By Steve & Tamami Laser
We live in horse country. Our community is home to miles of bridle paths and local stables with riding clubs. Horse property homes command stratospheric price tags. We see plenty of pickups pulling horse trailers on our local highways and country lanes. A quick, unofficial survey tells us that the Ford Super Duty® with dual rear wheels is the truck of choice for the well-to-do equestrian set in our neck of the woods.
We don’t have a barn or horses in our backyard. Yet we’ve always wondered what it’s like to pilot one of these impressive six-wheeled machines. So when Ford invited us to a local media event to test-drive the new lineup of 2017 Super Duty trucks, wild horses couldn’t keep us away. The choices on hand included various gas and diesel models in the F-250, F-350 and F-450 range with different levels of equipment.
Join us for a brief test drive and walkaround of the new Ford F-350 Super Duty in the above video from our YouTube channel.
We decided to test a mighty F-350 Dual Rear Wheel 4×4 Crew Cab fitted with the stout 6.7-liter Power Stroke® V8 Turbo-Diesel and luxurious Lariat trim level. We had a chance to test the popular Ford F-150 at a previous event when it was introduced as an all-new model for 2015. Yet this extra-large Super Duty made it seem small in comparison. (It’s three feet longer than the longest F-150.)
Like the F-150, the Super Duty receives a new high-strength aluminum body. It rides on a new fully boxed steel frame that Ford says uses 95 percent high-strength steel and cuts “nearly 350 pounds of weight while increasing chassis strength by 24 times over the previous frame.” Ford also says the Super Duty offers available “best-in-class” towing. The new truck line gains heavier duty four-wheel-drive components, driveline, axles and towing hardware.
The F-350 offers maximum gooseneck towing capacity of 32,000 pounds, fifth-wheel towing capacity of 27,000 pounds and gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of up to 40,000 pounds. According to Ford’s Towing Guide, our test truck with its 4.10 axle ratio had a maximum loaded trailer weight rating of 21,000 pounds for conventional towing and 31,300 pounds with fifth-wheel/gooseneck towing.
Our tester sported a massive 176-inch wheelbase, 266.2-inch overall length (more than 22 feet), and 96.0 inch width (not including the mirrors). The cargo bed measured 98.1 inches at the floor (about 8 feet) and included an optional fifth-wheel hitch prep package. This truck is so long and wide that it might be tough to find parking spots if used for daily errands. Ford offers different wheelbases, cab configurations and bed lengths, so our advice is to choose wisely and think about all the ways that the truck will be used.
Under the hood, the available Ford Power Stroke diesel is rated with an incredible “best-in-class” 925 lb.-ft. of torque and stout 440 horsepower. It gains new twin-pilot injection, upgraded pistons, rods, crankshaft, heads and gaskets. There’s a driver-controlled engine exhaust brake (like a big-rig) with “On, Off and Auto” settings that allows the use of engine braking to help slow the truck. That should come in handy when towing.
The engine is teamed with a TorqShift® 6-speed automatic transmission with SelectShift®. We found this combo to be very responsive and actually fun to drive. Ford didn’t provide trailers to tow at the event, so we can only comment on performance with an unloaded truck. As we mentioned in our video, it offered impressive response on the wide, flat streets of Carson, Calif. and felt similar to driving the F-150 (except for the extra length and width.)
This truck was loaded with luxury and convenience features so journalists could try them out. The Lariat Ultimate Package included goodies like a heated, leather-wrapped power-adjustable steering wheel, intelligent access with push-button start, PowerScope trailer mirrors, a huge dual-panel sunroof, LED box lighting, remote start system and remote tailgate release with a tailgate step.
Ford says optional Adaptive Steering is designed to make driving easier with or without a trailer. The technology reduces the amount of steering input needed to change direction at low-speed, while reducing sensitivity to steering input at higher speeds.
The cabin is a pleasant place to do business and reminded us of the F-150 that we drove last year. Stepping up into the plush leather-trimmed driver’s seat, we were rewarded with creature comforts like 10-way power adjustment with optional memory, plus heated and cooled functions.
There’s ample room for three adults in the rear seat. The 60/40 bench has flip-up and flip-down convenience to allow stowing bulky items inside the cab, plus underseat storage, and a fold-down center armrest with pop-out cupholders. We also spotted vents on the back of the center floor console and a 110V/400W outlet.
The instrument cluster had bright and easy to read displays. The center portion can be reconfigured by the driver to display things like a digital turbo gauge, Trailer Tire Pressure Monitoring System, Diesel Exhaust Fluid Tank Status, and even Off-Road Status.
The Lariat’s new SYNC® 3 Enhanced Voice Recognition, Communications and Entertainment System was easy to use with its bright 8-inch LCD touchscreen offering swiping capability plus AppLink control of mobile apps like Pandora® and iHeartAuto.
Our tester also featured the optional voice-activated navigation system with SiriusXM® Traffic and Travel Link®. While checking out this high-tech system, we had to keep reminding ourselves that we were sitting in a heavy-duty truck equipped for serious hauling and towing.
The test truck’s premium audio system by Sony® delivered excellent sound through 10 speakers and included HD Radio. Ford says that Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™ will also become available.
We also liked the camera system that included a 360-degree split-view display. Our tester included the “customer-placed camera” option that can be attached to the rear of a trailer and viewed on this screen. Trailer Reverse Guidance is also offered to help the driver maneuver by switching between side and rearview cameras.
Another surprise was the array of car-like advanced safety systems. The optional Blind Spot Information System with trailer tow has been optimized for the Super Duty to include the length of a trailer. BLIS® uses radar sensors in the taillights to monitor areas that may not be visible to the driver.
Our test truck checked in with a base MSRP of $53,485. The long list of options, including some we forgot to mention like overhead upfitter switches, spray-in bedliner, quad-beam LED headlights, engine block heater, dual extra heavy-duty alternator, and Adaptive Cruise Control with Collision Warning, brought the bottom line with destination to $73,665. Super Duty prices for 2017 start at $32,545 for the F-250 XL regular cab work truck with gas V8 engine and vinyl seats inside.
Super Duty trim levels run the gamut from XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum. The roster of available options and packages is longer than our test truck, offering more goodies like Multicontour seats with Active Motion®, power-deployable running boards, Lane-Keeping Alert, Driver Alert System, and a Snow Plow Prep Package.
So whether it’s for work or for play, for towing horse trailers or toting building supplies, Ford now has all the bases covered with a fresh lineup of high-tech pickups, from the F-150 to the king-of-the-hill Super Duty F-450. We give our test truck a “thumbs up.” It won’t be long before we see the new Super Duty trucks in our neighborhood. We’ll smile and remember our time behind the wheel of this remarkable new workhorse.
Note: There are many factors to consider when “spec’ing” a new truck for towing. Our advice is to consult a Super Duty sales professional at a Ford dealership prior to buying or leasing to make sure the truck is properly equipped for the task.
F-350 Super Duty press fleet vehicle provided by Ford Motor Company. Prices and vehicle information applies to models sold in the U.S. at the time of publication. All information including prices, features and specifications is subject to change without notice by the automaker.
Story, photos and videos © 2016 CarNichiWa.com
Ford does an amazing job of staying one step ahead of everybody when it comes to new features such as the detachable, customer-placed rear camera. They were also first with an integrated trailer brake option and built-in engine braking. I’m more of a GM guy but when I read of Ford’s feature’s I get a bit jealous!