With all the sumptuous trim levels available on pickups today, it's easy to get spoiled by the King Ranch, Laramie Longhorn, and now High Country trucks. And although the manufacturers love the trend of ever-more-upscale trims, and buyers' seemingly insatiable appetites for fully decked out pickups, the mid-trim models are still the true workhorses of the truck world and represent a significant slice of sales, especially in the functionally oriented heavy-duty segment. The 2013 Ford F-250 XLT FX4 we recently got in for testing isn't exactly bare-bones, but it's no King Ranch. Its strategically built options list shows this truck was built for a life of labor.

A few concessions to comfort and convenience were made, with a six-way power-adjustable driver's seat, power-adjustable pedals, a power-sliding rear window, and a rearview camera. But conspicuously missing from our tester were side steps, making entry and exit from the high-riding 4x4 a less-than-delicate affair, and no Truck Apps configurable LCD screen in the gauge cluster. But we did get the rear-seat 115-volt AC outlet, and there were three 12-volt outlets in the front seat area, and one more for the rear seat.

From the lofty driver’s seat, of the Super Duty's ride was fairly compliant in context of its heavy-duty configuration. Plush or forgiving are not exactly the accurate words here. Speed bumps, expansion joints, and uneven pavement are clearly felt, but not nearly in the jarring, punishing manner of Super Duty models of years past.

We've had mixed experiences lately with the different variations of Ford's Sync multimedia interface, and the rudimentary system in our tester was not among our more favorable encounters. We were able to pair an iPhone5 for Bluetooth hands-free calling, but could not get the phonebook to upload even after repeated attempts and consulting the owner's manual. Unfortunately, in the non-touchscreen standard one-line radio display, functions require a tedious scroll through menus and sub-menus, some logical and intuitive and some not. While MyFord Touch has received its fair share of criticism by some users, the larger display real estate and touchscreen interface is a much easier way to access and use Sync's functions, in our experience.

Our tester was equipped with the 6.2-liter SOHC gas V-8, rated at 385 hp and 405 lb-ft in the Super Duty. Curiously, although our test truck was not fitted with the CNG bi-fuel package, the gaseous bi-fuel upfit package was included on the sticker of our tester for $315. Considering the our tester weighed in at a substantial 7110 pounds, acceleration was more than adequate from the engine, with the 0-60 sprint taking just 8.2 seconds and the quarter mile dispatched in 16.4. Those numbers may seem a tad pokey by contemporary half-ton standards, but at no time did the F-250 feel painfully slow.

As equipped, our F-250 would make sense for job site locations off the paved road, where its four-wheel drive, low range, and lack of bolt-on gingerbread such as tube steps or running boards would prove handy. Its dearth of gadgetry or plush accommodations would also probably be of little import to the foreman or site manager who would be using it. But if it’s used as a daily driver, we'd suggest getting the tube steps or having some accessory power steps installed. Unless you're an NBA rebounder, getting into and out of a 4x4 Super Duty is a big jump up or down. At a minimum, we'd suggest the informative and easy-to-understand 4.2-inch LCD productivity screen that comes as part of the XLT Premium Package. Unfortunately, Ford forces you up to the Lariat trim in order to get optional Navigation, something we feel should be offered as a stand-alone option on the XLT.

And while the 6.2-liter gas V-8 is fine for most jobs, we feel the added fuel economy, and nearly double the torque offered with the 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel, justifies its stiff $8095 price, especially if you plan on keeping the truck well into six-figure odometer territory.

Getting a major refresh just two years ago for the 2011 model, by traditional truck standards, the 2013 model should still seem relatively fresh, but with the upgrades coming at a rapid-fire pace in the full-size segment, it's starting to show its age a little, especially up against the 2013 Ram HD models. Following the debut of the 2014 half-ton models, the updated versions of the GM HDs are expected for 2015, and the Super Duty may get a significant update around the same time.

Other than some frustration with the clunky non-touch Sync system, we couldn't find any glaring faults with the Super Duty. But despite being an early pioneer in mobile integration, we think Ford may be riding on its reputation in that area, with several competitors doing a better job, most notably Chrysler with its intuitive, snappy UConnect system. With a few minor fixes to the user experience, we see no reason why the Super Duty won't maintain its prominence in the heavy-duty pickup niche for years to come.


2013 Ford F250 Super Duty XLT FX4
BASE PRICE $41,615
PRICE AS TESTED $47,390
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door truck
ENGINE 6.2L/385-hp/405-lb-ft SOHC 16-valve V-8
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 7110 lb (57/43%)
WHEELBASE 156.2 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 46.8 x 79.9 x 79.7 in
0-60 MPH 8.2 sec
QUARTER MILE 16.4 sec @ 86.3 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 130 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.73 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 29.8 sec @ 0.57 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON N/A