The tried-and-true work truck might just be the most useful tool in a home building company's inventory, besides the hammer and the chop-saw, of course. Builders and trades guys, and especially fleet managers, are particular about their trucks.
In the interest of full disclosure, as a young college student, I worked in the parts departments of several Ford dealers and got to know Ford trucks “up close and personal” through my now-obsolete skill of microfiche reading (the old parts books were still around, but nobody used them). In the years since, I have owned two work trucks, a mid-1990s Dodge, which served me well over the term of its lease, and my current truck, a 2004 Ford F-250. The Dodge was only a half-ton and rarely was it used for anything more taxing than hauling mulch for my landscaping (I was the editor of a pair of media magazines back then, so while I could call the Dodge a work truck since I used it to commute to work—in Manhattan—it really was not). This is not the case with my F-250, however, upon which is mounted a Fisher 9-foot stainless steel X-Blade snow plow, a necessary tool if one lives on an island in Maine with a dirt road and sloped, gravel driveway. I've never weighed the plow, but it has to be close to a half-ton itself. The F-250 doesn't seem to mind at all.
So I really didn't need much persuasion when I got word that Work Truck magazine this winter named the Ford Super Duty line (F-250 through F-450) as its “Medium-Duty Truck of the Year” for the second year running. But I did want to find out why it did so, given that a lot of these accolades are little more than schemes to extort money from advertisers (remember, I used to edit media magazines, which took a rather dim view of this sort of practice).
I was pleasantly surprised, then, when the editor of Work Truck, Mike Antich, told me that it was the magazine's readers who picked the Ford. And many of those readers are fleet managers who have a bit more on the line when their trucks don't work than your average mud guy does.
And why did the fleet managers like the Fords? “A lot of it has to do with versatility,” says Antich. “There are a lot of up-fit packages available for these trucks. The second thing is durability, quality. It's difficult these days to find trucks that aren't well built.” But work truck owners, particularly fleet managers, are looking for “trucks that have minimal downtime,” he adds.
The 2009 Ford Super Duty is based on the same platform as the 2008, so the selection of the line by Work Truck's readers was not based on any new, whiz-bang gizmology or style changes. To Len Deluca, director of commercial truck sales and marketing for Ford Motor Co., the award for the Super Duty is recognition that “the '09 model is a very dependable, durable, efficient tool.” And, being a sales guy, he adds, “You can almost consider yourself to be riding in a luxury automobile.”
That latter point, even if it is a sales line, was well taken here. My F-250 rides like a dump truck. And it gets a paltry 12 miles per gallon, sans plow, in calm winds on a flat roadway. The new Super Duty trucks will get between 17 and 18 mpg, depending on engines and configurations.
At this writing at least, Ford is the only U.S. truck maker that has not been bailed out by the government. That has to count for something. And, as Deluca points out, “There are some pretty good deals to be had out there.”
Super Duty Specs
Maximum Payload Capacity
F-250 (Crew Cab single rear wheel)
F-350 (Crew Cab dual rear wheel)
F-450 (Crew Cab dual rear wheel)
Maximum Towing Capacity
F-250 (Reg. Cab SRW) 6.4L diesel V-8, auto
F-350 (Reg. Cab DRW) 6.4L diesel V-8, auto
F-450 (Crew Cab DRW) 6.4L diesel V-8, auto
Cargo-bed load height
Cargo floor length
Cargo floor width
Cargo bed depth
33.9-35.1 inches (4x2), 34.4-37.3 inches (4x4)
81.8 inches (standard bed), 98.0 inches (long bed)