Anyone who has read our mag for a while knows that we ride our rigs hard. That’s not to say we abuse them on purpose, but we do take them to the limits in all venues. Take the Ultimate Adventure for example. We took a ’13 Ford Super Duty diesel and turned it into a pavement-crushing, off-road stomping mega machine. You can see how well it worked and read all about the build in “Ultimate Super Dirty,” page 78.
But the unsung hero of this marvelous escapade has got to be the gas-powered F-250 Super Duty we borrowed for tow duty hauling the Super Dirty cross-country. Yes, we used a brand-new gas-powered Ford to pull around a diesel trail truck. We could have used a diesel, but all of the major truck manufacturers offer a gas-powered mill rated for towing. There are lots of benefits to a gas truck, like a lower buy-in price and, in most parts of the country, lower fuel costs.
This test gave us a chance to really compare towing styles between similar Fords because on the 2011 UA we hauled our gas EcoBoost F-150 cross-country with a diesel-powered Super Duty. We always recommend a diesel for real towing because of the torque, economy, and durability, so we figured here was a chance to check both of them out. While this was not a back-to-back test, the weight of the trucks being towed was about the same: 9,800 pounds for the ’11 F-150 and 9,300 for this year’s F-250 project (yes, our half-ton outweighed our 3⁄4-ton). Either way, it is a lot of weight on our already heavy trailer, so we learned a lot about towing on these two 5,000-mile trips. And that’s not flat-landing it either, as we had to cross the Rockies both ways.
As expected, both versions of the Ford got low mileage on average, as we were over that magical 10,000 weight for the entire trip. Also, both rigs were new, so the engines hadn’t had a chance to break-in fully and deliver their best economy. Finally, we were all-too-often not within the recommended speed limits for best fuel economy or even rated fuel figures, so mileage suffered from that as well.
The bottom line was that the power and torque of the diesel engine was far superior to that of the gas engine. However, the gas truck could do nearly anything as well—you just had to keep your foot in it and sing the engine to do it. That’s why the gas-powered F-250 Super Duty was the unsung hero of the UA. It performed admirably in the face of the toughest circumstances and came through unscathed. While we would recommend a diesel rig for heavy-duty hauling, this trip proved that while the diesel may be optimal, the gas mill can still do the job. Thank you, Ford!