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2011 Ford F-350 4x4 King Ranch - Review

It’s a Cool Truck. But Is It for Everyone?

Larry S. Saavedra
Nov 1, 2011
Photographers: Larry S. Saavedra, Adam Blattenberg
There’s nothing quite as gratifying as a drive in the F-350 King Ranch edition. Simply put, those neighbors who wouldn’t acknowledge you yesterday now gawk, slack jawed, as you strut up and down the block in the ultimate tow rig. Yes, it’s an ego-booster. But starting at $47,000 and peaking around $70,000 with options, who can afford living like a King?

Apparently, enough Americans have deep pockets, because Ford keeps producing the King Ranch year after year, and as we learned the reasons are many.
Photo 2/7   |   Up and over the Colorado Rockies in near white conditions didn’t faze the King Ranch F-350. It loved dirt, snow, mud and everything we could throw at it.
Road Tested

We road tested the 2011 F-350 4x4 King Ranch crew cab with the 6.7L PowerStroke turbo diesel V-8 and really got to understand most of its features. The truth is, though it is expensive on all levels, the single-wheel F-350 King Ranch is the perfect truck for towing. Ford couldn’t have made a better all-around tow rig that proves it is as luxurious as it is stout. But the sticker shock was tough to swallow, no matter the functionality.

Various road tests took us on a 2,200-mile trip across the Colorado Rockies and then on to a 720-towing-mile journey in California with a loaded Carson toyhauler trailer (7,500 pounds). The King Ranch never broke a sweat in all kinds of conditions and climate changes.

The fact is, with the one-time exception of a little trailer sway because of high winds, the King Ranch out-launched, out-braked and out-performed every other tow rig that we’ve tested to date. Looking and feeling good inside also bides well for Ford.
Photo 3/7   |   There are simply some amazing electronics in the F-350 King Ranch that can turn a trusty street truck into an off-road warrior.
If there was a downside, the F-350 King Ranch does like its fuel. We got just under 14 miles per gallon with trailer in tow and 15 to 17 mpg without a trailer. But that’s not terrible for a 6.7L liter diesel four-wheel drive that spits out approximately 400 horsepower and 800 lb-ft of torque. Still, unless you plan to tow frequently, or you own a ranch, this truck might be more than you bargained for as a daily driver.

Features that stand out for towing begin with the Torq-Shift six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission that allows the driver to hold and lockout certain gears on the fly for smoother tows on grades. Essentially a driver can eliminate sixth gear if he chose and turn the transmission into an electronically limited five-speed automatic. If the driver wants to refine it even more, they can lockout every other gear down to first, but that strategy also lessens overall performance. The advantage is that if the vehicle is going downhill in tow/haul mode the driver can simply tap on the brake to drop down to the next lower gear selected. Without it, the transmission would hunt for the proper gearing. This manual gear selector works as long as the engine doesn’t exceed redline.
Photo 4/7   |   While in Colorado, we stopped by the Diesel Power Challenge drag races and planted our foot into it. Needless to say, we didn’t win.
Fifth-Wheel Ready

Another novel idea was the fifth-wheel/gooseneck prep package that is being offered by Ford on the Super Duty. What you get is a prewired and a precut bed, minus the actual hitch, which is being supplied by Reese. According to Ford, maximum fifth-wheel towing capacity is 15,800 pounds, and maximum conventional (at bumper) towing is 14,000. Tongue load maximum is 600 pounds. If you are towing a fifth-wheel or gooseneck trailer, the tailgate height on the F-350 we tested was 59 to 60 inches.

The Super Duty F-350 we tested received the standard trailer sway controller with roll stability control. What it does is measure the trailer sway input based on the rear yaw motion of the vehicle. If things look abnormal in that regard, the truck’s sophisticated electronics applies the truck and trailer’s brakes through the on-board brake controller and then reduces engine throttle to prevent loss of control.
The Little Things

Sometimes it is the small things that make or break a new vehicle, and the King Ranch we tested is loaded with nuances that actually work as promised. We start with the cable lock system out back that offers a convenient way to secure work equipment or even motorcycles. Obviously, the telescoping mirrors that also retract make towing and parking easier, but other notables include; storable bed extender, tailgate step, spray-in bed liner, signal mirrors, as well as, Bluetooth and Data Link, Smart Phone SYNC, iPod and USB capability, and a 110-volt rear power outlet.

There’s nothing else we can say about the F-350 King Ranch that hasn’t been said before. It is one of the best tow rigs available. Still, a lower sticker price might make it more attractive for the rest of us working stiffs.



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