Big jobs require big trucks. That's probably why Ford's previous generation of heavy-duty pickups, the F-250 and F-350, has been such a huge success. Starting with the 1999 model, Ford built the Super Duty models on a chassis significantly different from the F-150's. FoMoCo took the opportunity to increase nearly every dimension with the change, including a four-inch wheelbase stretch that translated directly into more interior room.
As expected in this class, there are many combinations of engine, drivetrain, cabin size, and bed length as well as special versions for RVs and commercial applications. The regular cab is offered with a long bed; the extended cab has four doors, the aft two hinged at the rear, with a short or long bed; and the SuperCab, with four full-size, front-hinged doors, also is available with either bed. Within those categories are various trim levels: There are too many combinations to list here, but the XL is base--and we do mean base, with vinyl seats and no standard air-conditioning--while XLT is above that and Lariat is at the top. There's probably a combination of bed, cabin, and door count to fit any need.
Along with the wide range of choices in layout, you get to pick from a variety of engines. A 235-horsepower, 5.4-liter Triton V-8 is standard, with a 275-horsepower 6.8-liter V-10 as an option. The 7.3-liter Power Stroke V-8 turbodiesel makes just 235 horsepower, but has a mammoth 500 pound-feet of torque. For 2000, the 5.4-liter was boosted to 260 horsepower and 350 pound-feet, and in 2001, Ford upped the V-10's output to 310 horses and 425 pound-feet and the turbodiesel's to 250 and 505. In 2003, the 7.3-liter Power Stroke's torque was pumped up again to 525, but by midyear, an all-new 6.0-liter variable-fin turbodiesel arrived, boasting 325 horsepower and 550 pound-feet of torque. Bring on the Sea Ray! Most models could be ordered with a four-speed automatic or a manual--five-speed was standard and six-speed optional until 2002, when the extra ratio was made standard.
Owners have reported a choppy ride, particularly with the 4WD option--which is to be expected in a 3/4- or one-ton truck. There are reports of injection problems on the gasoline engines, notably the idle-air control and EGR valves. Reports also show transmission issues on high-payload diesel versions, so it's worth carefully checking the service history of any candidate--remember that tow vehicles can lead a hard life, even in a few miles.
By Marc Cook
Click here to get the specs on the 1999-2004 Ford F-Series Super Duty!