WASHINGTON — Large, heavy-duty pickup trucks seem to be behind the smaller light-duty trucks when it comes to creature comforts and luxury. Lately the big three manufacturers have been paying more attention to these large trucks, adding more technology and comfort to go along with the heavy-duty work these machines perform.
Ford took its time to redo the Super Duty truck line, and I spent a week with the F-250 version, the smallest of the Super Duty line. And by small, I mean still huge when compared to the normal F-150.
Buying a Super Duty truck seems daunting. There are 15 models in the Super Duty family, with options to fit your needs. Luckily Ford supplied the F-250 King Ranch Crew Cab, the middle trim for the F-250 line, with prices starting around $55,000; that price can be easily pushed toward $75,000 when loaded.
You notice a difference in styling with the 2017 Super Duty trucks. Its revised look upfront includes a large grill with two horizontal bars with large headlight clusters that look like the letter C. The 2018 F-150 also gets this look. There is chrome, large 20-inch wheels and badges that announce that this is the F-250 King Ranch and Power Stroke Diesel. One thing that hasn’t changed is the distinctive windows with the signature dip down that stands out.
The King Ranch trim offers some unique features, such as a two-tone paint scheme with Shadow Black and Caribou or a brown-like accent which breaks up the large look of this truck. It gives it a more upscale look, but the fact that this big boy is ready to work is not forgotten. It has a lot of tie-down hooks in the bed, provisions for towing, a fifth-wheel trailer and the normal bumper towing with usual hitch.
With the optional Power Stroke Diesel engine, towing a heavy load shouldn’t be a problem as long as it is less than 15,000 pounds. I stuffed the bed full and it wasn’t even noticeable during a 150-mile drive. You can thank that 6.7-liter diesel with 440 horsepower and the mind blowing 925-foot-pounds of torque. Those are some big numbers, and you can feel the power.
The 2017 Super Duty trucks also went on a diet, so there is less weight this year. For such a large vehicle, the unloaded F-250 is pretty quick, having no trouble keeping up with the traffic. The ride is improved from the last Super Duty line but there’s still some bounce with an empty bed; it does smooth out with added weight. You need to pack some extra patience and practice to get used to the large size taking up the whole lane. Parking and tight spaces are the enemy, but there are cameras and sensors to help out. Fuel economy for my week was 15 mpg with a lot of work done and weight in the bed. Heavy duty trucks aren’t tested for fuel economy numbers.
The inside of my nearly $76,000 fully-loaded King Ranch trim proves comfortable. The large crew cab provides plenty of space and luxury for five or six depending on the trim level. The unique heated/cooled leather seats, both in the front and rear, with a distinctive “W” are very comfortable.
The driver has easy reach of controls, and you can even use gloves to adjust climate and audio knobs and buttons. The back seats have plenty of space for three adults, offering ample leg and head room. The trim and plastics are very nice and a big step up for Ford with this heavy-duty bruiser. Also new for this year is more safety features, such as Adaptive Cruise, Lane Keep Alert and blind spot information, which helps out with large pickups. The Ultimate Trailer Tow camera has a series of cameras and views for the trailer, too.
The 2017 Ford Super Duty F-250 King Ranch Truck, named after an 825,000-acre historic ranch in Texas, now seems to be worthy of the name with vast improvements both inside and out. Now, with less weight to haul around and many ways to set up your Super Duty the way you want, it looks like the Ford truck line is poised to stay No. 1 for 2017 and beyond.
Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by STI, FMI or Event Solutions for the purpose of this review.