, and the result is a significantly reduced turning radius (versus previous leaf-spring setups), which should come in handy when trying to navigate into tight parking spots.
Moving inside, the base-level XL and midlevel XLT feature a dual-pod instrument cluster that locates the message center between the round tachometer and speedometer. The high-end Lariat model gets Cherry Zebrano wood grain appliques and features leather seating surfaces and steering wheel controls for the stereo and air conditioning. Among the available options are a six-disc CD changer and an in-dash trailer brake control system. However, the 2006 Ford F-250 Super Duty isn't for everyone, as the price of a diesel-equipped Crew Cab can go well past $40,000. You'll also want to check out the F-250's formidable competition, and keep in mind that a fully redesigned Ford F-250 is expected to debut for 2007.
The Ford F-250 Super Duty comes in Regular Cab, SuperCab and Crew Cab body styles. SuperCab models have small rear-opening doors, while the Crew Cab has four full-size swing-out doors. A plethora of optional equipment is available, including electronic shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive, a heavy-duty suspension package and telescoping trailer-towing mirrors. To match your desired level of opulence, there are three trim levels available: XL, XLT and Lariat. XL models are work trucks, and as such come with a vinyl bench seat in front; manual windows, mirrors and locks; a basic AM\/FM radio; and no air conditioner. The XLT adds cloth upholstery, a 40\/20\/40 front bench, air conditioning, a CD player and a full set of power controls. High-line Lariats come with features like leather upholstery, a power driver seat and dual-zone automatic climate control.
The Ford F-250 Super Duty is actually quite civil on the highway, as it soaks up heavy ruts and bumps with ease while providing a quiet ride. The coil spring suspension and large-diameter wheels have reinvigorated the platform, as handling is crisp and precise on the open road or on tighter city streets. The steering can still feel a little vague, though, so some extra attention is required to keep the big truck headed in the right direction. The Power Stroke diesel provides incredible power, and even with a 15,000-pound trailer hitched to the back, acceleration is smooth and linear thanks to its broad power curve.
The Ford F-250 Super Duty is available with three different engines. The base engine is a 5.4-liter V8 that generates 300 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque. An optional 6.8-liter V10 generates 362 hp and 457 lb-ft of torque. The best choice for those who do serious towing and hauling, though, is the 6.0-liter Power Stroke diesel V8 rated at 325 hp and 570 lb-ft. A six-speed manual is standard with these engines, but a five-speed automatic is also available. Properly equipped, an F-250 can tow up to 15,000 pounds.
Antilock four-wheel disc brakes are standard. The Super Duty also offers power-adjustable pedals. There is no NHTSA or IIHS crash test data on the Ford Super Duty trucks.
On the inside, Ford Super Duty trucks look much like their half-ton counterparts. The seats are comfortable and supportive, but the base grade upholstery feels a little downmarket. Everything else is covered in hard plastic, and while the fit of the panels is mediocre, it will probably hold up pretty well under extreme working conditions. Five or six adults can ride inside with little problem as long as you choose the SuperCab or Crew Cab body. In addition, there are many interior convenience features designed for today's business owners. For example, the center console bin is big enough to hold a laptop computer.
Rugged construction, multiple configurations, competent off-road capabilities, high towing and payload capacities.
Noisy drivetrains, gas engines' poor mileage, vague steering, spotty build quality.