Driving, Towing, and Off-Roading in the 2017 Ford Super Duty
It’s appropriate that Ford invited me out to the Denver area to drive the 2017 Super Duty near “the Mile-High City.” The Blue Oval certainly went a great distance in modernizing it. The Super Duty now has a new fully-boxed frame, beefed-up axles and other hidden hardware, fresh body lines crafted out of aluminum, more powerful engines, and a redesigned interior with a pile of gadgets stuffed into it. After months of reading press releases and watching videos about it, I finally got a chance to get behind the wheel of the new Super Duty and get a taste of what most of you eventual owners of the truck will do with it.
Ford had several Super Dutys lined up in the parking lot of our hotel in Broomfield, Colorado. I jumped into a Ruby Red Metallic/Caribou F-250 CrewCab King Ranch 4X4. Yes, with its candy paint and handsome open-spoke wheels, it was an attractive rig, but that wasn’t why I picked it. I made a beeline to it because of the Power Stroke badge on its driver-side door. I wanted to see what the drop in body weight and increase in engine torque added up to. A firm push back into my antique-effect Mesa leather seat was what followed the equals sign. It was a familiar feeling that I experienced in the 2015 F-350 King Ranch 4X4. Frankly, I was expecting more punch from the 2017 truck, but in its defense, I was a bit distracted from Power Stroking and tire smoking because I was chatting with a Ford rep and following his directions out to a photo shoot area in Eldorado Canyon State Park, which provided an unrelentingly beautiful series of backdrops.
One thing I wasn’t expecting was how smoothly the F-250 rode. It soaked up bumps in the road without a great deal of stomach-turning wobble. The 2015 F-250 XLT FX4 I drove in late 2014, “The Truckiest Truck That Ever Did Truck,” was an absolute spine shatterer. True, the new truck is much more of a luxury truck than the old one in terms of trim line, but that doesn’t change the fact that Ford has managed to make a big pickup with an off-road suspension comfortable.
I wasn’t really surprised by my review vehicle’s price, though. I knew its Monroney would be as high as the terrain that I was driving through (and the people in Denver’s numerous “dispensaries”) because of the new aluminum body, hardware, and gizmos. With the Power Stroke V8 and a long list of options, which included Preferred Equipment PKG 700A, the FX4 Off-Road Package, Adaptive Cruise Control, Tow Technology Bundle, and Adaptive Steering, my tester had an as-tested price of $77,715*.
Once I got back to the hotel, I climbed into an F-350 4X4 dually and took it out on the surrounding rural roads. The trailer behind it was loaded down to a total weight of 10,000 pounds, well short of the wide-hipped workhorse’s max. I was fine with that; I was more interested in finding out how that weight felt behind the truck. The answer? Not like much. The brakes decreased the effective weight of the silver and white Cimarron as much as the engine did. I didn’t feel impatience getting up to cruising speeds from a stop or panic when slowing down from them.
The spy gear store that Ford’s engineer’s integrated into the F-350 also gave me peace of mind. What the useful, large tow mirrors didn’t show, the multiple cameras displayed on the center screen. I didn’t think it could get any better than the helpful 360-degree view, but it did. In front, in the bed, behind the tailgate, behind the trailer – I got an eyeful of everything with just a few taps of the touchscreen. The F-350 and all 2017 Super Dutys with the camera package got a nickname from me: “The Mercedes S-Class of Heavy Duty Trucks.”
Eventually, I swapped out the dually for another diesel F-250 King Ranch so I could make a trip out to an off-road course. There, I swapped trucks one more time – for a gas F-250 FX4. Like the other trucks I had driven before it, it had its share of gadgets. However, what was most noticeable – and useful – to me was its low hood. It gave me a great idea of what was close to the front end. The camera up there made that great idea into an even greater one.
The F-250’s design and tech let me see where I was going. Its hardware and software allowed me to get there and beyond. If I needed the locker to make it up an incline, I just pulled back on the dial for the shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive system. Engaging hill descent control for a trip down a steep grade that filled my view out of the windshield with all ground and no sky was also quick and simple.
I only had a few hours in Ford’s new Super Duty trucks in Colorado, but that was enough time for me to discover how comfortable and capable they are. Even though Ford’s engineers are back in Michigan now, I can’t blame them if they’re still riding a high.
*Price includes $1,195 destination and delivery fee
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