New Car Review

1998 Ford Super Duty Trucks

by NICK HROMIAK

ford
F150 XLT

SEE ALSO: Ford Buyer's Guide


Pity the poor folks who recently purchased three-door pickup trucks. Had they waited a tad longer, they could have bought a four-door, which to this truck connoisseur is the only way to go.

Chevy was the first on the scene with a three-door pickup. dodge recently debuted their `98 four-door Ram Quad Cab. Now it's Ford's turn, and their new four-door models are unlike any in its middleweight class.

Going on sale in January as `99 models, the totally new Super Duty (SD) F-Series trucks will now include four doors as standard on SuperCab configurations. It's interesting that ford decided to debut this very saleable feature on these medium-duty versions as opposed to the hot-selling light duty F-Series trucks. But rest assured, `99 F150s will sport the extra door on SuperCab models.

Because of their high Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) ratings, Super Duty trucks are not for everyone. Most will be purchased by agribusinessmen, horse breeders/trainers, construction trade folks, utility companies, local governments and RVers who tow large campers. But of the 26 million trucks Ford has sold worldwide this year, there are a few buyers who prefer a heavy-duty truck if for no other reason than to have an extra rugged, high capacity vehicle.

The new Super Duty Series includes an F-250 (up to 8,800 lbs GVW, which will also be available in light duty configuration), four weight/engine versions of the F-350 (9,900-lbs GVW, 11,200 lbs GVW LWB, 11,200 lbs GVW Chassis Cab, and the newly designated F-550 with either a 17,500 GVW or Regular Cab 4x2 at 19,000 lbs GVW.

According to Craig Breedlove, Chief Super Duty Program Engineer, a total of 44 configurations will be offered, up from the current 24.

This new line of Super Duty Series trucks brings forth a myriad of industry exclusives. They are as follows:

  • Four doors that swing 90 degrees on trucks over 8,500 GVW.
  • The F-350 is now offered in SuperCab dual rear wheel 4X4 Chassis Cab and selected F-450s and F-550s in Crew Cab models and 4WD configurations. (Ford Super Duty F-Series is the first over-8,5000 pounds GVW truck to offer a part-time 4X4 transfer case with electronic shift-on-the-fly.)
  • Standard four-wheel power disc brakes plus four-wheel anti-lock brakes on all vehicles over 10,000 pounds GVW; optional on 8,800 to 9,900 pound GVW vehicles.
  • 17,500-pound and 19,000-pounf GVW F-Series offerings
  • An optional integral power takeoff (enables the use of snowplows, aerial lifts, tow or dump truck appliances) on a new heavy-duty four-speed automatic transmission (first time offered on an automatic).
  • Top level Lariat trim package.
  • Upgraded pressure-mapped 40-20-40 split-bench seats with a fold-down armrest/utility bin for mobile office accommodations that can house a portable fax machine or laptop computer.
  • Standard driver's side airbag and optional passenger-side bag with deactivation switch.
  • Three-piece back-of-seat storage system with removable tool box.
  • Dual arm folding trailering mirrors with integrated convex mirrors, offering virtually no viewing dead spots.
  • Dropped belt-line side window glass for expansive viewing (especially helpful when trailering).
  • Flat frame rails and easily accessible suspended fuel filler on F450/550 trucks.
  • Engine choices include a 235 horsepower 335 ft-lbs torque 5.4-liter Triton V-8; 275 hp, 335 ft-lbs torque 6.8-liter V-10 (standard on the F-450 and F-550); 235 hp, 500 ft-lbs torque 7.3-liter V-8 intercooled turbodiesel. All powerplants can couple to five or new six-speed manual transmissions or heavy duty four-speed automatics.

Wheelbases on Super Duty (SD) F-Series have been extended by four inches for the Regular and Crew Cabs, and three inches for the SuperCab to accommodate what is expected to be the largest cab design in this truck segment.

GVWs are also up 12-18 percent on F-350/450/550 models thanks in part to longer, wider springs. The front suspension on SD F-250/350 4X2 trucks carries an improved Twin I-Beam, whereas SD 4X4 trucks and all F-450/550s feature a single design monobeam leaf spring front suspension. The latter design does not require a steering damper and Ford has applied for a patent on this innovative idea.

With 751,000 trucks sold year-to-date, Ford intends on maintaining their sales superiority with these new Super Duty offerings. Added to that, the F-Series celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

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