2003 F-350 New Car Test Drive
Ford Super Duty trucks out-sell the heavy-duty pickups from Chevrolet and Dodge combined. Ford has improved them for 2003.
A new 6.0-liter diesel engine brings more power and reduced emissions to the Super Duty line. The standard 5.4-liter V8 gas engine has been revised for quieter and more refined operation. The base interior is nicer, and a power sliding moon roof is available for Crew Cabs. Those changes, plus new option packages make the 2003 F-350 and F-250 models more people-friendly.
Still, these trucks aren't designed to be family-sedan substitutes that make an occasional run to Home Depot. Ford's full-size but lighter-duty F-150 is more than enough truck for that job. The Super Duty pickups look like serious big rigs, and they are.
Ford Super Duty trucks don't offer the chassis sophistication of the newer designs from GM and Dodge, but their new and revised powertrains are first-class.
Like most domestic pickups, the Ford Super Duty is offered in more configurations than any normal human can count. Ford offers 28 variations on the F-250 (3/4-ton), and 50 more on the F-350 (one-ton). Any one of them can pull anything from a horse trailer to an Airstream camper. They are all the truck most consumers will ever need. (If not, Ford builds bigger F-450, F-550, F-650, and F-750 trucks for the commercial market.)
F-250 and F-350 are available in regular-cab, extended-cab (SuperCab) and Crew Cab configurations. Crew Cab versions come with four full-sized doors, and are the most passenger-friendly models. Both two- and four-wheel drive are available as well. Four-wheel-drive models offer either manual-locking or shift-on-the-fly auto-locking hubs.
Short-bed (6 3/4 feet) and long-bed (8 feet) versions are available. Wheelbase lengths include 137 inches (regular cab), 142 inches (SuperCab short-bed), 158 inches (SuperCab long-bed), 156 inches (Crew Cab short-bed) and 172 inches (Crew Cab long-bed).
Four-wheel-disc brakes and ABS come standard on all Super Duty models.
All Ford F-250 models come with single rear wheels. F-350 models are available with single rear wheels (SRW) or dual rear wheels (DRW). The latter, often called 'duallies,' are good for towing as they offer higher tongue-weight ratings.
Ford Super Duty F-250 competes with the other heavyweights from Detroit: Dodge Ram 2500, Chevrolet Silverado 2500, and GMC Sierra 2500. F-350 dual rear wheel trucks compete with the 3500-series models from GM and Dodge. With the ability to tow up to 12,500 pounds (with the optional Class IV trailer package), the Super Duty F-250 offers the best towing capacity in its class.
Three trim levels are offered: standard XL, mid-level XLT, and luxurious Lariat. XL models are pretty basic, with only a two-speaker stereo and fixed-interval wipers. Air conditioning ($805) is optional. XLT models are equipped more like a mid-range passenger car, while luxurious Lariats come with an overhead console, leather seats with six-way power, and aluminum wheels.
Base prices range from $21,120 for a two-wheel drive XL regular cab up to $36,250 for a long-wheelbase, four-wheel-drive Lariat Crew Cab with dual rear wheels.
New for 2003 is the FX4 Off-Road Package ($225), which adds skid plates, Rancho shock absorbers, a steering damper and FX4 decals. The skid plates ($100) are also available as a stand-alone option.
XLT Sport Package ($895) is offered on 2003 Crew Cabs as well as SuperCabs. The package includes chromed tubular step bars, an exclusive twill cloth 40/20/40 split-bench front seat, body-color exterior accents, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, rear sliding window, fog lamps and privacy glass. Options for this package include a reverse proximity sensor ($245), a great feature on these big trucks, and a power driver's seat ($290). Exterior color choices have been expanded from just one, black, to include white, gray, blue, and red.
The King Ranch package is available for 2003 Super Duty trucks, which dresses the interior in premium leather interior trim, and accents the exterior with body-color mirror housings and door handles, Arizona Beige wheel lip moldings, lighted running boards, premium aluminum wheels and a choice of three exterior colors: Estate Green, Chestnut and Oxford White.