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THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Wed, Apr 4, 2007

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

FIRST DRIVE

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY By HAROLD OSMER

My work allows for some flexible scheduling and an association with LA Car gets me the occasional invitation to some neat car events. The two combined recently for Ford's unveiling of their new 2008 Super Duty F-Series pickups. "Fine with me" I told the guys, "I'm up for a three day trip to Texas." LA Car is an online Los Angeles automotive lifestyle magazine. That orientation means they it reviews a lot of higher end automotive offerings. Mercedes, Jaguar, Bentley, and the like can be found here. How they found me remains a mystery. But since I have a 1951 Chevy pickup and have written a couple of books, they figure I make a good truck review guy and here we are. My travel plans were accepted on short notice. I was to fly from Burbank to Dallas. Stay overnight then fly to San Antonio. A short ride to the ranch would find me with a day full of activities ranging from trailer towing, road handling, load testing, and mud slogging.

F-250

TSA Burbank is a small airport and is easy to get around. Low key, no doubt. I greeted the TSA folks (Transportation Security Administration) with a smile and walked on through only to learn that my bags needed a search. Fair enough, "What are you looking for? I'll tell you where it's at" I say to them. "These need to be in a plastic bag" says the short old uniformed man as he pulls a small bottle of shampoo and shaving cream from my bag, "And this is way too large for transport" he adds while holding aloft my nearly empty tube of Crest. Apparently there are new regulations stipulating the size of toothpaste tubes allowed on airplanes. "Throw it away" I tell him, "It's nearly empty anyway, that's how it got to be my travel tube. Just toss it in the can behind you." The man failed to see any humor in my casual remarks but threw it away anyway.

F350

TUESDAY At 10:30, we all head out to the corporate hanger for a flight to San Antonio. Well, maybe not. It seems that icy weather conditions have hopelessly halted operations both into and out of San Antonio and our destination decision is taking some time. After another two hours of delay, our group of 43 are aboard the Ford corporate jet bound for Corpus Christi. I sit next to Eric, another journalist, and a fit man slightly younger than I from Roanoke Virginia. He's got a MAC laptop and is in the front row so he can't be all bad. After landing, we get a short briefing on our weather predicament and the technology of Ford trucks. Eric and I partner up for the drive to San Antonio with Mark Grueber, a Ford Marketing Manager from Plano, Texas. What a great truck the new Ford Super Duty is. I'll admit to having little real experience with the old Super Duty, but I recently put 2000 miles on a similar model Dodge pickup and the Ford wins hands down. Stats be spared and suffice to say that the new diesel technology works very well, is nearly soundless (inside the cab and out), with automatic shifting smooth enough to be imperceptible. The interior of our truck was spacious with all controls in easy, obvious locations. As they should be. Mark did his level best to spew the company line but Eric and I were having none of it. Between the two of us, we kept Mark answering questions - often as not truck related - and roughly two hours into our three hour drive to San Antonio the truck went soft on conversation. We're frozen in at the resort. Good thing this is a resort. Large, comfortable, Texas-sized proportions to everything in sight. Eric opted out of the Ford-sponsored dinner in order to avoid the marketing spiel. Too bad, he missed a terrific spread. And to their credit, the Ford guys kept the speeches short. I sat at a table with Mark and several other Ford people. As the only journalist at the table, I took center stage and did not disappoint when it came to truck talking. The room cleared slowly as dinner wrapped up. One full table remained so I joined in. Turns out the men were bull riders, hired to give us some demonstrations during our time at the ranch. Bull riders are built much like race drivers - 5ft-middle, 150 pounds, strong arms and shoulders, and a concentrated gaze that goes an inch behind your own eyes. We closed the Ford bar, moved to the resort bar, then mercifully called it a night.

F-450

WEDNESDAY Ford had a complete day planned for us. More street drives, an off road excursion, lunch, rodeo demonstrations, towing exercises, the works. Well, no. Breakfast found the Ford guys scrambling. Icy weather conditions persisted through the night and San Antonio airport was frozen in. Myself and 13 other journalists were scheduled to fly out of San Antonio that afternoon for connecting flights home from Dallas. Ford arranged a shuttle bus to haul us to Dallas in time for our flights. We had to leave within the hour. No time to do any Ford truck driving. Keep in mind that San Antonio airport was closed due to icy runways, airplanes, and generally awful weather conditions. Then imagine a shuttle bus designed to haul travelers to their hotel from the airport and back. Further imagine 14 passengers stuffed into said bus and riding to Dallas in the same conditions that had rendered the airport useless. I suppose it could have been worse. After all, Dallas is only 320 miles from San Antonio. Six hours on icy roads in a small bus with box lunches...you get the idea. Did I mention it took six hours? We took up a tip collection for the driver upon arrival. A quick check of the departure screen shows my plane has been delayed an hour but will leave at 7:55 p.m. I decide to get a seat at the airport TGI Fridays and spread dinner over four hours of wait time. It should have been that easy.

TSA, Again TSA screeners must have the worst job in the country. No alarms went off when I walked through the gates, so it must have been my smile that attracted the guard's attention. She pulled me aside for more thorough screening. Some wand-waving, I figured. No. This was a full-on hands-on pat-down by a male guard. THURSDAY TSA, Yet Again You'd think an old white guy holding a first-class ticket would get through the TSA with little notice. I watched closely and saw that they had no clue who I was, did not scan my ticket for a digital 'troublemaker' tag, and I refrained from antagonizing anyone so early in the morning. Shoes off, plastic bag removed, computer in a separate bin, empty pockets, no snide remarks, no smiling, no words beyond 'good morning.' "I'll have to look further into your bag, sir" said the stocky blonde woman. I watch as she stuffs a detector wand in, around, and through my three days worth of laundry. The temptation for me to dump my bag's entire contents onto the table is great. I instead grab a stuffed animal purchased for my daughter and ask with all the sarcasm, disdain, and spirit of cooperation I can muster "Would you like to squeeze my armadillo?"

Closing Thoughts I didn't do anything to draw the ire of the TSA people and vehemently resent this form of governmental intrusion. I understand its role in flight safety and applaud the effort, but as a citizen am thoroughly insulted. Fo did a great job of handling a tough situation. They spent a good deal of time preparing this event and it's a shame the weather stood against them. Still, the short drive I did get left me wanting much more and my already high regard for Ford trucks has only grown. In flying out despite weather forecasts, we journalists were making a good-faith attempt at allowing Ford Marketing to do their jobs. Once thwarted, alternate arrangements were made and everyone managed to get home. The group of men aboard the Dallas-bound bus behaved as you would hope they would. There were no complaints or whining. I was not on the bus. WE were on the bus. I am proud to associate myself with that group of professionals, though I don't know a one of them. Eric and I have swapped a few emails and I look forward to more. We're different, yet clicked right off. We combined for some sweet torture of Ford-guy Mark, who himself is a decent guy. Scratch the TSA and I'd do it again. - Harold Osmer

ABOUT THE NEW F-SERIES SUPER DUTY The new 2008 Ford F-Series Super Duty is now in dealership showrooms. The new Super Duty features an available all-new 6.4-liter Power Stroke ® dual-turbo diesel engine; a new Ford F-450 pickup with heightened capability; and new features such as the Tailgate Step and PowerScope Mirrors. Other popular Super Duty models include the upscale Lariat "Tough Luxury" series that brings the striking design and comfort of luxury cars to big work trucks to the first time. This model, which includes the top-of-the-line King Ranch model, is selling at a faster pace than projected. The new Super Duty also features the TailGate Step that allows easier access to the pickup bed. The Powerscope power-folding, power-telescoping trailer tow mirrors and stowable bed extender are proving popular. Ford is lowering the 2008 F-Series Super Duty's base manufacturer 's suggested retail prices (MSRPs) while adding more standard content. The base MSRPs (including destination and delivery) for the 2008 F-250 Super Duty range from $23,305 for a Regular Cab XL 4x2 model to $38,425 for a top of the line F-250 Crew Cab Lariat 4x4. The same configurations for the 2007 model year were priced at $23,455 and $38,670, respectively. The 2008 F-250 Crew Cab Lariat 4x4 is priced $235 lower than the same 2007 model, but has $545 worth of new standard equipment. The new standard equipment includes: trailer hitch, 18-in. versus 17-in. wheels, auxiliary audio input jack, rear seat ducts, SecuriLock®, and dual zone electronic automatic temperature control. Among the key options available for the 2008 F-Series Super Duty: 6.4-liter Power Stroke diesel: $6,895 DVD Navigation radio: $1,875 Rear-seat DVD entertainment system: $1,315 Sirius satellite radio: $200 Stowable bed extender: $250 Powerscope trailer-tow mirrors: $370 Rapid-heat supplemental cab heater: $250 TailGate Step: $375 Since its debut in 1948, Ford has sold more than 32 million F-Series trucks around the world. Today, Ford boasts that there are more F-Series pickups on the road with 250,000 miles than any other brand. It has been the best-selling truck in America for 30 consecutive years and the best-selling vehicle for 25 years. Additional product information is available at www.insidesuperduty.com.

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicles: 2008 Ford F-250 Super Duty 2008 Ford F-350 Super Duty 2008 Ford F-450 Super Duty Prices: $22,380-37,500 (F-250) $23,100-39,100 (F-350) $39,205-50,355 (F-450) Engines: 5.4-liter Triton 24-valve OHC V8, 300 hp at 5000 rpm, 365 pound-feet of torque at 3750 rpm (F-250, F-350) 6.8-liter V10, 362 hp at 3250 rpm, 457 pound-feet of torque at 3250 rpm (F-350) 6.4-liter Power Stroke turbo-diesel V8 , 350 hp at 3000 rpm, 650 pound-feet of torque at 2000 rpm (F-250, F-350, F-450) EPA mileage estimates (city/highway) Unavailable at time of review Drive configurations: Rear-wheel drive/optional four-wheel drive Transmission type: 6-speed manual overdrive transmission Electronic 5-speed TorqShift automatic transmission optional Suspension: Front independent coil spring/rear live axle leaf spring (2WD) Front Live axle coil spring/rear live axle leaf spring (4WD) Wheels & tires: 17-20 inch wheels/tires (F250, F350) 19.5 x 7 aluminum/225/17R-19.5 (F450) Dimensions: Model and configuration dependent

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