Ford F-250 Road Test

First Drive

Redesigned 2017 F-250 Workhorse Combines Sophistication and Brawn

Big, aluminum-bodied beast brings toughness, technology, and gratuitous torque to the heavy-duty fray

Overview

The big Ford F-250 has always been about handling heavy loads and tough jobs. The revamped 2017 model builds on that legacy by reducing the beast's overall weight and going heavy on sophistication and technology.

Like the light-duty F-150, the new F-250 has an aluminum-alloy body and a frame mostly made from high-strength steel, a combination that Ford says makes the new truck about 350 pounds lighter than the previous model.

Power comes from a standard gas 6.2-liter V8 engine producing 385 hp and 430 lb.-ft. of torque. Many buyers will opt for the 6.7-liter turbodiesel V8 that puts out 440 hp and a rocking 925 lb.-ft. of torque. Both engines are hooked up to a six-speed automatic transmission. Maximum towing capacity for the F-250 (with the trailer tow package) is 17,600 pounds.

Impressions

We equipped our test truck with the brawny turbodiesel V8. The massive F-250 chugs to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds -- just a bit faster than the competing heavy-duty diesel-powered Chevrolet Silverado and Ram 2500, and much quicker than the Nissan Titan XD. Fuel economy is 15 mpg overall, which is better than the big Silverado and Ram and equal to the Titan XD.

The Ford's engine is more subdued than what you might expect from a diesel, making long drives almost bearable.

Going in a straight line is one thing. But piloting this behemoth in corners is not a thrill ride. Handling, in a word, is clumsy, with little steering feel. Overall maneuverability is horrid and the turning circle is laughably huge. But we understand that most truck buyers aren't expecting sportscar-like agility.

The ride is also expectedly choppy and rough -- and about on par with the other monstrous trucks.

You can get the F-250 with some really cool technological bits, such as several available camera/monitor systems, including one camera mounted near the top of the cab. This can let the driver check on what is in the cargo box.

Ford also offers a camera system that uses four high-definition cameras to give the driver a 360-degree bird's-eye view surrounding the truck. An optional "Trailer Reverse Guidance" system helps you hook up your trailer when you're traveling solo by instructing the driver which way to turn the steering wheel while reversing, based on the trailer direction. There is also a factory-available camera that can be placed on a trailer to provide further assistance when reversing.

Forward-collision warning and brake support, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control are optional.

A basic regular cab rear-wheel drive F-250 starts at $33,730. There is hardly enough internet bandwidth to cover all the various trim lines variations. If interested, our online Build & Buy configurator can walk you through the myriad permutations.

We bought a nicely equipped mid-level Lariat, which gets power folding and retractable side mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, and Ford's Sync 3 infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen. We also added a navigation system, the FX4 off-road package, chrome package, spray-in bedliner, a huge twin-panel powered sunroof, and few other odds and ends. The total was an eye-widening $67,130.

That burly FX4 off-road package gives the truck a high stance and imposing presence. And even with running boards, you need a big step to get into this substantial rig. Coupling the fact that you get to sit up high and with a decent rearview camera and low side windows, close proximity visibility is compromised. Backing this massive truck up for the first time or trying to fit it into a car-size parking spot reveals the gargantuan nature of the F-250.

The power-adjustable pedals and power driver's seat help to find a good driving position. The seats themselves are comfortable. And the crew cab's rear seat is enormous. It not only can accommodate a burly crew, but it is also one of the few vehicles that excels at three-across child seat fitment.

CR's Take

Clearly, not everyone needs a massive heavy-duty truck. Whether or not an F-250 like this one is right for you will depend on your wallet and whether or not what you're hauling can't be done by a smaller and easier to live with half-ton model like the F-150. For most people who don't regularly tow a gargantuan trailer or aren't working their own trade like contractors, trucks like an F-250 are serious overkill. The F-250 proves overkill can be good.

Warranty

All cars come with basic warranty coverage, also known as a bumper-to-bumper warranty. This protects consumers against unexpected problems with non-wear items. Powertrain warranty protects against engine and transmission troubles. Rust through, or corrosion warranty, covers rust to non-damaged components. Roadside aid provides on-location assistance in case of a breakdown and may include limited towing services.

Extended warranties provide peace of mind. Owners of models known to have worse-than-average predicted reliability can mitigate risks with an extended warranty. Generally, we recommend buying a model with better-than-average reliability and skipping this expensive add on. If you do buy an extended warranty, it is key to read the small print to understand what is covered and where you can bring the car for repairs.

Basic (years/miles)
3/36000

Powertrain (years/miles)
5/60000

Rust through (years/miles)
5/unlimited

Roadside aid (years/miles)
5/60000