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2005 Ford F-350 SuperCab 4 x 2

Eyes Wide Open

In Ford’s F-350 SuperCab, you might not know you’re driving a 1-ton truck—but maybe that was the point.

Close your eyes and twist the key on Ford’s two-wheel-drive F-350 SuperCab. The 6.8-liter engine whirls to life and, at idle speed, delivers no audible signs that might indicate that 10 pistons are reciprocating inside rather than the usual eight.

Take it for a spin down the road and you’ll note that the ride is firm, but nowhere near what you’d expect from a 1-ton truck. Use it around town for a week, park it in tight spaces and pick up a bunch of Happy Meals at the local drive-through. Then, tow a big honking trailer with it and your eyes will widen with delight. It really is a truck you can drive every day, yet still use to take a big offshore boat to the water and back.

We approached the F-350 SuperCab with the squint of skepticism. We were a bit critical of the F-250 4x4 model we tested previously, so we weren’t expecting to be impressed with our latest test model. We always liked four real doors of the Crew Cab, two-wheel drive and the power and economy of Ford’s diesel engines, however, we came away with newfound respect, which was as nice as it was unexpected.

It had the same engine and cab configuration as January’s test model, but if you don’t need or want four-wheel drive, don’t bother with it. You can get an F-350 with the same towing capacity, an extra 1,400 pounds of carrying capacity and a nicer ride for less money than an F-250 with four-wheel drive. If you don’t get pounded with snow every winter or have a penchant for off-roading, the two-wheel-drive model is the way to go for towing.

We had the chance to pull a 6,600-pound load with a trailer that came with electric brakes, and that gave us a chance to sample the integrated trailer brake controller system. We still like hydraulic surge brakes, but Ford’s system was pretty trick. It monitors the connection at the pigtail. If a connection is lost, the dash indicator flashes red. It displays the trailer braking power setting and the output to the trailer brakes relative to your input at the pedal. Pretty nifty, and it opened our eyes to the technology.

We also were wide-eyed about the truck’s fuel consumption. No, it wasn’t good. We netted about 11.5 mpg for the week around town and even less with the trailer in tow. The diesel is more economical, by about 4 mpg depending on the weight of your right foot—but with a diesel, you have to memorize where all the gas stations are that sell fuel, deal with the noise, et al. Its mileage was a weak point for the truck, especially considering that competing V-8s make more horsepower and net better fuel mileage—something to keep Ford engineers awake at night.

What those same engineers need not worry about are the improvements they made for 2005. Top on the list is its stiffer frame, which might have had a hand in improving the ride. True the 4x4 we tested in January had the same frame, but with all the running gear up front, we couldn’t detect any significant improvements over the 2004 model.

The frame also made the truck feel less prone to vibration inside. Previous Super Duty models and Excursions didn’t feel as stiff as the new model. Credit for the better ride might be due to the larger LT275/65R18 tires, which had an inch of diameter over the four-wheel-drive model we tested in January.

This test vehicle also came with the $475 Lariat Luxury Group, which included much-needed steering-wheel controls. The reach to the dash is a stretch. Cruise-control switches were clustered on the left side of the wheel, operable with the driver’s thumb. The right side featured volume and mode controls for the stereo along with fan-speed and temperature controls. The best part was that they were backlighted for easy nighttime use.

The truck also came with a switch to shut off the passenger-side airbag, which makes it safer to install a rear-facing child seat—or any child seat for that matter. We liked the idea, but the execution could have been better. The switch was operated by a key, which turned to off, but it was a momentary switch. Once the airbag was off, the indicator light stayed on for the first few minutes of running time. After that the light shut off. Yes, you know you shut it off, but it would have been nicer if you could look over and see the key switch physically turned to the off position rather than having to rely on a temporary light or your own memory—which also might be temporary.

Other useful options included the power adjustable brake and gas pedals, a paltry $120 option that’s priceless if different-size people regularly drive the truck. It also came with the reverse-sensing system, which, as much as we hate to admit, we found ourselves relying on as the week wore on. Talk about technology taking the place of proper backing skills.

That same brand of technology was available in the form of an antilock brake system. Boosted by a vacuum, the brakes offered decent feel and lots of power without a trailer in tow. Antilock mode worked well at its threshold and during full-bore panic stops. The system makes it share of noise but it halts the truck with minimal tire chirping. The system takes no getting used to, just stand on the pedal and let it do the work.

In fact, the entire truck requires no getting used to. A major drawback of 1-ton trucks is that the unladen ride is often harsh. One other shortcoming is that these kinds of trucks are often cumbersome to use as a daily driver, but the SuperCab F-350 is actually usable for grocery-getting and quick trips. Though the V-10’s fuel mileage is as bad as that of a school bus, buyers can opt for the 5.4-liter V-8 or the more expensive 6.0-liter diesel.

However you equip the two-wheel drive F-350, it’s capable of pulling the load, and we’re glad we kept our eyes open to see it.

SPECIFICATIONS

PERFORMANCE
EPA Fuel Economy Estimates
City    NA
Highway NA

ACCELERATION
0-60 mph towing   NA
40-60 mph towing    NA
0-60 mph nontowing     8.2 seconds
40-60 mph nontowing       5.2 seconds

POWERTRAIN
Engine    6.8-liter V-10
Horsepower    355 at 4,750 rpm
Torque  455 pound-feet at 3,250 rpm
Compression ratio    9.2:1
Transmission   Torqshift five-speed automatic

WEIGHTS
Curb weight       5,889 pounds
Tow rating         12,400 pounds with weight-distributing hitch, 17,000 with gooseneck trailer.
Gross vehicle weight rating    10,800 pounds
Gross combined weight rating     21,500 pounds

CHASSIS
Axle ratio    4.10:1
Fuel Capacity  29 gallons
Tire size      LT275/65R18
Brakes      Four-wheel vacuum-assist disc, with antilock
Suspension Front: Twin I-beam with coil springs and trailing arms
Rear: Five-leaf with live axle

DIMENSIONS
Overall length      231.2”
Maximum width    79.9”
Wheelbase  141.8”
Base price     $31,975
Price as tested       $35,930

TRAILER TOWED
6,600 pounds

INFORMATION
Customer service   800-392-3673
Web site    www.fordvehicles.com        
   

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