2006 Ford F-250, F-350 Super Duty XLT Crew Cab 6.0L Diesel 4WD

When you gotta get it done, you gotta have this truck

We don't know about you, but when we're in the high Sierras and we see a family with a diesel-powered crew-cab pickup towing some cool ski boat-with a big wakeboard tower that looks like the Golden Gate-whisking up some 10,000-foot peak on the way to Lake Tahoe, we go nearly insane with jealously. Maybe it's a guy thing. But having made such treks with some great rigs (along with some comically poor ones-how about a Triumph TR4 towing a Hobie Cat uphill at 15 mph-), we can tell you unequivocally: Great equipment rocks. And the 2006 Super Duty XLT Crew Cab, equipped with Ford's stunning Power Stroke six-liter diesel, is exactly that.

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All the Room You Need

Automakers, or make that truck makers, figured out some time ago that we have an incredible amount of Large Things in our lives. We have boats-big offshore cruisers and fast metal-flake bass boats. We have Belgian draft horses and Belgian draft-horse trailers. Tall kids and tall kids' basketball teams. Plus briefcases and laptop computers, sporting and camping equipment, and all kinds of other things too valuable to put in the back of a pickup truck.

This is exactly why the Crew Cab was invented. Its interior offers an incredible amount of room and seats up to six passengers. Up front is a roomy three-passenger bench seat offering independently adjustable sections for the driver and passenger, while the FlexFoldTM 60/40 rear seat can be configured for storage, passengers-or both. "Captain's chairs" (luxurious independent driver and passenger's seats) are available in different trim sets, including leather trimmed. A nice breathable cloth is the standard upholstery with XLT.

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Big Muscle for Big Jobs

The Super Duty nomenclature defines the serious players in Ford's pickup workload hierarchy, and brings a choice of rugged F-250 or even heavier-duty F-350 models. Both offer a heavy-duty driveline and suspension, a more businesslike ride quality, and a greater work capacity than the standard-issue F-150.

But the piece de resistance in the Super Duty line up is Ford's 6.0-liter diesel V-8. Producing 325 hp and 570 lb.-ft. of torque (you read that right, 570 lbs.-ft!), the F-250 can conventionally tow up to 12,500 pounds. Or for really huge loads, try a properly equipped F-350 that can 5th wheel tow up to 19,200 pounds. Whichever you choose, the optional TowCommand System, which features an Integrated Trailer Brake Controller, makes the driver's job that much easier. Good news for 2006, the Super Duty diesel engine is now emissions certified in all 50 states.

Pickups used to be rated primarily by how much weight they could carry, resulting in standard classifications including half-ton, three-quarter ton, etc. How about a maximum payload of 3,300 pounds for the F-250, and a positively huge payload of 5,800 pounds for the F-350? Simply put, that's how much decomposed granite you can dump in the back, minus the weight of the neighbors you conned into helping you.

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A Full Range of Features

Amazingly, even with all this capability the Ford Super Duty is a truck you can reasonably use for daily transportation. The roomy interior is quiet and comfortable, the diesel engine has more than enough power for any situation, and the steering and four-wheel disc brakes are refined to make everyday driving pleasant. The ride characteristics are on the firm side by intention, but the twin coil mono beam front suspension and staggered rear shocks do provide an acceptable tradeoff for the truck's towing and carrying capability. It'll be there when you need it.

When equipped with the Power Stroke diesel, the Super Duty pickup comes with a standard six-speed manual transmission that has a ratio for every conceivable need. Available for a nominal cost is a five-speed TorqShift automatic overdrive transmission. The automatic is a wonder of engineering, and its smooth, seamless shifts make it a joy to accelerate through the gears every time. And it features a Tow/Haul feature that bumps up the shift points and nicely eliminates gear hunting when you're towing a trailer.

Combing over the options list for the Super Duty Crew Cab makes for a terrific evening. There are a number of inventive packages available, including security, off-road, sport and towing, that make tailoring the truck to your specific interests easy. And there is still a host of stand-alone options to finish the job. For instance, Automatic/Manual locking hubs, which come with the optional Electronic Shift-On-The-Fly 4x4 system, can get you through just about any road (or off-road) and weather conditions imaginable. And the list goes on from there, including a new Chrome Package for 2006, which includes a chrome grille, tow hooks, mirror caps, five-inch tubular step bars, pickup bed tie-downs and exhaust tip.

When you see a Super Duty Crew Cab on the road, you can't help but admire its handsome design and purposeful stance. But when you actually drive one, all outfitted just the way you need it and towing that sparkling new ski boat, you'll become a believer-and a Super Duty disciple. (www.fordvehicles.com)

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