The Ford F-Series Super Duty lineup has been completely redesigned for 2017, and there has never been a better time to tow or haul with an F-250 or F-350 or, for that matter, an F-450.
Fresh styling highlights a new aluminum-alloy body. Beneath that, is an all-new fully boxed frame that’s significantly lighter yet dramatically stronger than previously, a benefit of its extensive use of high-strength steel.
The optional 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbo diesel V8 produces an awesome 925 foot-pounds of torque. The standard 6.2-liter V8 is rated at 385 horsepower, 430 foot-pounds of torque.
Adaptive steering slows the ratios at high speeds for enhanced stability, increases at low speeds to ease steering in tight quarters. Adaptive cruise control is available for use even when pulling heavy trailers. All the latest safety features are available, among them tire pressure monitoring for the trailer, a blind-spot monitor that will work for trailers up to 33 feet long, lane departure warning, forward collision warning.
New convenience features include a camera aimed at the truck bed, useful for hooking up a gooseneck. An optional tow camera setup uses four cameras for a 360-degree view around the truck. Backing up is eased somewhat with trailer reverse guidance visual cues on the rearview camera. Also available: a trailer camera, useful when backing up. Cameras every which way, seven all told.
The styling looks new yet familiar at the same time.
Though completely new, much of the 2017 Super Duty cabin will seem familiar to anyone accustomed to the previous-generation models. It’s the same, only different.
A large number of Super Duty trucks are basic XL models purchased for commercial use, people who buy trucks that other people have to drive. Lariat and King Ranch models are favored by those who buy F-250s and F-350s for personal use, towing trailers, hauling you name it. Crew Cabs are popular because they make for an incredibly capable and versatile vehicle.
Most popular for towing trailers are an F-250 short bed or an F-350 long bed dually. Choosing between them can be difficult. What we’ve found: The F-250 tows very well and is much easier to park. The long dually does indeed substantially increase stability when pulling a big trailer, but it’s less convenient as a daily driver.
A properly equipped 2017 F-350 is rated to a gooseneck capacity of 32,000 pounds.
The Ford F-350 compares with the GMC Sierra 3500, Chevrolet Silverado 3500, and Ram 3500, while the F-250 can be shopped against the Chevy Silverado 2500, Sierra 2500, Ram 2500, and the Nissan Titan XD.
The 2017 Ford F-Series Super Duty comes in F-250, F-350, F-450 and heavier versions, in XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum editions.
XL models are basic work trucks, XLT are nicely trimmed with cloth upholstery, Lariat is the standard upper-trim level with leather seat covers, King Ranch features a western theme with cowboy leather, Platinum is distinguished by ventilated grille bars.
Regular Cabs, SuperCabs with small back seats and rear-hinged doors, and Crew Cabs with full-size rear seats and full-size, front-hinged doors are available. Beds are 6 3/4 and 8 feet in length. Rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive are offered, as are single rear wheels or dual rear wheels, and 6.2-liter V8 or 6.7-liter turbo diesel.
No question the 2017 Super Duty looks new. Yet it also looks familiar. The headlights echo the C-shaped theme seen in the latest F-150 as well as the grille of the previous-generation Super Duty. The big chrome grille of the new one is an evolution of the previous-generation Super Duty grille, the bars now closer together with an opening between them, black on lower models, chromed on mid-level grades, perforated on Platinum. The 2017 Super Duty Platinum models are executed more tastefully than previously, though the band of bright metal across the tailgate remains.
The square fender flares on 2017 models with dual real wheels are a departure from the previous round flares yet suggest the lines of a Ford dually from the 1980s, and they have a small round lip on top of the square flare that echoes the round lip on the single rear wheel models and harkens back to the round flares on the previous generation. So, the Super Duty appears to be moving boldly into the future while honoring its heritage.
The door handles on the new truck are chrome grab handles oriented horizontally, replacing the vertical black levers used previously. These flashes of car-like chrome along with black B-pillars and crisper body sides conspire to make the Super Duty look a bit less heavy duty. Plus the new handles are more comfortable. Only the chrome bars on the grille look heavy duty now, appearing to weight the truck down from some angles.
The all-new cab features nice leather seat trim and multi-adjustable seats on the top models. There’s even a massage feature available. Anyone who questions the concept of a luxurious truck cab has not towed long distances. XLT and Lariat models tend to be our favorites, the former with nice cloth upholstery, the latter with color-coordinated leather. And we do love the King Ranch versions.
Any model, even the top trim levels, is available with a vinyl floor instead of carpet, an option worthy of consideration for trucks that see a lot of mud, snow or wet.
Between the available front bucket seats is a large console that offers wonderful storage space for all the driver’s stuff. Alternatively, a bench seat with a flip-up console is available for three-across seating in front.
Rear seat bottoms in the Crew Cabs flip up to reveal a handy storage area. They are not dog friendly, however. Unbolting and removing seats and storage bin may be the best option for a big dog.
The new chassis is 24 times as rigid, says Ford, and this can be felt in the form of a smoother, quieter ride. The suspension has been tuned for a smoother ride than the previous-generation, whether loaded or not.
The diesel is smooth and quiet at cruising speeds. The 6.7-liter diesel generates 440 horsepower and 925 foot-pounds of torque and comes with a six-speed automatic.
The 6.2-liter V8 engine is rated at 430 lb.-ft. and 385 hp and also comes with a six-speed automatic, though a different.
F-250 models powered by the 6.2-liter engine benefit from a new six-speed automatic Ford says is more responsive than the previous setup.
F-250 short-bed models (with shorter wheelbase) do an excellent job of pulling bumper-pull trailers and can handle weighty goosenecks. They are quite stable, much more so than an F-150 or any other light-duty pickup. In short, a Ford F-250 is an excellent choice for a tow vehicle. Parking an F-250 is a bit more cumbersome than parking an F-150, which feels like a car by comparison.
No question an F-350 with dual rear wheels and the longer wheelbase is more stable when towing, however. We thought there would be a significant difference, but back-to-back coast-to-coast driving in each configuration demonstrated to us that the dually is substantially more stable and, therefore, more enjoyable for long tows. Strong crosswinds in Wyoming and Kansas, tractor trailers blowing by, heavy rain storms, all are more comfortable when towing in the F-350. Parking one of these is more cumbersome than parking an F-250, more because of the length than the width, but unless you drive into New York City or some other metropolis with restricted parking, it’s entirely doable. We simply park farther from the door at shopping centers, restaurants, and motels. With its higher tongue weight rating, there is less concern about carefully distributing weight when loading the trailer. Finally, when pulling a trailer, a dually just looks cooler.
Another option is an F-350 long bed with single rear wheels, but unless you are primarily hauling or have some other special requirement, this configuration has all the downsides of the length without the benefits of dual rear wheels (highway stability, superior tongue weight capacity).
The 2017 Super Duty improves on the highly capable previous-generation version in terms of refinement and updating. If you have been waiting to get one of these, your time has come. These are fabulous trucks loaded with capability.
New Car Test Drive editor Mitch McCullough reported from northern New Jersey.