• Jun 12th 2007 at 12:27PM
  • 51
The first time we laid eyes on Ford's new F-450, we knew that we wanted to run one through the ringer. Intended to satisfy those customers who find traditional "one ton" dually trucks to be a bit too limiting, this massive vehicle pegged our more-is-better meter. The F-450 is, in fact, so big as to make the title of this post a complete misnomer, as it takes something more like a barn to house this much truck.

By the numbers, this truck is quite simply the largest and most capable vehicle we've ever tested. At more than nineteen feet long, over eight feet wide, and tipping the scales right around four tons, we're no longer talking about a casual means by which to commute to work or run the kids to a ball game; no, this truck is intended to do one thing -- moving more material than any other pickup on the market. Ford gives the truck a payload rating of 5,720 lbs, but more impressive is the gross combined vehicle weight of 33,000 lbs. That's sufficient to allow towing a trailer of up to 24,000 lbs for the 4x4 pictured here (2WD fans can add another 500 lbs) - a whopping two and a half tons more than any one-ton on the market, and the answer to any question pertaining to this truck's purpose in life. In fact, the massive Reese 22K hitch that was included as a factory-installed option can't even take full advantage of this truck's capabilities, and on top of that, the driver will need a CDL to be legal at maximum weight. This, folks, is a lot of truck.

Much credit for the F-450's capabilities goes to the new 6.4 L Powerstroke diesel. Upon popping the hood, we found the largest cooling package we've ever seen in a pickup; on the other hand, little of the actual engine was visible under a maze of plumbing. A bit of poking around revealed twin sequential turbochargers; the second-stage scroll features electromechanical variable-vane technology, and both units combine to provide an amazing maximum indicated boost of 32 PSI. Piezo injectors force in enough low-sulfur fuel to burn all that intake air to the tune of 360 HP and 650 lb-ft of torque. The massive power is routed through the Torqshift five-speed transmission (little known fact - there's actually a sixth ratio used during warm-up), and finds its way to the tires via ultra-deep 4.88:1 axle gears.

The combination is enough to provide authoritative acceleration for this four-ton vehicle, and makes light work out of any typical hauling and towing. The gearing that doesn't allow much boost to build in the first couple of gears when the truck is empty, but at highway speeds, the engine is right in the meat of its powerband in fifth gear - an absolutely perfect setup for full-time towing. The Tow/Haul mode makes for perfectly-timed up- and down-shifts, and greatly reduces the need to use the service brakes while decelerating.

At idle, the multiple pilot events offered by the new injectors keep all those usual diesel noises to a minimum, but oilburner fans will still delight in the rattle, clatter, and turbo whine that result as the tach and boost gauge swing towards the right. Our only complaint about the engine - and it's a very mild one - was the somewhat unusual exhaust odor in some conditions. We also would have preferred somewhat better economy than the 10.0 MPG we obtained during our time with the truck, but keep in mind that this vehicle isn't set up for our wussy usage profile.

Stopping and turning are provided via enormous solid axles at each end, with 14.5" disc brakes up front and huge 15.5" rotors in the rear (keep in mind, this split makes sense considering that the vehicle carries more than 60% of its weight on the rear tires when loaded). Due to the lack of manifold vacuum in a diesel engine, a hydraulic booster provides power assist to the brakes, and as a result linearity and pedal firmness are both far better than we would have expected. As well, the steering has a precision that is worlds' beyond anything we've previously experienced in any with a solid front axle, and with such a wide track, body roll during normal driving isn't objectionable. That wide front track also allows some pretty extreme steering angles, and as such the turning radius of the F-450 is actually a bit tighter than lighter Super Duty trucks.

The ride can best be described as being somewhere between "firm" and "jarring", which is about what we'd expect from a ton or so of unsprung weight, sky-high spring rates, and those gorgeous forged 19.5" wheels and commercial-grade Continental HSR tires. As for off-roading, forget about it - with the F-450's mass, skinny tires, lack of articulation, and low breakover angles, we barely made it a few feet off the pavement before getting stuck. Considering that most tow trucks are smaller than this, we recommend staying out of situations that require recovery operations.

Inside the cabin - which is larger than some living rooms - the same sort of hit-and-miss execution that plagued our recently-tested Expedition was also present in the F-450. Areas such as the dash and door panels were a bit disappointing for a brand-new design, but the quality of the seating and carpet was outstanding; the leather is in fact some of the nicest we've ever experienced in an automobile, and looks better-suited to horse tack than to a pickup truck. More importantly, the big seats are comfortable enough for all-day drives.

The instrument cluster includes an array of white-faced gauges suitable to the vehicle's intended function - yes, including a trans temp gauge - and a multifunction display takes care of other driver alerts. Ford's standard touchscreen nav and audio system was included in our tester, and performed superbly. The rear seat passengers can be entertained with a flip-down display and DVD player, and when it's time to haul gear instead of bodies, the seats fold up to reveal a very clever package tray setup that yields a flat load floor. Additional cargo can be stowed in the colossal center console, which is large enough to swallow a laptop or small briefcase.

The external rear-view mirrors fold and extend with fingertip ease due to powered operation for both functions, and do an excellent job of providing visibility - or at least as good as it's going to get with those huge rear fenders in the way. We give huge props to Ford for providing four auxiliary switches and an integrated trailer-brake control; this is exactly the sort of equipment that we want to see in a heavy-duty truck. Speaking of highly-desirable features for pickups, the inventor of the integrated tailgate step should get a medal of some sort, as it's a godsend even for those of us largely unaffected by the aging process.

The exterior styling takes the familiar Super Duty theme to an extreme, but it's functional - the aforementioned radiator basically mandates a grille the size of a barn door, and the headlights take on their odd shape as a result of the placement of the low-beam lamps. They're lower to the ground than in most trucks, which not only makes them more effective in inclement weather, but also is kinder to those in vehicles of normal height. The dip along the lower edge of the side window improves visibility, and the purpose of the flared fenders should be obvious.

Our final assessment of the Ford F-450 is quite straightforward - it is indeed the hardest-working pickup truck we've ever encountered. Like most other single-purpose vehicle, compromises are made along the way that probably make this truck totally unsuitable for the vast majority of the population. Don't fret over that; instead, just think of this as the rancher's equivalent to a Lotus Elise, and sleep well at night knowing that such a capable vehicle is hard at work on America's farms and construction sites. The only area of concern we have with the F-450 is the price - it'll take nearly $48K to put you into a base model, and the King Ranch version shown here will require parting way with $62,300. That's a lot of coin, but then again, this is a lot of truck.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      One more thing, I bet that 10mpg avg would easily get near 20 on the hwy. My bud drives a 7.3L and says his city FE is about 10-12 and gets 20 on the hwy.
        • 8 Years Ago
        They do actually, something most fail to notice
      • 8 Years Ago
      Ok a Honda ridgline (does not even have 4 low) vs. an F450?
      That is just silly.

      Honda Max towing capacity 5000 lbs.
      MPG 16-20

      1 F450 towing 24,000 lbs @ 10 mpg ave

      1 gallon = 24,000 lbs moved 10 miles
      or 240,000 Lbs miles / gallon

      5 Hondas towing 5000 lbs each @ 16-20 mpg each
      each Honda now tows 5000 lbs (20/5) miles for a total usage of 1 gallon

      5000 lbs * 4 miles * 5

      or 100,000 lbs*miles/ gallon

      The Ford can move more weight at a time and can haul more weight a longer distance than the Honda for the same amount of fuel. That was using the 10 mpg for the ford and the Hwy MPG for the Honda (which is likely to be lower when towing)

      When used as designed the larger vehicle is MORE efficient than the smaller. Even though the larger uses more fuel per mile you get much more work done with it.

        • 8 Years Ago
        My (5) Ridgelines remark was called sarcasm, hence the wink at the end of that sentence.

        You totally missed the point, but maybe I was too subtle.
        • 8 Years Ago
        The AB guys got 10mpg, but I don't think they were towing 24,000 lbs. the entire time they had the truck, so I wouldn't bet on getting that mileage while towing a full load.
      • 8 Years Ago

      I got 1500 miles on my 2008 F450 . You all should realize that this is the best riding truck I have ever riden and I have had 150,250,350 and now the 450. It turns better than any other truck, the ride is softer and quieter and IT DOES NOT SMELL.

      There is nothing like too much money, too pretty a woman or too powerful a truck. Folks hands down, Ford did their homework here inside and out. It is luxuriously appointed with sweet smelling camel tan leather and it can pull 4 Toyota Titans kicking and screaming.

      Remember the Deusenbergs(Too much of everything in one package and ahead of its time), well this is it all over again.

      • 8 Years Ago
      Too small :)
      • 8 Years Ago
      Eric Bryant - "Speaking of highly-desirable features for pickups, the inventor of the integrated tailgate step should get a medal of some sort, as it's a godsend even for those of us largely unaffected by the aging process."

      The Tailgate Step and Grab Handle patents (aka inventors) are held by both Ford and Multimatic (a Tier 1 supplier, http://www.multimatic.com/index.shtml). The product has been launched exclusively on the new Super Duty trucks (2008 P356) and will also be available on the next generation F-150 trucks (2009 P415).

      You guys may remember the Super Bowl commercial:


      • 8 Years Ago
      not everyone lives in a 600 sqft apt in downtown san fran and rides a segway to work..

      I see these trucks often now, and it makes my F250 look mediocre.

      Folks with Horses
      Race Teams

      and any other number of folks obviously are loving this behemoth.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I live in Texas and I see a couple of these every morning on the highway.
      They look nice and are probably well built.
      • 8 Years Ago
      My father bought his '08 250 Lariat back in Feb and absolutely loves it. He traded in his '03 and is amazed at how quiet the new 6.4 is compared to his old 6.0. I was also while on the road trip back on Memorial Day while pulling a 22 foot boat behind us. The amount of torque, no matter where ur at n the gears, in simply amazing. The first chip will be available in a couple weeks at powerchips.com :D
      • 8 Years Ago
      lol........another oversized truck.
      • 8 Years Ago
      That is one hideous interior.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "wringer" not "ringer"
      • 8 Years Ago
      I bet that thing can carry an Aveo in its bed.
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