We're obsessed with capability, and the pickup arms race is all-to eager to cater to our American desires. Such is the story with the 2016 Ford F-Series Super Duty, America's best-selling heavy-duty line, with eye-popping potential that only a decade ago would have required a "Freightliner" badge affixed to the front.
For 2016, little has changed to the Super Duty series ahead of a major overhaul for model year 2017. The truck keeps the same boxy garb, swaps color names for red and black (Shadow Black is the new Tuxedo Black, Race Red is the new Vermillion Red) and makes standard a supplemental cab heater for cold-weather states.
When it comes to identifying the Super Duty on the road, the good news is that not many trucks look like it. The imposing grille is set off by the large, two chrome bars that split the wide engine opening into three sections. The fascia of the 2016 Ford F-Series Super Duty is decidedly last generation for Ford: it's less busy, and the Super Duty's headlights aren't polarizing—for now. The 2017 Ford Super Duty incorporates many of the F-150's styling elements up front, including a controversial grille that's book-ended by two massive front lights.
For now, the Super Duty makes good with a slab-sided approach that is simultaneously functional and unique. The front wheel arches functionally drape everything from the standard 17-inch steelies on the XL trim to the 20-inch cast aluminum wheels on the F-250 Platinum. Down the sides is the same purpose-driven story: the dipped window line near the side-view mirrors add more visibility to the trailer-sized side-view mirrors, bright chrome cab strips help passengers clamber into the tall cab. The 2016 Super Duty is still mostly steel on the outside, which will be the biggest change for 2017 when it joins the rest of the F-Series trucks in a mostly aluminum skin.
The bed is offered in two lengths, 8-feet and 6-feet-8-inches. F-250 models come in regular cab, extended cab, and double cab configurations, from the base XL model to the top-of-the-line Platinum trim. Only XL and XLT models are available in regular cab configuration; extended cab adds Lariat trim; and double cab is available across the whole enchilada.
A base, 6.2-liter V-8 is standard on all F-250s. It produces 385 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 405 pound-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm. It's mated to a 6-speed automatic in either rear- or four-wheel-drive configurations. A 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel is available on the F-250 that makes 440 hp and 860 lb-ft of twist much lower in the rpm range (2,800 rpm and 1,600 rpm, respectively). The benefit with the oil burner is towing capability, it'll drag up to 16,600 pounds and carry 3,340 pounds more, compared to the gas-powered's 4,040- and 12,900-lb. respective rating. That type of capability has its penalty however: the 6.7-liter turbodiesel adds more than $8,000 to the bottom line.
Beyond the lumps up front under the hood, the Super Duty is built to be a heavy-handed hauler for workers keen on capability. There are countless configurations of Super Duty series trucks to accommodate nearly any profession. No fewer than nine rear axle options are possible, depending on wheelbase and powertrain, and the Super Duty can run from 12,900 pounds towing to more than 30,000 pounds. Yeah, 15 tons.
Inside, the Super Duty is awash in the same interior options found on most full-size trucks. The basic layout on XL models is all there: vinyl seats, two-speaker radio, and all the air in the cabin you can enjoy. Step up to the F-250 Platinum model and get standard leather, rearview camera, satellite radio, navigation and a universal garage door opener and a rearview camera including trailer hookup assist.
Super Duty trucks aren't crash tested by either the IIHS or federal safety officials, despite their popularity. The Ford F-Series Super Duty's weight may be its greatest asset: the trucks' more than 8,000 pounds of mass is an asset in any crash. Beyond it's actual physical advantage on the road with anything else, the F-Series Super Duty includes Crew Chief telematics, trailer brake control, trailer sway control, anti-lock brakes and tow mirrors to boost safety. We still maintain that the safest truck is the one with the best visibility, and thankfully the F-Series Super Duty has very good sight lines.
Like many other full-size trucks on the road, the Super Duty can be configured with many extravagant options to increase comfort—just because it works hard doesn't mean it can't play hard. A F-250 Super Duty Platinum can be fitted with a moonroof, heated leather seats, premium Sony audio with nine speakers and other dealer-installed options. A base F-250 starts at around $33,000, whereas a fully decked, dual-rear-wheel F-450 Platinum can run upwards of $75,000.
The EPA doesn't rate heavy duty pickups for fuel economy, but it's best to start expectations in the low teens and work your way down from there depending on size, payload and towing.