We have a large garage, so when a test vehicle doesn?t fit, we know it?s a big one. In the case of our recent Ford truck test vehicle, even the name was big — 2015 Ford F-350 Super Duty King Ranch Crew Cab 4×4 with Power Stroke V-8 Diesel.
By numbers alone this big Ford was one of the largest we?d ever driven: 156-inch wheelbase, 247-inches long, maximum payload of nearly two tons and tow rating of 14,000 pounds using a conventional hitch, or 15,900 pounds with a fifth-wheel trailer, and that?s not the largest model Ford offers.
We?re not haulers or towers, but we have family members who are, and trucks like this are essential for Bill?s sister?s family in Montana who depend on big pickups to pull long trailers filled with horses, cattle or massive hay bales.
What surprised us about such a big tough truck was how civilized, posh and complex it is. The King Ranch edition dash is busy, but efficient with all sorts of extra control switches for everything from trailer brakes to extra auxiliary switches. But the controls are large and well-marked so they can easily be used even with gloves on. There?s a full complement of gauges so the driver knows exactly how the truck is performing. Then there is the large navigation screen, numerous extra plug-ins and massive storage areas for all kinds of equipment, drinks, gloves, etc. The truck is amazingly well organized, even up to Barbara?s strict standards of organization.
It?s also very comfortable, thanks to big beautiful perforated heated and cooled leather seats in the front. The wide rear seat in the four-door crew cab model easily sits three large adults comfortably. The interior is filled with strong, but soft Mesa Antique Leather, attractive wood-like trim and decorated with a King Ranch Mesa brand in various locations.
Standard power for the F-350 is a 385-hp 6.2-liter gasoline engine rated at 405-lb.ft. of torque. Our test truck had the optional ($8,480) 440-hp 6.7-liter Power Stroke Turbo-Diesel engine?which produces a massive 860-lb.ft. of torque at 1,600 rpms.
?We?re the only manufacturer that develops and builds our own powertrains in this class,? said Doug Scott, Ford Truck Group marketing manager. ?When you combine that with a chassis that?s purpose-built for best-in-class power and torque, you can feel it in the way the new truck drives, especially when towing big loads.?
That?s the kind of power that is needed to pull those seven- or eight-ton loads. The transmission for both engines is a heavy duty six-speed automatic which can be manually shifted using the toggle switch on the face of the column mounted shifter. At the end of the shift stalk is a Tow/Haul mode switch which is integrated with the engine brake on the diesel engine models to give the driver greater control when traveling downhill — it will slow the vehicle so the driver doesn?t have to by braking. It also reduces the transmission from ?hunting? through the gears and rather holds a gear to maintain better control.
Hill Start Assist is an important standard feature that also holds the vehicle as the driver moves a foot from the brake to the accelerator. This is especially helpful when it?s heavily loaded. There?s also a trailer sway control for trucks with the single rear wheels that works with Ford?s AdvanceTrac with RSC (Roll Stability Control) to automatically apply the appropriate brake to stop trailer sway from side to side allowing the driver to regain control before it gets out of hand.
According to one of the buff magazines test numbers, this truck makes the 0 to 60 mph acceleration run in 7.8 seconds. That?s pretty quick for such a big heavy vehicle. The EPA doesn?t do fuel economy estimates for heavy duty trucks, but the trip computer in our test truck showed 14.3 mpg after a week of combined highway and around town driving.
The big Ford 4×4 has a traditional truck suspension with heavy-duty mono beam with coil springs, shock absorber and stabilizer bar. The rear is a live axle with leaf springs. Our test truck had single rear wheels, but it?s also available with a dual rear wheel configuration with the flared fenders and four wheels. This configuration can add more than 10,000 pounds of additional towing capacity.
What?s surprising about this big heavy duty truck is how quiet is ? there is no discernable diesel chatter inside the cabin and no wind noise or rattles. It?s extremely solid, however, like most trucks we?ve driven without a load it tends to bounce a bit on rough sections, but that?s expected. We know with weight in the back it will smooth out and provide an excellent ride quality, especially on smooth roads.
It?s easy to see why the Ford F-Series trucks have been the top selling trucks for the last 37 years. The truck is attractive, solidly built and very civilized.
The Ford Super Duty trucks are offered in F250, F350 and F450 versions, three cab styles, two box sizes and in five trim levels. Prices for the 2015 Ford Super Duty F350 start at $34,475, including the destination charge, for the XL with gasoline engine with two-wheel drive and can go into the mid-$70,000 range for a fully loaded luxurious King Ranch and Platinum models.