Ford F-350 — Heavy duty truck king

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Not only has Ford been the half-ton pickup sales champion for nearly 40 years, it has been the leader in heavy duty pickup sales since it entered the market in 1999 with its first F-Series Super Duty. The outstanding new 2017 heavy duty lineup is sure to continue its phenomenal success with one of the most technologically advanced pickup in segment history.

The innovations and advances in multiple areas easily surpass the competition.  Additionally some of the world’s most intelligent driving assist technologies found in today’s cars have been injected into Ford’s big work trucks.

Available technologies include adaptive cruise, control that slows to keep pace with traffic using preset distances and adds brake support even when towing a trailer weighing more than 32,500 pounds; adaptive steering, which reduces steering input needed for slow speeds, smoothes steering at higher speeds, and is especially helpful for towing stability keeping the truck and trailer on a straighter cornering line; a Blind Spot Information System with trailer coverage, which uses sensors in the outside mirrors to provide cross-traffic alerts and detect objects behind the truck and trailer; and seven cameras available for driving guidance, including a 360-degree view which will direct the driver to a perfect hook up of a gooseneck or fifth-wheel trailer. Expert trailer drivers may find some of these features extraneous, but everyone else will be thrilled with the visual help.

We were particularly enamored of the adaptive steering system while testing the Super Duty against competitor's trucks last year in Denver. The advantage this feature brings was unmistakably pointed out when we hopped out of the Ford and into a truck without the feature. It gives the driver the impression of great maneuverability by "mechanically adding or subtracting rotations to driver input at the steering wheel," Ford says.

But the real bragging rights among "truck people" come with payload and towing capability. For instance the minimum payload of the F-250 is 4,200 pounds and the F-350 can carry up to 7,630 pounds — over 3.75 tons. Ford claims that 90 percent of Super Duty customers use their pickup for towing, and Ford has that covered. For instance, the F-250 and F-350 (single rear wheel) can tow up to 18,000 pounds with a conventional trailer hitch. The dual rear-wheel F-350 and F-450 can tow up to 21,000 pounds. Gooseneck and fifth-wheel ratings are even better — up to a whopping 32,000 pounds.

We drove an F-350 4X4 Platinum Crew Cab powered by Ford's enormous 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8 diesel (an $8,795 option), mated to a six-speed automatic transmission on home turf and found it an easy driver on the open road with exceptional grunt for those pesky passing and merging maneuvers.

For comparison purposes the big diesel with 440 horsepower and a massive 925 pound-feet of torque can vault the truck — sans a trailer — from 0-to-60 in 7.2 seconds. That's a serious number for a truck weighing in at 8,060 pounds.

The ride is surprisingly compliant and the cabin is luxury car quiet at highway speed. The interior has a spacious feel, partly because the crew cab configuration has grown by 3 inches over the outgoing model. Reaching an optimum driving position is made easy by the 10-way adjustable front seats and power-adjustable pedals. The seats in our high-end test truck came with heating, cooling and massage features. While standard vinyl and cloth upholstery come in the lower XL and XLT trims, the King Ranch and Platinum editions come draped in high-quality good-looking leather.

Other features include a lockable storage area under the rear seat that folds flat when not in use, and a unique two-slot cupholder in the center console that slides sideways to accommodate two additional beverages.

Like all pickups, the Ford Super Duty comes in a myriad of configurations, engines and bed lengths. In addition to the huge diesel engine, the F-350 comes standard with a 6.2-liter gas V-8 that produces 385 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque.

Our Platinum crew cab test truck with a 6.2-foot aluminum bed (20 percent thicker that that used in the F-150 backed by beefier cross-members to withstand more rugged use) came with a base price of $64,780 including a $1,295 destination charge. With options, including the $8,795 diesel engine, the bottom line was $78,585. If price is an object as it is in many cases, the base F-350 4X4 XL crew cab without options goes out the door for $41,600. But be aware that the options list is extremely long and includes some desirable equipment.

Base price: $41,600; as driven, $78,585
Engine: 6.7-liter diesel V-8
Horsepower: 440 @ 2,800 rpm
Torque: 925 Foot-pounds @ 1,800 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drive: four wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 159.8 inches
Length: 250 inches
Curb weight: 8,060 pounds
Turning circle: NA
Towing capacity: 18,000 pounds
Fuel capacity: 30 gallons (diesel)
EPA rating: NA (observed 17 mpg)
0-60: 7.2 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Chevy Silverado Heavy Duty, Ram Heavy Duty

The Good
• Powerful turbodiesel V-8
• Spacious interior
• Outstanding payload, tow ratings

The Bad
• Hard to find a parking space

The Ugly
• Myriad of options can send price soaring