A few years ago, I called the Ford F-Series Super Duty a "superb truck."
It was named, as such, or many reasons that could be listed here. Ford was the first to truly distinguish their three-quarter-ton and one-ton pickup trucks with their own cab design. They also created new benchmarks in heavy duty pickup truck engineering through a higher level of capacity and capability. In all, Ford blew apart the expectations of a commercial-specified pickup truck for heavy use and turn them into a consumer-friendly rig.
While truck consumers are seeing the benefits of owning a civilized heavy duty pickup truck, it is still a work tool. To do the job of towing farm implements, horses, race cars, and to help rebuild pieces of roadway, you need to have the highest capacity possible to do these tasks easily.
From my prior knowledge of pickup trucks – dating back to my Boy Scouts days (I was the first in my council to earn the Truck Transportation merit badge in the mid-1970s) – a majority of available heavy duty pickup truck configurations are applicable for consumer use. Most likely, a consumer would own a crew cab with a six-and-a-half foot box. That is suitable for most towing jobs and everyday use.
However, I have this configuration…it is a three-quarter ton crew cab with an eight-foot box.
It may sound "normal," but let me take out the measuring tape. The wheelbase is 178 inches long. The overall truck is 266.2 inches long. It weighs 6,718 pounds.
This is the longest and largest version of the 2020 Ford F-250 Super Duty you can get.
Aside from its size, the 2020 Ford F-Series Super Duty arrived after it had its makeover for its mid-cycle refresh. This update goes beyond the new grille design, amended lighting front and back, and tailgate trim. Ford added a new 7.3-liter gasoline-fueled V8 engine on top of the standard 6.2-liter gasoline V8. The larger gas engine was designed for more towing and payload capacity without resorting to paying the premium for the PowerStroke diesel. It is also the preferred engine for the new Tremor off-road packaged.
However, my F-250 tester came with the PowerStroke turbocharged diesel V8 engine. What’s significant about the diesel for the mid-cycle update is that Ford added more torque to it. In fact, the 1,050 pound-feet of torque figure makes it the most powerful heavy duty pickup available in the world.
That torque figure is astounding. It adds to the massiveness of this tester. The result is a maximum towing capacity of up to 19,100 pounds using a Fifth Wheel/Gooseneck hitch. Using a conventional towing hitch, this tester will max out at 20,000 pounds. My tester had an optional version of the 3.31 final drive axle.
I know I’ve been barraging you with all sorts of numbers, but I’m trying to work this big red pickup truck out for you. One look at this configuration made me wonder who the customer is for it?
Most likely, an 8-foot box is usually a commercial application. Combine that with a Crew Cab, and you have a pickup truck for work duty that can carry construction material, power equipment, and more lumber for the new build. You will most likely find this configuration in XL and XLT trims, for cost savings and utilitarian fleet or commercial use.
To throw a wrench into this whole thing, this red F-250 Super Duty came in the Platinum trim. It is not exactly the most luxurious Super Duty around – there is the Limited version available. The fact that one would order their Crew Cab/8-foot-box Super Duty in the Platinum trim may seem a bit over the top.
This configuration is not a common one, but I have heard this exists. It is for a certain customer, however. One that has a big boat or a fifth-wheel trailer to tow. We’re talking just any old big boat or travel trailer. That truck would possibly tow an Airstream or another luxury travel trailer that looks exactly like their home inside.
What I have here is an extremely long, near-posh, three-quarter ton pickup truck. That’s audacious, if you ask me.
So, how is it?
One thing I admire about the F-Series Super Duty is how easy it is to drive. Ford has put in a lot of effort in terms of making their heavy duty pickup truck drive as near to an F-150 as possible. Maneuverability is a key factor here. The steering system is light with good on-center feel. I help to have excellent side and rearview mirrors, along with a good 360-degree camera view from the infotainment screen. The lower part of the side also helps in making sure you are not jumping curves or bumping into obstacles – such as cars, people, bicycles, and animals.
One such maneuver was accomplished that simply blew my mind. I had other heavy duty pickups parked in my usual spot in the back of the place I live. I was more concerned about making the truck in my spot. It took some work, but it fit with maybe a foot to spare. Even with just a few turns, the steering system, mirrors, and cameras helped to ensure that I can fit this long pickup truck in my parking spot.
With 266 inches of truck to run, it does well in taking over parking spaces at grocery stores. The F-250 Super Duty also does well in getting there. City streets and freeways are easily driven – if you follow some of the principles of those who actually drive them for a living. You know the principle – if a government transportation agency worker can take their heavy duty Crew Cab/8-foot box pickup truck to their worksites, you can get through the open lanes around them.
I know that seems like a silly test of the ability to drive a long truck around town and on the highway. At least you have a good suspension that dampens the rougher spots on the road. Ride quality is just fine. So are the brakes. Pedal feel is good, even on the lightest touch on stopping this 6,700-pound truck at the line. Though, I suggest doing some early braking to judge distance towards stopping this truck.
As for fuel economy, I got an average of 18.8 MPG. I certainly did not expect that from this Big Red Truck Built Ford Tough.
Ford’s Platinum cabin for the Super Duty is nice and offers a good level of materials all around. It is also very spacious. Front seats are suitable and offers some support and comfort. There is some underseat storage in the rear.
Over the years, I appreciated Ford’s instrument panel design for the F-Series. The information screen offers extensive data that is clear to understand. The dials usually get pushed to the edges and sometimes I wished that I knew how fast I was going without having to flip through the center screen’s menu for a clearer reading. Um, how about a head-up display, Ford? That would be perfect!
The Platinum Super Duty has the 10-speaker B&O Play audio system, which is actually pretty good. It is driven by the 8-inch touchscreen housing the SYNC 3 infotainment system on the center stack. Controls are good to the touch and logical – even where some controls are thrown together across the F-250 Super Duty’s cabin.
Getting in and out was very easy. The retractable steps made things much better. Sometimes, you have to appreciate things like this at my age.
If you put this altogether, you have superb heavy duty pickup truck. But, for whom? That is why I was puzzled by this configuration. Who would buy this exact pickup truck if this is perhaps too fancy for commercial and fleet use?
A few discussions brought up some ideas. One would be the contractor who runs the show. By running the show, means, he’s got his smartphone or tablet to keep track of the project, the budget, and so forth – from the comfort of the Platinum cab.
However, most of you point to the long eight-foot box as ideal for towing with a fifth-wheel or gooseneck hitch. Some trailers have long overhangs and some maneuvers may need some extra space to execute. That makes sense, if you think about how folks who tow 15,000 pounds worth of camper or animals may need that extra length and pivot to do the task at hand.
What about the price for all of this? The moroney than came with this specific 2020 F-250 Super Duty displayed a final price of $82,850. Were you surprised? I wasn’t.
Overall, pickup trucks are getting more expensive. But, are they worth it? That is an argument that will rage on for years, as long as there are customers for such vehicles – both commercial and retail.
If we just ignore this configuration for the moment, the 2020 Ford F-Series Super Duty is the leader in this class by making an easier choice on several fronts. It is easy to drive, the torque from the Power Stroke diesel is astounding, and Ford poured in a lot of technology that makes a heavy duty pickup truck easier to use.
What about this Crew Cab/eight-foot box configuration with the Power Stroke diesel and Platinum trim – all 266.2 inches of it? If you see a need for it, get it. Besides, there are many configurations you can choose from to fit your needs. I won’t stop you from getting this one – if it’s what you really need.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by the Ford Motor Company
All photos by Randy Stern