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Ford F250 Super Duty 4X4 Review: Performax Lariat FX4 Photo:
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Tim O'Brien | Sep, 06 2014 | 11 Comments

What’s hot: The power and the glory of the 6.7 litre V8 diesel, massive tow capacity, comfortable and easy to drive.
What’s not: Dash trim doesn’t match $100k price-tag; it’s not for the ‘burbs.
X-FACTOR: Behind the brutish excess of that mega-chrome grille, the F-250 is a surprisingly good drive and actually shrinks at the wheel.

Vehicle style: Heavy duty 4X4 twin-cab utility
Price: $105,000 - $134,000; XL to Platinum (five models)

Engine/transmission: 328kW/1166Nm 6.7 litre V8 diesel/6spd auto
Fuel consumption listed: 13.0 l/100km | tested: 13.4 l/100km (highway), 14.4 l/100km (4X4 sand and beach driving)

 

OVERVIEW

This is one hell of a vehicle - Performax International’s new Ford F-250 Super Duty 4X4 twin-cab.

Big? It’s gargantuan. And powerful? Holy Moses, fire up the 1166Nm of torque nestled behind its 6.7 litres of V8 diesel power, and the surge is volcanic.

And can it tow?

Put it this way: if you’ve got a neighbour who’s giving you the shits, just hitch his house up and drag it into another suburb (problem solved).

The F-250 Super Duty has a 7.6 tonne maximum tow rating, so the caravan, or the back-hoe, or the neddies, won’t have it raising the lightest sweat.

For size, for the amazing on-road presence behind that chromed block-of-flats grille, and for the ease that it does almost everything, the F-250 Super Duty is one incredibly impressive machine.

No question, it’s a vehicle built for a big country. Don’t even think about it for one second if you live inner-city (unless you want to be run out of town).

But it’s like ‘the supercar of utes’. If you’ve got a big job in mind, like bloody big, there’s nothing that will hold a candle to the F-250. “Super Duty” says it all really.

Re-engineered for right-hand-drive in Australia in Performax International’s Gympie factory, the conversion is fastidious and invisible, and comes with a full warranty.

We drove the new F-250 at launch. And we are converts.

 

INTERIOR

  • Leather-hide interior
  • 10-way power driver’s seat; driver and passenger seat warmers
  • Keyless entry with remote start (also SecuriCode touch-pad entry)
  • Multi-function reach and rake-adjustable steering wheel (also heated)
  • Cruise control and climate-control air-con
  • Sony 8-speaker audio with Bluetooth/USB/SD card and MP3 capability
  • Full-colour screen display, media hub, multi-function trip-computer and vehicle settings display
  • Rear-view camera and reverse sensors
  • Anti-theft perimeter alarm
  • In-dash trip readout and vehicle status screen display
  • Flowthrough centre console (with two 12 volt power outlets)
  • Lockable under-seat storage
  • Power windows and PowerScope towing mirrors
  • Plus, a rear window port, among a host of other premium features.

There is no skimping on gear in this cabin. Designed to cosset American bums in expansive club-chair comfort, there is a lounge-room feel to the F-250’s seating and accommodation.

It’s all nicely trimmed in quality hide leather (none of this mock-leather nonsense), and there is a solid ‘built like a battle-tank’ feel to everything.

The Performax conversion is superb. In fact, it is hardly a conversion, more a full-on re-engineering to right-hand-drive.

From its Gympie facility, Performax remanufactures metal castings, wiring looms, electronics, dashboards and interior trims so that the engineering integrity and appearance is accurately and transparently maintained.

And the look and fit is exactly as it should be.

It's a bit clunky style-wise and some trim features and surfaces betray the work-ute origins of the F-250 - Performax offers only the top-spec models - but while it lacks a little finesse in here, it feels a quality workplace.

The big centre screen-display is easily navigated (I got my head around it quickly), as is the driver’s display in the instrument binnacle.

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It comes with a ‘media hub’ for audio streaming and Bluetooth functions, and it will even read your messages to you (if you get desperate for some quasi-human company on the open road).

The space inside is immense.

The lidded bin in the centre console (and armrest) is big enough for a picnic, and the rear-seat legroom is as generous as you’ll find in a larger SUV.

The seats are not scalloped in the ‘sports bucket’ style favoured by European cars - they’re flatter and wider in the F-250, but, really, padded just right. You could stay at this wheel a long time without feeling creaky.

The back seats too are comfortable, and, while the bench there is also relatively flat, there is ample knee, shoulder and foot-room for three adults there (three kids would feel they were sitting in a jumping castle).

From the wheel, if you’ve not driven anything bigger than an Aussie ute or wagon, it will take a few tight corners and roundabouts before you’ll adjust to the F-250’s ‘big rig, US-truck’ dimensions.

But while perhaps terrifying to contemplate on a tight suburban carpark, we didn’t have any trouble backing it around a 7-Eleven (getting to an out-of-the-way air hose to bring the tyres back to road pressures) and poking around Noosa - and, yeah, I know, hardly Sydney CBD.

Maybe it’s because Australian twin-cab utes have been steadily growing in size, but the F-250 doesn’t feel as intimidating as that huge chromed snout might suggest.

And, strangely, when you take the wheel, the F-250 ‘shrinks’. The driving position is easily set for a command view, and the rear-view towing mirrors give an unparalleled view of what’s around.

Getting in and out of an average parking spot has its moments - because it is so long - but the big reverse camera screen and immense split towing-mirrors take the guesswork out of it.

But, trust me, before long the space inside will seem like “the new normal”, and you won’t be keen on giving it up.

Maybe that’s why rigs of this size dominate US car sales (the F150 is America’s top-selling ‘car’) - it’s to do with occupying territory.

It’s also got lockable storage beneath the split-fold rear seats and touch-pad keyless entry (if you should happen to misplace the keys). There are also four cupholders and an immense glovebox.

The remote start - you can start it up from twenty metres or so away - is also a neat function for warming things up or cooling the interior (it startled a few lunchtime guests seated outside the pub when the big diesel ‘mysteriously’ cranked into life).

So, that’s the interior: it’s no Armani suit, but it’s a smart-enough, built-tough, workplace.

While there is a heavy-handed feel to nearly everything, you won’t be unhappy spending time here, or feel you’ve been short-changed on your six-figure spend.

 

ON THE ROAD

  • 6.7 litre V8 turbo diesel: 328kW/1166Nm of torque
  • Six-speed automatic, electronic ‘shift on the fly’ 4WD system (low-range transfer case)
  • ‘Rancho’ shocks, hill descent control
  • 18-inch cast-alloy wheels (20-inch optional)
  • 5.0 tonne tow rating (7.6 tonne quoted maximum)

In this market there is no other brand with a ute that has anything near the F-250’s tow rating, its effortless monstrous torque, and sheer immense bulk.

That big job we talked about, it will do effortlessly. That’s why Performax has found a market and will put three hundred big rigs through its Gympie factory this year.

With an optional fifth-wheel attachment in the tub, hitching up a two or three-tonne caravan is “like towing a box trailer” (as a colleague described it).

And, with trailer sway control, you won’t have the horse float or the back-hoe steering things for you when you’re on the highway.

The large steering wheel, which is rake and reach adjustable, is a tad over-isolated from what’s happening at the road surface and also takes a few more turns than you’ll be used to when negotiating a roundabout.

But, while a little numb, it’s not too light and not too over-assisted.

Straight out of the box, this immense ute will haul its ample arse from rest to 100km/h in under 8.0 seconds.

The power and monstrous torque nestled under the right foot is barely a flex away.

It is surprisingly alert for such a big machine, and, if you firewall it and unleash that 1166Nm of torque, it will lift its nose with a raucous bellow and simply bolt.

Rolling acceleration, for overtaking or spearing into a line of traffic, is similarly impressive.

At one point we had to take a ute and B-double on a shortish straight. The F-250 was out and around in a bound. Our US cousins know their big engines and rarely fail to impress when eight-cylinders of petrol or diesel are involved.

At the wheel, it’s a little too truck-like to be accused of being refined, but it’s certainly quiet when on the highway.

The road is ‘down there somewhere’, isolated from the cabin by the incredibly robust ladder-frame chassis, and both wind and tyre roar are barely present.

At 100km/h, the F-250 is just ticking over (peak torque chimes in from 1600rpm), and, aside from the occasional distant rattle of the diesel should you squeeze the accelerator, mechanical noise is also low.

We saw the genuine ‘ton’ on the private test track - the F-250 does it with ease - and kickdown from the six-speed automatic is rapid and intelligent if looking for a quick spurt of speed.

It otherwise slurs effortlessly through the gears, and the sheer cubic inches at work obscure the momentary lag from the turbo while it spools up.

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The 4WD shift on the fly engages transparently - there’s a driver’s display to show what’s happening at the wheels when in 4WD and where the traction is directed.

We took the F-250 through the Great Sandy National Park north of Coolum and onto the beach.

It’s no real challenge, but soft enough to get a sense of the F-250’s off-road capability.

The masses of torque sees it barely notice anything down below - soft or firm, it simply powers imperiously ahead.

The F-250 might be too wide for the average fire trail or access track, but there is no shortage of 4WD smarts like hill descent control, limited slip diff, traction control and massive ground clearance to get you anywhere you’d sensibly take it.

The suspension is firm, it feels like a ute, but that long wheelbase takes the jarring out of a rippled or broken tarmac surfaces.

Corrugations on gravel can unsettle things a bit, the back becomes a bit loose if you’re moving along briskly, but we had an empty tub.

Put a few tools or a motorbike in the back and it will settle things down there.

Lastly, we recorded an average 13.4 l/100km while pushng things on the highway drive, and 14.2 l/100km for the off-road section and beach drive.

That’s not too bad. We’ve seen a lot worse from far smaller SUVs, even from some of the lighter duty ones.

 

TMR VERDICT | OVERALL

Too big for most of us, for sure, too thirsty, likely, but you and I are probably not the target for this big capable ‘truck’.

It is, as we commented at the outset, a vehicle for a purpose: and, as a work tool, the F-250 sits right at the top of the pile.

For moving a load, for towing something big to somewhere else, you simply can’t find a substitute this side of a flat-bed truck.

But you’d happily set off for the Gulf with four mates in the versatile 4X4 F-250, and get there in effortless comfort.

And on the way, you’ll learn another thing about the F-250. When driving it, you become aware of the r-word: “Respect brother, respect”. Everyone in any other dual-cab or 4WD notices, and nods.

So, for $100k-plus, you’re spending a lot, but getting a lot of car.

And is there another at that price that will hold its resale value like the F-250 Super Duty? I’d doubt it, certainly not a European one.

This big, capable ‘pick-up truck’ is, for the moment, the supercar of utes in this country. The Performax conversion is as good as invisible and supported with a full warranty.

It’s not for everyone, and will have some shaking in horror at its excess, its sheer size and power, but this is one mighty vehicle.

MORE: Ford News and Reviews
MORE: Ford F-Series | Pickups

 

Pricing (excludes on-road costs)

  • XL - $105,000
  • XLT - $115,000
  • Lariat - $127,000
  • King Ranch - $134,000
  • Platinum - $134,000
 
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