2014 E-350 Super Duty New Car Test Drive
The Ford Super Duty pickups offer a pair of stout engines and can tow bumper-pull trailers that weigh up to 18,500 pounds or 24,700 with a fifth-wheel setup. Their bold, broad exteriors are backed up by cabs that are attractive, functional and comfortable. Platinum 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 tow ratings for Ford pickups.
Changes for the 2014 model year are centered around an upgraded brake system for higher weight ratings and revised packaging. 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. The current-generation Super Duty was introduced for the 2008 model year.
The 6.2-liter V8 gasoline engine that comes standard is rated at 385 hp in trucks less than 10,000 pounds GVW (mostly F-250 models) and 316 hp on others. GM's 6-liter claims 360 hp across the line, and Ram's 5.7-liter and 6.4-liter Hemi V8s are 383-410 horsepower. Ford's 6.2-liter may be converted for CNG or LPG operation.
The 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel V8 is rated at 400 hp and 800 lb-ft of torque (GM's 6.6-liter is 397 hp, 765 lb-ft, Ram's 6.7-liter is 350-385 hp, 650-850 lb-ft. Both engines come with a 6-speed automatic transmission; no manual is offered. Most models offer a choice of rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive but F-450 is 4WD only.
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 slump stone block, with in-your-face attitude and enough chrome to allow a man to shave in front of it, a handy feature while camping.
Super Duty trim ranges from basic commercial grade to luxurious King Ranch and Platinum 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 6.7-liter diesel is quiet compared to those of a few years ago.
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 blow 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 weekend-night parent as well.
As usual, the top tow and payload ratings are up from last year, 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; at this post the only significant advantages are GM's 2015 conventional trailer rating (about 1100 pounds) and Ram's 2014 fifth-wheel/gooseneck rating (about 6000 pounds). Bottom line: Choose the brand you like rather than the one with the highest ratings claims.
The 2014 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 cover the most models. Only on Crew Cabs can you get the King Ranch or Platinum, 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 F-250 and F-350. On models 10,000 GVW or more the rating is 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 at 2800 rpm and 800 lb-ft of torque at 1600 rpm is optional on all other Super Duty.
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 $31,300 with shipping and the most expensive is the F-450 Platinum Crew Cab long box diesel more than twice that.
In general terms, four-wheel drive adds $2800-$3500, a long box adds $200-$300, and dual rear wheels about $1200. A step up in trim level may add a different cab, box length, or engine, which is why a SuperCab could be $2400-$5000 more than a regular cab, and a Crew Cab could be $3500-$6700 beyond a regular cab. Buying up from XL to XLT trim typically adds $2500-$4000, from XLT to Lariat $4000-$7500, and Lariat to Platinum up to $10,000.
Super Duty XL is work-truck, low-budget in nature, with vinyl 40/20/40 split-bench seat and flooring (and 60/40 folding rear on Super, Crew cabs), black painted grille and bumpers, plain trim, and AM/FM stereo, but it does include air conditioning, towing mirrors, MyKey, 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, camper package, off-road package for 4WD, trailer brake controller, auxiliary switches, dual or larger single alternators, tailgate step, bedliner (drop or spray-in) Work Solutions in-dash computer and Tool Link. Cloth upholstery, radio upgrade and cosmetic packages are available. 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, SYNC basic, XM radio, power windows/locks/mirrors, cruise control, power-adjusted and heated towing mirrors, privacy glass, integrated brake controller, remote keyless entry, MyKey, and cruise control. Options include most of the work/commercial bits of the XL, 4.2-inch productivity display, captain's chairs, power sliding rear window on Super/Crew cabs, rear camera, rear park sensors and 17, 18 or 20-inch wheels.
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 with console, dual-zone climate control, power-adjust pedals, rear camera, SYNC MyFord Touch, eight-speaker sound on SuperCab/Sony Audio on Crew Cab, redundant sound/climate controls on leather-wrapped 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 driver memory, navigation, moonroof, two-tone paint and 40/20/40 front bench seat.
Super Duty King Ranch adds two-tone paint including most trim pieces, navigation, driver memory package and power-adjust pedals, heated/cooled power front seats, unique forged alloy wheels, power-telescoping/folding mirrors, fog lamps, rear park sensors, and Chaparral-leather for the steering wheel, captain's chairs, console and rear bench. Moonroof and 20-inch wheels are among the options.
Super Duty Platinum models get unique, embroidered perforated tuxedo-stripe leather upholstery with four-way headrests, heated leather/walnut steering wheel, unique stain chrome grille and tailgate trim, and unique 20-inch wheels.
Safety equipment includes electronic stability control with trailer sway control (not on dual rear wheels), 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.