Driven: 2020 Ford F350 Super Duty combines capability, driving finesse

New 6.7-liter turbo-diesel V8 adds muscle while King Ranch package adds luxury

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The Ford F350 King Ranch coasting on a muddy road | Bob Golfen photos

The huge 2020 Ford F350 Super Duty, refreshed to keep up with the Joneses (i.e. Chevy, GMC and Ram), was pretty much what I had expected – a supremely powerful and capable beast of burden, albeit with a high-luxury interior courtesy of the King Ranch package. 

But there also was something I did not expect, and that was the big truck’s relaxed drivability and responsiveness.  Even the 4X4 Crew Cab version that I tested, large enough for its own zip code, was easy and enjoyable to drive, even accepting a measure of sporty input despite its dimensions and 7,000-plus pounds of heft.

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That would not be so surprising with the standard F150, which Ford has kept ahead of the pack to continue its reign as best-selling vehicle in the US.  But the purposeful Super Duty models have tough jobs to do, such as hauling and towing heavy loads, for which driving refinement is not a requisite. 

These are not trucks built for casual transportation or daily commuting, although the latest F350 could possibly pass muster on both counts, depending on how much of a dedicated truck person the driver happens to be.

New for 2020 is the most-muscular Ford Super Duty turbo-diesel engine yet, the 6.7-liter Powerstroke V8, which has been upgraded to 475 horsepower and torque that hits 4 figures for the first time, at 1,050 pound-feet at a barely grunting 1,600 rpm.  It’s hooked up with a new 10-speed Torqshift automatic transmission, which works seamlessly.   

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Ford’s new 10-speed automatic | Ford

Acceleration is fairly brisk, especially taking off from a standstill. Highway cruising at 75-80 mph feels effortless, with a strong push when passing or hill climbing. 

The downside is considerable diesel racket, which sounds more like a big rig than a pickup, especially noticeable when tooling around town.  Even on the open road with the AC and the radio going, the harsh engine noise can get intrusive. 

The brawny engine also carries some serious weight, which effects tight cornering as the comparatively lighter unloaded rear tends to step out.  The truck wants to push on initial turn in and oversteer on the way out.

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Still, the handling overall is decent, the steering is sharp and the brakes are excellent.  I liked driving this giant truck, which is something I can’t say for most of the competition. 

With all that power and the truck’s massive frame and suspension, the maximum load capacity for the short-bed, single-rear-wheel 4X4 Crew Cab tested here is 3,940 pounds, as equipped with the 11,500 gross-vehicle-weight package (there are a bunch of variations available for these trucks).

The towing capacity for this particular truck is 20,000 pounds, which should be plenty for hauling a closed trailer with your race car and all its tools and equipment to the track. Or your family-size boat.

All that capability does come at a price in ride quality, which can get jouncy although reasonably well controlled by advanced shock absorbers that smooth out the rough edges.

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As usual, I had nothing particularly heavy to carry or tow, nor did I have any stumps that needed pulling.  I was able, however, to take this beast out for a fun morning of desert off-roading. 

Although the truck was equipped with rugged 4-wheel drive, it was shod with regular highway tires that limited my exposure to the wilder trails. There is an optional off-road Tremor package for Super Duty pickups that has much of the back-country gear as Ford’s acclaimed F150 Raptor, including big tires with off-road tread. 

Mine was not so equipped, but as it was, I found the F350 to be quite capable on a rough road with steep elevations and loose surfaces, even fording a fairly wide stream over a bunch of round, slippery rocks.  It went along easily without the least bit of drama.  Although I did feel slightly out of place piloting this great white pickup amidst all the much-smaller Jeeps and ATVs that were crisscrossing the trails.

There was also a sobering moment when I passed a fairly new compact SUV that, judging by the extensive body damage, had been rolled.  On my way out, I saw a group with a flatbed hauling it away.  Tsk.

The test pickup was enhanced with Ford’s upscale King Ranch package, which made the interior look and smell like a gentrified saddle shop.  King Ranch, by the way, is located in south Texas and is the biggest ranch in the state, at 1.225 million acres. Ford has a longtime connection with the property, and uses its nameplate and brand for its Western-infused luxury truck packages, which are positioned just below the top Platinum level.

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The King Ranch interior | Ford

Other standard and optional features included were AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control and Trailer Sway Control, Trailer Tire Pressure Monitoring System, Pro Trailer Backup Assist,  Trailer Reverse Guidance, high-definition 180/360-degree cameras, Adaptive Cruise Control, Auto High Beams, Lane-Keeping Alert,  Pre-Collision Assist, Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert and trailer tow coverage, FordPass Connect with 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot for  up to 10 devices, SYNC 3, BoxLink  and LED box lighting and a remote tailgate release.

The base price for the 2020 Super Duty F350 4X4 Crew Cab test pickup was a stout $62,220. The 6.7-liter diesel V8 was the priciest option, at $10,495, with the King Ranch Ultimate Package adding $3,350, adaptive steering at $1,000, adaptive cruise control at $740, Tough in Bed spray liner at $595, 3.31 electronic-locking axle at $390, with sundry other items and $1,595 for shipping bringing the total to a quite serious $80,845.

The Ford Super Duty F350 is too much truck for most people, both in might and price, although it does successfully combine strong capability with a high level of drivability and comfort.  All I would need is that race car to haul.

2020 Ford Super Duty F350 4X4 Crew Cab

Vehicle type: five-passenger, crew-cab pickup truck, 4-wheel drive
Base price: $62,220 Price as tested: $80,845
Engine: 6.7-liter turbo-diesel V8, 475 horsepower at 2,800 rpm, 1,050 pound-feet of torque at 1,600 rpm Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 159.8 inches Overall length/width: 250 inches / 80 inches
Curb weight: 7,303 pounds Gross vehicle weight: 11,500 pounds
EPA mileage estimates: NA
Assembled in: Louisville, Kentucky

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

1 COMMENT

  1. Diesel racket? Really I guess you never drove anything that actually had racket. Old gas engines can be louder than modern diesels.

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