For buyers who need a tougher, more capable truck than the F-150, Ford offers the hard-working Super Duty line of pickups. Available in F-250, F-350 and F-450 models, these brutes possess eye-popping towing and hauling abilities along with a dizzying number of cab style, bed length and technology options.
The mid-level position in the Super Duty lineup is held by the F-350.
After receiving upgraded brakes, increased towing and payload capacities, and a luxed-up Platinum trim level for the previous model year, the Super Duty lineup is unchanged this year.
Large, in charge and not particularly subtle, the F-350'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 standard 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 that boasts 400 horsepower and 800 lb-ft of earth-moving torque. Both engines shift through a six-speed automatic transmission.
When properly equipped, the F-350 has a maximum payload capacity of 4,930 pounds. Conventional towing capacity checks in at 14,000 lbs, while adding a fifth wheel increases that figure to 16,700 lbs
Opting for the dual-rear wheel setup will boost those figures across the board. Max payload jumps to 6,520 lbs, while standard and fifth-wheel towing jumps to 18,500 and 22,600 lbs, respectively.
The F-350 is 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.
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 F-350'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 F-350'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 F-350 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 F-350, 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 F-350 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 F-350 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 F-350 for tackling tough trails with Rancho shocks, an electronic locking rear differential, skid plates, hill descent control and all-terrain tires.
All F-350 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 F-350 can nonetheless compare the big truck with the Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD/GMC Sierra 3500HD twins and the Ram 3500.