What would the Thing drive? You know, that guy in "Fantastic Four" who looks as if he's made of rocks or is an Ultimate Fighting gingerbread man? Chances are it would be a Ford Super Duty. Probably an F-350 dualie. That thing (the truck, that is) can tow 15,000 pounds, the average weight of an adult male African elephant.

The good thing is that puny humans find the F-250 and F-350 easy to drive, comfortable to ride in, and flexible enough to offer various cab, bed, and engine permutations to make it fit for many types of work and play. Four-wheel-drive versions make good use of generous ground clearance, and plentiful engine torque to be pretty darn effective off-road.

The Super Duty's V-8 and V-10 gasoline units are trusted (although thirsty) performers. Things (circumstances, that is) become stickier with diesel-drinking versions in 2003 to 2007 models. A severely unreliable 6.0-liter Power Stroke V-8 turbo-diesel made by Navistar triggered a tsunami of legal action. It was, apparently, not fit for purpose. Problems included oil cooler failure, blown head gaskets, sticky injectors, and warped head bolts. Flaws in the design and manufacturing processes were deemed responsible.

The only people who found a positive in all this were lawyers and repair shops. It was a good engine when it was working: 570 lb-ft of torque is invariably a fun ride. It just wouldn't always work. And the worst thing (yeah, yeah) was that 70 percent of Super Duty models sold had this engine.

By now, these woes would have been rectified under warranty. Ford spent millions in this regard. Some early 2003 models had a 7.3-liter V-8 turbodiesel that didn't have the same issues. And there are aftermarket parts that address most of the 6.0-liter Power Stroke engine problems, so a few brave souls might be tempted to take the plunge. But after all the usual stuff of service history and getting a technician to inspect any possible purchase, perhaps the best advice would be to avoid this diesel engine -- unless you're ready to buy aftermarket goodies -- and buy shares in Exxon Mobil to offset your gas bills. The 6.0-liter was replaced by a heavily updated 6.4-liter engine for 2008. Ford eventually developed its own diesel unit.

Trim levels are XLT, Lariat, and King Ranch, in increasing levels of luxury. Cab variants include regular and SuperCab with rear-hinged rear doors and a folding second-row bench seat. The SuperCrew crew cab has full rear seats and conventional rear doors. There are two bed lengths: The short bed runs to 6.75 feet; the long bed is 8 feet.

Models from 2005 received mid-cycle refreshment. The 5.4-liter V-8 went up from 260 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque to 300 hp and 365 lb-ft. The 6.8-liter V-10 moved from 310 hp and 425 lb-ft to 362 and 457, respectively. Both engines went from two-valve to three-valve.

For the most part, owners of gas-powered versions have loved them. It seems they can look past the so-so cabin materials.

The majority of recalls have involved exterior lighting issues. Those are trivial compared with the diesel debacle.

An RWD 2005 F-250 XLT regular cab with the 5.4-liter V-8 and 8-foot bed in good condition is valued at $9955. Compare with an RWD 2005 Chevy Silverado regular cab running a 6.0-liter V-8 and an 8-foot bed, which could go for $12,265. A similar 2005 Dodge Ram 2500 LT might fetch $14,515. Looks like the 2003 to 2007 F-250/350 is quite a reasonable thing.


2003-2007 Ford F-250/350 Super Duty
Body type 2-4-door pickup
Drivetrain Front engine, RWD/4WD
Airbags Driver, front passenger
Engines 5.4L/260-300-hp SOHC V-8; 6.8L/310-362-hp SOHC V-10; 7.3L/250-hp V-8 (early 2003); 6.0L/325-hp TD V-8
Brakes, f/r Disc/disc, ABS
Price range, whlsl/retail (KBB) $4100/$5300 (2003 F-250 RWD XL 5.4L V-8 Regular Cab), $19,600/$23,050 (2007 F-350 4WD King Ranch)
Recalls Too many to list; see motortrend.com
NHTSA frontal impact rating, driver/fr pass N/A