Dominance in the full-size truck market is a constant tug of war among Ford, Chevrolet and RAM. The 2013 Ford F-Series Super Duty takes top billing with its best-in-class payload capacity and class-leading towing capacity. The pulling power of the Super Duty is now matched with new stopping power, as well. Engineers reworked brake pedal feel and the size of the brake discs, increasing driver confidence in the Super Duty's stopping abilities. Altogether, the 2013 F-Series Super Duty pickups are some of the strongest, most technologically advanced trucks on the market.
What's New for 2013
The 2013 Ford F-Series Super Duty receives an improved 7,260-lb best-in-class payload capacity, class-leading 18,500-lb towing capacity -- 500 pounds more than the next nearest competitor -- and a new Platinum trim level. Inside, the Super Duty is now offered with SYNC and MyFord Touch with an 8-inch full color touchscreen.
What We Like
Great power for towing and hauling; numerous configurations and interior options; if you like chrome, the Super Duty deals it up in spades with the King Ranch trim level
What We Don't
Poor fuel economy; not easily maneuverable in small spaces; high-end models cost as much as some luxury sedans
The standard engine on the Super Duty F-250 and F-350 is a 6.2-liter flex fuel V8 good for 385 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque. Optional on the F-250/350 and standard on the F-450 is the 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbo diesel that generates 400 hp and an astounding 800 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are connected to a heavy-duty TorqShift 6-speed automatic transmission that offers manual shift ability.
There are no Environmental Protection Agency ratings for the Super Duty, but mileage is expected to be in the low to middle teens. On diesel models, Ford offers two interesting options. First is the Live Drive Power Takeoff (PTO), which allows the transmission to power external accessories such as a snowplow or a truck lift, provided the diesel engine is running. The other is the exhaust brake function, which limits combustion by restricting exhaust, helping to maintain desired speed when towing.
Options & Standard Features
The 2013 F-Series Super Duty is offered in 10 trim levels: F-250 XL; F-250 XLT; F-250 Lariat; F-250 King Ranch; F-250 Platinum; F-350 XL; F-350 XLT; F-350 Lariat; F-350 King Ranch; and F-350 Platinum. While each model is distinct from the one before it, customers can still fully customize each trim, adding heavy-duty suspension or a snowplow package, for example.
The F-250 XL ($29,875) and the F-350 XL ($30,770), respectively, are the entry-level Super Duty trucks with the 6.2-liter V8 engine and the TorqShift heavy-duty 6-speed automatic transmission. The interior on the XL trim level is spare. It does offer air conditioning as standard, but the floor and the seat are covered in vinyl. The basic XL model is rear-wheel drive and features painted 17-in steel wheels.
Step up one level from the XL to the F-250 XLT ($33,905) or F-350 XLT ($34,805) and the truck gets a bit nicer. The floor covering of the F-Series XLT is upgraded from vinyl to carpet, and cruise control is added, as is an AM/FM Stereo with single CD/MP3 Player with four speakers. On the outside, Ford includes 17-in 6-spoke aluminum wheels and a chrome grille package.
On the F-250 Lariat ($41,570) and the F-350 Lariat ($42,465), Ford adds a digital instrument cluster with a 4.2-in LCD display. In the center stack, SYNC with MyFord Touch is added with a rearview camera. Below the bright MyFord Touch display is a dual-zone automatic climate control. Shorter drivers will appreciate the Lariat trim, as it adds power adjustable pedals as standard.
The F-250 King Ranch ($49,355) and the F-350 King Ranch ($50,225) were the former top of the line for the F-Series Super Duty trucks, but now they are second from the top for 2013. The King Ranch trim level comes in only the quad cab 4-door body style. To accent the 4-door cab, Ford adds 2-tone lower accent paint to the King Ranch. Distinctive to the King Ranch is a special chrome package with 18-in chrome-clad wheels, bright metallic exhaust tip and several other chrome accents. On the interior, Chaparral leather is used throughout, and 10-way power adjustable front seats with both heating and cooling are included. A strong audio system from Sony is also added to the King Ranch.
The top-of-the-line F-250 Platinum ($53,240) and F-350 Platinum ($54,140) -- as the new ultimate trim level for the Super Duty -- offer a few more options than the King Ranch trim, including a unique leather-wrapped steering wheel with heated wood accent, premium front leather seats with embroidered Platinum logo, body-color bumpers and door handles, bright chrome 6-inch angular step bars, satin chrome front grille and skid plates for the 4x4 models.
The Ford F-Series Super Duty comes standard with front and side airbags for the driver and the front passenger. SuperCab and Crew Cab models add side curtain airbags for both front and rear passengers.
Ford has fitted all Super Duty trucks with AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control (RSC), which uses reduced engine power and selective wheel braking to limit the risk of rollover during hard cornering or fast swerving when avoiding an object or collision.
Behind the Wheel
For such a massive truck, the Super Duty is surprisingly manageable. If you feel comfortable behind the wheel of a Ford F-150, the Super Duty adds a bit more bulk up-front but feels about the same. The fully boxed frame is impressively stiff -- an important attribute for towing and hauling heavy loads. On the road, the ride is not luxury-car smooth, but it isn't harsh either. The steering is tight and direct, and the cabin is fairly quiet, especially on the King Ranch and Platinum trim levels. Acceleration is good with the gasoline engine, but it's the Power Stroke Turbo Diesel that gives the Super Duty the power it needs to pull, haul and climb.
Other Cars to Consider
RAM 2500/3500 -- The RAM 2500/3500 can match the Super Duty's torque but not its horsepower or trailer tow ratings with a fifth wheel attached. Although we like the looks of the Super Duty, we find the RAM's design a bit more refined.
Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra -- GM's twins offer the same configurations and engine options as the Super Duty, but neither of its gasoline or diesel engine choices are as powerful as the Super Duty's. The Silverado/Sierra HD can tow 500 more pounds at the conventional bumper hitch but not as much when using a fifth wheel. The Super Duty also offers more technology and more upscale features than the GM duo.
We like the XLT trim for its looks, features and value. We also like the new Platinum top trim. For our money, however, the King Ranch best suits the Super Duty. Regardless of which Super Duty version you choose, though, be sure it has the Power Stroke diesel engine. The 6.2-liter gasoline engine is good, but the Power Stroke is on another level altogether.