Fifty years into its unequaled success, Ford decided it needed more from its lightweight pickup trucks. The Super Duty lineup, including the F-250, was introduced.
The family of haulers comprises the country’s best-selling vehicles, and it’s been that way for decades.
With its siblings, the F-350 through F-750, the F-250, which debuted in 1998 as a 1999 model, features a heavier-duty chassis and heavier-duty suspension. The result is a pickup truck with a complementary role as a rugged small apartment on wheels.
Pickup truck owners accustomed to the girth and power of the beasts will rejoice. The F-250 ideally defines the segment. It’s in charge on the road with a commanding presence but without having to prove its appeal with bravado.
2021 Ford F-250: Lots of choices
The 4×4 Super Duty features a 7.2-liter, 385-horsepower engine propelled by a 10-speed automatic transmission. Three cab configurations — a regular, extended (aka SuperCab) and a crew — can be paired with either a 6.8-foot or 8.2-foot bed. Rear-wheel drive is standard on most trims and four-wheel drive is available on all options.
For 2021, Ford has let success rest — with a few exceptions. The truck hasn’t been redesigned since 2017. But the new offering is now available with exterior colors named with creative writers’ embellishments — Antimatter Blue, Carbonized Gray and Lithium Gray.
Trailer-tow mirrors with heated glass and manually adjustable-and-telescoping abilities have been added to the base model with a dual-rear-axle. A bed step is now available on all models.
Long gone is the era of pickup trucks as cargo haulers beset with occupant discomfort. The F-250 in the Lariat trim, one of six varieties offered, includes leather-trimmed seats, dual-zone climate control, an eight-inch infotainment display screen and an 11-speaker Bang and Olufsen sound system.
The Lariat trim also includes: a power-sliding rear window, rear parking sensors, power-adjustable front seats and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
The top-end features offer comfort and encouragement for pickup truck novices accustomed to driving sedans, sports cars and even medium-sized SUVs.
Negotiating the F-250 properly requires mastering a learning curve. Forget using regularly sized parking spots or any notion of negotiating nimble U-turns. It’s not what the F-250 does best. Its strengths are workhorse duties: hauling cargo to towing an RV.
Despite its proportions, the F-250 handles the road with more refinement than might be expected. The automatic transmission shifts are smooth; the overall ride quality is balanced and quiet.
For more rugged responsibilities, hill-hold assist and optional adaptive steering are stress reducers. The engine brakes, in auto mode, to allow the driver to preserve the truck’s disc brakes and advance at a set speed on wicked descents.
The Tremor Package is further appealing. It’s a collection of stuff for off-road negotiations: twin-tube dampers, a unique rear stabilizer bar, locking rear differential and 35-inch tires.
The package also includes lifting the F-250 to provide 10.8 inches of ground clearance, a 33-inch wading depth and a newly angled front fascia. The Tremor offering isn’t available or XL and Limited trims.
As an RV companion, the F-250 has several towing limit options. The base-level 6.2L V8 engine has a 15,000-pound maximum when properly equipped. When equipped with a 7.3L V8, the maximum capacity is 24,200 pounds. The truck earns best-in-class maximum gooseneck towing of up to 37,000 pounds, and best-in-class maximum 5th wheel towing of 32,500 pounds. The maximum payload capacity is 7,850 pounds.
With its extensive power and performance, the F-250 guzzles fuel, with EPA estimates of 11 miles per gallon in-city driving, 16 mpg on the highway. With its full complement of automotive, working person’s bling, the 2021 Ford F-250 is priced at just under $64,000.
Ford sold about 800,000 F-Series trucks in the 2020 pandemic year, about 12 percent less than in 2019. Yet it maintained its top-selling status.
The 2021 Ford F-250 offers plenty of reasons why the manufacturer will likely remain on the top perch for at least one more year – and likely longer.
James Raia, a syndicated columnist in Sacramento, California, publishes a free weekly automotive podcast and electronic newsletter. Sign-ups are available on his website, www.theweeklydriver.com. He can be reached via email: email@example.com.