I have owned a lot of different vehicles over the years for various purposes including four different pickups. My most recent purchase was the Ford Power Stroke Diesel, Model year 1997. It is a F-250 XLT model Supercab with and automatic and 4 wheel drive. I have owned it for a year and the following sums up my experience with the vehicle:
MECHANICAL ATTRIBUTES (rating 8 out of 10): The Power Stroke has proven to be a real reliable engine with lots of low end torque while at the same time providing a fair amount of top end cruising ability. I pull a 35 foot fifth wheel trailer and have been able to climb a 4 to 5% grade and still maintain 50 miles per hour with the trailer attached. The fuel mileage is good for a working rig with a big mill(17 mpg w/o the trailer on, 12 w/ the trailer). The trucks digs right in from a dead stop and accelerates well, even with the trailer on.
There two things to be wary of when considering this vehicle. One is that the transmission (I have the three speed automatic with overdrive) is weak. It can not stand to be overheated much at all and so it needs to have an auxiliary transmission cooler for any significant pulling (the mechanics I go to have recommended to me that it should have at least a "3 loop" cooler). These same mechanics have also recommended to me that the transmission be regularly serviced at least as often as the manual recommends, and more often for any significant pulling.
The other thing to remember to consider is that being a Diesel, regular oil changes are a must. Changing the oil and filters are spendy considering it has a two quart filter and a fifteen quart oil capacity. However this is a minor cost considering that with regular maintenance, some of the diesel trucks have gone 500,000 miles with out a major repair.
BODY AND COMFORT AMENITIES (rating 7 out of 10): The engineers did a good job of putting together a nice cab, seats, etc. on this particular model & year. The driver's seat with lumbar and 6 way motorized adjustment gives me an ability to move the seat into almost any position I want. My brother has the same model & year pickup and hates the feel he gets out of his seat (he says he always ends up with a back-ache out of it) so I have run into mixed opinions on this feature.
The gauges are in full view and well lit. The temp. gauge often sticks in the normal operating position during an overnight cool down (my brother's does the same thing!) The stereo works well with front and rear factory speakers and provides a good balanced sound. My only complaint here is that the clock literally gains a minute each day, which I don't think should happen with a fully electronic unit. The Air Conditioner works very well as does the heater (both are musts in my book).
The front passenger's seat tilts forward and rolls full forward all with one release lever, which allows extremely easy access to the rear seat. Speaking of the rear seat, I have found it very stiff and uncomfortable, although my kids and other passengers have not complained. I used to have a '96 GMC 3/4 ton Sierra extended cab, and I found the rear seat in it to be much more comfortable, however.
SUSPENSION AND RIDE (rating 9 out of 10): This is a truck and it rides as such and so I don't expect anything different out of it. For the most part you do feel the bumps in the road but it is smooth and comfortable and so not unpleasant of a ride. The truck also exhibits a wide turning radius which again you get used to, but it would be nice to be able to turn in a narrower radius in parking lots and on back country roads.
OVERALL (rating 8 out of 10): I really enjoy the truck. It pulls nice and I feel that I could do almost anything I wanted to do with it: it has the power that I need, yet provides the comfort, space, and other amenities that I desire in a vehicle, especially for long trips with the RV attached.