Ford pretty much owns the heavy duty pickup truck market with its Super Duty lineup, and the 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty 4×4 Crew Cab King Ranch adds some swagger to the scene with a complete makeover from top to bottom. Incorporating aluminum body construction (first seen on the F-150), an all-new fully boxed frame, a new interior, and new (to trucks) technology, the Super Duty takes a sledgehammer to swat the flies of competition. The vast majority of Super Duty trucks get used for towing, and much of Ford’s effort at improvement has been focused in that area. Not content to rest on its laurels, Ford has poured vast resources into the new 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty.
It all starts with the frame. The previous Super Duty rode on a frame that was mostly built from steel C-channel rails, which worked well. The new frame is fully boxed—in essence closing off the open side of the C-channels. This has resulted in much improved stiffness and strength from one end of the truck to the other. The frame is taller and thicker than before, and incorporates up to 10 crossmembers that add additional rigidity. All of the other components (body, drivetrain, suspension) hang on the frame. With a beefy, heavy frame and the weight-saving aluminum body, Ford has managed to increase the Super Duty’s payload and towing capacity, while lowering the truck’s center of gravity.
Like the latest F-150 (introduced in 2015), the new Ford Super Duty pickup has an all-aluminum body. In fact, the Super Duty body is identical to the F-150 body from the A-pillars to the C-pillars. Because aluminum is lighter than steel, engineers were able to save 350 lb., which was redistributed to the frame. The F-250 wears a unique hood, front fenders, and grille design. It’s larger than F-150, partly to accommodate bigger engine choices and partly for pure style. When you see an F-250 in your rearview mirror, you will be impressed with its massive appearance and stylish new parenthetical LED running lights, which frame the rectangular grille and big blue Ford oval. No subtlety here.
Sharing the cab body with its F-150 sibling makes sharing lots of its great interior features a no-brainer. The big 8-inch screen in the instrument panel brings lots of information to the driver via controls mounted on the steering wheel. A second screen lives at the top of the uncluttered center stack, providing touchscreen operation of navigation, audio, and other features. The Super Duty gets pushbutton keyless ignition, a second lockable glovebox on the passenger dash, and a bigger center console storage area. A clever (patent pending) sliding cup ring doubles the console cup capacity from two to four—why has nobody thought of this one before? A flat load floor in the second row and hidden lockable underseat storage increase cabin utility immensely.
Suspension and Ride Quality
The F-250 4×4 suspension has received some attention, with redesigned cast radius arms, new front and rear springs and retuned shocks, beefier front stabilizer bars and collars, and better rear joints and bushings. Not only have these components been designed for greater capacity, they also deliver a much quieter, smoother ride than before. We drove the F-250 unladen, loaded with a 1500-lb. water container, and while towing a 10,000-lb. trailer on a conventional hitch. In each situation, the ride was quiet and smooth. We didn’t experience any bouncing or pogo-stick feel when the bed was empty; and when the truck was under load, the ride was still supple. The F-250 very nearly competes with F-150 for ride quality now.
The basic steering setup for the 2017 Ford Super Duty lineup is a recirculating ball arrangement with a hydraulic power steering pump. Optional Adaptive Steering on our test F-250 added an electric motor and worm gear in the steering wheel. Computer commands set the steering ratio dynamically (mostly related to vehicle speed and load). At low speeds, small movements of the wheel will result in a steering effect. At highway speeds or while towing, the steering ratio changes to minimizing the effect of small steering inputs. The technology is promising and smart, and really shows itself off well in tight maneuvers. Steering feel at speed is a little numb, a characteristic we often notice with electric-assist power steering systems.
Towing and Payload
According to Ford, 90 percent of Super Duty customers tow with their pickup trucks. Maximum conventional towing for the new F-250 is 18,000 lb. The frame can be ordered with the setup to receive a gooseneck or fifth-wheel, too. Trailer sway control is standard. An array of up to seven cameras (including a wired camera on the back of your trailer) integrates with the dashboard screen to provide multiple views and even some live coaching.
The F-250’s aluminum bed has deeper beads and valleys than F-150’s to handle the 4,200-lb. maximum payload capacity. Along with the expected tie downs, there are new BoxLink locking cleats that are compatible with E-Track accessories. LED box lighting is another smart addition.
SUV drivers have become accustomed to electronic driver-assistance packages, and now some of those features are available on the Super Duty. Our F-250 came with optional Adaptive Cruise Control, which uses a radar sensor to maintain a set following distance from the vehicle ahead. A dedicated camera detects lane markers for Lane Departure Warning, which is very helpful in such a big, wide truck. Perhaps best of all, the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) not only warns you if someone is in your truck’s blind spot—it also extends its coverage to include your trailer’s blind spots. Calibrate the system one time for the length of your trailer, and it works seamlessly. You can store up to 10 trailer calibrations in memory.
Engine and Transmission
When it comes to hauling and towing, diesel engines rule. Our F-250’s 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel V8 engine was rated to produce 440 horsepower and 925 lb.-ft. of torque. Wow. Sent through a 6-speed automatic transmission to the available 4-wheel-drive system, that’s so much torque that Ford has to limit it in the lowest gears to avoid wheelspin. Imagine burning rubber in a heavy duty diesel pickup. All that power and torque gets to the ground smoothly, with very little drama or even evidence of shifting, and the cabin remains quiet even under heavy acceleration.
Two gasoline engines, a 6.2-liter V8 and a 6.8-liter V10, are also offered in various Super Duty configurations.
Super Duty Lineup and Pricing
Ford’s new 2017 Super Duty comes in three models: F-250, F-350, and F-450. Pickup trucks can be ordered with Regular Cab, Super Cab or Crew Cab, and with a choice of 6.75-foot or 8-foot bed lengths. Trim levels start with XL (base), then step up through XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum, accumulating features (and dollars) along the way. The least expensive F-250 XL starts at $32,535; check all of the boxes on an F-450 Platinum and you’re easily over $80,000. Our 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty 4×4 Crew Cab King Ranch test truck carried a base price of $57,455 ($77,715 as tested with diesel engine, FX4 Off-Road Package, Adaptive Cruise Control, BLIS, Lane Keeping Alert, 20-inch wheels, and other options).
Heavy Duty Competition and Conclusions
It’s difficult to find an area that Ford neglected—maybe Wi-Fi will come later. Ram has 900 lb.-ft. of torque? Ford tops that with 925. Chevy wants to talk about towing capability? Ford silences that discussion, too. Payload? Not even close. For buyers who want the biggest, the latest, the best, the new Super Duty pretty much has it covered. Not every pickup buyer needs the maximum capacity of a Super Duty, so other aspects like styling, feel, and compatibility come into play.
After this deep dive into the features and capabilities of the 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty 4×4 Crew Cab King Ranch, it wasn’t hard to envision driving one every day, even when towing and hauling wasn’t on the menu.