We've all heard this expression: "Use the right tool for the job." For most folks' pickup truck needs, using a heavy-duty pickup for their vehicular tasks is like using a sledgehammer to pound in a thumbtack. But if you actually do need a rig that's capable of some serious towing and hauling work, then the 2013 Ford F-350 Super Duty is more than ready. With up to 22,800 pounds of towing capacity, it's stout enough to handle just about any job you throw at it.
The F-350 Super Duty represents a well-rounded package. Of course it has the requisite big rig styling, complete with imposing chrome grille and football-sized Blue Oval badge. But this tough truck has a gentler side with its quiet cabin that boasts comfortable seating and plenty of modern amenities to make life on the road easier. For the hard worker or commercial owner, there's also a long list of available options and packages that allow them to tailor the truck to their specific needs.
Should the F-350's massive capabilities still not be enough, Ford is the only truckmaker that sells something even tougher than a 350-series pickup for consumer use: the F-450. For most consumers in need of a serious work truck, though, the 2013 Ford F-350 Super Duty will be the right tool for the job. That said, the Chevy Silverado 3500HD and Ram 3500 are also great trucks that are worth a look.
The 2013 Ford F-350 Super Duty is available in three cab designs (regular, extended SuperCab and Crew Cab), two rear axle designs (single wheel and dual) and two bed lengths (8 feet and 6 feet, 9 inches, the latter of which is unavailable with the regular cab or dual rear wheel). There are base XL, midlevel XLT, upscale Lariat, luxury King Ranch and posh Platinum trim levels, but not all are available with every cab, bed and axle configuration.
The XL is the workhorse of the stable, with standard equipment that includes 17-inch steel wheels, a black grille and bumpers, a drop-in bedliner, manual-telescoping trailer tow mirrors, air-conditioning, vinyl floor coverings and upholstery, a 40/20/40-split front bench, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a two-speaker radio.
The XLT adds a chrome grille and bumpers, heated outside mirrors, cast-aluminum wheels, cruise control, full power accessories, keyless entry, an integrated trailer brake controller, a carpeted floor, cloth upholstery, the Ford Sync voice activation system, lockable storage with a power point under the rear seat and a four-speaker sound system with CD player and auxiliary audio jack.
The Lariat trim boasts foglights, power telescoping mirrors, rear parking sensors, 18-inch alloy wheels, a power-sliding rear window, dual-zone automatic climate control and leather upholstery. Also standard are a large trip computer screen, wood grain trim, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, power-adjustable pedals, leather seats, a middle front seat that converts into a center console, eight-way power-adjustable front seats (with power lumbar adjustment), a rearview camera, MyFord Touch and an eight-speaker audio system with satellite radio.
The King Ranch piles on power-folding and telescoping tow mirrors, two-tone paint, a body-colored grille with chrome insert, unique exterior and interior badging, remote start, a navigation system, unique leather upholstery and door trim, heated and ventilated front seats, and driver seat memory. The top-of-the-line Platinum is similar but has additional chrome exterior trim, 20-inch polished alloy wheels (single rear wheel only), unique wood-tone interior trim, upgraded leather upholstery and a heated steering wheel.
Some of the upper trims' features are available on the lower trims. Other options (depending on trim level) include a stowable bed extender, a transmission power take-off (for powering accessories like snow plows), heavy-duty alternators, fifth-wheel/gooseneck mounting points, roof clearance lights, a spray-in bedliner, a sunroof and integrated accessory switches.
The available Ford Work Solutions package is offered on XL and XLT models and adds an in-dash computer that is customizable to suit commercial users and fleets. Also available is the FX4 Off-Road package (4x4 models only) that includes an electronic locking rear differential, all-terrain tires, hill descent control, skid plates and Rancho shock absorbers.
The cabin styling features a rectangular, industrial look, and the cabin is beginning to look dated compared to the Ram 3500. Hard plastics abound throughout the interior on lower trim levels, but are on par or better than other trucks in this segment. Opting for the upper trims adds a decidedly upscale experience, with rich leather and added amenities.
If you choose the front bench seat, it features a lockable bin that also folds to serve as an armrest. Another lockable compartment is located under the rear seats that can easily accommodate longer items (like a hunting rifle) and also features a 12-volt power point.
A large multifunction display in the instrument cluster that's standard on Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum models allows the driver to customize settings and relays trip computer, fuel economy, towing and off-road information. Platinum models feature a storage area atop the dash that includes two USB ports, audio-video connections, an SD card slot and an additional 12-volt charging port. Another perk of the Platinum trim is MyFord Touch, which includes an 8-inch touchscreen that controls phone, climate control, entertainment and navigation features and also includes an expanded voice control vocabulary. This version of MyFord Touch also includes large physical buttons for the climate and audio controls that allow them to be operated by those wearing work gloves.
The 2013 Ford F-350 comes standard with a 6.2-liter V8 that produces 385 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard with either rear- or all-wheel drive. Maximum towing capacity without a fifth-wheel rates 15,000 when properly equipped. Adding a fifth-wheel hookup boosts the max up to 16,000.
Optional is a turbocharged 6.7-liter diesel V8 that produces 400 hp and 800 lb-ft of torque. In performance testing, an F-350 with the standard rear axle went from zero to 60 mph in 8.8 seconds, about a second slower than GM's diesel-powered 3500 pickups. Maximum towing capacity without a fifth-wheel rates 17,500 pounds when properly equipped. Adding a fifth-wheel hookup boosts the max up to 22,800.
The well-rounded Super Duty impresses with its strong performance, mostly supple ride and comfortable, feature-laden cabin. At freeway speeds the interior is notably quiet, with wind and road noise pleasantly silenced. Even the trademark diesel clatter is muted to barely detectable levels. As with any heavy-duty pickup, however, the ride can be a bit jittery when the truck is unloaded, but the 2013 Ford F-350 remains reasonably well-mannered over the rough stuff. The chief downside to the big rig is its slow steering, which feels numb and isolated. In comparison, both the Chevy and Ram deliver a more connected feel through the wheel, which instills more confidence when towing.
Towing is a big part of the Super Duty's capabilities, and the 6.7-liter diesel will likely be the engine of choice if you have this in mind. Even when lugging a 10,000-pound trailer up a steep grade, the diesel makes the climb with ease, never laboring or forcing the transmission to hunt through the gears. The driver can also selectively lock out higher gears to ensure optimal towing progress, while descents are also well managed by the automatic transmission, which finds the right gear at the right time. We've found the throttle a little reluctant to respond to small inputs while towing, though.
All 2013 Ford F-350 Super Duty trucks come standard with four-wheel antilock disc brakes, stability control, trailer sway control, hill start assist, front side airbags, front side curtain airbags and the SOS post-crash alert system.
The Regular and SuperCabs get a passenger airbag deactivation switch. An integrated trailer brake controller is standard on XLT and higher models, while the Lariat trim level adds rear parking sensors and power-adjustable pedals. A rearview camera is optional on the XLT and standard on the Lariat and above models.
For 2013 the Ford F-350 Super Duty gets stronger brakes, adopts MyFord Touch and adds the ultra-plush Platinum trim level to the lineup.