The Ford Super Duty pickups were redesigned for the 2017 model year. Therefore, there are only minor changes for the 2018 model year including a rearview camera standard on all models. Trim levels range from basic work trucks to near-luxury haulers: XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum, along with the new Limited edition. XL trucks are likely to be found at work sites, Lariats are often seen pulling hobby trailers.
Three cab configurations are offered, along with two cargo bed sizes and a pair of powertrain possibilities. Standard engine is Ford’s 6.2-liter V8, rated at 385 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque. Mating with a 6-speed automatic transmission, an F-250 with conventional hitch is capable of towing as much as 15,000 pounds, depending on configuration.
A 6.7-liter turbodiesel V8 is the practical, if more costly, choice for intense towing and long-distance hauling. Developing 450 horsepower and a whopping 925 pound-feet of torque. Employing a different 6-speed automatic, a turbodiesel F-450 model can be equipped to tow up to 17 tons.
Rear-wheel drive is standard, but four-wheel drive is available on all Super Duty models. Cargo beds may be either 6 feet 9 inches long, or stretch to 8 feet.
Crash-testing of the 2017 F-250 Crew Cab with rear-wheel drive, by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, yielded a five-star rating overall and for frontal and side impacts. Regular Cab and SuperCab models didn’t fare quite as well. Only the side-impact figure (five-star) was announced for 2018 models. Rollover protection, a calculated figure, has scored four stars with rear-drive and a worrisome three stars with four-wheel drive.
As for active safety technology, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision and lane departure warnings, and adaptive cruise control are available. Automatic emergency braking is not.
Ford Super Duty XL comes with manually operated windows, locks, and mirrors, plus vinyl seats and 17-inch steel wheels. A rearview camera is standard. XLT includes cloth seats, power features, and basic Sync infotainment.
Lariat upgrades to leather upholstery, power-adjustable pedals, an 8.0-inch touchscreeen, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
King Ranch boasts western-themed leather upholstery, navigation, dual-zone automatic climate control, and two-tone paint. Limited and Platinum models add luxury features and are distinguished with special trim.
Handsome and functional, Ford’s Super Duty might appear less assertively masculine than trucks of the past. A more utilitarian approach to design represents distinct balance between comfort and visual flair.
C-shaped headlights flank the grille, which contains chromed power bars. Bold Super Duty identification is stamped into the hood. Bodysides are highlighted by sheetmetal creases.
Like other full-size pickups, Regular Cab models have two doors. On SuperCab trucks, narrower half-doors provide back-seat access. Crew Cab pickups have four conventional, front-hinged doors.
Regardless of trim level, heavy-duty Fords look smart inside, linked to the lighter-duty F-150.
On the whole, interior designers focused on substance over style, acknowledging that most trucks are intended for work rather than show. Thus, vinyl is the preferred upholstery for low-end versions. Yet, cabins in upper trim levels can approach the poshness level of a luxury automobile.
Front seats provide welcome comfort in each Super Duty. CrewCab trucks promise sufficient room for a 6-footer to sit directly behind a passenger of comparable height. As expected, rear-seat space isn’t quite as voluminous inside a SuperCab.
In top trim levels, such as the King Ranch, leather covers the dashboard as well as the seats. Lower trim levels turn to durable cloth and scratch-resistant plastics. Making a practical decision, Ford offers vinyl flooring on every Super Duty truck.
All four-door models have a folding rear seat, for improved in-cab storage. A deep, wide center console helps provide ample capacity.
Big and brawny in any form, Ford’s Super Duty series is surprisingly high-tech in nature for a work-ready truck. Few workers at job sites are likely to feel short on usable power and strength when piloting an F-250, whether it’s gasoline- or diesel-powered. Still, even the 925 pound-feet of torque available from the turbodiesel engine doesn’t come into play immediately.
Ride comfort exceeds some expectations, as the current suspension system manages to smooth out a considerable number of pavement imperfections. Load-leveling is not included, however.
With the standard suspension configuration, a Super Duty truck handles about as well as any full-size competitor. Super Duty buyers also have an alternative, to boost the vehicle’s nimbleness. Ford’s optional adaptive-ratio steering system can speed up or slow down the amount of power-steering assist according to vehicle speed; this improves maneuverability at slower speeds and stability on long straightaways.
Super Duty trucks, starting with the F-250, blend maximum capability with contemporary technology and personal conveniences. Base-model pickups are quite spartan, but the number of creature comforts increases rapidly when moving up the trim-level scale. Picking from the bounty of options can also add considerably to the total price.
Driving impressions by Aaron Cole, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.