For the latest model year, Ford's F-Series truck comes standard with a rapid-heat supplemental cab heater when it's sold new in cold-weather states.
Large, in charge and not particularly subtle, the Super Duty's exterior styling reveals much of what you need to know about this truck - especially the locomotive-like hood and grille, which hints at the big power that lurks beneath.
The base engine is a 6.2-liter gasoline V8 that produces 385 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque, but most buyers opt for a 6.7-liter turbodiesel V8 (standard on the F-450) that boasts 440 horsepower and 860 lb-ft of earth-moving torque. Both engines shift through a six-speed automatic transmission.
When properly equipped, diesel F-250 models have a maximum payload capacity of 4,240 lbs. and are capable of fifth-wheel/gooseneck trailer towing up to 16,800 pounds. For the F-350, those figures rise to 7,260 lbs. and 26,500 lbs. The F-450 can manage a 7,260-lbs. payload and 31,200-lbs. trailer.
The F-250 and F-350 models are available in Regular Cab, Extended Cab and Crew Cab bodystyles. The Regular Cab features two doors and a singe row of seating, the Extended Cab adds a small second row of seating and the Crew Cab has four doors and an expanded rear cabin area. All three can be outfitted with either a 6.75- or 8-foot bed.
The F-450 is available only as a four-door Crew Cab model with an eight-foot bed and four-wheel-drive.
Rear-wheel-drive models use a twin I-beam front suspension, while four-wheel-drive variants utilize a live front axle. Both feature a live rear axle along with leaf springs at all four corners. These suspension setups play a big part in the Super Duty's strong payload and towing ratings, although the tradeoff comes in the form of jittery ride without a load in the bed. The same, of course, can be said for most other similarly sized and similarly capable pickups. Handling is predictable for the most part, although aloof steering means it can be tough to place the big truck accurately at times.
The Inside Story
Although its overall layout is beginning to look slightly dated, the Super Duty's interior remains a surprisingly refined and high-tech space. Extensive sound deadening measures make for a luxury car-quiet cabin - all the better to make use of the Bluetooth-based "SYNC" connectivity system, which come standard on all but the base model.
SYNC allows smartphone users to place calls and stream music by using voice commands or steering wheel-mounted buttons. It can also read incoming texts aloud to help the driver keep his or her eyes on the road, and allows the use of Ford-approved apps like The Wall Street Journal news and Pandora radio.
The Super Duty can also be spec'd with MyFord Touch, an infotainment system that builds on SYNC by letting users control everything from navigation to climate control to the sound system with voice commands. MyFord Touch also features a center-mounted eight-inch touchscreen, dual 4.2-inch displays in the instrument cluster and touch-sensitive controls in the center stack. For use in the Super Duty, Ford modified the system to better accommodate the needs of pickup users - changes include more redundant buttons for audio and climate controls that can be used with work gloves on.
Many consumers report that the system is a "love it or hate it" item, so those interested in the Super Duty are advised to try before they buy.
As one would expect of a work-focused pickup, there are numerous cupholders and storage nooks interspersed throughout the cabin. Material quality ranges from hard plastics in base trucks to supple leather and imitation wood accents on up-level models.
Trim Level Breakdown
The Super Duty is offered in XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum trim levels.
The stripped-out work truck of the lineup, the XL, comes standard with A/C, vinyl upholstery, vinyl floor coverings, a two-speaker AM/FM stereo, black plastic exterior trim and 17-inch steel wheels.
The XLT adds power windows, locks and mirrors, cruise control, SYNC, an upgraded four-speaker stereo with a CD player and an AUX input, keyless entry, heated exterior mirrors, cloth upholstery, floor carpeting, an integrated trailer brake controller and 17-inch aluminum wheels.
The Lariat brings leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, MyFord Touch, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, foglights, an eight-speaker audio system with SiriusXM satellite radio, power-adjustable pedals, a power rear window, imitation wood trim and 18-inch alloy wheels.
The King Ranch includes upgraded leather upholstery, a navigation system, unique exterior trim (including two-tone paint), power-folding and telescoping mirrors and 20-inch polished aluminum wheels.
The range-topping Platinum gets copious amounts of chrome adorning the door handles, mirror caps, running boards, exhaust tip and tow hook, perforated mesh accents and a satin chrome surround for the grille, and unique 20-inch wheels. Inside, there's unique faux-wood trim, heated and ventilated seats, a heated steering wheel and premium leather upholstery.
An available FX4 Off-Road Package prepares the Super Duty for tackling tough trails with Rancho shocks, an electronic locking rear differential, skid plates, hill descent control and all-terrain tires.
All Super Duty models are fitted with dual front, front side and side-curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems.
Though brand loyal buyers of heavy-duty, full-size pickups seldom cross-shop their preferred vehicle with its competitors, those looking at the Super Duty can nonetheless compare the big truck with the Ram 2500 and 3500, Chevrolet Silverado Heavy Duty and GMC Sierra Heavy Duty.