When it comes right down to it, pickup trucks were meant to work hard, whether it's hauling a bed full of construction materials to a jobsite or towing a large pontoon boat to the lake for a leisurely Sunday afternoon pleasure cruise. Either way, the 2016 Ford F-350 Super Duty is ready, willing and able to step in whenever there's heavy lifting to be done.
Providing the muscle for this heavy-duty workhorse is a choice of V8 engines. Though the standard 385-horsepower gasoline V8 is no weakling, buyers looking for maximum capability will likely prefer the optional diesel with its massive 440 hp and 860 pound-feet of torque. Properly equipped, this powertrain gives the F-350 an impressive 26,500-pound towing capacity.
The F-350 Super Duty also comes in a wide array of body styles and trim levels, ranging from no-frills regular cab work trucks to top-of-the-line four-door crew cab models with interiors packed with luxury, convenience and technology features. If there is a downside to all these modern amenities it's the bottom line of the window sticker, where prices can soar to heights unimaginable a decade ago.
Given that the current-generation Super Duty debuted way back in 2008, the F-350 is obviously getting long in the tooth compared to its far more recently refreshed rivals. Of those, the Ram 3500's combination of downright posh interiors, more civilized ride quality, and even greater towing capabilities make it our top pick among heavy-duty pickups. The recently upgraded Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra 3500 HD models are also worth a look. If you don't need quite as much payload and towing capacity, you might also want to consider the Ford F-250; if you need more, there's always the brawny Ford F-450.
We recommend driving all of the heavy-duty pickups before making up your mind, but ultimately, the choice could come down to personal preference. And if you prefer the 2016 Ford F-350, we certainly wouldn't steer you clear.
The 2016 Ford F-350 Super Duty is available in three cab designs: two-door regular cab, extended cab (aka: SuperCab) and four-door crew cab. There are two rear axle designs (single- and dual-wheel) and two bed lengths (6.8 feet and 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, midrange XLT, upscale Lariat and two distinct flavors of luxury in the King Ranch and Platinum. Note that not all are available in every cab, bed and axle configuration, however.
The entry-level XL comes standard with 17-inch steel wheels, a black grille and bumpers, black door handles, running boards (dual rear axle), manual-telescoping trailer-towing mirrors, a locking tailgate, air-conditioning, vinyl upholstery and floor coverings, 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 alloy wheels, a chrome grille and bumpers, heated outside mirrors with an integrated blind-spot mirror, rear privacy glass (extended cab and crew cab), keyless entry, full power accessories, cruise control, a carpeted floor, cloth upholstery, a middle front seat that converts into a center console, lockable storage with a power point under the rear seat, padded door armrests, an integrated trailer brake controller, the Ford Sync voice command system, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB/iPod interface.
Stepping up to the Lariat trim level gets you automatic headlights, foglights, power telescoping and folding mirrors, body-color door handles, a power-sliding and defrosting rear window, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, 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, and the MyFord Touch infotainment system with an 8-inch touchscreen, upgraded Sync functionality, and an eight-speaker audio system. In crew cab models, the Lariat also gets a premium Sony audio system.
The King Ranch adds remote ignition, heated and ventilated front bucket seats with a fixed center console and driver memory settings, a navigation system and the Sony audio system, along with special King Ranch design elements that include two-tone paint, a body-color grille with chrome insert, unique trim and color schemes and special leather upholstery.
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, a tailgate assist step, upgraded leather upholstery and unique wood-tone interior trim, and a heated steering wheel.
Other than the special design cues, 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 (crew cab only) 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 (four-wheel-drive models only), which includes an electronic locking rear differential, all-terrain tires, hill descent control, skid plates and Rancho shock absorbers.
In a segment where competing models have raised the bar in terms of upscale interiors, the 2016 Ford F-350 clearly has some catching up to do. Compared to the Ram 2500's posh passenger cabin, the F-350 interior has a very "work truck" look and feel about it with lots of hard plastics and a rather industrial design. This even applies to the King Ranch and Platinum trims that can't quite hide the rough-and-tumble vibe with its leather trim and multitude of features.
Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum models do benefit from the MyFord Touch system, which includes both that large center touchscreen display and smaller driver-configurable screens in the instrument cluster. We say "benefit," because the redundant knobs and buttons for audio controls make this version of the system easier to use than those in other Ford models. While this system isn't as user-friendly as Ram's, we do prefer it to GM's infotainment systems.
In terms of usable space, the interior is plenty roomy even for rear-seat passengers in crew cab models. The seatback is a tad too upright for absolute comfort, however, and not surprisingly, rear-seat passengers fair even worse in the smaller Super Cab. There's a good amount of storage space for small odds and ends up front in both the dash-top cubby and beneath the center section of the 40/20/40-split front seat, not to mention the large center console in models with front buckets. The long storage tray under the rear seat of crew cab models makes a great place to keep laptops, tools and other valuable hidden from prying eyes.
All 2016 Ford F-350 models come with one of two engines. Both are mated to 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 standard 6.2-liter gasoline V8 produces 385 hp and 405 lb-ft of torque. Maximum towing capacity with the standard trailer hitch is 12,500 pounds (SRW) and 16,100 pounds (DRW); with a fifth-wheel or gooseneck trailer hitch those limits are 15,900 (SRW) and 16,100 pounds (DRW).
The optional turbocharged 6.7-liter diesel V8 engine puts out 440 hp and 860 lb-ft of torque. Maximum towing capacity from the trailer hitch is 14,000 pounds (SRW) and 19,000 pounds (dual rear-wheel). The fifth-wheel setup boosts the max up to 16,500 (SRW) and 26,500 (dual rear-wheel).
From behind the steering wheel, the F-350 feels like the big, powerful beast it is. Acceleration is abundant with both engines, but the recently reworked 6.7-liter turbodiesel's extra brawn makes pulling even the largest trailers feel effortless. The tow-haul mode and the transmission's ability to lock out higher gears, combined with the new diesel's more effective exhaust braking system, turn even the steepest downhills into stress-free events.
The ride quality is decent by heavy-duty truck standards, but that still means it can be quite jarring and bouncy when there's nothing loaded up in the bed. The place where the F-350 really falls down, however, is in its vague steering feel. While this weakness can be a tad annoying in everyday driving, the lack of precision can be downright unnerving when you're trying to keep the truck and the large, heavy trailer hanging off its back centered in its lane on a winding two-lane road. Even with everything else being equal, this shortcoming alone should cause potential buyers to pause long enough to check out the Ram and GM offerings.
The 2016 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 four-wheel drive 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.
Unlike the F-150 that was completely redesigned last year, the F-350 Super Duty returns unchanged save for two new options: LED warning strobe lights and a rearview camera prep kit that can be ordered with the cargo box delete option.