Do you have a need to transport really heavy objects but don't have access to a Sikorsky sky crane helicopter? Things like six-horse trailers, a boat you could live on or a travel trailer bigger than most folks' first houses? If so, then you obviously need a serious heavy-duty truck, and Ford is happy to oblige with its 2009 F-350 Super Duty.
Even stronger than the company's robust F-250 Super Duty, Ford's entry in the ultimate beast of burden segment is ready to handle even tougher tasks, thanks to features like the availability of a dual-rear-wheel setup (commonly called a "dually") that greatly improves stability when towing. Last year, Ford made some major improvements to the F-350 Super Duty, including more power from the available PowerStroke diesel engine, a stouter frame, a more functional and luxurious cabin and a revised suspension to improve the truck's stability when pulling a trailer. The F-350's looks were also updated with a taller hood and bigger grille, which not only look tougher but also allow more cool air into the radiator.
For 2009, the F-350 sees functional refinements such as the availability of Ford's Sync system, which allows voice command of your cell phone, the audio system and the navigation system. Sync can also provide information on weather conditions, gas prices, sports scores and movie times via Sirius Travel Link. Contractors and others who work out of their trucks have Ford Work Solutions to make life at the job site easier. This optional system offers an in-dash computer with Internet access, a "midbox" storage system (a lockable compartment located between the cab and bed) and the Tool Link system. The latter allows one to keep tabs on tools stored in the truck's box via radio-frequency tracking. Also newly available is a factory-applied, heavy-duty spray-in bedliner.
All those handy features, along with an easy-to-drive nature and comfortable seating serve to make the 2009 Ford F-350 Super Duty a top pick in this niche segment. In fact, Ford's F Series pickups have dominated the sales charts for the last 30 years, and if the latest F-350 Super Duty is any indicator, it looks like the company should continue that winning streak.
The 2009 Ford F-350 Super Duty comes in regular cab, SuperCab (extended cab) and crew cab body styles. The SuperCab has a pair of small rear-opening rear doors, while the crew cab has four conventional full-size doors. SuperCabs and crew cabs are available with a short (6.75-foot) or long (8-foot) bed; regular cabs are long-bed only. A dual-rear-wheel setup is offered as well, which allows more weight to be carried in the bed as well as providing greater stability while towing a heavy trailer.
Four trim levels are offered: base XL, midlevel XLT, off-road-oriented FX4 (4WD only) and luxurious Lariat. Regular cabs are available only in XL and XLT forms.
The XL is meant for those who just need a basic work truck. It comes standard with air-conditioning, plain vinyl upholstery, an AM/FM radio, 17-inch wheels and manual trailer-tow mirrors. The XLT adds chrome wheels, keyless entry, power and heated trailer tow mirrors, an integrated trailer brake controller, privacy glass, cloth upholstery, an auxiliary audio jack, a 40/20/40 front bench, a CD player, cruise control and full power accessories.
The FX4 provides upgraded off-road hardware, including skid plates, heavy-duty shock absorbers, a limited-slip rear axle and a manual-shift transfer case. It also adds front bucket seats, a power driver seat, power telescoping and folding mirrors and satellite radio. High-line Lariats come with luxuries like 18-inch alloy wheels, running boards, a power-sliding rear window, leather upholstery, dual power and heated front seats (power driver seat only on regular cab), the Sync multimedia voice-control system and dual-zone automatic climate control. Much of the Lariat's extra equipment can be added to the FX4 via optional packages.
Option highlights (depending on trim level) include reverse park assist, a rearview-mirror-mounted back-up camera display, a sunroof, a navigation system and a rear-seat entertainment system. In addition, there are several packages to further fine-tune the F-350 Super Duty to one's needs. The XLT sport package includes color-matched bumpers and grille, foglamps, chrome step bars and privacy glass. The new Cabela's package is inspired by the largest outfitter for outdoor enthusiasts and features unique two-tone paint schemes and special interior trim. The King Ranch package similarly provides two-tone paint but goes further uptown with 20-inch alloy wheels, fancy leather seating and trim inspired by a western saddle and a premium audio system. There's also the Harley-Davidson package with a similar level of interior and exterior upgrades.
Highly recommended for those who tow is the TowCommand option, which seamlessly integrates the control of the trailer brakes with those on the truck. Optional on all F-350 Super Duty trims is a clever flip-down tailgate step that hides within the tailgate when stowed.
A rugged, industrial theme marks the cabin, and materials quality is good. Chrome accents surround the gauges and air vents, while the center stack puts controls within easy reach. Dual door pockets and a massive center console/armrest provide generous in-cabin storage. In fact, the center console box is big enough to accommodate a laptop and/or hanging files. In crew cabs, folding the rear seats up reveals a flip-out utility tray that keeps the load floor flat.
There are three engine choices for the 2009 Ford F-350 Super Duty: the standard 5.4-liter gasoline V8 (which makes 300 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque); an optional 6.8-liter V10 (362 hp and 457 lb-ft); and the most popular choice (and the one recommended for those who do serious hauling and towing), the available 6.4-liter PowerStroke turbodiesel V8, which now makes 350 hp and 650 lb-ft. Regardless of engine choice, buyers have a choice of transmissions -- a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic -- and may select either two- or four-wheel drive.
Properly equipped, an F-350 Super Duty can tow up to 15,000 pounds (non-fifth-wheel trailering) and handle a 5,700-pound payload.
Though we've driven the Ford F-450 and come away impressed, we've yet to sample the 2009 Ford F-350. Check back later for specific F-350 commentary.
Antilock disc brakes are standard, but neither side- nor side curtain airbags are available. Power-adjustable pedals are optional on XLT and Lariat models (equipped with the automatic transmission), as are rear parking sensors.
For 2009, the Ford F-350 Super Duty comes with new functional features, such as power-telescoping tow mirrors, the Sync multimedia voice control system and a collection of options (such as an in-dash computer with Internet access and a large lockable compartment between the cab and bed) geared toward those who work out of their truck. On the other end of the spectrum is the new Cabela's package that pays homage to the popular outdoor enthusiasts outfitter via a fancy paint scheme, cabin upgrades and, of course, emblems.