2001 Ford E-350 Super Duty
2001 Ford E-350 Super Duty Expert Review:New Car Test Drive
New Car Test Drive
Super-duty looks with super-duty capability.
Ford's Super Duty pickups look like serious big rigs and they are.
At last count, Ford was offering 44 different configurations of its Super Duty pickups. Any one of them can pull everything from a horse trailer to a big Airstream camper. Some can do much more. For most of us, the Super Duty line consists of the F-250 and F-350 (three-quarter- and one-ton) models. (Ford also offers even bigger F-450, 550, 650, and 750 series of commercial-grade trucks.)
The F-250 and F-350 are available in regular-cab, extended-cab (SuperCab) and Crew Cab configurations. The Crew Cab versions come with four full-sized doors, and are the most passenger-friendly models. Both two- and four-wheel drive versions are offered, with engine choices: 5.4-liter V8, 6.8-liter V10, and 7.3-liter turbodiesel V8.
Changes for 2001 include a trailer-towing package (equipped to tow 10,000 pounds) and four-wheel ABS as standard equipment for all trim levels. Also, XLT models now come standard with remote keyless entry and power mirrors. Finally, audio system upgrades are included throughout the line.
Most domestic-branded pickups are offered in more configurations than any normal human can count.
All F-250 models come with single rear wheels. F-350 models are available with single rear wheels (SRW) or dual rear wheels (DRW). The latter, often referred to as 'dualies,' are beneficial for towing as they offer higher tongue weight ratings.
Ford Super Duty F-250 competes with the other heavyweights from Detroit: Dodge Ram 2500, Chevrolet Silverado 2500 and GMC Sierra 2500. F-350 dual rear wheel models compete with the 3500-series models from GM and Dodge.
Some compare the exterior styling of the F-250 to the big-rig look of the Dodge Ram. Ford's Super Duty trucks used to share their cabs with the F-l50 light-duty models, but the current line broke that heritage. While the F-l50s have rounded edges, the Super Duty pickups look like heavy-duty trucks. Their menacing square-jawed front ends, brawny-looking raised hoods and aggressive headlamps are a big tip-off that there are significant differences between a garden-variety F-150 and a Super Duty.
In fact, the Super Duty F-Series trucks ride on an entirely different platform from the regular F-150 models.
A dropped beltline gives the Super Duty F-250 a sense of openness and accessibility. It also makes it easier to climb in, a welcome feature when juggling tools, briefcases, or even toddlers. A distinctive dip along the front door side glass improves the driver's view of the exterior mirrors, a big help when towing a trailer or for seeing around cargo boxes or dump truck bodies.
Two Triton overhead-cam engines are available: A 5.4-liter V8 is rated at 260 horsepower and 350 foot-pounds of torque, while a 6.8-liter V10 is available rated at 310 horsepower and 425 foot-pounds of torque. Our F-250 was equipped with the V8.
The 7.3-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel receives a horsepower boost for 2001, from 235- to 275 horsepower; torque is also increased from 500- to 520 foot-pounds of torque. (These figures are for models equipped with the manual transmission - the automatic's numbers are 250 and 505, respectively.)
A five-speed manual transmission comes standard with the gasoline engines, while a six-speed manual is standard with the diesel. The optional 4-speed automatic transmission is available. Four-wheel drive models offer either manual or shift-on-the-fly locking hubs.
Many trucks these days are used for work and personal duty. To address that, Ford is offering twice as many configurations as before.
The Super Duty F-250 and 350 comes in regular cab, extended SuperCab and four-door Crew Cab models. Short-bed (6 3/4 feet) and long-bed (8 feet) versions are available. Three trim levels are offered: standard XL, mid-level XLT, and luxurious Lariat.
Extended cab models can be ordered with four doors. Wheelbase lengths include 137 inches (regular cab), 142 inches (SuperCab short-bed), 158 inches (SuperCab long-bed), 156 inches (Crew Cab short-bed) and 172 inches (Crew Cab long-bed).
With the ability to tow up to 14,500 pounds (with the optional Class IV trailer package), the Super Duty F-250 offers the best towing capacity in its class.
Realizing that today's truck owners spend a lot of time in their vehicles, the designers at Ford paid a lot of attention to comfort and convenience. The interior features a fold-down armrest, a floor console that can accommodate a laptop, and a removable hanging bin for storage that can attach to the dash. Controls are big, easy to reach and manipulate and gauges are easy to read. The only exception is the instrument panel dimmer, which is a bit hard to reach. Two large cupholders are provided. The standard cigar lighter is augmented with a second auxiliary power outlet.
Passenger-side airbags offer a deactivation switch on regular cab and SuperCab models. Adjustable seatbelt anchors increase safety and comfort.
This truck is very roomy, and offers comfortable and spacious seats as well as plenty of shoulder and hip room.
We drove our F-250 along the Pacific Coast, down bustling inland freeways and off road in the backcountry. Our overwhelming impression was that it drove like a much smaller truck. It almost felt like a big luxury car. We were impressed with the striking combination of crisp handling and compliant ride quality. The steering was precise.
The chassis is quite rigid, which allows Ford engineers to tune the suspension geometry to make a truck that doesn't necessarily drive like one. Body roll was noticeably limited in the corners.
Four-wheel antilock disc brakes, which are standard, provided excellent driver feedback. Braking performance was impressive with smooth, undramatic stops. The F-250 comes with a 16-inch wheel and tire package.
We found the SuperCab's four doors a great way to gain access to the rear seat, which is standard on the XLT and Lariat models and optional with the XL trim. The rear seat cushion folds up and forward and the seatback folds down to create a steel flat loading surface, a perfect place to put tools and other heavy items that need to stay secure and out of the elements.
The rear doors are 25 inches wide. They hinge on the rear pillars of the cab and swing out a full 90 degrees from the doorsill. This design eases the loading of gear and passengers and contributes to occupant safety with the combination of vertical beams and a cross brace where the front and rear doors meet.
Ford anticipates selling the millionth version of their Super Duty pickup since its 1999 redesign. That's an amazing achievement, and suggests that the popularity of these big trucks isn't a fluke.
We like the F-250's styling. But with features that make it as comfortable as a luxury car and capabilities that allow it to perform more work than ever before, this F-250 is a thing of beauty.
F-250: 4x2 regular cab 137-in. wheelbase XL ($20,880); 4x4 regular cab 137-in. XLT ($26,860); 4x4 SuperCab 158-in. XL ($26,330); 4x2 SuperCab 158-in. Lariat ($27,890); 4x2 Crew Cab 172-in. XLT ($27,580); 4x4 Crew Cab 172-in. Lariat ($32,700)
F-350: 4x2 regular cab 137-in. wheelbase XLT ($21,335); 4x4 SuperCab 142-in. XL ($26,920); 4x4 Crew Cab 156-in. Lariat ($33,120).
Options As Tested
Automatic transmission ($1,095).
4x4 SuperCab Lariat ($30,760).
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