(Note: The following piece is excerpted from the January 2024 issue of “Road and Driver” magazine.)
With the introduction of the all-new 2024 Ford Ironclad, the blue oval has finally crafted the ultimate pickup for the American truck enthusiast.
Designed by a carefully assembled team of disgraced professors of theoretical mechanical engineering, the new Ironclad is the first automobile to ever violate two of Newton’s Laws of Thermodynamics. Positioned as the vehicle for buyers who find Ford’s F-450 Super Duty Crew Cab to be too small, the Ironclad boasts a curb weight of 24,000 pounds and has a 37-foot wheelbase.
Equipped with eight of Ford’s new 47.5” x 20” “Asphalt-Cracker™” wheels, the Ironclad is the largest, heaviest truck to hit the market yet. But what of its power plant?
When it comes to the engine, Ford is offering three options: a turbo-charged V-12 producing 900 horsepower, the Cummins ISX15 which powers many of the finer tractor trailers you see on the highways, or the Junkers Jumo 004 Turbojet that propelled the Messerschmidt ME 262 at the tail end of World War II. While the latter option is certainly the most nimble of the three, having to fill up with aviation fuel may present a roadblock for some buyers.
From a design perspective, the exterior of the Ironclad is utilitarian, seemingly inspired by the brutalist architecture of the post-war Communist era. The front end is dominated by the massive LED headlamps, which can double as an effective X-ray machine in an emergency. The front bumper offers two different factory options: a brush guard for offroading or a cowcatcher designed to the same specifications as those employed by Norfolk-Southern. We’d recommend going with the cowcatcher given that the height of the Ironclad and the length of the hood make it difficult to see any pedestrians or other vehicles within the first 40 feet of the road ahead.
The interior of the Ironclad represents one of Ford’s finest offerings yet. Once you’ve climbed the optional retractable ladder and seated yourself behind the wheel, you’ll sink right into the leather seats. Ford claims that it takes a herd of 30 cattle to produce the leather necessary to upholster all 14 seats and an additional blue-ribbon heifer to cover the steering wheel. We believe it!
Stereo and climate controls are linked to a 70-inch capacitive touchscreen console display for ease of use. Ford has opted to go completely button and knob free on this newest offering, integrating numerous additional features into the touchscreen, such as door locks, power windows, and the brakes. The climate control system deserves to be singled out: the Ironclad’s heating and air conditioning is incredibly responsive, although one reviewer did complain that the sound of the Trane heat pump kicking on could be startling.
So how does it drive? Obviously, the driver has to take into account the size of the Ironclad when asking that question, but our reviewers found it surprisingly agile given its length and weight. It measured a zero to sixty time of a brisk two minutes on our track, and the steering engages within just 90 seconds of turning the wheel. Be sure to pay a little extra for power steering, as one of our reviewers tested a model without this feature and is currently recuperating from a hernia.
With a base price of $230,000, the Ford Ironclad is a surprisingly affordable entry into the large truck market and may well represent the ultimate expression of the modern American pickup truck. Our sole complaint is the bed length; measuring 18 inches from the back of the cab to the tailgate, this probably isn’t the truck to buy if you need to haul things.