What Is It?
When adventurous Americans have big-time hauling and towing needs, whether for work or play, there are limited options on the automotive menu — a menu comprised primarily of heavy duty-pickup trucks. These workhorses offer impressive capability via powerful engines, strong chassis and, in many cases, luxurious interiors. An excellent example of this trucking trifecta is the 2021 Ford F-350 Super Duty Limited — a fully decked-out crew-cab pickup with enough power to pull as much as 35,200 pounds when properly equipped while simultaneously cosseting its occupants in utmost creature comforts.
Ford provided us with a 2021 Ford F-350 Super Duty Crew Cab Limited 4WD painted in Stone Gray. The Limited occupies a rightful rung at the top of the Super Duty trim ladder, and the tester arrived with a standard diesel powertrain so the truck had only one option — a spray-in bedliner. Total MSRP for this truck is — hold onto your hat — $87,655. Competitors to the F-350 Super Duty include the Ram 3500, Chevrolet Silverado 3500 and GMC Sierra 3500.
Last year Ford updated the look of the Super Duty line with new, more powerful LED headlights as well as an updated grille. Adept engineers improved the front bumper and air dam to offer better engine cooling, as well as making it easier to access the tow hooks. And in case there could be any danger of not recognizing this heavy-duty F-Series for the behemoth it is, designers made sure a large Ford logo in the center of the imposing grille and SUPER DUTY emblazoned across the front of the hood herald the truck’s arrival.
Last year the Super Duty also received a freshened tailgate with updated taillights as well as a new rear bumper. The tailgate incorporates an electronic latch that can be released via the key fob, and it also features Ford’s innovative integrated tailgate step — still one of the most innovative pickup truck devices we’ve experienced. Two big exhaust pipes can be found behind the right-rear tire.
As mentioned previously, the Limited is the top trim of the F-Series Super Duty, carrying features more commonly found in luxury sedans. Multicontour front seats get trimmed in two-tone leather with contrasting stitching as well as heating, cooling and massage functions. The cabin offers an elegant vibe via smoked brushed aluminum and Alpi Recon wood door trim, as well as a Miko suede headliner and ambient lighting.
At the center of the F-350 Super Duty’s dash sits an 8-inch touchscreen display running SYNC3, Ford’s innovative infotainment system. This display is easy to navigate and integrates well with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. A wireless phone charger can be found in the center console, as well as multiple USB ports. A 110-volt outlet is also located in the dash along with a high-end B&O audio system with 10 speakers; a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot for up to 10 devices adds to the entertainment experience.
The 2021 Ford F-350 Super Duty is big in every way, and that includes the rear seat. Plenty of legroom and headroom make this location comfortable for up to three adults. The rear seats are also heated, and the space has an additional 110-volt outlet as well as USB-A and USB-C ports. A panoramic sunroof contributes much to the roomy ambience within the entire cabin.
Rear seats can be folded in a 60/40 split to make maximum use of the flat floor for cargo that needs to stay out of the elements, and if needed a compartment can be unfolded to provide hidden, secure storage under the seats.
It’s a big step up to climb into the F-350 Super Duty – luckily our Limited test vehicle was equipped with automatic running boards for easy access to the cabin.
Under the Hood
Powering the F-350 Super Duty tester we drove is a 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel V8 that produces 475 horsepower and a class-leading 1050 lb-ft of torque at a mere 1600 rpm, teamed with a smooth-shifting heavy-duty 10-speed TorqShift automatic transmission. Capability also is impressive — as configured, this F-350 Super Duty can haul 3,940 pounds of cargo or tow up to 20,000 pounds with a conventional trailer hookup (22,400 pounds with a fifth wheel).
Fuel Efficient — Relatively
During our time with the F-350 Super Duty we traveled more than 400 miles, the majority of those with a lightweight Lance travel trailer in tow. Although the U.S. EPA does not provide fuel-economy ratings for trucks of the F-350’s heft, we averaged almost 15 mpg in real-world conditions. Considering the overall size of this truck and trailer combo, the number could be considered relatively efficient.
Not only is the 2021 Ford F-350 Super Duty incredibly capable while towing, it also has a clever range of high-tech trailering features. Thanks to multiple camera views, lining up the pickup to connect a trailer is a breeze with no need for a human guide. Once a trailer gets hooked up and plugged into the wiring harness, the F-350 can be configured for that specific trailer. Drivers can choose the correct amount of trailer braking as well as extending the length of the blind-spot warning to include the length of the trailer. The system will even safety-check all lights prior to departure.
On the Road
For such a big vehicle, the 2021 Ford F-350 Super Duty is surprisingly easy to drive. With more than 1000 lb-ft of torque available, acceleration is quite strong as necessary, although the truck’s overall ride remains surprisingly quiet. Large mirrors provide fantastic visibility, and the blind-spot warning is especially handy when piloting a rig this big. On rough roads the truck’s ride can get a bit jouncy, although with an unladen truck bed that behavior can be expected.
In the Sand
Select beaches on the Washington Coast are open to vehicle traffic, so we took the Ford F-350 Super Duty onto the sand for a quick tour. With so much torque on tap, the truck’s wheels began spinning even with precious little throttle input — a quick shift to four-wheel drive took care of the problem. Although we wouldn’t call it jarring, a jaunt across firm sand in the F-350 is not as smooth as one might hope.
BIG Turning Radius
As comfortable and easy to drive on the road as the F-350 can be, maneuvering in tights spots can be equally difficult. This big rig’s turning radius is so large that some planning is necessary before trying to turn around. Luckily plenty of camera views offer considerable help, allowing use of all available space around the rig.
During our testing we used this big F-350 Super Duty to pull a lightweight Lance 1475s — granted, the truck was definitely overqualified for the task. The fully loaded trailer weighs in at around 3,700 pounds — considerably under the truck’s 20,000-pound maximum capacity. As expected, towing the Lance was a breeze thanks to plenty of power on tap and strong acceleration even when climbing steep grades. On freeways it was tough remembering we had a trailer behind us, and the hardest part was keeping speeds below 65 mph — the manufacturer’s recommended maximum velocity for towing the Lance.
Great for the Long Haul
Since we had the truck for a few days of testing, we used the F-350 Super Duty to tow the Lance trailer west from the Seattle area to the Washington Coast. The big truck and trailer combo felt incredibly comfortable and stable on the winding roads leading to Copalis Beach, and the rig easily keeps up with posted speed limits, eliminating that all-too-common sight of a long line of cars trailing behind a slow-moving RV. Not only is the F-350 Super Duty more than capable on road, the ride is also immensely comfortable and confidence-inspiring as well. The pickup’s plush seats are great for long drives, offering multiple adjustments and effective seat massagers.
A heavy-duty truck is not for everyone — and thanks to massive dimensions it’s not ideal as a daily driver. That said, if towing and hauling are regularly on your weekend task list and you need a vehicle with outstanding capabilities, the 2021 Ford F-350 Super Duty with its impressive specs will certainly measure up to whatever challenges might be sent its way. And although it may be expensive, the Limited lets families take advantage of the big truck’s strengths while riding in the lap of luxury — both beauty and beast combined into one impressive package.