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When it comes to heavy-duty trucks, the competition is fierce, even though there are only a few on the market. The big three names come to mind: Chevrolet, Ram, and Ford. In 2016, one of the best heavy-duty trucks to buy hailed from Ford’s 3/4 ton truck line: a used Ford F-250. The F-250 converted to the Ford F-Series Super Duty (SD for short) line in 1999, creating a stand-alone heavy-duty line, separate from the F-Series 150 line, the brand’s full-size truck. While Ford also has plenty of other F-Series trucks floating around (like the 350 and even 450) it’s the F-250 — second generation in particular — that provides a nice blend of capability and practicality. It’s not too big to be impractical for daily driving, but it’s also not too small to tow trailers larger than what your Average Joe would need to haul.
It’s this middle-ground where a used Ford F-250 excels, and finding one for sale is an ideal choice if you need something versatile and highly capable.
The second generation F-250 was designed for the model year 2007, originally. However, due to some issues, it was pushed forward to a 2008 release.
The trim lineup for 2008 consisted of the XL trim ($25,300), XLT ($28,845), Lariat ($36,420), Cabela’s ($42,955) and the Harley-Davidson ($56,925). Those prices are what they cost when the trims were brand new, and the Cabela’s package ultimately replaced the FX4 model in 2010. So, you might be able to find one of those special edition models — Cabela’s/Harley-Davidson — circulating around the used market. If that’s not your style, then the other trims will do just fine.
One thing the F-250 provides is clear value-for-your-dollar corresponding with each trim level. The progression scales nicely, and you’ll be able to find plenty of convenience, comfort, safety, and performance-oriented features on a higher-trim level if you don’t mind dishing out the extra cash.
Fully redesigned for the new generation, the 2008 F-250 sees a lot of changes compared to the previous model. Most of which are more significant than you might think.
For starters, the chassis is stronger than before, which means increased all-around durability, reliability, towing, and performance. It’s also coated wth a new type of undercoating, which prevents corrosion — i.e. rust from salt — much more effectively than before. That reason alone is enough to buy a used F-250, considering rust is the primary concern when it comes to buying used vehicles, especially trucks.
The 2008 model also had the rear suspension tweaked to improve ride and handling. But, Ford did it in a way that wouldn’t compromise the capability of the truck.
As far as engines go, an updated version of the PowerStroke diesel engine is available, with 6.4-liters of displacement, allowing it to produce a massive 350 horsepower/650 lb.-ft. of torque.
Higher-grade cabin materials and new technology features were also introduced this year.
Ford’s F-250 really did get a face-lift for 2008, and the changes made to the second generation of F-250 Super Duty is undoubtedly the reason why it’s such a successful model today. While it’s the brand name that made these trucks famous, it’s the tried and true performance and capability that each one displays which ultimately returned such success. Something Ford certainly capitalized on at the start of this new generation.
Not surprisingly, few changes were made over the next two years for this short-lived generation. But, that doesn’t mean its quality is lacking compared to other used trucks on the market during this time.
2009 is the year of features. It’s quite shocking how many upgrades Ford’s F-250 received just a year after the newly redesigned model came out. Now, drivers can enjoy things like the power-telescoping tow mirrors, Ford’s Sync multimedia voice control system, in-dash computer with internet, and extra storage compartment between the cab and bed.
The Cabela’s FX4 package is also new for this year, and provides a special model for the outdoorsman. It has unique badging and emblems, cabin upgrades, and a paint scheme that’s sure to capture the eyes of those who love the outdoors.
While the F-250 is more oriented towards those who need to tow horse trailers, larger boats, construction trailers (or anything under 12,500 pounds), that doesn’t mean the F-250 needs to be a vehicle that’s barren of all technology. In fact, that in-dash computer is part of Ford’s Work Solutions system. In a nutshell, it’s a system that’s geared towards contractors who work out of their trucks, and includes that storage compartment, and the Tool Link system, allowing you to keep an eye on tools stored in the box.
That sync system also lets F-250 owners command their cell phones via voice control, along with the audio and navigation system. Sirius Travel Link provides weather, gas prices, movie times, and even sports scores – everything that a contractor would need to survive the work day.
For 2010, the Ford F-250 provides three engine choices. The standard being a 5.4-liter V8 that produces 300 horsepower/365 lb.-ft. of torque. The second option is a 6.8-liter V10 that puts out 362 horsepower and 457 lb.-ft. of torque, while the 6.4-liter Powerstroke turbodiesel V8 makes 350 horsepower/650 lb.-ft. of torque. The max possible towing capacity is still 12,500 pounds when properly equipped, and the F-250 has a payload of 3,200 pounds.
The Harley-Davidson package is only available on diesel models at this point in time, and just like the Cabela’s version, provides unique badging, paint, and cabin upgrades. The Lariat and Cabela’s models on the other hand, feature a five-speed automatic transmission as standard.
On the inside of the 2010 F-250, you’ll find a blocky and practical design. Obviously, this is so it pleases the targeted audience: contractors and the like. The materials are durable, and actually above-average for this segment of truck. If it is a more upscale work truck you’re looking for, then you’ll be happy to know there are plenty of stand-alone and package options to make that happen, as well as simply upgrading to a higher trim level. Spend enough, and you’ll see leather upholstery, and even wood grain trim.
Model year 2011 kicked off the 3rd generation of the Ford Super Duty series, and a used Ford F-250 from that year is a great option. While the 3rd generation did not mark a complete overhaul or redesign for the series, there were some big improvements made, particularly with regard to its exterior design and the level of power it offered. Overall, improvements and changes throughout the 3rd generation were pretty minor, so a 2011 model is going to be just as good as most later models until 2017.
There were four different trims available for 2011 models, so you will find used Ford F-250 trucks in each of these variants. The XL was the starting trim and featured vinyl upholstery, manual seats, and 17-inch steel rims. From there, the XLT added 17-inch aluminum rims, a trailer brake controller, and a CD player to the inside. The Lariat trim overhauled the interior with leather upholstery, steering wheel audio controls, and an 8-speaker sound system with a subwoofer. Finally, the King Ranch trim level added heated and cooled front seats, leather details throughout the interior, and a rearview camera to the F-250.
Two engines were available on the 2011 Ford F-250, so you can find used models with either a gas or a diesel engine. The gas engine offered throughout the 3rd generation was a SOHC 6.2L V8 engine that provided up to 385 hp and 405 lb-ft of torque. The available diesel engine was a 6.7L PowerStroke turbocharged V8 diesel engine that initially offered up to 390 hp and 735 lb-ft of torque. Only a few months after the 2011 Ford F-250 hit the market, however, GM revealed a more powerful diesel engine in the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra.
As a response to this, Ford quickly upgraded the diesel engine in the Ford F-250 to offer up to 400 hp and 800 lb-ft of torque. This upgrade was not only made available on new vehicles but was offered for free at dealerships to people who had already bought one. So most used Ford F-250 models you find from 2011 will have this boosted version if they have a diesel engine.
Since the 3rd generation started in 2011, you will not find too many huge improvements or changes in 2012 used Ford F-250 models, though there are a few things to watch for. Perhaps the biggest improvement in 2012 was that certain specific versions of the F-250 had their maximum towing capacity boosted by 100 to 200 lbs. While this might not make a huge difference for you, it is one of the few things different about 2012 models.
Other changes in 2012 were pretty minor, though of particular note is the fact that the 6.75-foot box on the truck became available with a gooseneck or fifth wheel hitch for towing. In 2011, this was not available on that box size – so if you are interested in gooseneck towing with a used Ford F-250, then you should be sure to choose 2012 rather than 2011. Smartphone integration also became available as part of the Ford Sync system in 2012, so you might get better overall functionality out of a 2012 or later model when it comes to utilizing more current technology.
Once again, the changes and improvements in the 2013 Ford F-250 were pretty minor, though there are a few things certainly worth pointing out. Perhaps the most important improvement in 2013 was the replacement of the previous brakes with stronger, more responsive brakes. This makes for a better overall driving experience with a 2013 used Ford F-250, particularly when going downhill or towing, or both.
The other major factor to consider, and possibly watch for with a 2013 used Ford F-250, is that a new trim was introduced that year: the Platinum. You will still find models at lower trims, and the King Ranch was still around, but the Platinum became the top trim level. A used 2013 F-250 Platinum will typically include a large multifunction display in the driver’s instrument cluster, along with a pair of USB ports, A/V connections, and an SD card slot. The Platinum also included the introduction of MyFord Touch for the F-250, including an 8-inch touchscreen display with phone and entertainment controls along with navigation features.
Overall, the 2014 F-250 was nearly identical in terms of performance and features to the previous year’s model. So if you are interested in what the 2013 had to offer but cannot find a model from that year, a 2014 used Ford F-250 will be every bit as good. Just like in 2013, the Platinum trim level was the top dog for this truck, with more impressive features than even the King Ranch.
In addition to better controls and features for the driver, a 2014 F-250 Platinum also included 20-inch polished alloy wheels; a tailgate assist step, and unique interior details and décor. Upgraded leather upholstery and a heated steering wheel pushed the Platinum just a step beyond the other trim levels available that year. Ultimately, whether you find a 2013 or 2014 model, the Platinum has the best features and more up-to-date options.
Inside, 2015 models of the F-250 were very much like the 2013 and 2014 models. By this point, it was clear that the 3rd generation was nearly at an end, and most of Ford’s focus was on the major changes and complete redesign on the way with the 2017 model that started the 4th generation. When looking for a 2015 used Ford F-250, once again, the Platinum trim level will bring you the best features, particularly in terms of comfort and luxury inside the cab.
One thing definitely worth noting with the 2015 model, however, was an upgrade to the available diesel engine. It remained a 6.7L PowerStroke turbocharged V8 diesel engine, but while previous models from this generation topped out at 400 hp and 800 lb-ft of torque, starting in 2015, the engine was boosted to provide up to 440 hp and 860 lb-ft of torque. This more powerful engine certainly improved the performance of this pickup and also allowed for greater towing capacity than the previous years had offered. So if you want the most powerful used Ford F-250 from the 3rd generation, then make sure you look for a 2015 or 2016 model.
Model year 2016 saw the end of the 3rd generation for the Ford F-250, and so very little was changed or updated. Shoppers would have to wait until 2017 for the major changes that were coming, and yet 2016 models remain very popular for everything they had to offer. Just like 2015, the 2016 diesel engine was more powerful than the one in the first few years of this generation, but it was not improved beyond what was available in 2015.
In terms of actual new features, only a couple of things were added in 2016, but they could be worth watching out for if they meet your needs. Of particular note was the addition of an available four-corner amber LED warning strobe light system on the 2016 Ford F-250 models. A rearview camera prep kit was also made available for models with the cargo box delete option, though we admit that is a pretty niche item. Otherwise, the only other new feature for 2016 was a rapid-heat supplemental cabin heater available inside the F-250, though this was primarily offered in cold-weather states in the US.
With 2016, the 3rd generation came to a close, but the six years it had encompassed were some of the best models ever seen for the F-250. While the differences between them were often pretty minimal, that is good news for you when shopping for a used Ford F-250. No matter what model year you find, you know it will be a great vehicle, and you should not feel like you are missing out on huge features by choosing a 2012 or 2011 model over a 2014 or 2016 truck.
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