By Peter Dushenski @carenvy
Strawberry-peach skies blend into the violet-soaked horizon. Renewed trees bud with green intent, spreading millions of hopeful seeds into the wind. Brightly coloured runners bounce off their treadmills and onto jagged, pockmarked pavement. Our cats resume their hunting ways, free from their purgatory of winter solitude once more.
Close your eyes and listen to hypnotic motorcycles as they fizz and grumble, echoing into the mesmerizing Sunday evening. It’s a time of beauty unknowable in the rest of the dark starry cosmos. It’s spring on the High Prairies and the shadows are getting longer.
Only a fraction of earthly shadows cover more area than the darkened landscape that surrounds the 2012 Ford F-250 Super Duty Crew Cab Lariat 4×4 8.2’, not the least of which is by its lumbering title. It’s the longest, tallest, widest, heaviest, torquiest, and towiest vehicles I’ve ever had the privilege of piloting. At 22 feet, 80 inches, another 80 inches, 6,900 lbs., 800 ft-lbs., and 11,900 lbs. as-tested, the naked numbers are as plentiful as cheese in France and as at home in Alberta as anywhere. They’re the basis for the type of backyard boasting found almost exclusively at your boss’ summer cottage. Bigger is most certainly better. The F-250 is the biggest where it counts, besting both the Ram and Sierra 2500 in horsepower, torque, and towing with its creative twin-compressor-wheel turbocharger snuggled between the two cylinder banks. Your boss will surely be impressed with the coincidental fact that BMW also packages its maniacal turbo V8 engines this way.
Past the spec sheet, land destroyers like the F-250 are built for a very specific task. For a few weeks every year, typically in July and August, medium-sized homes on wheels make a Mecca-rivaling pilgrimage up and down mountains passes in between Walmart parking lots. It is for this that the answer the call of duty. The $9,950 6.7L PowerStroke diesel engine is surely capable of surviving the worst a drywall contractor could throw at it, but with the factory-installed 5th wheel, touchscreen nav, climate controlled seats, and the dazzling Lariat livery, the $81,454 model I tested was much more likely to mince about the Mediterranean-mimicking Okanagan region of southern BC between world-class wineries and pristine green golf courses. Not that it wouldn’t be a peach taking Peach to the Spruce Meadows June Classic. Because it would. The F-250 would haul your equine companion with all the grace of a Dutch Warmblood.
Those are the days when you’re glad you bought all that mechanical potential. The other 340 days are spent under the exacting and rigorous regimen to which I subject all my test vehicles: the daily slog. Whether this is through the bustling metropolitan core I grind it out on or the sweeping acreages of semi-suburbia is immaterial – it’s living – and Edmonton is a city as well adapted to 8,000 lbs of Ford as any. Broad-shouldered boulevards and surface parking lots make taking the F-250 to the grocery store a possibility, rather than a mere idea.
Make no mistake, despite Fiat 500 levels of steering lightness and an invaluable back-up cam, it’s still no go-to toodler. I frequently found myself opting for foot power over foot-pounds when in need of local transport. The idea of undocking the Super Duty and ferrying it into the concrete ocean was an ideal motivator for me to get off my lazy ass. I found that my usual lack of desire to walk or run somewhere was replaced by an even stronger lack of desire to navigate the F-250 out of one parking spot, into the maze of uncivilized civility, and into another parking spot. Instead, I walked to the grocery store for the first time in months. I ran to the hairdresser for the first time ever. I was motivated to move.
The cute Israeli girls (highly unlikely to be) checking me out on the beaches of Tel Aviv next week (oh yes, another vacay!) will owe a surprising amount of thanks to the F-250. If that’s not Carrying It Forward, I don’t know what is.
When I found myself needing to traverse greater distances, lengths not reasonably achieved on foot, I found the Great Wall of Trucks eager to coddle and relax. Although the exterior dimensions were unsettling at times, the PowerScope™ mirrors were the best defense against the daunting width. A vertical post marking the galactically distant passenger side isn’t on the option sheet, leaving the double-armed, double-height side mirrors to invent for themselves a secondary use beyond their traditional function. Handy.
It’s a bold-looking truck too. The square brackets can barely contain Robert Recorde’s most famous mathematical contribution: the equals sign. It commands attention in a way that zenzizenzizenzic, Recorde’s notation for x8, or the square of square squaredly, never could. The tail and side profile are more dated and bland, but the magnitude of the grille is more than enough to overcome the other exterior design shortcomings. The interior is functional and friendly with large buttons and wonderful seats. The toys included on the Lariat are more than enough for discerning haulers, the $5,120 King Ranch package is absolute overkill. That a truck of such capability also provides such coziness is a testament not only to the depth of the F-Series, but to the diversity of products our remarkable economic and political model permits. It’s too easy to take for granted how special, in global terms, this truck is.
Like the historical shadow of Recorde’s equals sign, the F-250 is a monument in the history of truckdom. Its superlativity is unmatched, untouched, and the envy of all others, those forgotten zenzizenzizenzics, shrouded by this Prairie shadow.
And that’s the Philosophy of Driving. See you next time.
[Photo credits: author]