Offering best-in-class payload, GVWR, and trailer tow ratings, the  Super Duty  is available in Regular Cab, SuperCab, and Crew Cab with two bed lengths — 6¾ feet and 8 feet.  -  Photo: Ford

Offering best-in-class payload, GVWR, and trailer tow ratings, the Super Duty is available in Regular Cab, SuperCab, and Crew Cab with two bed lengths — 6¾ feet and 8 feet.

Photo: Ford

For a 60-year old, Ford's F-Series is one tough brand — and getting tougher. Tested on Ford's new $15 million Michigan Proving Grounds, the 2008 Super Duty continues in the automaker's "Built Ford Tough" heritage.

Among its new capabilities and features, the 2008 Super Duty boasts a new 6.4L V-8 dual sequential turbodiesel engine, refined chassis and suspension, industry-leading towing capacity in the F-450, improved cargo-handling flexibility, and a quiet, more functional interior.

First 'Clean' Diesel in Full-Size Pickup

Durability-tested on the equivalent of 10 million miles, Ford's exclusive 6.4L Power Stroke turbodiesel is the first "clean" diesel engine offered in a full-size pickup, according to the automaker. Delivering 350 hp and 650 lb.-ft. of torque on the F-250 and F-350, the engine meets the new, more stringent diesel emissions regulations. The exhaust system removes 97 percent of diesel particulate.

The 6.4L diesel joins a powertrain lineup that includes a 6.8L Triton V-10 and 5.4L Triton V-8. The powertrains are available in both two- and four-wheel drive. Transmission choice includes a 6-speed manual with overdrive or a 5-speed TorqShift automatic.

A "stationary elevated idle control" feature for PTO systems is available on all Super Duty models.

A first in the truck industry, Super Duty's high-strength steel patented front body structure creates a rigid foundation, eases assembly, and delivers better fit and finish, according to Ford engineers. The heavier-duty front suspension's larger axles provide more payload and towing capability. In the truck's newly designed leaf-spring rear suspension, 8-inch longer springs attach farther forward on the frame, improving ride and handling.

Towing Capability Leads Class

Offering best-in-class payload, GVWR, and trailer tow ratings, the Super Duty is available in Regular Cab, SuperCab, and Crew Cab with two bed lengths — 6¾ feet and 8 feet.

The F-450 can tow up to 24,500 lbs. — 8,000 lbs. more than the nearest heavy-duty truck competitor, says Ford. The F-450 also handles a payload of more than 6,000 lbs.

Maximum towing capacities for the F-350 Super Duty models are:

  • F-350 SRW: 16,800 lbs.
  • F-350 DRW: 18,700 lbs.

Two available options enhance the Super Duty's towing capability. The TowCommand system features a factory-installed and warranted electronic trailer brake controller, offering smoother operation and stronger trailer brake activation when the anti-lock braking system (ABS) is operating.

The industry's first power-fold and power-telescoping, large-size side mirrors improve visibility, particularly when hauling or towing big loads.

Cargo Handling Eased

The Super Duty's stowable bed-extender and tailgate step provide cargo handling flexibility. Like other extenders, Ford's version expands storage space to the end of the bed or, positioned inside the tailgate, securely contains cargo. However, the Super Duty extender folds up against the bed sides, allowing full space and functionality when the extender is not in use.

The tailgate step feature eases cargo loading. The 16.7-inch by 4.5-inch flip-down step is fully integrated into the tailgate and virtually invisible when not in use. For additional stability, a fold-out grab handle supports up to 350 lbs.

In Super Duty's all-new interior, improved engineering and new technologies minimize the cabin noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) factor. Drivers can easily reach function switches, conveniently housed in the center stack. The large center console holds folders and laptop computers, facilitating in-the-field business.

Driver and front passenger airbags are standard on the Super Duty. An airbag deactivation switch disengages the passenger side airbag when the seat is unoccupied (not included on the Crew Cab).

An additional safety feature available with the 2008 Super Duty is a new rear-view video camera system. With a display mounted in the rear view mirror, the system enhances visibility at the rear of the box, helping drivers maneuver in tight spaces or line up the hitch with a trailer.

Super Duty Proven in Michigan

Ford engineers and technicians put the 2008 Super Duty through rigorous development testing at Ford's new multimillion facility in Rochester, Mich. Hundreds of tests are performed on vehicle components and systems at the facility, which includes high-tech labs featuring robots abusing seats, a tire-squealing conveyer belt, and an 8-foot chamber that houses brake testing that used to occur on the streets of Los Angeles.

The center also features a recreation of the Ford Silver Creek "rough road" in Arizona. Miles of on-road test conditions test vehicle durability, handling, and control.

During a recent Ford "Truth About Trucks" media presentation at the Rochester facility, Work Truck and other reporters tested the Super Duty's hauling, towing, and off-road capabilities. At the wheel of 6.4L diesel-powered F-450s, we easily towed a 20,000-lb.-plus trailer up and over one of Michigan's steepest slopes. Handling the trailer around curves and over rough roads was surprisingly comfortable for even a less-experienced driver.

In another demonstration, we drove down a 7-percent grade carrying 2,500 lbs. in a Super Duty truck bed. The vehicle maintained a slow, steady, and controllable downhill pace, thanks to the Super Duty's TorqShift and tow-haul mode features.

Mother Nature enhanced the Rochester presentation's off-road demonstration with steady chilly rain, creating an especially realistic mud track. Here, again, the Super Duty forged through the slippery wet mud with in-charge control.

The Super Duty’s exhaust system removes 97 percent of diesel particulate. 
 -  Photo: Ford

The Super Duty’s exhaust system removes 97 percent of diesel particulate.

Photo: Ford

Fleets Respond to Super Duty

Fleets are just beginning to incorporate the 2008 Super Duty in their work truck applications. "The most significant improvement we have found is the new 6.4L engine," said Frank Carden, fleet engineering specialist for Georgia Power Company. Carden related his fleet's experiences with the Super Duty at the media's Truth About Trucks presentation.

Headquartered in Atlanta, the utility serves the entire state of Georgia and operates an approximately 5,000-unit light- and medium-duty vehicle fleet. Running an exclusively Ford light-duty fleet since 1997, Carden and fleet manager Holly Brown has been "very pleased with the performance of the Super Duty truck."

ValleyCrest Companies, a nationwide landscape development and maintenance company headquartered near Los Angeles, is also a long-time Ford-exclusive fleet. "The Super Duty trucks are staples of our fleet," said Mike Dingman, senior VP of asset management. "The truck's overall quality and durability over time has been terrific."

ValleyCrest operates more than 3,000 light- and medium-duty trucks. The ValleyCrest vehicle featured in this issue's cover photo is a 2008 Super Duty upfitted as a wood chipper. "The 2008 Super Duty trucks are proving as good as promised," said Dingman. "We were concerned initially about the diesel engine in the '08, but haven't had any issues so far." Dingman personally drives a 2008 diesel-powered Super Duty and "loves it."

Cindy Brauer

Cindy Brauer

Former Managing Editor

Cindy Brauer is a former managing editor for Bobit Business Media’s AutoGroup. A native of Chicago but resident of Southern California since her teens, Brauer studied journalism and earned a communications degree at California State University Fullerton. Over her career, she has written and edited content for a variety of publishing venues in a disparate range of fields.