First Drive: 2011 Ford F-250 King Ranch
We take Ford’s plush Super Duty Crew Cab diesel 4×4 out for a drive
If you’re going to let a pickup magazine’s editors test-drive one of your trucks, make sure it’s a top-of-the-line model so they get spoiled as soon as they open the door.
Ford obviously subscribes to that line of thought because the 2011 F-250 King Ranch that rolled up at our door is as plush as they get.
Whether you’re the owner of a small landscaping enterprise or the CEO of a mega-sized contracting corporation who loves the Blue Oval, then there’s not a Super Duty any more packed with luxury features than the King Ranch trim-level package.
This is clearly a styling cue meant to appeal to people who want their rolling office to reflect the finer things in life.
The King Ranch fits in well as evidenced by the plush leather appointments, wood-grain trimmed dash and special edition wheels.
Our Super Duty Crew Cab 4×4 sported creature comforts from heated/cooled power seats, sun/moon roof and power-sliding rear window to a full audio-visual entertainment/navigation system, power folding side-mount mirrors and a versatile driver information system that turned out to be amazingly intuitive and simple to operate.
And you can’t beat Ford’s optional Work Solutions integrated software business programs that turn the onboard computer system into a direct link to your office – or make the Super Duty your office depending on your needs.
WORK TRUCK AT HEART
Still, you can dress up an F-250 all you want, but at its heart, it’s still a rugged, diesel-powered work truck.
Super Duty fans worried that International will no longer supply Ford with the PowerStroke diesel engine can rest easy: The new Ford-developed 6.7L diesel, as we detailed in our Spring 2010 issue (“Ford Powers Up,” pg. 48) proved to be a highly impressive and productive engine.
The new PowerStroke is amazingly quiet and kicks out plenty of low-end torque, two aspects contractors will love as much as the interior appointments.
The power delivery is instantaneous, too; there’s absolutely no turbo lag as it accelerates with all the swagger of a big-block gas engine – be it from a stop or out on the open road, trailer in tow or empty.
Such performance clearly showed when our Stalker radar testing system recorded some impressive numbers on Holiday Raceway’s 1/8th-mile strip.
The 2011 F-250 Super Duty Crew Cab 4×4 consistently ran 9-second 0-60mph times and pulled through the 1⁄8-mile traps with a firstname.lastname@example.org. Those numbers are .3-second quicker and 3mph faster than the 2010 Cummins-powered Ram Crew Cab 2500 we tested and nearly identical to the times we’ve seen on the 1500 Ram Hemi and 6.2L big-block F-150.
Fuel economy for this truck isn’t bad, either, considering both the size of the engine and the mass it has to move down the highway.
Ford’s driver information center features real-time fuel economy data with a configurable window, graphing MPG performance over the past five minutes (or longer periods if you like) while displaying instant and average econ numbers.
I found that my fuel mileage in city traffic varied wildly between 13-17mpg with a week-long average of 15.1mpg.
On the highway, that figure nipped 19mpg when speeds stayed below 60mph and averaged 17.3mpg during our 100-mile interstate test lop running 70mph. Those are fuel numbers any contractor, landscaper, or construction worker can live with.
Despite its size and towing/hauling muscle, the Super Duty F-250 rides and handles surprisingly well in every road situation imaginable. You know the truck has a heavy payload capability, but the rear suspension isn’t uncomfortably harsh on- or off-pavement.
On those tough jobsites (or weekend forays) where traction is more wish than reality, the four-wheel-drive engagement system is quick and easy to use – and will snap your head backwards if you get too aggressive with the throttle in 4-Lo. The electronic-locking differential ($390) is a must-have option for maximum off-pavement traction.
Out on the open road there’s no wander in the steering and interior sound levels are more akin to that of a nice car than a heavy-duty pickup, so long drives and business can be conducted with ease. And despite its bulk, the F-250 proved to be surprisingly nimble in parking lots and city traffic.
Our take: Losing International as an engine partner was a huge hurdle Ford has clearly overcome with the development of a new generation of heavy-duty pickups that haven’t skipped a beat in terms of comfort, performance or power.
- Vehicle: 2011 Ford Super Duty
- Model: Crew Cab 4×4 King Ranch, diesel
- Base Price: $48,860
- Price as Tested: $64,145
- Engine: 6.7L Power Stroke V8 Diesel; 390hp/735 lb-ft
- Observed MPG: City 15.1 / Hwy 17.3
- Max Towing Capacity:
- Conventional: 6,000 lbs. w/o WD hitch; 14,000 lbs. w/ WD hitch
- 5th Wheel/Gooseneck: 15,700 lbs.
- Max. Payload: 2,690 lbs.