2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty Review: Rockin’ the ranch, not the suburbs
– Detroit, Michigan
Heavy duty trucks are indispensable tools when you need to tow or haul extremely heavy things. At six-and-a-half feet tall, and more than 20 feet long, vehicles like this Ford F-250 Super Duty are not, however, wieldy in the same way as a Fusion or an Explorer. So there’s a mild bifurcation of logic when it comes to the high-zoot, King Ranch edition of the F-250, which is then a kind of specialized tool that has been optimized – with massaging seats, a fancy stereo, and oodles of luxury items – for daily comfort.
Of course the seemingly irrational King Ranch Super Duty is anything but, and anything but alone in the mighty American pickup truck market. Truck buyers appreciate big, strong haulers, and competitor truck trims like the Chevy Silverado High Country, GMC Sierra Denali, and the Ram Laramie prove out that there’s an appetite for plush, high-dollar derivatives.
She’s a big, beautiful lady. I’m a midwestern boy, and there’s a part of me that has always and will always love the look of a bigass pickup. This new Super Duty hits all of the Pavlovian points for those, like me, who grew up appreciating a square-jawed working machine. Ford’s front fascia design seems to eschew even the idea of cutting down on aerodynamic drag, in favor of, I don’t know... intimidating the very air away from one’s forward path? The blocky styling and upright stance are appealing, especially when daubed with chrome and bold lighting elements.
King of the ranch and engine specs. Chevy, GMC, and Ram all make HD trucks with diesel engines that are in the same stratospheres of output as the F-250 and its 6.7-liter turbocharged diesel. But Ford’s mill can claim bragging rights amongst that power trio, with 440 horsepower and 925 pound feet of torque routed through its six-speed automatic, to all four wheels. (That’s 25 more lb-ft than the Ram, and 15 more than the GM trucks.) While unladen, all that twist gives the Ford a palpable sense of power to the rear wheels when you floor it, and it of course aids mightily in towing mega loads.
Anyone bringing a yacht to the lake? With a conventional hitch, this F-250 will tow 15,000 pounds, and has a maximum payload of 3,450 pounds. Of course both of those figures far eclipse the needs of city dwellers like me, and they should mostly encompass all but the true “power users” in the pickup world.
A wealth of options for the wealthy. The first truck I remember riding in was my Grandpa Compagner’s silver Chevy; even though I was a baby then, he probably would have washed my mouth out if I told him his ride needed a cattle herd’s worth of leather trim and massaging front seats. In all seriousness though, the King Ranch treatment may make this F-Series the most luxurious car on the Ford lot, with powered running boards, a twin-panel glass roof, all the power of Sync 3, automatic start, a tailgate you can raise and lower with the push of a button, and oh so much more. Sure, it pushed the bottom line price over $75,000 in my test truck, but it should stand toe to toe with those Cowboy Glam editions of the competitors.
You’d better be a tall drink of water. I’m a rangy six-feet and five-inches tall, and even with those trick running boards, getting in and out of a vehicle this high in the air can be a pain. The hip point of the front seats is astronomical, meaning people shorter than me, or heaven forbid children, are going to struggle to get in and out.
There’s plenty of room for it… in Texas. Listen, it’s not like I live in San Francisco or midtown Manhattan – much of Detroit and Michigan is replete with wide roadways and big parking lots. But even still, a truck this big requires planning before you go somewhere. Is a parking deck involved? Is that lot particularly busy, with narrow spots? What’s the clearance height of the automatic car wash again? Don’t get me wrong, a well-judged power-assist on the steering rack makes the F-250 pretty easy to maneuver, and reversing cameras are a godsend, but there’s still a higher-than-average stress level in tight quarters.
I don’t want do-everything capability, 24/7. As I stated earlier, a truck like this wants to blend the ultimate in ability with every creature comfort. Even if you’re a literal rancher, I doubt you need to tow 15,000 pounds most of the time. Considering you can buy a much more blue collar F-250 for about $41,000, and a very nice sedan or small SUV for that remaining $30,000, I’m not sure I buy into the massive tradeoffs associated with driving this huge rig everyday.
Photos: Steven Ewing / Motor1.com