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We Drove a $44,000 Ford F-250: Here's What You Do and Don't Get

I’ve kind of had it up to here with the idea of hundred-thousand-dollar pickups. Fully loaded, high-spec, leather-and-wood-lined toy haulers that aren’t likely to see much dirt or use as actual trucks are fun once in a while, but they’re not the trucks that everyday people buy. The 2019 Ford F-250 Super Duty we just tested, however, is definitely an “everyday truck.”

It was a base-spec F-250 XL trim with only as many frills and amenities as you need to be comfortable and productive, and nothing superfluous. It’s meant to work, it’s meant to be a tool, and it’s priced appropriately: $44,310, including destination fee. That seems like a downright bargain for a Super Duty these days, but what do you get for your forty-four kilo-dollars in a work truck, and what don’t you get?

The Mechanicals

Our F-250 Super Duty test truck was the maximum 176-inch wheelbase model with a four-full-size-door crew cab and 8-foot-long bed with a starting price of $38,540 before options. It comes with a standard 6.2-liter V-8 gasoline engine making 385 horsepower and 430 pounds-feet of torque, which is plenty to get the truck moving smartly when unloaded or pull a small gooseneck trailer; a six-speed automatic transmission is standard. We found it was also surprisingly more fuel efficient than you might imagine, which you can read about in our .

Towing and Payload Capacity

The equipped 3.73:1 gear and a single-rear-wheel axle enabled our F-250 test truck to have a maximum payload capacity of 3,660 pounds and a towing rating of 12,900 pounds. That’s for either a gooseneck or a bumper-pull trailer, and is on the light side of what a Super Duty can tow. Bumping up to a 4.30:1 rear axle ratio nets you a 15,400-pound tow rating, and opting for the much more expensive Power Stroke diesel engine bumps that to 16,800 pounds regardless of axle ratio. There was no $9,120 diesel engine in the test truck, however, no four-wheel drive and not even alloy wheels — you get tough-looking 17-inch painted steelies with flashy plastic chrome caps. It’s a basic truck, aside from its length and passenger-carrying ability, aimed at fleet buyers and people who’ll use it for work.

The Bed Tech

The 8-foot bed makes this truck look and feel almost comically long. This F-250 had a couple of options to set it up as a towing rig. In addition to being a two-wheel-drive pickup, it had a gooseneck hitch kit for $250, the fifth-wheel hitch prep package for $500, the tailgate step for $375, a $595 spray-in bedliner and a $710 “ultimate trailer tow camera” system. The fifth-wheel package adds five bed attachment points with protective plugs, an integrated seven-pin connector in the bed sidewall and an extra under-bed reinforcing cross-member. The related gooseneck hitch kit is just that — an insertable hitch ball and some cleats to secure the safety chains in the bed. The tailgate step is Ford’s collapsible step that pops out of the tailgate and folds down, extending a handle as well to make getting up into the bed easier and safer. But of special utility was the ultimate trailer tow camera set-up, which provides a 360-degree view around the truck, allows for reconfigurable camera set-up, and is basically a godsend when trying to navigate this behemoth through any kind of parking lot.

Bare Necessities Interior

Vinyl is the name of the game in here — it covers the seats and the floors. Still, the seat material is quite good and rivals the supposed leather we’ve seen in many Volkswagens in recent years. The front seat is a bench, so the truck seats six, although I’ll be damned if I know where that central front seat occupant’s legs are supposed to go. Our test truck did have the XL Value Package for $1,000 that brings cruise control, an AM/FM six-speaker stereo with MP3 player and a 4.2-inch central display in the gauge cluster (it also blings up the outside a bit with chrome wheel hub covers, and chrome front and rear bumpers). It had the Power Equipment Group that for $1,125 adds manually folding and telescoping heated tow mirrors with a convex spotter mirror, theft alarm, power windows all around, power locks, a tailgate lock, remote keyless entry and upgraded door trim. I’d consider this a must-have package in a vehicle this size because it saves you from leaning across the truck to crank the passenger window up and down — that alone is worth the cost of the package.

There’s also a useful amount of driver-focused technology at this price and trim level. For $450, you get voice-activated Sync 3 and a larger screen that brings Apple CarPlay and Android Auto cellphone connectivity to the cabin, a useful addition. FordPass Connect with 4G Wi-Fi was another $225 option, which enables smartphone app operation and monitoring of the vehicle. And the $540 blind spot monitoring system is also a useful bit of kit, given the length of the truck and its footprint on the road.

What You Don’t Get

If you’re searching for a basic work truck, the F-250 Super Duty XL with a few carefully selected packages and options should fulfill a lot of your needs. But there were a coupe surprising omissions from this test truck. First is a lack of a rear window defroster, something that’s critical in large regions of the country that see cooler weather. I would have also chosen a more aggressive axle ratio for towing, as selecting the gooseneck prep package but not spending the $390 for an electronic locking 4.30 rear axle ratio doesn’t really figure.

Aside from these omissions, my test truck’s $44,310 sticker price includes just about everything you need to live and work with a top-notch truck, and nothing you don’t. You won’t feel like you’ve overspent, but you also won’t wonder why you didn’t opt for something more.

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Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman has had over 25 years of experience in the auto industry as a journalist, analyst, purchasing agent and program manager. Bragman grew up around his father’s classic Triumph sports cars (which were all sold and gone when he turned 16, much to his frustration) and comes from a Detroit family where cars put food on tables as much as smiles on faces. Today, he’s a member of the Automotive Press Association and the Midwest Automotive Media Association. His pronouns are he/him, but his adjectives are fat/sassy. Email Aaron Bragman

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