Sunday, January 22, 2017 10:15 am ·  0 Comments
If you like pick-up trucks, this F350 is one great beast of a truck that will handle just about anything – except a small parking spot. I’m an owner of a ten-year old, 2500 series heavy-duty diesel pick-up that is my daily driver and is frequently used to haul my trailer with a combined actual weight of 7,200 kg over both short and very long distances. I understand the need for power, stability, comfort and longevity in my truck.
Driving and handling characteristics
For those that need to pull a big load, there is nothing better than a 250 or 350 series truck with a diesel engine. The Ford F-350 with the 6.7L power stroke V8 diesel definitely satisfies the need for “power”. With 440 hp and 925 lb-ft of torque, this truck can handle a combined weight of up to 13,000 kg and a towing capability of an 8,000 kg trailer on the single rear wheel set up. The dual rear wheel with fifth wheel configuration allows for towing up to 12,474 kg.
The F-350 diesel engine is matched with Ford’s 6-speed automatic transmission with a tow/haul mode that I found to provide smooth and reliable shifting and a comfortable ride. My test truck included a number of optional features that were both useful and desirable to enhance safety. Adaptive cruise control with collision warning and brake support is a definite plus when towing distances on our 400 series highways. Adaptive steering to adjust the amount of steering input need according to speed and load – very useful when backing up, pulling a trailer or parking. Lane-keeping alert, blind spot monitoring and trailer sway control that adjusts braking to help control trailer sway are also very useful options.
Speaking of trailers, my 27 ft. enclosed trailer is always a challenge to hook up, back up or just maneuver in tight spots because my “old” truck does not have some of the features available on the new F-350. For example, with the new F-350, you can add a trailer located camera and display the image on the 8” color screen, to assist backing-up. There is a rear view camera mounted in the tailgate handle to also help with getting your truck lined up correctly to the trailer hitch. Also included is a high mounted rear-facing camera useful when connecting that 5th wheel trailer. Finally, side mirror cameras and the front camera provide the remaining views to give you the full 360-degree view of your surroundings. The only real challenge with this truck is finding a suitable parking spot when you are in the city. For first time 250 or 350 level truck owners, you quickly learn about the reduced turning circle, sheer height, length and width of the truck that makes it necessary to find just the right spot to park.
My test truck came with the optional “9900” GVWR package which meant it just squeaked (4,491kg) under the 4,500 kg weight level. This is especially important for commercial use trucks, as anything above 4,500 kg GVWR requires the driver to have a CVOR and comply with daily safety logs and inspections (also true for personal use trucks exceeding 6,000 kg GVWR). Finally, all trucks with a GVWR above 4,500 kg also require an annual “yellow sticker” safety inspection.
Comfort and Styling
Ford has demonstrated that you can have a rugged heavy-duty work truck and still enjoy attractive exterior and interior styling as well as reasonable ride comfort. The F-350 suspension consists of front coil and rear leaf springs combined with heavy-duty gas shock absorbers. Match this with the excellent leather seats in the Lariat package and you get a pretty smooth and comfortable ride even without additional weight in the truck. The Lariat crew cab is very nicely finished. Camel leather 10-way power bucket seats, color coordinated leather (and heated) steering wheel, ambient lighting, the Sony audio system, 8” color screen, lots of USB and 12V power points, excellent rear seat leg room all combine to make you and your passengers feel properly pampered. My truck also came equipped with an optional safe in the center console – to keep those valuables from disappearing.
I should mention a couple of additional nice to have features. The power running board was a great hit with my wife who liked the width and height of the board to help with entry and exit. I liked the 128 L gas tank, rear under seat storage, upfitter (6) switches in the overhead console, easy to access trailer connections, as well as the integrated tailgate step.
A key concern of mine with bigger trucks is to make sure that they have the safety features to protect me, especially when hauling a heavy trailer. This F-350 comes with many of the current driver and passenger safety systems including side airbags, roll-over sensor and post crash alert. To keep this truck stable and safe on the road, this F-350 is equipped with 275/65 20” all terrain tires; lane keeping alert; blind spot alert; adaptive cruise control; trailer sway control through selective braking; and, tire pressure monitoring. To keep things visible, the truck’s multiple cameras and optional quad beam headlights to increase night-time visibility are also great features.
Things to consider
This is a good looking, well handling and comfortable truck, especially in the crew cab and Lariat configuration. It is very well appointed inside and outside, with some very useful convenience features. The F-350 might be a bit too much and too big of a truck for the “pleasure” user but, it’s a blast to drive and definitely makes an impression. Just make sure that you practice parking in tight spots and pick a model under the 4,500 kg GVWR to stay clear of the additional “requirements” imposed by our Ministry of Transport. For commercial use, this is a great truck that will haul lots. But like many new and nice trucks, it’s not cheap and will set you back roughly $96,000 before tax.