At some point, even full-size pickup trucks run out of power, and that's where heavy-duty trucks come in to save the day. If you've got way more than the average amount of cargo to haul around or something serious to tow, a heavy-duty pickup like the 2015 Ford F-350 might be right for you.
The 2015 Ford F-350 is designed with maximum capability in mind, and this year Ford has made significant revisions to the optional turbocharged diesel engine. If the standard power from the 6.2-liter gasoline-powered V8 isn't enough, the optional 6.7-liter turbocharged diesel engine now has 440 horsepower and 860 pound-feet of torque (up from 400 and 800, respectfully). Properly equipped, the turbodiesel F-350 can now tow a massive 26,500 pounds, and according to Ford, returns better fuel economy.
So there's more power and the promise of higher mpg, but lately we've come to expect a bit more out of heavy-duty pickup trucks. Many of these dedicated workhorses are now surprisingly comfortable and have long lists of luxury options, and although it's getting on in years, this big Ford is no exception. Base trim levels of the F-350 are pretty sparse, but cabin surfaces and interior touches are luxurious on upper trim levels. Features like the optional MyFord Touch infotainment system and its large 8-inch dash-mounted display prove you don't have to give up modern conveniences for old-fashioned truck capability. Those luxury extras do add up quickly, though, so be ready to open up your wallet if you want the finest leather and wood trim.
Despite its strengths, the 2015 Ford F-350 does have some serious competition from the usual suspects. The 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 HD was redesigned this year and is definitely worth a look. The 2015 Ram 3500 is also an extremely capable heavy-duty pickup that deserves attention. The Ram has a more composed ride and a higher-quality cabin to go with its massive towing capacity, making it our top pick in this segment.
And of course there's always the F-350's little brother, the 2015 Ford F-250, which is only marginally less capable, as well as the mighty 2015 Ford F-450. It's the only heavy-duty truck of its kind, so if you need the most towing capacity this side of a big rig, it's your best bet. When all is said and done, though, the Ford F-350 Super Duty is a stout truck that's definitely worth a test-drive.
The 2015 Ford F-350 Super Duty is available in three cab designs: two-door regular cab, extended cab (SuperCab) and four-door crew cab. There are two rear axle designs (single wheel and dual) and two bed lengths (8 feet and 6.8 feet). Note that the short bed is unavailable with the regular cab and the dual-wheel rear axle. There are five trim levels: base XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum; but not all are available with every cab, bed and axle configuration.
The XL comes standard with 17-inch steel wheels, a black grille and bumpers, black door handles, running boards (dual rear axle), manual-telescoping trailer tow mirrors, a locking tailgate, air-conditioning, vinyl floor coverings and upholstery, a 40/20/40-split front bench seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a two-speaker sound system with an AM/FM radio.
The XLT adds 18-inch cast-aluminum wheels, a chrome grille and bumpers, heated outside mirrors with an integrated blind-spot mirror, rear privacy glass (SuperCab and crew cab), cruise control, full power accessories, keyless entry, an integrated trailer brake controller, padded door armrests, a middle front seat that converts into a center console, a carpeted floor, cloth upholstery, the Ford Sync voice command system, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, lockable storage with a power point under the rear seat and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB/iPod interface.
Further up the ladder, the Lariat trim comes with foglights, power telescoping and folding mirrors, body-color door handles, rear parking sensors, automatic headlights, a power-sliding rear window with defrost, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, eight-way power-adjustable front seats (with power lumbar adjustment), power-adjustable pedals, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 4.2-inch color trip computer, wood-tone interior trim, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, the MyFord Touch infotainment system with an 8-inch touchscreen, upgraded Sync functionality, a rearview camera and an eight-speaker audio system. In crew cab configuration, the Lariat gets a premium Sony audio system.
The two upper trims include many of the Lariat's optional items and bolsters them with special design elements. As such, the King Ranch adds two-tone paint, a body-color grille with chrome insert, unique trim and color schemes, special leather upholstery, remote start, a navigation system, heated and ventilated front bucket seats with a fixed center console and driver memory settings, and the Sony audio system.
The top-of-the-line Platinum is equipped similarly to the King Ranch but features a significantly different design aesthetic inside and out, while adding 20-inch polished alloy wheels, tailgate assist step, unique wood-tone interior trim, upgraded leather upholstery and a heated steering wheel.
Many of the features that are standard on upper trim levels such as navigation and the tailgate assist step are available as options on lower trims. Other options (depending on trim level) include different axle ratios, 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, drop-in or spray-in bedliners, a sunroof and integrated accessory switches.
The available Ford Work Solutions package adds an in-dash computer that's customizable to suit commercial users and fleets. Also available is the FX4 Off-Road package (4WD models only), which includes an electronic locking rear differential, all-terrain tires, hill descent control, skid plates and Rancho shock absorbers.
Heavy-duty trucks haven't historically been known for their luxurious cabins, but that has changed in recent years, and the F-350 has fallen a bit behind. One look at the Ram 3500's comparatively lavish new interior will convince you that Ford's got a little room for improvement. The F-350 has a lot of hard plastics on lower trim levels, and for better or for worse, the overall look screams "work truck." But to be fair, the Lariat creates a distinctly upscale vibe with leather and the MyFord Touch interface, while the King Ranch and Platinum models are fancier still.
There's no shortage of storage in the Ford F-350. There's a lockable bin under the middle of the available 40/20/40-split front bench seat, and the middle seatback folds down to serve as an armrest. Another lockable bin for longer items lives under the rear seats and includes a 12-volt power point. An optional, alternate front bench design features a middle seat section that can be configured to swallow a laptop and even hanging files or other business-related items; it also provides a 12-volt power point of its own, along with a 110-volt inverter.
Standard from the Lariat on up is a large multifunction display in the instrument cluster that allows the driver to customize settings, and relays trip computer, fuel economy, towing and off-road information. Lariat and higher trims also get the MyFord Touch infotainment system, which includes two USB ports, an SD card slot and an 8-inch touchscreen that controls phone, climate control, entertainment and navigation features. Note that this version of MyFord Touch incorporates large physical buttons for the climate and audio controls that allow them to be operated by those wearing work gloves.
All 2015 Ford F-350 models employ a six-speed automatic transmission and offer a choice between rear- and four-wheel drive, as well as single- (SRW) and dual-rear-wheel (DRW) configurations. The base engine is a 6.2-liter gasoline V8 that produces 385 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque. Maximum towing capacity from the trailer hitch is 12,500 pounds (SRW) and 16,100 pounds (DRW), while adding a fifth-wheel hookup changes that limit to 15,900 (SRW) and 16,000 pounds (DRW).
Optional is a turbocharged 6.7-liter diesel V8 engine that produces 440 hp and 860 lb-ft of torque. Maximum towing capacity from the trailer hitch is 14,000 pounds (SRW) and 19,000 pounds (DRW). The fifth-wheel setup boosts the max up to 16,800 (SRW) and 26,700 (DRW).
There's no doubt that behind the wheel, the F-350 is impressive. It feels quick and capable, while the ride is quiet and supple by segment standards. Bumps can temporarily ruffle the F-350's composure, though, especially with an empty bed. The biggest flaw in the F-350's formula is its steering, which feels slow and vague. Chevy and Ram deliver a more confidence-inspiring feel through the wheel. We haven't had the chance to test the new diesel engine yet, but past versions felt smooth and capable while towing heavy loads.
The 2015 Ford F-350 Super Duty comes standard with four-wheel antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, trailer sway control, hill start assist, side curtain airbags and the SOS post-crash alert system.
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.
In Edmunds testing, an F-350 Platinum 4x4 with the 6.7-liter diesel engine came to a stop from 60 mph in 138 feet. This is a typical performance for a 1-ton truck.
The optional 6.7-liter turbodiesel V8 engine in the 2015 Ford F-250 has been revised, resulting in improved horsepower, torque, fuel economy and towing capacity with the conventional trailer setup and with the fifth-wheel gooseneck.