• Auto123 reviews the 2023 Ford F-250, with a view to finding out what it's like to live with such a big truck.
Analyzing a model like the Ford F-250 (completely revised for 2023 BTW) is no easy task. There are almost as many versions of this big pickup as there are of the smaller F-150. But make no mistake, we're not talking about the same vehicle here.
Firstly, an F-250 is bigger and, above all, more robust. The F-250 can’t be considered a glorified F-150. What's more, the F-250 is part of a very exclusive though profitable niche (alongside the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra HD 2500 and Ram HD 2500) that doesn't exist elsewhere. This is the domain of the U.S. Big Three, case closed.
The F-250 Super Duty also brings to mind the even more imposing F-350. But there's a distinction to be made there too. While F-250s are used for work as well as personal use, F-350s are almost totally dedicated to commercial or specialized users.
I've asked F-250 owners how they view their truck, and most are clear: they couldn't live without it. One of my neighbors uses his 10-year-old F-250 for snow removal in winter and landscaping in summer. But he also uses it for short errands. The same goes for Keven Beaucage, a graduate in aeronautics and construction engineering and now a racing school director. He was just as adamant about his F-250: “I wouldn't do without it...even to run small errands!”
An XL STX FX4
The (base) F-250 XL I had at my disposal featured a sportier STX finish, with the FX4 package for off-road excursions. Usually, automakers hand automotive journalists top-of-the-range models, but in this case, I was given a 4-door F-250 4 X 4 Crew Cab with a 160-inch wheelbase.
Under its hood was the new base 6.8L gasoline V8 good for some 400 hp and 445 lb-ft of torque; it replaces the previous 6.2L V8. Like all F-250s, it’s combined with a 10-speed automatic transmission and electronically controlled four-wheel drive.
Ironically, the front axle clutch is also mechanical (meaning that the driver has to get out of the truck and engage the front axles by turning a knob in the centre of the hub - something I hadn't done since my little 1985 Bronco II!).
A welcoming but simple interior
To get to the cockpit, I had to (literally) climb aboard (thanks for the optional running boards!). The interior of this model is less elaborate than that of a King Ranch or Platinum. In fact, it didn't even have power seats, and indeed the cabin houses a three-seat bench in front (with a removable console in the centre with adjustable top shelf). No heated seats either, although with its cloth upholstery, I didn't feel the need. A heated steering wheel would have been appreciated, however.
My tester's redesigned dashboard was similar to that of other Super Duty models of this new generation, except that its instrumentation was less elaborate. It had all the required stuff, mind you, even with a slightly smaller central screen.
That screen is used not only for the radio, but also for the navigation system and the various cameras available on this vehicle.
Among the many electronic controls on the dashboard, we should mention the four-wheel drive control, and especially the one that allows the driver to reverse with a trailer attached, and to guide the direction of the van using the rotary knob (without touching the steering wheel) to properly steer the trailer thanks to the reversing camera. At the same time, and ironically, this F-250 is "basic" enough that you have to insert the key into the ignition on the dashboard and turn it to start the truck.
This dashboard also houses the electric rear window control. Fortunately, the steering wheel doesn't house too many redundant controls.
All that said, the important thing to remember is that there's room, lots of room, in this cabin. What's more, the rear bench seats can be folded up to "hide" valuables under the seat, or remain upright to provide a weather-protected cargo area in the rear.
And the bed?
Last but not least on this F-250 is the bed. Once essentially just a box into which equipment or other gear were loaded, the modern pickup bed is large and well laid out.
In the case of my four-door cab model, it measures 6.75 ft and can be accessed from the sides via the steps integrated into the outer rocker panels, or from the back by lowering the access panel and using the steps integrated into the ends of the bumper, or else via the optional retractable step stool with handrail that deploys from the access panel.
The inside of the body is protected by a coating applied to the floor and sides, where you'll also find lighting lamps, adjustable tie-down hooks and a power socket. The access panel is lockable.
Driving the 2023 Ford F-250 Super Duty
Clearly, this F-250 XL is more of a work tool than a recreational vehicle. But how well can you live with this truck as a passenger vehicle?
Let's put aside the few acrobatic gestures required to climb aboard. Aside from the ample space available, what's most noticeable once you're behind the wheel of this Super Duty is the superb visibility afforded by the cab's large fenestration. After a few adjustments to the driving position, find the ignition on the dashboard and off you go.
At which point you’ll notice right away the 6.8L V8 ability to pick up speed in a hurry. It's quite impressive that this big vehicle is able to go from a stop to 100 km/h in under eight seconds. And acceleration is just as impressive when overtaking.
Steering is smooth and relatively precise, despite the fact that a ball-bearing steering gear does the job (F-150s have rack-and-pinion steering). Note that the F-250's steering is now electrically assisted.
Braking is quite powerful, which is reassuring given the vehicle's load capacity of over 4,000 lb and towing capacity of over 17,000 lb, not to mention its 6,000-lb weight.
It should be noted that my F-250 tester was equipped with the FX4 option, which delivers a stiffer suspension. The result is a harder ride that can bounce you around on uneven pavement. I've driven other F-250s that were a little more comfortable. However, for more demanding work, this suspension is just right.
Surprisingly, on the highway, the truck is very quiet. You can hardly hear the engine or road noise. In other words, it's ideal for road trips with an RV. To park the truck-trailer combination, I used the Pro Trailer Backup Assist function, which requires a little fine-tuning, but is effective.
And in the city?
Here, the experience is a little more difficult, given the vehicle's size. However, with a little experience, you learn to tame the F-250's dimensions and calculate your distances in traffic. To turn tight corners, you also learn to point the front of the vehicle a little further out before turning the steering wheel.
Parking the vehicle is yet another obstacle. It generally doesn't fit in underground parking lots, and you can expect parking lots to charge you for two spaces rather than one. It's a safe bet you'll choose a smaller vehicle for your urban to-and-fros.
The situation is somewhat similar off-road. The truck may be an FX4, but it can’t fit on just any old trail. On the other hand it's capable of overcoming difficult obstacles, given its impressive ground clearance. Obviously, if your personal or professional activities take place on off-road terrain, you'll appreciate its prowess.
While it's possible to live well with an F-250 if you respect its dimensions, when it comes to fuel consumption, you can expect to have a dinged wallet. In almost exclusively urban driving, I averaged 20.88L/100 km (while the dashboard meter read 19.7). Actually, that's close to the fuel consumption I managed with a Dodge Charger V8 sedan! Fortunately, the “little V8” runs on regular gasoline. There is a diesel engine available with the F-250, but at a much higher price.
Pricing for the 2023 Ford F-250 Super Duty
A base pickup like this costs a minimum of $67,029. The F-250 pictured here had $11,645 worth of options, including:
- - STX package for $5,750
- - FX4 off-road package for $450
- - Running boards, $600
- - ProPower electrical outlets, $1300
- - 550 power-opening rear window
- - Engraved interior surface of bed access panel to measure $400
- - 1095 towing kit
- - Retractable rear step ladder, $400
- - Interior body liner $600
- - Dual batteries, $300
- - Tinted glass for rear cab
And that's not counting the $100 federal excise tax for the A/C, plus the $2,296 for shipping and preparation. All this adds up to a final bill of $80,969...plus taxes.
One advantage of the F-250 is that it is not (necessarily) subject to mandatory weighing at certain times of the year. It can be classified as a personal or even recreational vehicle. But, above all, it can lead a double life, as a passenger vehicle or as a professional vehicle. And what’s more, it has a rather rugged appearance that's not unpleasant to look at!
- - The F-250's versatility
- - Powerful base V8 engine
- - Spacious, welcoming interior
We like less
- - Fuel consumption (of course!)
- - Size in urban situations
- - Very firm suspension