Ford has launched an all-new class-exclusive F-450 pickup and, in the process, has raised the towing-performance bar to a point that the other guys will need to do some serious scrambling to catch up.
The F-450 has a maximum 24,500-pound tow rating for a fifth-wheel trailer, and 16,000 pounds for a conventional travel trailer. Its maximum payload capacity, for the 2WD truck with the 8-foot bed and 14,500-pound gross vehicle weight rating (gvwr), is 6,120 pounds, so it can easily handle any slide-in camper on the market. With the new 6.4-liter diesel and 4.88:1 axle ratio, its maximum gross combination weight rating (gcwr) is as much as 33,000 pounds.
The new engine is rated at 350 hp at 3,000 rpm and a healthy 650 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm. The standard automatic transmission is a five-speed TorqShift with overdrive. Drivers who prefer a gasoline engine can choose the base-model 5.4-liter V-8 or the upsized 6.8-liter V-10.
An all-new skin with eye-catching details carries on the Super Duty image. Buyers can choose the usual Regular, Super and Crew Cab body styles in 2WD or 4WD models. Both 6-3/4- and 8-foot beds are available.
Our test truck for towing was a 4WD Crew Cab with the diesel engine, automatic transmission and 4.10:1 axle ratio. Our road-test trailer was a fifth-wheel with a gvwr of 20,000 pounds, and Ford sandbagged the trailer right to its rating.
Our test-drive route found us hammering up and down a grade that combines 5-, 6- and 7-percent stretches on the freeway. Up the 6- to 7-percent grade, the truck pulled strongly. At worst, we slowed to about 41 mph at 2,850 rpm in third gear up the grade.
Downhill, the transmission’s grade-braking feature enabled us to restrain our speed to 41 mph at 2,850 rpm with minimal braking. That feature was reassuring and confidence-building in the event some serious mountain crossings were to be undertaken.
In short, the new F-450 pickup delivered about all we could hope for. Yes, it’s definitely a serious truck, yet it’s comfortable and non-intimidating enough to drive as a family vehicle when the trailer is parked for a while. Ford has provided a practical turnkey towing option for those with trailers a bit too large for one-ton trucks. This rig is definitely going to carve its niche among the larger RV towing set.
Pick up the February 2007 issue of Trailer Life magazine for full test impressions and details on the 2008 Ford F-450 — then subscribe to Trailer Life, so you can stay informed on the latest tests, previews, tow vehicles, and technical and RV-lifestyle information.