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2003 Ford F-350 Super Duty Full-Size, One-Ton, Turbo Diesel Pickup Truck

Base MSRP Range: $21,500 to $37,500

Base Invoice Range: $19,000 to $33,000

MSRP As Tested: All

Models: F-350 single rear-wheel (SRW), F-350 double rear-wheel (DRW)

Configurations: 2-Wheel Drive SRW, 2-Wheel Drive DRW, 4-Wheel Drive SRW, 4-Wheel Drive DRW

Cab Configurations: Regular Cab 2-door, SuperCab 4-door, Crew Cab 4-door

Trim Levels: XL, XLT, Lariat

Packages: XLT Sport, Lariat King Ranch, FX4 Off-Road

Vehicle Category: Full-Size Pickup Truck

Engine Location: Front Engine

Drive Wheels: Rear-Wheel Drive Rear-Wheel Drive or optional Four-Wheel Drive

Engine As Tested: 5.4-liter, Single Overhead Cam, V-8 cylinder, 260-horsepower at 4,500 rpm and 350 lb-ft torque at 2,500 rpm.

Optional 6.8-liter, Single Overhead Cam, V-10, 310-horsepower at4,250 rpm, 425 lb.-ft. torque at 3,250 rpm.

Optional 6.0-liter, turbochargeddiesel, Single Overhead Cam, V-8, 325-horsepower at 3,300 rpm, 550 lb.-ft. torque at 2,000 rpm.

Transmission As Tested:

  • 5.4: 6-Speed Manual or optional 4-Speed Automatic
  • 6.8: 6-Speed Manual or optional 4-Speed Automatic
  • 5-Speed or optional 5-Speed Manual, 4-Speed or 5-Speed Automatic.

  • 6.0: 6-Speed Manual or optional 4-Speed Automatic with manual-shift option.

Fuel Economy (city/hwy): Heavy duty trucks do not receive EPA ratings.

Standard Safety Features: Driver and front passenger airbags, Power 4-wheel disc brakes, "> Antilock Braking System.

Competition: Chevrolet Avalanche, Chevrolet Silverado 1500 HD, Chevrolet Silverado 2500, Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD, Chevrolet Silverado 3500, Dodge Ram 2500, Dodge Ram 3500, GMC Sierra 1500 HD, GMC Sierra 2500, GMC Sierra 2500 HD, GMC Sierra 3500, GMC Sierra 3500 HD, Toyota Tundra

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The drag strip, set on a blacktop lot in Arlington that looks as big as Texas, consists of two parallel lanes divided up front by the yellow-yellow-yellow-green-red lamp of a timing tree and a finish line way down the way with an electric eye to stop the clock.

Two contesting vehicles -- each a heavy-duty pickup truck of the hefty one-ton variety equipped with a big diesel-powered V8 engine -- also carry a humongous handicap in the form of a trailer rig loaded with a full-size sport-utility wagon weighing almost three tons.

The truck we're steering in this contest is a new version of the Ford F-350 Super Duty -- a super-size F-Series work truck with gross vehicle weight exceeding 8,500 pounds. It's conformed to the four-door Crew Cab design in deluxe Lariat trim outfitted as the new King Ranch Package, after the immense Texas ranch by the same name.

Fitted with cushy comforts and convenience features, the special King Ranch issue has fine leather lining bucket seats front and rear plus big flip-top consoles between the pairs of buckets, heat elements in both front seats and a CD changer mated to the premium stereo. There's even a moonroof installed, one of several options that also extend to a video entertainment system for rear-seat riders.

But the engine is also unique: It's Ford's new Power Stroke Turbo Diesel, a 6.0-liter V8 with electronic variable response turbo-charger and hydraulic rail fuel injection.

It produces best-in-class 325-hp at 3,300 rpm plus up to 550 lb-ft of torque at just 2,000 rpm, while it pares emissions dramatically as well as negates the noise of a diesel.

All of that power and torque muscle is channeled through a new five-speed TorqShift automatic transmission that shifts crisply and efficiently but also quietly.

Computer software for the shifter adds a tow/haul mode that a driver can activate by punching a button on the shift stalk. The device then maintains a gear longer when running up a long hill but may also apply downshifts automatically for engine braking when heading down a steep slope.

Now there's a point to this crazy truck-based drag contest: It's designed to demonstrate that Ford's new Power Stroke Turbo Diesel in a Super Duty F-350 truck can out-muscle any other super-size diesel truck, even with the added handicap of a trailer loaded with a hulking SUV.

Lights on the starter's signal tree begin the descent with half-second warning flashes. Yellow, then yellow again, then the last yellow, now to green -- and we're good to go.

Stomp that throttle and the big Ford pickup leaps forward, but so does the competitor on the left.

Both trucks rush ahead, at first virtually side by side. But then something changes, as pressure in the Ford's turbo spools and the go-juice flows.

There's a notable surge by the Ford and as the finish line approaches it moves ahead of the other truck.

At the checkered flag, we're half a long truck length ahead and clearly the winner in this race, thanks to that class-leading muscle of the new diesel engine.

Historically, two of every three of the best-selling F-Series Super Duty trucks built by Ford pack a Power Stroke diesel below the hood, which makes a diesel the most popular powerplant choice in this class.

With deployment of the new 6.0-liter Power Stroke, which replaces a 7.3-liter version, Ford's diesel moves to the top of all charts for power and torque ratings, towing capacity and efficiency of operation.

The new Power Stroke V8 amounts to a turbo diesel with direct injection and 32 valves from a new cast-iron block. It has a block-mounted camshaft in overhead valve (OHV) configuration, with hydraulic-valve lash adjustments.

Innovations come with the new engine, such as:

  • Electronic Variable Response Turbo-charging (EVRT): This system delivers a strong turbo boost across a broad spectrum of engine speeds, enabling strong grade scaling, high-altitude performance and the big towing capability.
  • Hydraulic Rail Fuel Injection (HRFI): The fuel injectors operate through a high-pressure hydraulic rail system for clean and efficient combustion.
  • Easy Maintenance: The oil filter in a compact cartridge is set on top of the engine for easy removal.

F-350 Super Duty trucks also use gasoline-power engines in V8 and V10 sizes.

Ford's Triton 5.4-liter V8 with single overhead cam and sequential multi-port electronic fuel injection serves as the base plant, producing 260-hp at 4,500 rpm and a torque measure of 350 lb-ft at 2,500 rpm.

The Triton V10, displacing 6.8 liters, musters 310-hp at 4,250 rpm plus torque numbers of 425 lb-ft at 3,250 rpm.

All three plants offer a manual six-speed ZF transmission, and the two gasoline engines show an optional four-speed Ford automatic.

Super Duty trucks appear in a staggering number of configurations, with three different cab designs (two-door Regular Cab, four-door SuperCab and 4-door Crew Cab), two box lengths (6.75-foot and 8-foot), a single rear wheel (SRW) or double rear wheel (DRW), rear two-wheel-drive (2WD) or four-wheel-drive (4WD) traction, and three trim editions with a base XL, upgraded XLT and deluxe Lariat.

New features for 2003 range from a finer quality for cloth and vinyl seat covers on XL trim, standard inboard armrests for optional bucket seats and an optional vinyl bench seat in XL divided 40/20/40 with a fold-down center combined armrest and console.

Power adjustable accelerator and brake pedals are optional with an automatic transmission on XLT and Lariat trims. The choice of a power sliding moonroof goes to Crew Cab, and for tugging a big trailer there are new optional heated and telescoping trailer tow mirrors flashing integrated turn signals.

A new FX4 Off-Road Package adds skid plates, branded Rancho shock absorbers, a steering damper and FX4 decals.

For Crew Cab and SuperCab the XLT Sport Package carries four new color choices, while the King Ranch Package for Crew Cab adds deluxe interior fittings with four bucket seats plus exterior trim moldings in Arizona Beige contrasted against one of three body colors: Chestnut Brown, Estate Green or Oxford White.

Other options extend to a Heavy Service Suspension Package and Camper Package.

Ford promotes a broad band of price points for Super Duty F-350 trucks -- reaching from $22,000 to $48,000. A Crew Cab Lariat with 4WD and DRW runs to $36,780, while the Power Stroke diesel lists for $5,085, the TorqShift automatic is $1,305, and the King Ranch goes for $2,641.


Where Built: USA

Major Options: Air conditioning, captain chairs, data displays, enhanced audio system, heated seats, heavy duty front springs, larger wheels and tires, leather upholstery, Off-Road Package, overhead console, power everything, power sunroof, rear video entertainment system, remote keyless entry, Rear-Obstacle-Detection System, security system, sliding rear window, tailgate locks.

Seating: 3 or 6

Number of Rows: 1 or 2

Crash Test Ratings: Trucks of this size are not crash tested.

IIHS Frontal Offset Crash Test: Trucks of this size are not crash tested.

Length in Inches:

  • Regular Cab - 226.6
  • Extended Cab with Short Bed - 231.4
  • Extended Cab with Long Bed - 247.6
  • Crew Cab with Short Bed - 245.8

Box Lengths in Feet: 6.75 and 8.00

Warranties: 3 years/36,000 miles bumper-to-bumper, 5 years/unlimited miles corrosion, 3 years/36,000 miles free Roadside Assistance.

Weight in Pounds:

  • Regular Cab - 5,420
  • Extended Cab with Short Bed - 5,601
  • Extended Cab with Long Bed - 5,763
  • Crew Cab with Short Bed - 5,841

Payload in Pounds:

  • Regular Cab - 3,440
  • Extended Cab with Short Bed - 3,215
  • Extended Cab with Long Bed - 2,995
  • Crew Cab with Short Bed - 2,930

Towing Capacity in Pounds 7,100 to 14,400

Maximum Gross Vehicle Weight Rating in Pounds:

  • 6.0, 2-Wheel Drive - 9,900 to 11,500
  • 6.0, 4-Wheel Drive - 9,900 to 12,500

Gas Tank Capacity in Gallons:

  • Regular Cab - 38
  • Extended Cab with Short Bed - 29
  • Extended Cab with Long Bed - 38
  • Crew Cab with Short Bed - 29

Destination Charge: $795