Even if you don't live in the Midwest, where its retail stores are like Mecca for sportsman, odds are that if you've seen the inside of a duck blind, know how to climb a tree stand, or have a favorite fishing spot, then you've heard of Cabela's. Apparently Ford felt that the "World's Foremost Outfitter" of outdoor, camping, hunting, and fishing gear, seemed like a good match for a special edition F-250, and we can't disagree. We had the Cabela's F-250 for a week and got to drive it on some long highway trips, up steep grades, off-road through sand, and in our daily commute. The verdict: we want it back! On the highway, the big Ford returned a ride quality much better than anyone should expect from a vehicle with two solid axles. Even though the truck's heavy-duty suspension is built to handle tremendous weight (10,000lb GVRW), small bumps were transmitted through to the occupants, but just barely, as the 33-inch tires glide over most potholes that a smaller tire would fall into. Considering that this Super Duty is equipped with 20-inch wheels and E-rated tires, we were highly impressed. Those tires also helped us float the heavy truck over loose sand to get to a few remote photo locations with confidence. As long as you remember that the gargantuan truck is no nimble off-road Jeep, you should do fine, but in most driving scenarios the truck manages to feel smaller than it actually was. A commanding viewpoint was the constant reminder that we were in a big vehicle, but the braking response and steering were both balanced enough that we never felt like we were struggling to control the truck.
As with most of our test vehicles that churn out serious power, we were not easy on the Ford's throttle. The 6.4L diesel powerplant showed some boost lag under WOT until about 2,000 rpm when power climbed rapidly. We had one driver who, not used to the lag, was unimpressed with the passing power, but once you plan for it, the Power Stroke passes just fine and pulls like a freight train, even up steep grades. So with the caveat that we were driving a truck with only 2,500 miles on the clock and were loving every minute of 30+ pounds of boost, we got 14 mpg out of the Ford in mixed driving.
The interior of the Cabela's F-250 features two-tone leather with Cabela's logo embroidered on each seat. We had a couple drivers spend some time in the seats and while not uncomfortable, they did seem like they could use softer foam and deeper bolsters--more like the seats in the F-150. On the other hand, we did hear that, like the mileage, the seats will improve after putting some miles in them. What we did like was the smaller version of the touch-screen Sync that we really enjoyed in the '09 F-150s we've driven. Some drivers found the screen in the F-150 to be so large it was distracting, but the double-DIN unit in the Super Duty seemed just right. The real-time traffic overlay was a big help, even in Southern California when you just know your only option is to wait the traffic out. Satellite weather maps were also a big help when it came to planning photo shoots, and when we got back to the truck after our shoot we used the sports updates to check on our favorite teams.
The under-seat gun case is lockable using the ignition key.
There weren't any options that our F-250 was missing, and some that we'd be lost without, as both the power-folding mirrors and rearview camera made parking the big truck simple. Speaking of the mirrors, we didn't get to test out their power-telescoping feature while towing a trailer, but in fluid highway traffic it gave us the confidence to change lanes knowing no cars or motorcycles were hiding in our blind spots since the mirrors eliminated them. The blind spots, not the motorists, that is. The final interior option that came with our Cabela's package was an under-seat gun case that is lockable via the ignition key. The case hides away inconspicuously under the rear seats and has three levered latches in addition to a locking mechanism on each end. It's large enough for a single scoped hunting rifle or two shotguns if you nest them just right.
Including the diesel option ($6,900), the automatic ($1,500), the wheel package ($1,720), Sync ($1,900), and the Cabela's options ($5,400), our FX4 F-250 that started at $38,500 quickly climbed in price. Several people flinched when they heard the price, but after riding in it, or better yet, driving it, they usually shrugged and admitted that you do get your money's worth in this truck.
2009 Ford F-250 FX4
Price (as tested) $60,035
Engine 6.4L V-8 OHV four-valve diesel
Horsepower 350 @ 3,000 rpm SAE
Torque (lb-ft) 650 @ 2,000 rpm SAE
Transmission Five-speed automatic with tow/haul mode
Axle Ratio 3.73
Suspension Solid-axle with coils and stabilizer bar (f), Solid axle with leaf springs(r)
Brakes Four-wheel disc, four-wheel ABS, traction control, stability control
Wheelbase 159 inches
MPG 13.9 (as tested)