by Frank A. Aukofer

The 2017 Ford Super Duty pickup truck, the first complete makeover of this burly hauler in 18 years, will be hailed by truckers but perplex the rest of us.

It’s gigantic, expensive, luxurious, guzzles fuel, is difficult to park almost anywhere and has an intimidating personality that appeals to road-going bullies. At the same time, from a trucking standpoint, it is state-of-the-art, can carry a ton of stuff, tow prodigious loads and likely has enough power to pluck municipal Christmas trees from Mother Earth while delivering luxury-car amenities and comfort.

All of that is true if the choice of many versions matches the truck tested here: Ford F-250 Super Duty 4X4 Crew Cab with the King Ranch trim and Ford’s 6.7-liter diesel V8 engine, which quietly delivers 440 hp and, more important, a mind-boggling 925 lb-ft of torque, or twisting force.

2017fordsuperdutyfogelson-6Specifications tell part of the story. The Super Duty Crew Cab 4X4 measures almost 21 feet long with the short (6 feet 10 inches) cargo box. It’s 6.5 feet tall, requiring driver and passengers to step up to a high running-board and then step up again into the cabin. Once there you get a commanding view over lesser vehicles.

Curb weight is nearly four tons and the Super Duty can carry a payload of 2,039 pounds. It also can tow a trailer that weighs up to 15,000 pounds. If that doesn’t cut it, get up to 32,500 pounds with the heavier duty and more expensive F-450 model.

The tested F-250 likely won’t be the choice for Charley, your local handyman, who uses his truck for work every day. It’s more for wealthy ranchers in wide-open spaces, no doubt the reason it was named “Truck of Texas” by the Texas Auto Writers Association.

2017fordsuperdutyfogelson-9Driving it, especially on narrow rural roads or clogged freeways and city streets, is not for the faint of heart. It demands the driver’s full attention despite the luxury ambiance. The ride is pickup-truck choppy because of a suspension system that is designed to handle even heavier loads than the actual rating because customers sometimes overload their rides.

Maneuvering in a shopping center parking lot is something akin to walking on eggs. Spaces barely accept the Super Duty side-to-side but are too short. Backing in works best, which is when the optional outside view cameras come in handy — you can order as many as five for different uses like hooking up a trailer. Likely most people will just park far away and get good exercise by walking to the store.

The Super Duty has a Darth Vader presence on the highway. If you’re tooling along in your Hyundai Accent, watching one bear down on you from behind can be intimidating, especially if the nose tackle wannabe at the wheel also enjoys tailgating.

2017fordsuperdutyfogelson-1If you have some interest in trucks and are the sort of person who enjoys solving puzzles, you might enjoy an afternoon sit-down where you sort out the all the various iterations of the new Super Duty, which likely run into the thousands. The rest of us will continue in our bemusement.

Because the government classifies it as a commercial vehicle, it does not publish fuel economy ratings. Yet even with the usually more economical diesel engine, the F-250 is way thirsty — as the choice of 29- to 48-gallon fuel tanks can attest.

Like its lighter duty brother, the F-150, the Super Duty now is constructed of high-strength aluminum, albeit with a beefy steel frame that extends the entire length of the truck. Ford calls it “military-grade aluminum alloy” and it is used for the entire body and cargo box.

With the $2,950 King Ranch package and other options, the tested F-250 Super Duty came equipped with safety, convenience and comfort items that would do justice to any number of luxury cars and SUVs.

2017fordsuperdutyfogelson-5A partial list included plush leather upholstery, adaptive steering and cruise control, lane-keeping alert, blind-spot warning, large outside dual mirrors with power telescoping for trailer towing, heated seats, an off-road package with skid plates, a preparation package for fifth-wheel towing, twin-panel sunroof, spray-in bed liner and 20-inch cast aluminum wheels.

None of this, of course, comes cheap. The tested F-250 Super Duty carried a base sticker price of $55,455. With all the options, including $8,595 for the powerful diesel engine, the bottom-line suggested delivered price came to $73,170.

2017fordsuperdutyfogelson-10Specifications

  • Model: 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty 4X4 Crew Cab King Ranch pickup truck.
  • Engine:7-liter V8 diesel, turbocharged, 440 hp, 925 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic with four-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 20 feet 10 inches.
  • EPA passenger volume: 136 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 7,961 pounds.
  • Payload: 2,039 pounds.
  • Towing capability: 15,000 pounds.
  • EPA fuel consumption: N/A.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $55,455.
  • Price as tested: $73,170.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review.

Photos (c) Jason Fogelson.