Brocker.Org: The all-new Ford Super Duty pickup is the largest vehicle we’ve...

Brocker.Org: The all-new Ford Super Duty pickup is the largest vehicle we’ve ever tested — here’s what we thought (F)

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The Big Blue Oval. Real big.Matthew DeBord/BIFord has gone all in with the redesign of its critically important Super Duty series of large pickup trucks. The Super Duty had been refreshed and updated, but it hadn’t been completely rethought in two decades.

Ford makes a lot of money off these ginormous F-Series pickups, so a new Super Duty was a big risk. Customers from this type of truck, optimized for work and for towing, are among the most demanding in the auto industry.

The carmaker had already taken one huge risk with its legendary F-150 full-size pickup, switching to aluminum from steel in production. That worked out well, so Ford moved on to the Super Duty lineup, the F-250 and its larger stablemates.

While I had checked out the new F-150 and been pleased, I had never actually driven a Super Duty. It was a big missing piece of my ongoing professional development.

Plus, who doesn’t like a big ole pickup? So when Ford told me I could borrow a 2017 F-250 Super Duty Platinum 4×4 Crew Cab, with a mighty 6.7-liter Powerstroke turbo diesel engine, I said heck yes!

Here’s what it was like to have this mountain of a pickup in my driveway for a few days last year:


Our borrowed Super Duty arrived in a “Magnetic” gray paint job.

Our borrowed Super Duty arrived in a

Matthew DeBord/BI

This pickup tipped the scales at around 6,000 lbs. — three tons!

This pickup tipped the scales at around 6,000 lbs. — three tons!

Matthew DeBord/BI

I think the tree was intimidated. I didn’t even think to ask my Prius how it felt. It was acting like it wanted to go hide in the garage.

I think the tree was intimidated. I didn't even think to ask my Prius how it felt. It was acting like it wanted to go hide in the garage.

Matthew DeBord/BI

My first-grader wasn’t intimidated at all. Take that, big truck!

My first-grader wasn't intimidated at all. Take that, big truck!

Matthew DeBord/BI

Did I mention that it was a SUPER DUTY pickup?

Did I mention that it was a SUPER DUTY pickup?

Matthew DeBord/BI

The F-250 is actually the lowest level of the Super Duty line, which includes F-350 and F-450 models. The F-250 Platinum is the premium 250 offering, stickering at over $62,000. Our test truck was well-optioned and came in at nearly $75,000.

The F-250 is actually the lowest level of the Super Duty line, which includes F-350 and F-450 models. The F-250 Platinum is the premium 250 offering, stickering at over $62,000. Our test truck was well-optioned and came in at nearly $75,000.

Matthew DeBord/BI

The 6.7-liter turbo diesel V8 is the Incredible Hulk of motors. It cranks out 440 horsepower, but more importantly a monumental 925 pound-feet of torque, which gives this pickup a towing capacity that’s nothing short of astonishing. Mount a gooseneck rig in the bed and you’re good for over 32,000 lbs. — 16 tons. If only I’d had a military surplus MRAP to haul around!

The 6.7-liter turbo diesel V8 is the Incredible Hulk of motors. It cranks out 440 horsepower, but more importantly a monumental 925 pound-feet of torque, which gives this pickup a towing capacity that's nothing short of astonishing. Mount a gooseneck rig in the bed and you're good for over 32,000 lbs. — 16 tons. If only I'd had a military surplus MRAP to haul around!

Matthew DeBord/BI

Like the F-150, the F-250 Super Duty has a convenient retractable step to make bed access easier. You may have seen the Howie Long Chevy Silverado commercials in which the former NFLer talks a little smack about this “man step.” I appreciated it, however.

Like the F-150, the F-250 Super Duty has a convenient retractable step to make bed access easier. You may have seen the Howie Long Chevy Silverado commercials in which the former NFLer talks a little smack about this

Matthew DeBord/BI

There’s also a retractable bar that assists in stepping in and out of the bed.

There's also a retractable bar that assists in stepping in and out of the bed.

Matthew DeBord/BI

A new dresser from IKEA was a piece of cake for the Super Duty. I could have bought four and still had room for 100 lbs. of Swedish meatballs.

A new dresser from IKEA was a piece of cake for the Super Duty. I could have bought four and still had room for 100 lbs. of Swedish meatballs.

Matthew DeBord/BI

The bed has lights so you can work at night …

The bed has lights so you can work at night ...

Matthew DeBord/BI

… and a power hookup.

... and a power hookup.

Matthew DeBord/BI

The F-250 Super Duty came with four-wheel-drive. I didn’t get the chance to tow a boat through mud, however. There was no mud, for starters. And I have no boat.

The F-250 Super Duty came with four-wheel-drive. I didn't get the chance to tow a boat through mud, however. There was no mud, for starters. And I have no boat.

Matthew DeBord/BI

More hardcore work-truck capability.

More hardcore work-truck capability.

Matthew DeBord/BI

What do you think this step on the front bumper is all about?

What do you think this step on the front bumper is all about?

Matthew DeBord/BI

It lets you get up high enough …

It lets you get up high enough ...

Matthew DeBord/BI

… to look down at …

... to look down at ...

Matthew DeBord/BI

… that titanic engine, which is an almost-$9,000 option.

... that titanic engine, which is an almost-$9,000 option.

Matthew DeBord/BI

What other enormous Super Duty things can we look at? How about these majestic Michelins?

What other enormous Super Duty things can we look at? How about these majestic Michelins?

Matthew DeBord/BI

Or this gargantuan tailpipe?

Or this gargantuan tailpipe?

Matthew DeBord/BI

The gas cap was actually shockingly normal-sized.

The gas cap was actually shockingly normal-sized.

Matthew DeBord/BI

This is a truck with a back seat and can easily accommodate three adults. Or one first-grader in high style. The leather upholstery is “Black/Brunello.”

This is a truck with a back seat and can easily accommodate three adults. Or one first-grader in high style. The leather upholstery is

Matthew DeBord/BI

Those are the rear-seat cupholders.

Those are the rear-seat cupholders.

Matthew DeBord/BI

And that’s the sunroof.

And that's the sunroof.

Matthew DeBord/BI

The driver is confronted by the usual instruments, but also surrounded by lots of extra buttons and switches to control the drivetrain and to set up the Super Duty for towing duty.

The driver is confronted by the usual instruments, but also surrounded by lots of extra buttons and switches to control the drivetrain and to set up the Super Duty for towing duty.

Matthew DeBord/BI

Cruise control on the left …

Cruise control on the left ...

Matthew DeBord/BI

… infotainment, phone, and voice controls on the right.

... infotainment, phone, and voice controls on the right.

Matthew DeBord/BI

Charging for the back seats …

Charging for the back seats ...

Matthew DeBord/BI

… and the front, plus …

... and the front, plus ...

Matthew DeBord/BI

… a couple of USB ports.

... a couple of USB ports.

Matthew DeBord/BI

Cupholders! And a nice big catch-all tray.

Cupholders! And a nice big catch-all tray.

Matthew DeBord/BI

As well as a vast storage compartment under the center armrest.

As well as a vast storage compartment under the center armrest.

Matthew DeBord/BI

The Super Duty has A LOT of cameras, and can be specially equipped with extra ones for towing big trailers.

The Super Duty has A LOT of cameras, and can be specially equipped with extra ones for towing big trailers.

Matthew DeBord/BI

Bed cam!

Bed cam!

Matthew DeBord/BI

The system can create a useful bird’s-eye view of the truck. Believe me, when you’re dealing with a pickup this large, you want to be able to see into all your possible blind spots.

The system can create a useful bird's-eye view of the truck. Believe me, when you're dealing with a pickup this large, you want to be able to see into all your possible blind spots.

Matthew DeBord/BI

Infotainment is served up by Ford’s Sync3.

Infotainment is served up by Ford's Sync3.

Matthew DeBord/BI

Vehicle functions can be operated with the touchscreen. A trend in pickups these days is relatively luxurious, high-tech interiors. Sure, you can still get a basic, non-frills work truck. But the typical Super Duty owner is a professional who uses his or her pickup for work and all but lives in the vehicle.

Vehicle functions can be operated with the touchscreen. A trend in pickups these days is relatively luxurious, high-tech interiors. Sure, you can still get a basic, non-frills work truck. But the typical Super Duty owner is a professional who uses his or her pickup for work and all but lives in the vehicle.

Matthew DeBord/BI

You’ve also got satellite radio, in addition to full Bluetooth functionality, AUX and USB inputs, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The audio system in our tester sounded superb.

You've also got satellite radio, in addition to full Bluetooth functionality, AUX and USB inputs, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The audio system in our tester sounded superb.

Matthew DeBord/BI

Just for the record, if you experience a neighborhood blackout, these headlights have your back.

Just for the record, if you experience a neighborhood blackout, these headlights have your back.

Matthew DeBord/BI

A modest Blue Oval badge? Well, no.

A modest Blue Oval badge? Well, no.

Matthew DeBord/BI

So what’s the verdict?

So what's the verdict?

Matthew DeBord/BI

I don’t have a lot of experience with trucks this large, but the Super Duty has a devoted following and is the working pickup of choice for countless professionals who depend on their trucks for their livelihoods.

It would have been good to sample the F-250’s towing capacities, but that was a bit beyond the scope of what we could arrange in our limited time with the truck. We’ll have to give Ford the benefit of the doubt, which isn’t much a stretch, given that owners have been towing and hauling anything and everything for decades with this beast.

I can talk about driving the F-250. I won’t kid you — there’s a learning curve. The pickup is the size of a bus. The engine pulls like a freight train. You’re waaayyy above the road. But for a vehicle of this size and bulk, once you get accustomed to making proper use of the mirrors, get a sense of where everything begins and ends, and learn how to work all the camera options, you can enjoy a level of road presence known only to long-haul truckers.

There have been plenty of times when I’ve been lucky to have the fastest car on the road. Having a vehicle that nearly the biggest is another ball game and creates a different type of confidence while imposing an additional layer of responsibility.

The power served up by the massive V8 is stunning, but the Super Duty manages it well, with a capable 6-speed automatic. The handling, for a truck this big, is excellent. The ride is also comfortable and relatively quiet, although have that mighty slab of a front grille hammering through the atmosphere generates an understandably higher level of wind noise than what you might be used to from a more aerodynamic vehicle.

Fuel economy is sort of beside the point, and our test truck wasn’t yet rated. But the use of additional aluminum in the design has lessened the overall bulk ‚ although not by much, so you should be able to get something like 15 mpg from the diesel. (Ford used the weight savings to bolster structural strength elsewhere in the Super Duty, with the understanding that owners would be willing to trade extra MPGs for more capability.)

Super Duty loyalists famously expect to run their pickups “to failure.” I didn’t even come close to that. But I did over a few days develop a renewed understanding of how seriously Ford takes one of its most profitable segments. The company just doesn’t mess around when it comes to big trucks. At all. And the new Super Duty is no exception.

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