Out of the frying pan and . . . No sooner had the car hiker pulled away with the Hummer than another arrived with a Ford F-350 SuperCab Dualie. Hummer, the motorhome-size sport-utility vehicle capable of running up the side of a building, proved only slightly smaller than the '99 Ford, and we emphasize "slightly." Dualie has dual rear wheels on each side. A Dualie is meant for heavy labor. Pull a boat--Queen Mary to Titanic. Pull a horse trailer--enough nags at one time to field a derby. Or install a fifth wheel in the cargo bed and tow a house, which you'll need if you bet enough on those nags. The F-350 Dualie is a man among men with big bulging rear wheel wells to accommodate all those tires. Like the Hummer, the Ford Dualie fills the parking lane. A Dualie driver who can back up squarely into a parking space without hesitating or overlapping the lines deserves a medal. We'll focus on the '99 F-350 SuperCab, which also comes with the traditional two wheels on the rear axle. There's a lot to enjoy about an F-350 SuperCab, starting with a redesign (F-250 too) for '99. Ford opted to mimic Dodge and its bold Ram with a front end that looks like a huge chrome scowl. No second guessing: This is a work machine. What pleased us most, however, was the 6.8-liter V-10 that achieves 275 horsepower at 4,250 r.p.m. and more important 410 foot-pounds of torque at 2,750 r.p.m. (You can get the V-10 on the non-Dualie SuperCab.) The V-10 is smooth and quiet, but delivers a potent burst of low-end power when you have that trailer or house tied in back. The government doesn't issue mileage ratings for trucks more than 8,500 pounds, but the 36-gallon fuel tank attests that while you'll be able to tow anything not cemented into the ground, you'll pay lots of dues to the petroleum company in doing so. With one occupant and nothing attached to the hitch, the overhead message center reported 10.3 m.p.g. average fuel economy. The SuperCab comes with four-doors as standard for easy entry/exit in back. To haul cargo--tools, hunting gear or groceries-- in the cabin, the rear seat bottom and back fold to form a floor. There's ample room in back for a couple of adults provided they or the person sitting in front of them is short legged. But the rear seat back is stiff and upright, not pleasant for long-distance travel. The Supercab we tested comes with four-wheel anti-lock brakes and dual front air bags. The passenger bag has a cutoff switch should you put a child safety seat upfront. Turn the ignition key in the switch and a bright orange "off" light flashes on, leaving no doubt the bag has been disabled. A nice touch is the dial in the dash to activate four-wheel-drive on the fly. Stay in two-wheel-drive until needed and then turn the dial to 4WD Hi or 4WD low as the road or off-road surface dictates. For those who use the truck as an office, the back of the center front s eat folds down to provide a writing top as well as mini-coin holder. In that seat back, there's room for pens, paper, calculator and lap-top computer. A dash power plug serves the computer. There are some annoyances. Crack the window a few inches for air in the rain and a stream of water flows into the cabin; and when ordering a Dualie, the extended outside mirrors may provide vision around those bulging rear fenders, but they'll destroy a mailbox if you're not careful. Our test vehicle started at $28,745. >> 1999 Ford F350 SuperCab Dualie
© 1998 Chicago Tribune Wheelbase: 158 inches Length: 243 inches Engine: 6.8-liter, 275-h.p. V-10 Transmission: 4-speed automatic Fuel economy: Not available. Listing not required on vehicles more than 8,500 pounds gross vehicle weight. But don't expect this truckto unseat the Chevy Metro fo r mileage champ honors. The fuel tank holds 36 gallons. Base price: $28,745 Price as tested: $34,190. Includes $2,655 for preferred equipment package with passenger side air bag with cutoff switch, air conditioning, polished aluminum wheels, 6-way power driver's seat, remote keyless entry; $335 for 6.8 liter V-10; $970 for 4-speed automatic; $305 for all terrain 16 inch tires; $260 for limited slip axle; $150 for shift on the fly 4WD; $125 for slide open rear window; $55 for power trailer towing mirrors; $150 for chrome rear bumper step; $150 for leather seats; $100 for privacy glass; and $190 for lower-accent two-tone paint. Add $640 for freight. Pluses: Redesign with bold, macho type grille like the Dodge Ram. Smooth, but very potent, V-10. Easy-to-see-and-use passenger air bag cutoff switch. Four-doors. Easy-to-fold rear seat back/bottom to create massive cargo hold. Minuses: Dualie with extended wheel wells makes parking place shrink. Rear seat back upright and not very comfortable. >>
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