On The Road Review: Ford F-350 Super Duty

December 2010 News

Often lost in the production of any new automotive products and their retail roll-out is the vast expenditure of human capital that is necessary to design, engineer and create today's impressive vehicles. We see shiny metal and sparkling interiors but little of the nuances needed to bring the new vehicle down the assembly line.

At Ford, there is a strong flavor of the family's commitment to the brand that bears their name as well as the exuberant personality of the company's CEO, Alan Mulally.

Since taking over at Ford in 2006, Mulally has created a vibrant automaker. The former Boeing Aircraft CEO is passionate about his work and everything to do with the car business, something that was not apparent in the staid efforts prior to his arrival. Today, you can almost feel the enthusiasm at Ford as the automaker claws its way to greater market share, larger profits and a bottom line not supported by taxpayers.

This final point has certainly played a role in Ford's current sales surge. Retailers are still capitalizing on buyer angst about the taxpayer money diverted to GM and Chrysler. We can all offer our opinions on the pros and cons of the government's overreaching action, but the consumer is voting with his/her wallet and Ford is frequently winning the hearts and minds on Main Street.

Through the first 10 months of 2010, the Ford Motor Co. is the number one selling automaker in America. The Ford brand held over 15 percent of the new car market - a 10 percent lead over second-place Chevrolet. And despite pleasing sales gains on the car side of the equation, most of Ford's growth has come from selling more trucks than anyone else - lots more trucks. Ford's F-series pickup, redesigned in half-ton F-150 models as well as our sample Super Duty, is the number one selling nameplate in the industry here, car or truck, with over 434,000 pickups sold through October.

For the first time ever, Ford also held a small lead in overall truck/SUV sales over rival GM's two brands, Chevrolet and GMC. The folks in Dearborn have to be pinching themselves, and with good reason.

The sampled Super Duty F-350 Crew Cab with the all-new 6.7-liter PowerStroke diesel engine is a nice-performing truck in all regards. The Ford doesn't do any one task demonstrably better than the GMC Duramax reviewed earlier this year, but it does do several tasks much better than its predecessor and buyers have noticed.

For starters, the new engine is a big leap forward. Previously, Ford sourced its diesel pickup engines from big-truck maker Navistar. Two different iterations of these motors didn't deliver on the promise of their design. Louder than the smooth Duramax engine, the previous PowerStroke diesels also were down on power and less reliable than the GM motor. A couple of recalls later, Ford decided to design its own diesel engine.


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