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2016 Ford F-Series Super Duty: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader April 2016

The 2016 Ford F-Series Super Duty pickups are some of the strongest trucks on the market, with formidable payload and towing capacities. While the half-ton Ford F-150 is now in a new generation (that debuted for 2015) and sports radical aluminum-intensive construction, these heavier-duty versions are still in their third generation, which came out in 2011.

A fourth generation of Super Duty is expected for 2017, with an aluminum body built onto a frame of high-strength steel. This should give the truck range an advantage in a tough competition that's currently a virtual 3-way tie between Ford, Chevrolet/GMC and RAM. Each brand has its own considerable strengths.

When properly equipped, the diesel-powered F-250 can tow up to 14,000 pounds. Add a fifth wheel or a gooseneck connector, and towing capability leaps to 16,600 pounds. Maximum payload is 4,130 pounds. The F-350 can pull 26,500 pounds and handle a load of 7,260 pounds.

What's New for 2016?

Fleet vehicles get the option of a 4-corner LED warning strobe-light kit (requires a center high-mounted stoplight). Trucks sold in cold-weather states receive a rapid-heat supplemental cab heater as standard. A rearview camera and preparation kit are now available (but requires deletion of the cargo box). And there are subtle changes to the black and red paint options, as well.

What We Like

Great power and strength for towing and hauling; numerous configurations and interior options; stellar turbodiesel engine

What We Don't

High-end models become costly

How Much?

$33,580-$57,345

Fuel Economy

The standard engine on the F-250 and F-350 is a 6.2-liter flex-fuel (gasoline or E85) V8, good for 385 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque. A 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel V8 is optional. It generates 440 hp and an astonishing 860 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are connected to a heavy-duty 6-speed automatic transmission that provides manual gear selection. Rear-wheel drive is the default setup; all-wheel drive is optional.

There are no Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy ratings for the Super Duty, but expect mileage in the low-to-mid teens on gasoline models, with diesel models capable of high teens or even 20 miles per gallon on the open road.

Standard Features & Options

The 2016 Ford F-Series Super Duty is offered in five main trim levels: XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum. While each one is distinct, buyers have the ability to customize, such as adding a heavier-duty suspension or a snowplow package.

There are three cab styles: Regular (2-door), the extended SuperCab and the 4-door Crew Cab.

There are also different bed lengths: a 6.8-foot or an 8.2-foot. But regular-cab versions are only paired with the longer bed.

The F-350 also offers a dually setup for the rear-drive, 8.2-foot-bed version, which means twin wheels at each end of the rear axle.

The F-250 XL ($33,580) and F-350 XL ($34,475) are the entry-level models, coming with the 6.2-liter V8 engine and the 6-speed automatic transmission. The XL is sparse. Air conditioning is standard, but the floor and seats are covered in vinyl. The windows are hand-cranked, while the audio system consists of a radio and two speakers. Exterior features are similarly utilitarian: 17-inch steel wheels, for example.

In the F-250 XLT ($37,570) or F-350 XLT ($38,470), things become more civilized, with standard 18-in alloy wheels and some chrome exterior accents. The floor is upgraded from vinyl to carpet, and cloth upholstery joins the action. Cruise control, power accessories, heated mirrors, a padded armrest, trailer brake control, Bluetooth and SYNC voice controls are also added, plus a 4-speaker audio system with a CD player, a USB port and four speakers.

The F-250 Lariat ($45,990) and F-350 Lariat ($46,885), are offered only in SuperCab and Crew Cab configurations. This is where Ford ups the luxury. Power adjustable pedals are standard, as are power-folding mirrors, a power-sliding rear window, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather upholstery, automatic climate control, 8-way power-adjustable front seats and a digital instrument cluster with a 4.2-in LCD display. The center stack features the 8-in MyFord Touch infotainment screen. An upgraded Sony audio system is standard in the Crew Cab version.

The F-250 King Ranch ($53,585) and the F-350 King Ranch ($55,025) come only in the Crew Cab configuration. Accompanying this 4-door body style is 2-tone paint and extended chrome trim. Inside, distinctive saddle-brown leather is used throughout. And front seats with heating, cooling and driver's-side memory settings are also included. The Sony stereo and a navigation system come as standard.

The top-of-the-line Crew-Cab-only F-250 Platinum ($58,235) and F-350 Platinum ($57,345) models ditch the King Ranch trim's western design theme but feature other luxury touches such as 20-in alloy wheels, a leather-and-wood heated steering wheel, a tailgate access step and premium leather trim.

Several standard features in the higher trims are optional in the lower trims. Other equipment choices include spray-in bedliners, a sunroof, beefier alternators, connectors for gooseneck and fifth-wheel trailer mounts, and a choice of axle ratios. An FX4 Off-Road package for all-wheel-drive models includes a specialized suspension, all-terrain tires, hill-descent control and an electronic locking rear differential.

Safety

The F-Series Super Duty comes standard with front and side airbags for the driver and front passenger. SuperCab and Crew Cab models add side-curtain airbags for both front and rear passengers.

All trucks come with AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control, which uses reduced engine power and selective wheel braking to limit the risk of rollover during hard cornering or when swerving to avoid a hazard.

Heavy-duty trucks are not crash-tested by either the government or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Behind the Wheel

For such a massive truck, the Super Duty is surprisingly manageable. It has more bulk up front than an F-150 but doesn't feel that much bigger. The fully boxed frame is impressively stiff, which is an important attribute for towing and hauling heavy loads.

The ride certainly isn't luxuriously smooth, but it isn't harsh. It's set up to be more bearable when there's a load involved. And the plush appointments in the King Ranch and Platinum trim levels help the miles melt away. The steering is vague, though, especially so in the F-350. Acceleration is good with the gasoline engine, but it's the turbodiesel that gives the Super Duty a truly monumental skill set for pulling, hauling and climbing.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 RAM 2500/3500 -- The RAM is immensely capable. The 2500 has coil springs at the rear for a more refined ride. The 3500 sticks with traditional leaf springs.

2016 Chevrolet Silverado HD/GMC Sierra HD -- GM's twins offer roughly the same configurations and engine options as the Super Duty, and their optional diesel engine can go piston to piston with Ford's 6.7-liter powerhouse. Plus, it's refreshed for the 2016 model year.

2016 Nissan Titan XD -- If the full Super Duty treatment might be too much, consider the excellent Titan XD, which occupies that ground between half-ton and three-quarter-ton trucks. It can still come with a gooseneck trailer connection or a fifth wheel.

Used Ford F-450 -- If a mere F-250 or F-350 isn't enough, the F-450 offers unsurpassed towing capacity, and you can save thousands by going with a lightly used model.

Autotrader's Advice

Regardless of which Super Duty version you choose, the diesel engine comes highly recommended. The gasoline engine is good, but the diesel is on another level altogether. Remember that there's a fresh Super Duty generation coming in 2017.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Ford F-Series Super Duty: New Car Review - Autotrader