One of the biggest complaints I hear from potential truck buyers is about the expensive price tags. While it is still possible to purchase a full-size pickup for less than $30K after rebates, loading these up with fancy options can inflate the tab to sky-high numbers. The two rigs Ford sent me here are prime examples.

First up is the F250, which is a huge rig intended for heavy-duty chores, such as towing hefty loads. The base price starts at $33K for a single-cab, two-wheel drive with 6.2-liter, 385-horsepower engine. This one was loaded up with goodies. Start with a powerful 6.7 turbo diesel engine cranking 450 horsepower and tree-stump-pulling 935 pounds/foot of torque hooked to a 10-speed automatic gearbox. Add a four-door cab, four-wheel drive, locking axles, tow kits, spray bed liner, FX off-road pack and more. The total came to a tidy $84,105. It did seem insulting to charge an extra $135 for floor mats!

I clocked plenty of miles on this truck. On the highway, it is a dream on long distance journeys thanks to that massive power and smooth ride. When other drivers see this huge monster in their rear-view mirror, they move over quickly! Going off the pavement is a different matter. With 65 pounds of air in the tires, super stiff springs and an empty bed, the rear end bounces around like a jumping bean, shaking the truck and driver. Placing about 2 tons of cargo in the bed will smooth things up, but I had nothing to haul. The EPA doesn’t rate these heavy-duty trucks for fuel economy, but I observed 17 mpg on the freeway and averaged 16.4 in 800 miles of combined driving.

Ford has done a great job for interior design, and the materials and workmanship are first rate. Placing this huge Titanic into a shopping mall parking space is a chore, but on the open road, it’s great to be king of the road.

Next up is the Ford Raptor. This is intended to be an “out of the box,” off-road performance machine that is ready to go as soon as it leaves the showroom floor. Start with a souped up 3.5 -6 EcoBoost engine cranking 450 horsepower and 510 pounds/foot of torque at 3,500 rpm and 10-speed automatic. For traction, there are 4x4 high, 4x4 low, all-wheel drive for street and locking differential modes. Under the HD frame, we find skid plates, tow hooks and very expensive adjustable shocks. The tires are huge and contribute to the high ground clearance.

This is the best factory-made off-road truck I have ever driven. It can go just about anywhere with ease. The tires alone offer so much traction that we rarely had to engage 4WD. Even during a long 250-mile trip on a nasty dirt trail, the high ground clearance prevented rocks from banging the skid plates. A total of 600 miles was put on the odometer, with fuel economy of 15.1 mpg average. Our off-road-only trip actually showed better at 17.4, which is unusual but generated no complaints. The official EPA rating is 15/18.

Price aside, these are two fantastic trucks that we wanted to keep, but as usual, Ford wanted them back. Those who can pay the tab will be satisfied customers.

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Chad Haire, of Phoenix, test-drives vehicles for this feature.

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