When the 2008 Ford Super Duty first appeared in spy photos, some on staff were aghast at the new styling, and it quickly became a controversial topic at the office. But now that the Super Duty has been out there awhile, we can appreciate its distinctive qualities, and when parked next to the last-generation Super Duty, the changes really make the old truck look dated. Our Ford F-250 Super Duty FX4 SuperCab was delivered with the much-anticipated Power Stroke 6.4L OHV V-8 turbodiesel, making the same peak numbers as the Ram, backed by Ford's five-speed TorqShift automatic transmission, and stickering at a cool $51,925.
The 2008 Hummer H2 SUT mimics the upgrades of its SUV counterpart, including the exceptional new interior, front-end freshening, a 6.2L OHV V-8 with 393 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque, and a new six-speed automatic transmission. What the SUT gains over the SUV is a small pickup bed, which can convert the cargo space to 4x6 feet with the rear seats and Midgate folded down. Otherwise, they are identical. Our tester optioned out at a $59,345,
Toyota's fullsize Tundra was all-new for 2007 but unavailable in time for our test last year, so it becomes eligible this year. Toyota, tired of being criticized for its 7/8-scale fullsize, decided to go all out on the new Tundra and make a big statement with this one. And big it is, from its girth to its grille, but many on staff feel Toyota has missed the mark in terms of styling, which has an awkward sheetmetal-to-wheelwell ratio, giving the large wheels and tires the appearance of being undersized, in addition to a front bumper that lacks synergy with the fenders. Styling objections aside, the Toyota's 5.7L DOHC V-8 with 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque, coupled to a new six-speed automatic transmission is arguably the best engine and transmission combination currently available on any truck. Heavily optioned, our tester was delivered with a price of $47,895.
We began our weeklong competition on the grounds of the California Speedway in Fontana, where we performed a battery of acceleration and braking tests.
It was the Tundra and its eyeball-glazing 7.23-second run that led the pack from 0 to 60 mph. The less powerful but 1,000-pounds-lighter Dakota was only a half second behind with a run of 7.71 seconds, really showing a remarkable improvement over the old 230hp 4.7L that scored an 11.16-second 0-60 in a mechanically similar Mitsubishi Raider in the 2006 competition. The Ram finished mid-pack with an 8.38-second run, followed by the newly enhanced Hummer H2 SUT at 8.50 seconds. The Super Duty, which we had trouble launching cleanly, did its best run in 9.18 seconds.
In the quarter-mile, it was again the Tundra flexing its muscles and speed, posting a run of 15.70 seconds at a sports-carlike 90.07 mph, followed right behind by the pumped-up Dakota with a run of 15.95 seconds at 83.95. The Hummer H2 had the next-highest trap speed at 84.43 mph, but the Ram was quicker at 16.47 seconds. Lastly, the Super Duty, which felt stronger on the "butt dyno" than times may indicate, brought up the rear with a respectable 17.01-second run, crossing the 1,320-foot mark at a hair over 82 mph.
As important as engines have become to the truck market, brakes have improved at least as substantially in the last several years, with the average 60-to-0 mph stopping distance in this test of only 153.41 feet and not one truck using up more than the Ram's solid outing of 158.57, a less than 10-foot spread from the test-leading Tundra CrewMax's run of 148.68 feet. Second best in this test was the Hummer H2 SUT at 151.88, followed by the Dakota's 152.23-foot run and the Super Duty's 155.71 distance.
During our braking tests, we noted a flaw with our Dakota. Listing a rear antilock braking system as standard equipment on its option sheet, we never once were able to get the ABS activated during our braking tests. Without driver modulation, the Dakota dragged its rear tires to a 163-foot stop, leaving black rubber witness lines down the track surface, and leaving the truck with flat spotted tires and a wobbly ride for the remainder of the test.
After wrapping up at the track, we hit the highway and headed out to the desert to continue our on-pavement and trail testing.
What's Hot: Most fun truck in mild terrain, excellent V-8 power, MyGIG
What's Not: Lower than some cars, cheap interior, transmission lag, small tires
Our Take: A truck that thinks it is a car.
From the Logbook:
* Noticeable improvement in power over the previous 4.7L."
* Has an annoying lag in transmission kick-down."
* If it wasn't so low, this truck could be a winner."
* Cool rear storage bins."
* Wonder if Dodge can buy interior plastics in colors other than light gray."