2020 Ford F-350: Super Duty Is as Super Duty Does
When you hear the words heavy duty pickup truck, you probably think of vehicles that can haul and tow more than almost anything else on the road and handle terrain that would make other trucks tremble. You're probably not thinking of a plush, comfortable ride that is loaded with tech. But as trucks and SUVs have replaced sedans atop the sales charts over the past few years, luxury trucks - even ones with extreme "work" capabilities - have become nearly as common as compact cars were at the turn of the 21st century.
Spending a week reviewing a truck means that I get to do all of the things that non-truck people only dream of, from hauling a ton of junk to the dump to flexing on the other dads at Home Depot, but heavy duty trucks are on another level entirely. I recently had the opportunity to spend time with the 2020 Ford F-350 Platinum and came away from the test with a few thoughts: This is too much truck for the vast majority of people, it’s massively expensive at almost $90,000, and I more than kind of want one.
That said, trucks are not for everyone, especially trucks the size of the F-350. Where you fall on the “need spectrum” will depend completely on what you use a truck for, or if you use a truck for anything at all. It is easy, though, to see the appeal of riding around with 3-4 inches of additional ground clearance over everything else. Size jokes aside, there’s a lot to like about the big Ford, so let’s talk trucks.
There aren’t many vehicles, truck or otherwise, that can match the number of luxury and comfort features that Ford packs into the upper trim levels of its F-Series pickups. That also applies to the company’s heavy-duty trucks, which in top trims are a mashup of extreme capability and equally impressive materials and build quality.
If you’ve ever dreamt of getting a back massage while you’re out on the job site, here's your chance. The F-350 Platinum comes with Ford’s Multi-Contour seats, which are newsworthy on their own. Through controls in the infotainment unit, the seats can be heated, cooled, and can massage a few different zones on the seatbacks and bottoms. This is on top of the already well-padded, super-supportive seats that Ford packs into its pickup trucks, and the Super Duty’s expansive cabin gives everyone plenty of room to soak it all in.
Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system and the accompanying driver information display are mostly easy to use and are colorful and bright, but there are two problems: First, some vehicle controls are buried 2-3 screens deep in the driver display, which means that adjusting driver aids and other settings can be a real hassle. Second, the eight-inch infotainment screen that looks so great in smaller vehicles feels absolutely tiny in the F-350’s massive interior. We should see larger screens coming to Ford trucks in the next year or so, which may remedy the second issue.
The F-350 also comes loaded with advanced driver assistance systems. My Platinum test tuck came with adaptive cruise control, automatic high beam headlights, blind spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts, lane keeping alerts, and a pre-collision assist system. All alerts work as intended and aren’t frightening, but the lane alerts end up being more of a hassle than help. As in the Ranger and other Ford vehicles, the lane keep alerts can be set to deliver notifications through steering wheel vibrations or sounds, both of which are annoying and very sensitive, even on the lowest setting.
With the 6.7-liter Powerstroke diesel V-8 on board, the F-350 generates 1,050 pound-feet of torque. Let that sink in. That gives the single rear-wheel truck a conventional trailering capacity of 20,000 pounds, which is well into commercial driver’s license territory. Most people will never get that deep into the F-350’s capabilities, but it’s certainly a bragging right to have it on tap.
The diesel is paired with a 10-speed automatic, and while there were no real issues with it finding the right gear when the truck is in motion, there were times when the gearbox stuttered on takeoff and acceleration. Otherwise, the drivetrain works well together to tame the torque from that massive Powerstroke.
There will come a time when fuel prices and other restrictions make buying and driving a large pickup truck even more impractical than it is already, but until then we'll keep seeing automakers one-up each other with features in their heavy-duty vehicles. In the meantime, I'll be enjoying the time I get to spend in trucks like the F-350, and promise I'll only be looking down on you in the literal sense.
I cover autos and technology for several outlets online and in print. My goal is to bring the complex and sometimes confusing automotive world into focus for everyone. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and may not align with the founders of Everyday Driver.