When it comes to reigning supreme over the heavy duty pickup segment, few can match the track record wielded by Ford’s Super Duty lineup. The Super Duty has been a sales force for Ford, and it has consistently been a thorn in the side of its chief HD rivals the Chevrolet Silverado (and it’s GMC badged clone the Sierra) as well as the Ram heavy duty lineup of trucks. But this work focused segment is evolving at a rapid pace and Ram in particular is turning up the heat in the heavy duty pickup wars. Does Ford still have what it takes to maintain its place on the throne, or is there room for a royal uprising?
Tweaked F-350 Styling Projects Strong Presence But Shows Its Age Too:
While the Ford F-150 is currently stealing the spotlight thanks to its revamped exterior styling, the Super Duty still brings a number of changes for the new model year. In this case, they are more on the subtle side with Ford stylists giving the Super Duty a tweaked front fascia that includes a new front grille as well as lightly revised headlights. Ford claims that this gives the Super Duty a fresh face, and our King Ranch equipped example certainly looked very handsome.
However, as you look elsewhere around the truck it becomes apparent that the Super Duty as a whole is also aging and it can be hard to distinguish the 2020 model from its 2017-2019 badged predecessors. While the Super Duty still has a leg up over the current generation Silverado HD, Ram’s latest crop of HD models has seen broader styling updates over the past few years, and some trims actually look fresher than the big Ford. Our tester was also an example of how colors can play a role in creating a solid package with the Blue Jeans hued paint syncing nicely with the gray inserts on the lower part of the truck.
The tailgate still remains a key trademark of the Super Duty and that means owners can still take advantage of the fold out tailgate mounted step which even features a sturdy support rail to improve entry and exit. Our rig also came with chrome accented running boards and they helped improve access into the cabin for shorter passengers.
King Ranch Interior Doubles Down On Comfort But F-350 Rivals Are Catching Up:
Slip inside the cabin of the F-350 Super Duty and you immediately come to appreciate just how much space there is to stretch out and relax. Front leg and knee room is very abundant with headroom also being in ample supply. Our crew cab equipped example brings limousine like space to second row passengers and it’s very reminiscent of the F-450 King Ranch that we had the chance to experience several years ago.
Warm Del Toro hued leather adorns the seats and many other surfaces through out the King Ranch while splashes of wood and metal trim also make their presence known through out the cabin. Ford’s latest iteration of SYNC also comes along for the ride and like always, the system is very intuitive with excellent screen quality and good loading speed when tasked with various inputs. We will also give Ford designers plenty of praise for arraigning the various buttons and switches in an ergonomically friendly manner.
But like the exterior, the interior is also aging and there’s not much to differentiate it from its predecessors. That reserved character comes back to bite the Super Duty in a big way when its compared with the competition. The Ram Heavy Duty for example has a richer feeling interior and it also boasts a much bigger touchscreen that greatly enhances functionality for buyers as well. With these advantages, the Super Duty’s cabin cannot ride on its sales superiority forever, and will need an update sooner or later to help it fend off the Ram’s relentless march towards surpassing it.
Mighty Diesel Engine Makes F-350 Worthy Road Warrior Outside The Suburbs:
Ford added an all new 7.3 liter V8 to the Super Duty for 2020, but our tester arrived with what will arguably be the preferred engine for those that need to tackle tough towing jobs the familiar 6.7 liter Powerstroke diesel V8 that produces 475 horsepower but ups the torque up slightly to 1,050 lb-ft. Torque has become a very potent battleground for pickup makers in recent years and the fore-mentioned 1,050 figure allowed Ford to reclaim top honors in the heavy duty segment from Ram’s Cummins inline six for a brief time before Auburn Hills swung back with a higher 1,075 lb-ft rating for their revised Cummins diesel
A 10-speed automatic is the sole transmission available with the gearbox being a perfect fit for the engine. Mash the throttle and the diesel surges forward with plenty of low end torque and rewards drivers with plenty of noises from the turbocharger. The amount of quickness on hand is impressive especially for a truck that tips the scales at over 7,000 lbs. The F-350 is a beast that prefers to have plenty of room to roam with the truck’s immense size and width making tight urban maneuvers around Downtown Rochester very difficult. The steering is light and heavily boosted but the truck sometimes felt very heavy at lower speeds which made delicate driving a bit of a chore at times.
Road Trip, The Sequel!!!
With the truck being as out of place in suburbia as Foghorn Leghorn in a KFC, we decided to give our King Ranch grade tester a worthy test and embarked on a return visit to the Thirsty Sturgeon in the sleepy village of Wolverine, Michigan. The Thirsty Sturgeon was the original destination for our prior F-450 test, and it was only fitting to bring things full circle with the F-350 King Ranch. Unlike our original solo run, we were accompanied by my fiancée Emily as well as two of her friends who never experienced the Thirsty Sturgeon and its impressive menu of items before.
The 247 mile trek towards the village allowed us to get better acquainted with the F-350’s road trip manners and we came away very impressed with the experience. Ride quality is very smooth and the F-350 felt surprisingly nimble for a large truck and managed to not feel as cumbersome as the wider F-450 dually. The suspension also felt less bouncy than our time with the F-450 which we suspect is due to the single rear wheel layout versus the beefier dually setup we experienced prior.
Fuel economy was also quite good, with the F-350 daintily sipping its diesel flavored drink and allowing us to do the whole trip on one tank of diesel. An abrupt panic stop halfway into our drive gave the brakes a chance to shine with the stoppers on our rig providing plenty of stability and security. Parking our tester was also easy thanks to the numerous cameras that help give the driver plenty of angles to see when parking the beefy truck in a space. As for the food? It was good as always and our timing proved to be very good, with the government here in Michigan locking down all indoor dining in the state a few months after our trip.
2020 Value Quotient:
Pricing for the 2020 F-350 Super Duty covers a wide range of budgets with a base F-350 XL starting at $35,745. Adding the crew cab configuration to it only raises the price slightly, with that variant starting at $39,345. Climb the ladder to the F-350 King Ranch and you enter a completely different realm of pricing with a base King Ranch model starting at $61,110. Our tester arrived with over $18,000 in options which helped balloon the final sticker to $83,405. A good chunk of this came from the Powerstroke diesel which is a $10,495 extra over the standard 7.3 liter “Godzilla” gasoline V8.
This pricing is only $2,000 less than a base Platinum model and also causes the Ford to be slightly pricier than comparable wild west themed models like the Ram 2500 Laramie Longhorn and the Chevrolet Silverado 2500 High Country. Like others in its segment, the F-350 King Ranch also does not have a ton of safety equipment standard. Automatic Emergency Braking is standard, but Adaptive Cruise Control and Adaptive Steering are $740 and $1,000 add-ons respectively.
As a whole, the 2020 Ford F-350 Super Duty still manages to check off many of the critical boxes that truck buyers have on their lists when it comes to buying a new truck. The 7.3 liter gasoline powered V8 helps bring beefier muscle to lower tier models while the 6.7 liter diesel V8 is a welcome breath of familiarity for those that want a dependable towing companion with a solid track record. But the competition is rapidly closing in on the Ford, and it will be interesting to see if some of the revamped F-150’s technological tricks and perhaps more standard safety features will allow the truck to maintain its tight grip on the sales charts.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.