The Ford Super Duty pickups offer a pair of superb engines and can tow bumper-pull trailers that weigh up to 17,500 pounds or 24,500 with a fifth-wheel setup. Their bold, handsome exteriors are backed up by cabs that are attractive, functional and comfortable. Lariat and King Ranch models are downright luxurious. The F-450 pickup that shares cab and wheel sizes with the F-250 and F-350 remains atop the towing ratings for pickups.
The Ford Super Duty got a major overhaul for 2011 with all-new diesel and gasoline engines, a new 6-speed automatic transmission, and new front styling. Changes for the 2012 model year are minor.
The 6.2-liter V8 gasoline engine that comes standard is rated at 385 hp in F-250 models and 316 hp on the majority of F-350 versions. Those ratings are similar to GM's 6-liter and the Ram's 5.7-liter Hemi.
The 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel V8 was bumped up mid-year 2011 to 400 horsepower and 800 lb-ft of torque, an update offered at no charge to early 6.7-liter buyers. Both engines come with a 6-speed automatic transmission; no manual is offered.
For 2012, the gas engine may be ordered with a CNG/propane prep option. Also, short-bed models (6.75-foot) offer a factory gooseneck hitch package previously reserved for long beds.
There is nothing small about a Super Duty and even the shortest, plainest version represents three tons of mass. While the snout is mildly curved and aerodynamics have improved, the Super Duty is about as sleek as a concrete block, with in-your-face attitude and enough chrome to shave in front of it.
Super Duty trim ranges from basic commercial grade to luxurious Lariat and King Ranch models. Buyers can revel in heated-and-cooled Chaparral leather seats with driver memory, moonroof, a choice of two rearview cameras, SYNC voice-activated communications and entertainment, navigation, and remote start. The new diesel is quiet by heavy-duty truck standards.
Super Duty XL and XLT are designed for the cost/benefit analysis small businesses and independents use: a simple, fast trailer hookup, 4WD to get in/out of the job site, and a warm cab they can be blown clean with compressed air. For fleet and owner-operator buyers, Ford's Work Solutions system provides facilities for GPS linking, computer access to your office (with cell signal), 110-volt power in-cab, and RFID tags for your tools so you never leave any on the job site. Crew Chief allows a dispatcher real-time truck location, speed, and fuel economy, potentially useful for the Friday-night parent as well.
As usual the top tow and payload ratings are up from mid-year 2011 models, often to numbers that require a commercial driver's license. Best-in-class numbers for heavy-duty pickups sometimes change several times in a year, but they typically apply to just one model. The bottom line is that the Ford Super Duty, Ram 2500/3500, Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD are all highly capable trucks and none of them has a clear capability advantage over the other.
The 2012 Ford Super Duty comes in four trim levels, three cab sizes and two box sizes. Most variants are available with a choice of two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. The Super Duty XL, XLT and Lariat trims extend to most models. Only on Crew Cabs can you get the King Ranch interior, however. Also, there is no short-box dual-rear wheel model, and the FX4 package is offered only on SuperCab and Crew Cab 4WD F-250 and F-350.
A 6.2-liter V8 with 385 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 405 pound-feet of torque at 4500 rpm is standard on all F-250 and some single-rear wheel F-350 models; all other F-350 get a lower revving 6.2-liter V8 of 316 hp and 397 lb-ft of torque, both at 4179 rpm.
The 6.7-liter turbodiesel rated at 400 hp and 800 lb-ft of torque is optional on all other Super Duty. The Super Duty F-450 pickup, in long-bed, Crew Cab 4WD comes standard with the diesel.
Pricing for heavy-duty pickups takes megabytes given all the possible permutations. The least expensive Super Duty, a regular cab, long box two-wheel drive XL is $30,000 with shipping and the most expensive is the F-450 King Ranch Crew Cab long box diesel, about twice that.
In general terms, four-wheel drive adds $2500-$3500, a long box adds $200-$300, and dual rear wheels $1000-$1200. A step up in trim level may add a different cab, box length, or engine, which is why a SuperCab is $3500-$4700 more than a regular cab, and a Crew Cab is $5000-$6750 beyond a regular cab. Buying up from XL to XLT trim typically adds $2500-$3500, from XLT to Lariat $4000-$7500, and Lariat to King Ranch $3000-$6500.
The Super Duty XL is work-truck, low-budget in nature, with vinyl seats and flooring, black painted grille and bumpers, plain trim, and AM/FM stereo, but it does include air conditioning, towing mirrors, trip computer, tilt/telescoping steering wheel and a weight-appropriate receiver hitch. Options are primarily mechanical in nature: diesel, locking differential, larger tires and wheels, snow plow prep, integrated fifth-wheel/gooseneck hitch prep package ($380), camper package, off-road package for 4WD, tow command ($230), auxiliary switches, dual or larger single alternators, reverse sensors, tailgate step, Work Solutions in-dash computer ($1395) and Tool Link ($1120). SuperCabs also include flip-out rear side windows, Super and Crew get an overhead console, and the F-450 has forged aluminum wheels.
Super Duty XLT adds chrome trim, aluminum wheels, 40/20/40 cloth front seat with under-seat lockable compartment, carpet, CD player, power windows/locks/mirrors, power-adjusted and heated towing mirrors, privacy glass, the integrated brake controller for single-rear wheel trucks, remote keyless entry, MyKey, and cruise control. Options include captain's chairs w/power and heat, Audiophile sound system, adjustable pedals, moonroof, and rear-seat DVD entertainment.
Super Duty Lariat adds polished aluminum 17-inch wheels for F-350 dually and bright 18-inch aluminum wheels for single-rear-wheel trucks, heated leather power front seats, dual-zone climate control, power-adjust pedals, backup camera, SYNC, redundant sound/climate controls on wheel, woodgrain trim, power fold-and-telescoping tow mirrors, illuminated visor mirrors, privacy glass, keypad door entry, 110-volt outlet and a powered sliding rear window with defrost. Options include those offered on most Super Duty models plus captain's chairs and universal door opener.
Super Duty King Ranch adds two-tone paint including most trim pieces, driver memory package, heated/cooled power front seats, unique forged alloy wheels, rearview camera, and Chaparral-leather for the steering wheel, four captain's chairs and both center consoles.
Safety equipment includes electronic stability control, trailer sway control, and hill-descent control, antilock brakes, SOS post-crash alert, dual front airbags, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, adjustable height outboard belt anchors, child-seat LATCH anchors, three rear seat headrests on Crew Cab and a passenger airbag deactivation switch on regular and SuperCabs.