CHATHAM, Mass. – The Ford F-series trucks might consistently be the best-selling vehicles in the American market, but the automaker does not rest on its laurels, making significant changes, upgrades and additions throughout a version’s lifetime to ensure this leadership continues.
The F250 Super Duty received several of these significant changes for the 2020 model year including a new 7.3-liter V8 engine, 10-speed heavy-duty automatic transmission, several trailering upgrades and the Tremor off-road package – all included on the F250 Super Duty King Ranch 4×4 Crew Cab with 160-inch wheelbase I recently sampled.
When I approached the LARGE white pickup with striking black wheels and HUGE (35-inch) tires sitting in my driveway, my initial feeling was one of trepidation – a bit of fear about maneuvering the imposing truck through tight New England streets. I was also a bit excited about the ability to tower above most normal traffic at the wheel of such a powerful machine.
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The power story centers on the new 7.3-liter V8 which produces 430 horsepower and a robust 475 pounds-feet of torque. This powerplant allows a trailer load of up to 15,000 pounds and a 3,470-pound load capacity in single-rear-wheel configuration like the one I drove.
Speaking of trailers – this Super Duty included Ford’s new Pro Trailer Backup Assist™, which facilitates negotiating even the largest trailers into the tightest of spaces easier. With hands off the steering wheel, drivers use the Pro Trailer Backup Assist knob to steer the trailer via the reverse camera. Trailer Reverse Guidance shows trailer angle and direction and provides steering suggestions to direct a trailer backward most efficiently. Both systems are built to accommodate all trailer styles, including conventional, fifth-wheel and gooseneck designs.
I didn’t use the trailer-assist systems, but the comprehensive camera system – backup, 360° and front – aided me throughout the week, allowing me to park, maneuver in tight spaces and negotiate close quarters in town.
A truck full of ADAS ready to go off roading
The camera system was just a part of the extensive advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS) at my disposal. These included: BLIS (blind spot information system, Ford’s version of blind-spot monitor) with rear cross-traffic alert; lane-keeping alert; pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking (AEB); adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams.
These systems are not unique to the F250, or many of the vehicles on the road in the U.S., but I cannot overstate their importance on a vehicle like the Super Duty. The size and height of this pickup truck put a premium on the ADAS, making parking, reversing and mixing with traffic easier and less stressful, especially for someone (like me) who does not include large, full-size pickups among their regular rides.
For many of these ADAS systems to do their jobs, the F250 needs a good brake system. All four wheels get 14.29-inch vented rotors filling those 18-inch black matte-finished wheels. The tires which must get the braking job done on the road are 35 inches, largest fitted by a manufacturer in this class, LT285/75R18E AT (all terrain) rubber! And, of course, an anti-lock system (ABS) modulates stopping action to mitigate skids during braking.
The wheels and tires are part of the Tremor package which prepares the F250 for Super Duty serious off roading. Suspension modifications include a front-end lift, progressive-rate springs and custom 1.7-inch piston twin-tube dampers to control body. Super Duty Tremor gets Trail Control™ (which manages throttle and braking at individual wheels while maintaining a constant speed between 1 and 20 mph), plus a special rock-crawl mode included in the truck’s first-ever selectable drive modes. The truck boasts 10.4 inches of ground clearance, best-in-class water fording of 33 inches and the best approach and departure angles ever available with a Super Duty.
The suspension’s off-road capability comes with a slight price – a bit of jounce when the bed is empty on uneven road surfaces, not uncommon in an unloaded pickup designed for heavy loads and big trailers. This is the common compromise in these types of vehicles, but here it is not harsh enough to be a deal breaker for anyone in the market for this kind of capability and performance.
Inside comfort, convenience
Big, burly and imposing on the outside, the 2020 F250 Super Duty 4×4 King Ranch provides driver and passengers inside the Crew Cab’s spacious cabin with a luxury-car’s complement of creature comforts and conveniences.
Multi-contour leather covered seats, the fronts heated/cooled and power adjusted (10-ways for the driver which along with the outside rear-view mirror, power-adjusted steering wheel and power-adjusted foot pedals, can be stored in memory); dual-zone climate control system, and storage bins throughout help make the environment very livable.
The center of the Ford Sync® 3 infotainment system is an eight-inch color touch display which controls the AM/FM/SiriusXM satellite radio/Apple CarPlay/Android Auto/streaming smartphone/mobile-device audio (with Bang & Olufsen premium sound) and navigation in addition to many of the ADAS and other vehicle systems. Voice activation and a full complement of buttons and dials (on the steering wheel and dash) can also control these functions for the traditionalists out there.
Other mobile-device considerations include a 4G wireless hotspot, USB ports front and rear for power as well as a wireless charging pad and a 110Volt/400W outlet as well for providing electrical power wherever it is needed.
The bottom line on this Super Duty
One area I have not discussed is fuel economy. Heavy-duty pickup truck fuel-economy numbers are rarely revealed (not mandated by the federal government as for most consumer vehicles), so I have little to compare this to. My real-world driving resulted in about 13.7 miles per gallon. Based on some Internet research, this number is not outlandish considering the power, performance and vehicle design.
Ford offers a myriad of Super Duty trucks most commonly in the F250 and F350 range. The F250 XL carries a MSRP of $34,035 at the base of the Super Duty range which grows and expands through three types of cabs, two wheelbases, two bed sizes and too many trim levels to discuss here.
The King Ranch Tremor evaluated carried a base price of $60,695. Added to this were major options like the 7.3-liter V8 ($2,045), Tremor off-road package ($3,975) and adaptive steering ($1,000) before getting to the as-reviewed price of $71,750 (includes $1,595 for destination and delivery).
This is a lot of truck at a competitive price. It offers capabilities not often found in heavy-duty pickups from the world’s pickup-truck sales leader.