2008 Ford F250 Crew Cab 4X4 Diesel
2008 Ford F250 Crew Cab 4X4 Diesel. Click image to enlarge

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2008 Ford F-250 Crew Cab 4×4 diesel

Brampton, Ontario – Four-wheel drive will get you in trouble – count on it. That’s a lesson I’ve learned – over and over – and over. My latest sinking was in the 2008 Ford F250 4×4 Crew Cab pickup, and all because I wanted some nice off-road pictures. One minute all is fine, and then wham! I’m as stuck as a cheap pine door on a humid summer day. Well, I did get the pictures – though I doubt if I’ve learned my lesson.

The new Ford Super Duty is a handsome truck, even when it’s all muddy. Mine was dressed in red with a blackout grille, chrome step rail and eight-spoke 20-inch rims (upgraded from 18-inch). It looks tough, capable and ready to haul.

2008 Ford F250 Crew Cab 4X4 Diesel
2008 Ford F250 Crew Cab 4X4 Diesel
2008 Ford F250 Crew Cab 4X4 Diesel. Click image to enlarge

Ford says 90 per cent of Super Duty buyers tow regularly, just as I did last spring when I hauled an enclosed four-place snowmobile trailer to Sault St. Marie, Ontario and back – 400 bucks in diesel later… ouch! But then, that’s the cost of transporting a whole lot more than just you. Look at what I was carrying: four snowmobiles, four adults, a twin-axle seven-metre closed trailer and all the assorted gear that goes with a week-long wilderness ride. That requires power and a truck that can haul comfortably and safely – that’s the first priority. On that basis, this new Super Duty works well, towing up to 5,670 kg (12,500 lb.) conventionally or 7,484 kg (16,500 lb.) if equipped with a fifth wheel hitch.

During that trip, the truck cruised confidently and towed the 4,000 kg (8,818 lb.) trailer with minimal effort – even through a wet, driving snow. Meanwhile, over the ten-hour trip to the Sault, inside I found the quietest Super Duty yet, a result of better sound deadening material and a new, quieter 6.4-litre diesel which is also more powerful, putting out 350 hp and 650-ft-lbs of torque. The transmission also gets a new fifth gear that barely taxes the engine at 100 km/h.

The driver’s and front passenger seats were plush leather, power-adjustable and heated while in the rear, the 60/40 leather bench seat folded up or down and had a recessed armrest. An adjustable gas/brake pedal and tilt wheel accommodated drivers of varying sizes and a new centre console offered extra cupholders and an armrest with a cavernous storage space underneath. The rear passengers were surrounded by privacy glass, had plenty of room for elbows and knees and could even relax with an available DVD entertainment system. Also new this year is a six-CD, AM/FM/SAT Audiophile sound system that now has an MP3 input jack as well.

Precisely because it handles towing so well, over 80 per cent of Super Duty buyers (F250 and up) order the turbo diesel option, at a cost of $8,570. This combination is a complete generational leap from the old 6.0-litre Power Stroke, particularly in its performance and its new emission reduction systems.

2008 Ford F250 Crew Cab 4X4 Diesel
2008 Ford F250 Crew Cab 4X4 Diesel. Click image to enlarge

Those new emission systems are all part of Ford Clean Diesel Technology, which eliminates up to 97 per cent of the particulate output – a figure on par with gasoline engines. Unfortunately, these changes have driven the price of the diesel engine up. The gasoline alternative to the 6.4L diesel engine is the base 5.4L V8 or the optional 6.8L V10, both of which are proven reliable engines – and unless you are packing on mega-kilometres in a year you should consider the lower entry price of the gas alternatives even though their fuel consumption will be worse. Incidentally, clean diesel technology was government-mandated in ’07 so all manufacturers have had to comply and the resulting rise in the price of diesel engines has affected them all.

One benefit that stood out on my trip up north was the re-worked high-pressure common rail fuel injection on the 6.4-litre, which has improved cold weather starting – at least down to minus 20 Celsius, I found. No warm-up time needed, and no smoke.

New this year is the FX4 designation available on 4WD SuperCab or Crew Cab models. This package adds items like a limited-slip rear axle, skid plates, Rancho shocks, a billet-style grille and 18-inch premium chrome wheels. The skid plate in particular works well I found.

Ford’s TowCommand System returns as an option – one that is well worth the money. It includes a factory-installed electronic brake controller that now works with the anti-lock braking system (when it detects poor traction) and helps to slow the trailer and truck in those conditions. The TorqShift five-speed automatic transmission also has Tow/Haul mode for heavy loads, but frankly the low-end torque on this engine pulls even the largest trailer smartly off the line without using it.

A wonderful feature is the PowerScope trailer tow mirrors. These large, heated mirrors slide out at the push of a button affording a clear view down the sides of a towed trailer. Drop the trailer, push the button and the mirrors slide back in. They also “break-away” in both directions and have large adjustable convex spot-mirrors.

2008 Ford F250 Crew Cab 4X4 Diesel
2008 Ford F250 Crew Cab 4X4 Diesel. Click image to enlarge

Out back, Ford’s hide-away tailgate step is a good example of a company doing its homework and giving truck people what they need. It makes getting up and down from the bed easy – no more bruised shins. Having said that, sometimes unexpected problems do surface, despite rigorous pre-production testing: during that last snow storm of the season, just south of Sudbury, a warning light came on – “check air filter” it said. I did, only to find that it was packed with snow. I scooped it out – before days end I’d have to do it once more. Interestingly the owner’s manual mentioned that driving snow or rain might clog the intake to the filter – and it suggested a remedy – dry it out. Say what?

I called Ford when I got back and found they were aware of the flaw and were offering a winter front cover as a remedy to any customer who experienced this problem. And this is the paradox for all manufacturers really – something innovative like the tailgate step is loved by everyone. Then despite tens of thousands of test kilometres on the new engine (where this problem never presented itself) – they end up with plugged air filters.

A final thought for 4WD owners: learning that there are things you can’t do with four-wheel drive is the best way to stay out of trouble. Alternatively, for those of us with learning disabilities, I’d like to see manufacturers install a caution light that’s activated when the truck is shifted into 4WD. It should flash a message at the driver – something like “WARNING: whatever you are about to do – don’t!”

Pricing: 2008 Ford F-250 Crew Cab 4×4 diesel

Base price: $43,469
Options: $8,369 (five-speed automatic transmission, $1939; 20-inch polished alloy wheels, $1825; 20-inch tires, $145; leather seats, $945; rear seat DVD system, $1495; extendable power mirrors, $625; heated front seats, $375; tailgate step and handle, $300; Audiophile audio system with Sirius satellite radio, $720)

A/C tax: $100
Freight: $1,300
Price as tested: $53,238
Click here for options, dealer invoice prices and factory incentives

  • Specifications: 2008 Ford F-series

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