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.
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The original Ford F250 was introduced in 1965 as a beefed up F150. The Super Duty version was introduced in 1998 and is essentially an all-new truck compared to the previous model. I owned a 1966 F250 and its specs match pretty closely with my current 2019 Ranger (the Ranger is actually better in most ways.) What a difference 53 years has made!
Found On Road Dead, Fuel Or Repair Daily, must be a good reason why Ford is recalling 750K trucks?
My first pickup was a 1983 Ford F-250 day cab long bed two wheel drive – with the gas guzzling 460 V8 and a four speed. I almost wish I’d kept that beast with NO computers, NO DEF, NO REGEN, and almost NO worries. It did have NO creature comforts, but it was a pickup and I didn’t expect any creature comforts. Sigh.
Of course, I couldn’t tow my current trailer with it, but I could have spiffed it up and parked it out front for bragging rights . . .