2021 Ford F-250
2021 Ford F-250
In much of the country, heavy-duty trucks are king in more ways than one. Their capability is rivaled only by their swagger and loyal buyers often live and die by the badge on the grille. Ford knows this all too well, and their 2021 Super Duty lineup reflects the machismo looks and brute strength that buyers demand from these trucks. Workhorse or status symbol, the Super Duty is it.
After a rather thorough refreshing for 2020, the 2021 trucks see few changes outside a revised color palette. The Super Duty remains available in a variety of cab choices and bed lengths, and on F-350 models buyers also have the choice of single or dual rear wheels.
The humblest powertrain in the Super Duty lineup is a 6.2-liter gasoline V-8 that makes 385 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque. Like all the engines on offer, it bolts up to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard, though all trims offer four-wheel drive.
First introduced last year, a 7.3-liter gasoline V-8 is the more affordable of the two available powertrains. More than just a massaged 6.2-liter block, this engine is a clean-sheet design that makes 430 hp and 475 lb-ft of torque.
Like any good heavy-duty pickup, the most capable and expensive powertrain choice requires diesel fuel. The 6.7-liter turbodiesel generates four-digit power: 475 hp and a full 1,050 lb-ft of torque. It has the most torque of all the heavy-duty diesel trucks.
In its strongest form, the Super Duty can move literal mountains thanks to its maximum 7,850-pound payload rating, 24,200-pound conventional tow rating, and 37,000-pound fifth-wheel tow rating. Better renew your CDL if you plan on hitting that last figure, as the standard driver’s license only covers up to 26,000 pounds worth of truck and trailer.
The government doesn’t test heavy-duty trucks for fuel economy or crashworthiness, so the EPA, NHTSA, and IIHS don’t issue reports concerning this segment. That’s one potential reason this class of truck has lagged behind light-duty vehicles when it comes to standard active-safety equipment. Base Super Duty models don’t receive any such features, but all other trims get automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitors.
All prices are representative of the cheapest bed and cab combination available with that trim. All quoted pricing reflects all applicable destination charges.
The base F-250 Super Duty is the $35,925 XL. It gets few amenities, making do with manual windows and locks, a vinyl bench seat, and four-speaker audio controlled via a 4.2-inch display screen. A thoughtful touch is standard wi-fi hotspot capability, which is ideal for the jobsite.
Moving into the $40,540 XLT brings the Super Duty into 2020 with features such as an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, cloth upholstery, power windows and locks, and the aforementioned active-safety features.
The Lariat costs $47,930 and takes the Super Duty from work truck to luxe truck. Its features include leather upholstery, power-adjustable seats, an 8.0-inch digital display in the instrument cluster, dual-zone climate control, and a Bang & Olufsen audio system.
King Ranch versions start at $61,290 and differentiate themselves by way of their southwestern motif. They get a fully upholstered interior with an improved grade of leather, heated and cooled front seats, and a trailer tow camera system with trailer backup assist.
Presiding over the lineup is the posh Platinum, which starts at $67,210. Among its luxuries are a panoramic roof, 20-inch wheels, multicontour seats, adaptive cruise control, and power running boards.
Big, bold, and braggadocious—that’s the latest crop of heavy-duty trucks, all of which wear outsized styling to go with their outsized capability. The Super Duty’s slab sides push all eyes to the front end, with its bigger, tougher-looking rendition of the F-150’s face. Getting a Platinum trim glitzes up the Super Duty’s modest facade, and the King Ranch trim uses a tasteful two-tone paint job that upscales the whole truck.
Twenty years ago, a heavy-duty truck was a workhorse and nothing more; shoppers were lucky if they found one equipped with a cloth front bench instead of vinyl. That’s not the case today, as demonstrated by the Super Duty. The XL remains the spartan nod to the past, but most other trims can be decked out in materials fit for a Mercedes. Platinum-trim trucks, which can cost six figures, rival a low-optioned S-Class for features.
Also unlike trucks of the past: occupant comfort. The standard front bench seat is big, soft, and bolstered just enough to provide suitable thigh support on long journeys. The available front buckets are even more comfortable and supportive. And the supreme width of the Super Duty makes three abreast up front a feasible option. Heated, cooled, and even massaging seats are available.
On crew cabs, the 43,6 inches of rear legroom make the back seat feel palatial. Great visibility from the big, tall side windows add an element of airiness to the rear of the cabin. The same can’t be said for the extended cab, which squeezes a compromised bench seat behind the front row. It’s great in a pinch, but its meager 33.6 inches of legroom is hardly kid-friendly, let alone for a trio of adults. For comparison, that’s roughly the same leg room as the third rows of many crossovers.
As for cargo space? Plenty. The regular cab exclusively gets an 8-foot bed, while a 6-foot 4-inch bed is available with the other two cabs.
Ford has banished a rough ride from the Super Duty, even though it retains old-school leaf springs in the back. There’s no avoiding the jitters of an unladen truck on a pockmarked road, but overall the Super Duty cruises with a car-like serenity over all but the worst bumps.
Power is never a question with any of the Super Duty engines. The 6.2-liter gas engine makes plenty of it; the 6.7-liter turbodiesel makes an overabundance of it. Does anyone really need 1,050 lb-ft of torque? Of course not, but there it is. But all this torque is more than just a stat to boast about at the next barbeque; it makes all towing an effortless endeavor. Tugging 20,000 pounds of trailer uphill doesn’t even see the truck break a sweat.
As good as the turbodiesel is, most buyers will be more than happy with one of the two gas engines. The base 6.2-liter V-8 is fast when unladen and still strong when loaded up, while the 7.3-liter will surprise anyone with its speed whether loaded or not. It’ll also tow up to 28,000 pounds, making it an excellent alternative for shoppers who want to pay gas-engine prices for diesel-like capability.
All engines get a 10-speed automatic transmission, which works great around town but often stumbles when towing. It won’t lock out the highest ratio when in tow/haul mode either, which can lead to some frustrating engine bogging at inopportune times.
The Super Duty is also offered with an off-road package known as the Tremor. The package includes skid plates, a winch, 35-inch all-terrain tires, and special long-travel shocks. The truck is too big to wield on technical trails, but on the open road the package will help the big Ford find its footing.
The 2021 Ford Super Duty F-250 is a rolling monument to progress. It can tow nearly twenty tons and yet also mimics a limousine in luxury and roominess. This Ford is capable and comfortable in the extreme, and we would recommend buyers check out the Lariat trim.
—by Anthony Sophinos, with driving impressions from The Car Connection