REVIEW 2015 Ford Super Duty F-350 King Ranch 4X4

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“It’s like a [expletive] living room in here.” That’s what my brother said the first time I took him for a ride in the 2015 Ford Super Duty F-350 King Ranch 4X4. At more than 20 feet long, and nearly seven feet tall and seven feet wide (without its mirrors), it was hard to ignore.

So were the pieces of hardware and software its enormous dimensions contained: a powerful diesel engine with earth-turning output and an assortment of infotainment and comfort add-ons. However, the F-350’s size also made the lack of a couple of features all the more obvious and inconvenient.


Under the Hood

Scott Fosgard, part of the Blue Oval’s communications department, told me via email, “Customers consistently tell us how pleased they are with our power.” If buyers enjoyed the 2014 Power Stroke V8 Turbo Diesel’s 400 horsepower and 800 pound-feet of torque, then they’re probably doing backflips about the 2015 version’s 440/860. I certainly loved the $8,480 engine’s punch.

My F-350 tester was a hot rod. When I put my foot down, those impressive horsepower and torque numbers pushed me back into my seat. I never thought a big-ass pickup with a curb weight of 7,620 pounds could feel that quick. Its juiced-up motor was also surprisingly quiet at highway speeds.


At the Pump

The fuel economy was just about what I expected it would be. That’s not a bad thing. Over the course of a week of mixed driving, which included a trip to the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, a blast down to San Marcos, Texas for decadent Manske Rolls, and a journey out to the picturesque EmilyAnn Theatre and Gardens in Wimberley, I averaged something in the neighborhood of 14 to 15 miles per gallon.

My best friend’s dad, the co-owner of a construction company, told me how disappointed he’s been with the 12 mpg he’s been getting after racking up 45,000 miles on his 2011 oil-burner four-door dually from one of Ford’s competitors. (My review vehicle had more than 11,500 miles on it after its time with me.)


Heavy Stuff

I only hauled bedroom furniture in the 6.75-foot bed of my loaner, but I could’ve transported a maximum of 3,970 pounds* (more than the curb weight of a 2013 Chevrolet Equinox LS) in one shot. My particular truck had a GVWR of 11,500 pounds and 3.55 gears, which meant that it was capable of towing 14,000 pounds and pulling a gooseneck/fifth-wheel (for which it was already equipped) weighing in at as much as 15,900.*


On the Road

Those very truck-like figures were paired with a truck-like ride. However, the King Ranch was much less punishing than the F-250 FX4. I felt all of the bumps and imperfections in the road under its LT275/65R20 all-terrain tires, but my brain didn’t get jiggled enough to make me believe I was in a bounce house operated by a sadist. It was as if a massive hand was pushing down gently on the top of the truck whenever I ran over rough pavement.

The vibrations that came through my seat and the steering wheel were considerably less lively than the ones I experienced in the three-quarter-ton paint shaker. I attribute that relative composure to the fact that my evaluation vehicle had a regular 4X4 suspension, not an off-road setup.


Bells and Whistles

On the other hand, the comfort and convenience features bundled into my loaner were luxury car-esque. (The window sticker I received didn’t have an MSRP on it, but I built a truck just like my tester on Ford’s website and it came to $67,140.)

I had a touchscreen navigation system, heated and cooled 10-way power front seats, SYNC with MyFord Touch, Sirius satellite radio, a Sony premium stereo, shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive, and the controls for power telescoping towing mirrors at my finger tips.

If the interior was, as my brother said, a living room, it was a handsomely decorated one. Rich, chocolatey brown Mesa leather covered the seats, steering wheel, center console, and arm rests. It was complemented by expansive panels of wood-like trim.


On the Outside

The exterior, in its deep and dark Green Gem Metallic/sand color scheme, was just as attractive as the inside of the cabin. I was grateful that Ford built my F-350 tester with lighted cab steps. They were definitely a convenience for me, but I was particularly glad they were there because my mother and my aunt are around 5’2″, so they needed all the help they could get when entering the truck.

Even with the running boards and interior-mounted handholds, they had a little difficulty getting inside this towering “Cowboy Cadillac.” I became fully aware of its height when I was moving that bedroom furniture I mentioned earlier. More than three feet separated the open tailgate from the ground…and my pickup didn’t come with the $375 Tailgate Step with Tailgate Assist handle.

Boy, was Ford on to something when it came up with that. You don’t absolutely need it, but it sure is nice to have. Without it, I had to slide my upper body onto the lowered tailgate, crawl into the bed, then stand up.  Reaching contents from the side of the bed was just as undignified a process. I had to steady myself on top of the thick rubber wrapped around one of the 20-inch wheels and grab what I needed before jumping down to the driveway.


The Future

I asked Fosgard via email when we can expect some of the cool cargo box tech from the 2015 F-150, such as its second-generation Tailgate Step and side-mounted retractable bed footholds, on Super Duty trucks.

He responded with: “It’s premature to discuss future versions of F-Series Super Duty beyond the current 2015 model, but we are constantly looking for better ways to serve our customers with helpful new features and improved capability.”

Ford, please incorporate those things I listed, the Boxlink system, and the LED bed lamps and side mirror spotlights from your upcoming light-duty offering into the SDs. All of them will make the hard work that the owners of those rigs do – and the time they spend outside of their rolling living rooms – easier.


via [Ford 1], [2], and [3]; [Edmunds]

* = Depending on which Ford source you use. The regular Ford website claims a maximum payload of 3,800 pounds and a fifth wheel/gooseneck rating of 15,700 pounds. Specifications PDFs on the automaker’s media site contain figures of 3,970 and 15,900, respectively.

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Derek Shiekhi contributes to a variety of Internet Brands’ Auto sites, including J-K Forum , Jaguar Forums, and 5 Series. He's also a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association.

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