Pickup Truck Review : 2021 Ford F-250 XL
The common work truck isn’t so common anymore. A quick perusal of pickups on sale at dealers across the country reveal a plethora of four-door limousines with a bed attached. Still, the knock-em-down and get-it-done workhorse is still a staple of jobsites and construction crews across Canada, making this week’s Base Camp an interesting case study.
Freshened just a year ago, the 2021 Ford Super Duty line starts with the base XL trim and a naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8 engine. That mill isn’t the newest kid on the block, but it is good for 385 horsepower and 430 lb-ft of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Given this is Canada (and our largest city just got a late-April accumulation of snow), it is worth noting the $42,119 base F-250 is rear-wheel drive. Adding 4×4 grip is a $3,500 option. However, a locking rear axle is standard equipment meaning drivers won’t be stuck with one wheel futilely spinning should they elect to stick with a 4×2 drivetrain.
Gone are the days when a work truck’s interior was little more than a stiff bench seat and a set of pedals. The driver faces a full instrument cluster, one which features a productivity screen controlled by buttons on the steering wheel. Air conditioning is standard, as is an adjustable steering wheel and a number of power outlets. Cloth seats will set you back an additional $260 but might be worth the cost depending how you plan to use the truck. There is no carpet on the floor.
Infotainment is handled by a head unit with a small but functional screen, one which accepts inputs from Bluetooth and works with the FordPass Connect app to help keep an eye on the truck’s status when you’re away. It’s always smart to plan ahead when buying a vehicle for work, making the $350 integrated brake controller and $150 overhead up-fitter switches wise investments. The latter will permit easy control of accessories you might add like lights or a winch.
Cruise control is a standalone $350 option or can be had in a $500 XL Value Package. This will net you the driving aid plus a bit of chrome garnish on the exterior, if you care about that type of item on your work truck. The optional $100 roof-mounted clearance lamps do nothing for the pickup’s capability but look cool. Speaking of capability, this drivetrain and bodystyle configuration will net you an F-250 that is capable of bearing about 4,000 lbs of payload and hauling just over 13,000 lbs of tow-behind trailer.
What We’d Choose
There are literally millions of possible Super Duty configurations, so we’ll stick with examining the major powertrain options. Your author recommends the roughly $1,000 worth of comfort and appearance items mentioned above, but the addition of 4×4 is definitely case-specific. Under the hood, Ford’s new 7.3-litre V8 costs a not-insignificant $2,750 but is a more powerful engine (430hp/475tq) and a smart choice for anyone planning to haul a fifth-wheel style trailer with maximum capacity nearly cresting 20,000lbs.
However, with most trucks of this ilk being bought by penny-counting companies (or municipalities) and pressed into tough service conditions, those extra options may be a tough sell to the accounting department. But the bigger engine makes a good case for itself, especially if fifth-wheel towing is on the menu, and snazzy colours like the Race Red shown here are no-cost items.
Even the accounting department can’t argue with that.