Project Super Crew road tested; we put our F250 to the test
When the road ends and the open country spreads out ahead, most people stop and turn around. Not so with our readers who pioneer roads and do initial survey work for gas pipelines and oil field wells.
They flip the 4WD switch, drop the trans into 4-Lo and keep going to wherever the coordinates on the topo map lead.
The same is true for those who do oil and gas well service, run dozers and excavators, or supervise the early stages of road building and site prep. Driving over difficult terrain is just another day at the office.
That “No road? No problem!” attitude by those who work on the front lines of road building and construction is our credo for our 2011 Sweepstakes giveaway project truck – a Ford F-250 Super Duty Crew Cab 4×4 Lariat.
Ford’s most popular heavy-duty pickup, with the new 6.7L Powerstroke under its hood, is the perfect platform for building such a work truck.
We couldn’t think of any better name than to simply call it “Super Crew” because that’s what it’ll be by the time we’re finished with it this fall.
SETTING THE STAGE
We have covered the new Super Duties in-depth on our web site (propickupmag.com) and in previous issues. So we’ll skip the fine details and hit a few of the highlights that led us to partner with Ford on Project Super Crew.
The ’11 F-250 Crew Cab is designed both mechanically and electronically to accommodate the working guy.
It’s built stout from the frame up, but provides a comfortable ride on road and off.
Power and fuel economy are exceptional with Ford’s own 6.7L diesel. It’s roomy inside with all the right types of storage compartments for the person whose pickup is their office.
And when the rolling office needs a direct connection to the home office, Ford has that electronic link at your fingertips through Work Solutions software and hardware.
In short, the new Super Duty is a finely crafted tool for the working man.
Our specific F-250 is a Lariat purchased through Town & Country Ford in Birmingham, Alabama (alabamaford.com). It has cloth seats, split bench in the rear, manual-locking hubs, towing package, the base-level stereo and a little bit of chrome.
Claire Reeves, the salesperson at Town & Country Ford who helped us pick the right options for our needs suggested we add 3:31 gears with electronic-locking rear differential ($390); the 6.7L V-8 diesel and 6-speed automatic ($7,835); FX-4 off-road package ($295) that includes skid plates; and electronic shift-on-the-fly ($185) to simplify going from 2WD to four.
We also checked the order boxes for the tailgate step ($375), front bucket seats with the console ($300), and the XLT trim package ($795) that includes both adjustable pedals and six-way power seats. Comfort and convenience, just what the doctor ordered.
Claire also sold us on the idea to have Town & Country install Ford’s optional Work Solutions in-dash computer ($1,395) and the Tool Link software ($450) so we have that electronic connection to our corporate office while we’re in the field, and have a way to ensure we don’t leave anything valuable behind at either place. (See related article,” Tool Track,” in this issue.)
Our new Super Duty cost a nice even $50,000 when the smoke cleared and all the special discounts offered at the time were included. Not a bad business investment considering all it can (and will) do.
BY THE NUMBERS
The first thing we wanted to see for ourselves is how this new 6.7L Powerstroke performed. We knew it was strong and fuel-efficient. But putting hard numbers down is confirmation. So we headed to our favorite play area – The Beach.
Holiday Raceway is a quiet little gathering spot for a lot of those in northwest Alabama who love to drag race, and we’ve adopted “The Beach” as our official test track. It’s 1/8th-mile ribbon was just redone and sports a new concrete racing surface where Project Super Crew got its chance to wear a little of the “green” off both itself and the track.
Our test method is very straightforward: Make three back-to-back runs with traction-control enabled. When the truck crosses the finish line, hammer the brakes with both feet and keep them there until the truck comes to a complete stop. Our Stalker ATS computerized radar system records the run from the moment the truck moves until it stops.
What we get is hard data in time, speed and distance; acceleration and braking numbers that are far more accurate than on-board GPS-based data-gathering systems.
Our best pass netted 0-60mph in 8.7 seconds, covering the 660 feet of concrete in 11.1 seconds with a top speed of 70.7mph. Not too shabby for a 7,467-pound four-wheel-drive pickup, a full fuel tank and yours truly at the wheel.
(Justin Wood, one of our other ProPickup staffers, took a turn as well and posted numbers just a couple tenths slower.)
Project Super Crew’s base numbers, by the way, are only a fraction quicker than those we posted when testing a 2011 Eddie Bauer-edition Super Duty Crew Cab 4×4 a few months earlier.
The 60-0mph braking numbers are similar, too. The previous Super Duty stopped in 151.1 feet while our truck stopped in 151.5 feet – or three inches longer. That’s consistency. Brake fade between the first and second runs was also similar with both trucks stopping in 168 feet and change.
DIESEL FUEL ECONOMY
Fuel mileage and interior noise levels are tested on a 50-mile stretch of Interstate 20/59 just south of Tuscaloosa. We run the pickups at a constant 70mph, make a U-turn and come back to our starting point, which is a gas station just off the highway. The total mileage is 104 pump-to-pump. We fill from the same fuel pump, too, ensuring accuracy, and keep the A/C off.
Note that our test speed is higher than the EPA’s and not done on a computer lab floor. But we feel our numbers are more “real world” and reflect what you guys will see – and there’s no EPA mandate at this time to even show diesel mileage.
That said, Ford’s on-board “Average MPG” readout showed an even 20mpg at the end of our run. Our pump-to-pump fill-up took 5.4 gallons, which computes into 19.3mpg – or about 500 miles on the 26-gallon fuel tank.
Urban fuel economy, which is where we spend most of the seat time in our project trucks, is averaging 14.4mpg to date. (Check out our Project Super Crew “Logbook” web page to see how these numbers change over the course of this year.)
While fuel economy is good, interior noise levels are excellent. Our digital noise meter never budged from 66 dB, which makes our new Super Duty’s interior quieter than most cars.
Now that we have our base numbers done for Project Super Crew we can move on to having some fun.
Our long-term game plan for our new Super Duty is to improve its performance. Our idea of improving performance is upgrading and accessorizing any pickup so it performs the functions required of it for both work and play better than it did stock.
As I said early on, we want Project Super Crew to be the Force Recon vehicle for a contractor who needs a 4×4 pickup that can get into and out of any jobsite regardless of the road conditions or terrain. No road. No problem.
We’ve already partnered with several great aftermarket companies to help us get there. ARB USA will be setting up our big Ford with air-locking differentials in both ends.
We also plan on having a 16- to18,000-pound-capacity Mile Marker hydraulic winch up front and a 9,500-pound electric in the rear – both enclosed in Buckstop’s custom, heavy-duty winch bumpers. Super Crew will get a B&W gooseneck hitch and Turn-over Ball in factory receiver, too, so it can haul or tow whatever is necessary to get the job done.
Truck Supply & Outfitters, our local pickup accessory center for all the installations on the Big Boss, will once again be our go-to guys for the Super Crew project. So will Hypertech, who will make the 6.7L diesel a bit stouter.
TSO will be adding a 4-inch suspension lift, the appropriate tires and wheels, body protection, plenty of cargo management in the bed, double the fuel capacity with Transfer Flow’s new 50-gallon replacement tank, and light up the night with driving, fog, work and spot lights.
We plan on having a body wrap fitting for our readers who dig dirt and rock for a living just to set it off our F-250 even more.
CoverCraft will be making sure our seats and dash look the part, too.
We plan to show you how to turn the stock interior into a well-equipped rolling office with multiple levels of communications, wireless billing and printing capabilities, cab-to-office connectivity and GPS navigation/vehicle tracking functions.
That’s the plan. But the details are still being finalized. What we’d like to do is incorporate some of your ideas as we build Project Super Crew.
So drop us a note and tell us what you’d like to see on our truck. What items would make this 2011 Ford Super Duty Crew Cab 4×4 ideal for your company truck and weekend recreational needs? What tools would make it the perfect pickup for pioneering purposes?
After all, this time next year one of you will win it in our sweepstakes giveaway. It might as well be setup as your dream ride. No road? No problem.