FORD is set to reintroduce the F-150 locally in Q3 of this year, which is exciting news for those wanting more ‘truck’ than the Ranger can offer.
The fourteenth-generation model will be offered only in XLT and Lariat trim, and exclusively with Ford’s gutsy 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 petrol engine paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. A mere taste test of the broad array of F-Series pick-ups available stateside…
In its home market – and available Down Under courtesy of importers and conversion specialists Harrison F-Trucks – the wider F-Series range is truly something to behold.
Covering models from the F-150 (including sporty Raptor and Super Snake variants) through to the townhouse-sized F-550 Super Duty, the Harrison F-Trucks portfolio offers a compelling array of choice for full-size pick-up buyers.
This week, we sample the importer’s best-selling variant, the F-250 Super Duty Lariat (the Lariat sits around midway in the F-Series model walk, above XL and XLT, but below King Ranch, Platinum, and Limited grades) to get a taste of what it can provide Aussie buyers.
Lined up against rival models offered locally – including the Chevrolet Silverado HD (from $144,900) and Ram 2500 (from $169,950) – the standard Ford F-250 Super Duty is a close competitor. But in being able to completely customise the build of the Kentucky-sourced pick-up to suit individual needs, Harrison F-Trucks offers something the others cannot.
In its home market, and based on a Texan postcode, the F-250 Super Duty Lariat Crew Cab is available from $US63,740 ($A94,695) before on-road costs. We used Ford’s online configurator to ‘build’ a vehicle that closely resembled the spec’ of the vehicle loaned from Harrison F-Trucks and arrived at $US75,630 ($A112,225) plus ORCs.
Imported, converted to right-hand drive, made fully compliant with local design rules, and with a few very useful options thrown in, our loaner retails for $199,000 plus ORCs.
As tested the F-250 is powered by Ford’s optional 6.7-litre PowerStroke V8 turbocharged diesel engine (one of three V8 options available) developing a substantial 475hp (354kW) and 1050lb.ft (1428Nm). The mill is mated as standard to Ford’s TorqShift 10-speed automatic transmission with power sent to the rear wheels (in two-wheel drive mode) via a 3.31:1 differential.
The vehicle on test is fitted with a single-wheel rear axle and dual-range four-wheel drive offering multiple driver modes, including those for towing or hauling.
Ford lists the braked towing capacity for the configuration of the vehicle tested as 20,000lb (9071kg) on the hitch, 4260lb (1932kg) in the tray, or 22,800lbs (10,341kg) when towing with a fifth-wheel gooseneck setup. The kerb mass of the model tested before options and accessories is listed at 6462lb (2931kg).
Three cabin styles (Single, Super and Crew) are available with two-, three-, five- and six-seat options. There are also two bed sizes available (6.75ft or 8.00ft), the Crew Cab on test fitted with the smaller 6.75ft (2057mm) ‘box’.
All four-wheel drive F-250 grades ride on a coil-sprung live axle up front and a leaf-sprung live rear and are halted by meaty 14.3-inch (363mm) four-wheel discs. Diesel-powered variants also feature exhaust braking as standard. The steering is hydraulically assisted.
Fuel tank capacities range through 29-, 34- and 48 gallons (110-, 129- and 182 litres) depending on variant and chassis configuration.
The F-250 on test arrives as standard with dusk-sensing and rain activated headlights, auto high beam, fog- and daytime running lights, rain-sensing wipers, chrome bumpers, heated and power adjustable wing mirrors with extendable towing function, brake auto hold function, 18-inch alloys (with matching spare), a heated steering wheel and rear privacy glass.
Inside, Ford’s 12.0-inch SYNC 4 infotainment system sits front and centre offering much the same connectivity found in the local Ranger. Dual-zone climate control is standard (though unfortunately the passenger side control remains dominant post conversion) alongside cruise control, power adjustable pedals, eight-way electric seat adjustment, seat heating and ventilation… the list goes on and on.
The Lariat grade also includes front, side and curtain airbags, trailer sway and hill start assist, reverse brake assist, a 360-degree camera system, blind spot monitoring, pre-collision assist with AEB and forward collision, post collision braking and SOS alert, tyre pressure monitoring, child seat restraints, and reversing sensors.
Optionally, the vehicle is fitted with a hard tonneau system, bed protector, running boards, weather shields, Narva LED driving lights, and a polished alloy bull bar.
As is likely evident from the kit list above, the modern-day F-Series pick-up is no barebones workhorse.
Here and now, the ‘Effy’ is not just a capable machine – as it has been for 75 years – but one that is packed with just about every creature comfort and convenience feature found in a passenger SUV… and with even more cabin space.
Of course, the leaf sprung rear of this full-size pick-up won’t match an SUV for ride comfort or deliver the crisp handling we’ve become accustomed to in larger family haulers.
The F-250 is built for a purpose, and compromises in ride and handling are a by-product of that role. Unladen, the pick-up is a little unmannered over corrugations and surface imperfections, which can lead to disruptions that are felt through the steering.
Without a load up back there can be a little shimmy and dance over pockmarked roads, but that’s a characteristic of heavy-duty leaf springs that is hard to skirt around – and one prospective buyers need to keep in mind.
Still, there are few complaints from the driver’s seat. The F-250 delivers predictable feel through the tiller that is only somewhat inconsistent when transitioning from parking to road speeds. The vehicle is easy to see out of and lane placement a cinch. We even found the vehicle relatively simple to park – believe it or not.
Long distance seat comfort is excellent and the driving position ripe for suitable command of the primary controls.
Wind and road noise is surprisingly well attenuated, as is the mechanical fore of the firewall. In a word, the F-250 is refreshingly quiet. We also love the fact there are grab handles at each door and that rear seat passengers aren’t treated like second-class citizens.
There’s plenty of space to stretch out in the front and up back, with all passengers benefitting from an array of charging ports (USB, 12V and 110V), cup holders and air-conditioning outlets. There’s even a lockable rifle safe under the rear bench just in case you and the crew are in the mood for some hunting.
On the downside, we found the SYNC 4 infotainment system can be a little slow in responding to prompts and lacks the visual panache of the stylish instrument cluster.
It’s a trivial concern in the scheme of things, and one most users of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatible mobile devices can easily circumvent. But it’s something that in its native state we reckon competitor Ram’s Uconnect system does a whole lot better.
We sampled the F-250 with a minimum payload and nothing on the hitch. Our drive route took in mostly in rural environs with a mix of highway and backroads to test not only the response of the driveline, but also to provide a good baseline fuel consumption figure.
Cruising at 100km/h in top gear (10th) the F-250’s big block V8 ticks over at just 1380rpm. The abundance of available torque means it doesn’t have to kick down for steeper hills either, and over our Victorian back-country route the indicated fuel consumption listed 12.5 litres per 100km.
Pulling out to overtake is more energetic than we might have expected, the engine responding enthusiastically to a prod of the loud pedal with pleasing acceleration. It’s the sort of response we welcome here at GoAuto, understanding that passing a road train or a gaggle of caravans can be an issue that requires a little horsepower to safely address. Fortunately, the F-250 has horsepower to spare.
We also noted that the vehicle’s handling was better than it deserves to be with twisty backroads taken in stride. While the ladder frame of the Effy doesn’t offer the ultimate grip levels or accuracy of a monocoque SUV, it is still remarkably confidence inspiring, providing an equally surefooted hold over sealed, wet, and loose gravel roads.
If there were any complaints about Harrison’s conversion, they are few. The left-hand side dial for the climate control remains the dominant controller of temperature when using the system in single-zone mode, and the 4WD selector is placed on the passenger side of the centre console, with the power outlet on the driver’s side.
We also found the power outlet offers a US-style 120V socket, which isn’t at all useful for Aussie devices, and that the centre console and screen seems to be canted ever so slightly toward the passenger side of the cabin – a clear LHD carry over.
Otherwise, there’s very little not to like. The F-250 is a workhorse with the heart of an ox. Pitch it against an F-150 or similar and you’ll find the extra space and capability hard to pass up, especially if you plan to use the vehicle for work – or serious play.