Building a truck for work and daily life

Pickup trucks are about as American as apple pie and baseball. A bit cliché? Sure, but it’s true. Nowhere else in the world are so many trucks sold. And at the top of the sales heap is the Ford F-Series, which includes the F-150 and Super Duty. Americans tend to buy trucks for both family and work duties, allowing them the flexibility to take the kids to school while hauling a 12,000-pound trailer.

With that in mind, we decided to build a truck that would perform well in this scenario, both in hauling people and cargo. Going onto Ford’s Build & Price online configurator, we selected a 2017 Ford F-350 Crew Cab in Lariat trim with the six-foot bed powered by the 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8 turbodiesel in 4WD with the 3.55 rear gearing fitted with the electronic locker. We then added a slew of options to make the truck a competent as possible for both situations, paying little attention to the price tag.

The Super Duty is all new for 2017, with Ford just finishing up a full redesign. The new truck includes all the updates and advancements found in the F-150, which underwent a full rethink for the 2015 model year. The Super Duty now has an aluminum body from bumper to bumper and shares is cab with the F-150.

This is a big departure from traditional Super Duty thinking. In fact, since the Super Duty was launched for the 1998 model year, it has always used its own unique cab, interior, and design language to separate itself from the lesser-capable F-150. Now Ford is bringing the two trucks together, both to help unify the F-Series and to cut development and construction costs.

All that aside, let’s jump into what our 2017 Ford F-350 Super Duty would look like.

Continue reading for the full run-down.


How We'd Spec It: 2017 Ford Super Duty
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Being a F-350 with the Crew Cab and six-foot bed, the Super Duty has the typical look for modern trucks. The large cab outsizes the bed, but leaves the wheelbase at a shorter length for easier maneuverability. Ford does offer the eight-foot bed with the Crew Cab, but navigating around city streets with such a truck becomes an exercise in threading needles.

Tthe Super Duty has the typical look for modern trucks. The large cab outsizes the bed, but leaves the wheelbase at a shorter length for easier maneuverability.

Opting for the Lariat trim package makes several features standard not found on the XL or XLT trims. The front grille comes with larger, horizontal chrome bars shared with the upper trim levels. Fog lights and tow hooks in the chrome front bumper are standard, as do 18-inch bright machined cast aluminum wheel with dark-painted pockets. The door handles move from black plastic to painted, matching the body color. The side mirrors are upgraded to the PowerScope trailer tow mirrors with power-adjustable and heated glass.

Continuing the custom build, we’d spec the Blue Jeans paint option. There’s just something about a truck in dark blue that just feels right. The FX4 Package is also checked, mainly because it brings the Rancho shock absorbers, underbody skid plates, and beefier all-terrain tires. Also included is Hill Descent Control. For heavy hauling, we’d opt for the Fifth Wheel/Gooseneck Hitch Prep Package, which includes the fame-mounted cross member, safety chain hoops, and seven-pin wiring connector.

Making life easier in the cargo box, we’d opt for the tailgate step, the spray-in bedliner, and the LED lighting package. Oh, and a heavy-duty pickup isn’t complete without the amber roof market lights.


How We'd Spec It: 2017 Ford Super Duty
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Selecting the Lariat trim package makes leather seating surfaces standard, as well as the wood trim work and front bucket seats with the center console. When it comes to color, we picked the Camel color leather seating over black leather to brighten up the interior. Already the F-350 is well suited for hauling the family around in comfort, but there are handy options still to be added.

The Lariat Ultimate Package bundles a ton of comfort and convince features together.

The Lariat Ultimate Package bundles a ton of comfort and convince features together. Included is the twin-panel moonroof, easy entry/exit with memory function for the drivers seat, power-adjustable pedals, heated and cooled functions for the front seats, the remote start system, push-button starting, power-telescoping and tilting steering column with heated steering wheel, remote tailgate release, and voice activated navigation with HD and SiriusXM Satellite Radio. It also bundles the LED box lighting and tailgate step from the exterior section we would have chosen anyway.

Since we’d be towing regularly, we’d opt for the Adaptive Steering System. It adjusts the steering ratio in accordance with vehicle speed, meaning slower speeds require less effort to turn the wheel than higher speeds. For safety’s sake, we’d get the Blind Spot Information System with Cross-traffic Alert and Trailer Tow. This keeps the driver aware of what’s in the blind spots, including the blind spots of the trailer. Cross-traffic alert has saved our bacon several times in maneuvering out of a crowded parking spot, so we’re glad to see it offered here.

Continuing on the safety kick, we’d opt for the Adaptive Cruise Control with Collision Warning and Brake Support. Not only does the adaptive cruise make long highway stents easier, but the Collision Warning system alerts the driver should he not see a potential obstacle in the forward path of the truck. At $740, it might be pricy, but it’s less expensive than most insurance deductibles.

Smaller add-ons that help with daily living include the all-weather floor mats, universal Garage Door opener, and overhead-console mounted Upfitter Switches. The upfitter switches would be invaluable if we decided to install aftermarket equipment like an LED light bar or a recovery winch.


2017 Ford Super Duty High Resolution Drivetrain
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While Ford does offer the venerable 6.2-liter gasoline V-8, which makes 385 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque, we would choose the 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8 turbodiesel. Ford revamped the engine for 2017 for more torque, so it now makes 440 horsepower at 2,800 rpm and a class-leading 925 pound-feet of torque at 1,800 rpm.

Ford revamped the engine for 2017 for more torque, so it now makes 440 horsepower at 2,800 rpm and a class-leading 925 pound-feet of torque at 1,800 rpm.

The engine block is build from compacted graphite iron, making it incredibly strong yet lighter than traditional iron blocks. Aluminum cylinder heads further reduce weight yet are strong enough to handle the 16.2:1 compression ratio. The engine features a cam-in-block design with pushrods operating overhead valves, helping keep the engine’s overall footprint down. Furthering that cause is Ford’s “hot-V” layout with the turbocharger. Rather than positioning the turbo near the exhaust headers, which takes up more space, the turbo is placed within the V of the engine block. This also helps reduce turbo lag. Reverse-flow cylinder heads pump exhaust gasses into the V where the turbo can spool more quickly for a faster response.

Mated to the Power Stroke is Ford’s TorqShift six-speed SelectShift Automatic transmission. This six-speed gearbox features a low first gear, helping get the truck moving, with a tall sixth gear for low-rpm highway driving. And thanks to an aluminum casing, weight is also kept to a minimum.

We also opted for Ford’s part-time 4WD system. The electronically controlled, two-speed transfer case normally sends power to the rear wheels when traction isn’t an issue. When the driver selects 4WD high or low ranges, the transfer case sends power to both the rear and front axles, giving the truck improved traction. Also optional on the Super Duty is an electronically operated locking rear differential. When engaged, the differential keeps both rear tires turning at the same speed, giving it far greater traction than a standard open differential or even a limited slip differential. As for gearing in the rear end, we’d opt for the 3.55:1 ratio, giving a good split between the 3.31 highway gears and the 4.30 low-speed, high torque gears.

Trailer Towing Tech

2017 Ford Super Duty High Resolution Exterior
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Ford has equipped the 2017 Super Duty with tons of electronic and mechanical tech that makes trailer towing much simpler and a lot safer. For starters, the 2.5-inch, frame-mounted receiver hitch comes standard, allowing for tag-along trailer towing like most people are accustomed to. Ford also now offers an optional fifth-wheel/gooseneck hitch package, which includes the fame-mounted cross member, safety chain loops, and wiring connector for bed-mounted towing.

Ford has equipped the 2017 Super Duty with tons of electronic and mechanical tech that makes trailer towing much simpler and a lot safer.

Helping make hooking a gooseneck trailer a one-man task, the rear-view camera in the center high-mount stop light is a must. It can be had as a stand-alone option, or can be bundled with the Tow Technology Package. The package groups together the adaptive steering, automatic high beams, rain-sensing windshield wipers, lane departure warning, and Ultimate Trailer Tow Camera System.

Speaking of the Ultimate Trailer Tow Camera System, it’s Ford’s new high-tech 360-degree camera system that makes driving and towing with the big Super Duty much easier. It includes a rear-view camera, the CHMSL-mounted camera, trailer reverse guidance, side-view cameras aimed at the rear wheels, and bird’s-eye viewing of the truck.

Also standard with the Lariat trim is the Trailer Brake Controller. This built-in system operates electronic trailer brakes using the truck’s computer system. Not only does it allow for minute control of the brake gain, it also give the trailer brakes ABS functions, keeping them from locking up during an emergency stop.

The Power Stroke V-8 also helps pull things to a stop with its integrated exhaust brake. Activated by a button on the dash, the system limits the turbo’s exhaust flow to create back pressure within the cylinders. This slows the engine’s rpm and ultimately the truck’s forward momentum. This type of system is used on almost every semi-truck on the market to help control down-hill speeds without burning up the brakes.


2017 Ford Super Duty High Resolution Exterior
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While the base price for a F-250 XL runs at $32,535, our truck’s MSRP is a bit more expensive. With the F-350 Crew Cab in Lariat trim with the six-foot bed, 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8 turbodiesel, 4WD, and 3.55 rear gearing fitted with the electronic locker, the price comes to $60,905 before options.

We then added these options: FX5 Off-Road Package ($295); Lariat Ultimate Package ($4,280); Tow Technology Package ($1,555); Fifth-wheel/Gooseneck Hitch Prep Package ($370); Blind Spot Information System ($540); Roof-mounted clearance lights ($80); Tough Bed Spray-in bedliner ($495); Adaptive Cruise Control with Collision Warning/Brake Support ($740); all-weather floor mats ($135); universal garage door opener ($125); and upfitter switches ($165). That totals roughly $9,000 worth of options on top of the $60,000 “base” price.

Add on the $1,195 destination change, and the final price comes to $71,045. Ford estimates the monthly payment at $994 with a $7,105 down payment on an 84-month term with a 7.9-percent APR.

Make no mistake, that is expensive, but this build is more about finding the Super Duty that can do work and play equally well. This truck features interior content and amenities that makes a five-year-old Mercedes seem ho-hum. For those wanting a less-expensive truck, it’s just a few deleted options away. You’d still have a very capable truck that still hauls five people in good comfort.


Ram 3500

2015 Ram Heavy Duty High Resolution
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The Ram 3500 offers strong competition to the Ford F-350. To compete directly with the Ford truck we specced, we’d opt for the Laramie trim package with 4WD and single rear wheel package. It carries a starting price of $51,000 in the Crew Cab, short box configuration. Of course, we’d get the mighty 6.7-liter Cummins inline-six turbodiesel and optional Aisin six-speed automatic transmission. Doing so does up the cost quite a bit, to the tune of $11,590. Rear end gearing comes standard at 3.42:1, which we’d leave alone.

To help quell that heavy-duty ride, we’d opt for the $1,595 Auto-leveling rear air suspension. For anther $520, we’d get the leather-trimmed bucket front seats with center console. The Protection group adds a transfer case skid plate for $50, and the Convenience Group brings Auto High Beam headlights and Rain-sensitive windshield wipers. Six-spoke, 18-inch aluminum wheels come standard. Clearance lamps for $80, LED bed lighting for $100, rear window defogger for $195, a spray-in bedliner for $495, and the CHMSL-mounted camera for $325 are worthy expenditures. Making the most out of towing, we’d add the Fifth-wheel/Gooseneck Towing Prep Package for $400.

Inside, we’d opt for the Uconnect 8.4 system with navigation for $600, along with the Power Adjustable pedals with memory setting for $150 and Keyless Enter ‘n Go for another $150. All-weather floor mats for $105 and auxiliary switches for $145 brings the interior specs as close as we can get them.

Add in the $1,195 destination charge, and the final price is $68,565.

Read our full review on the Ram 3500 here.

Chevrolet Silverado 3500

2016 Chevrolet Silverado HD High Resolution Exterior
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Chevrolet is admittedly behind the curve when it comes to its heavy-duty trucks. Updates are expected for the 2017 model year, but Chevy has not made any official announcements. Regardless of that, the 2016 Silverado 3500 in Crew Cab, short bed form with 4WD and the LTZ Single Rear Wheel trim selected carries at before-options price of $53,165. Add to that $8,410 for the 6.6-liter Duramax V-8 turbodiesel, and the price jumps to $61,575.

Inside, we’d fit the Silverado with Chevy’s $450 Driver Alert Package, which consists of Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Alert, Safety Seat Alert, and Front and Rear Park Assist. Selecting this package also necessitates adding front bucket seats with the full center console. This bumps the price up by $2,005. We’d also opt for the Z71 Off-Road Suspension Package for $480, the standard 3.73 rear axle ratio, and cargo box LED lighting for $125. The Gooseneck/Fifth-wheel Prep Package costs $370, but requires the spray-on bedlner, making the total change in price $865. Chevy make the eight-inch MyLink system with navigation standard equipment at this level, so that leaves all-weather floor mats to select for $160.

Chevy’s destination price is a familiar $1,195, bringing the truck’s cost to $66,320.

Read our full review on the Chevrolet Silverado 3500 here.


How We'd Spec It: 2017 Ford Super Duty
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While the heavy-duty pickup segment has its three main players, Ford currently has the newest and most technologically advanced truck. Ram isn’t far behind thanks to its powerful Cummins/Aisin powertrain combination and long list of available features, but Ford still offers more options. Likewise, Chevy’s Silverado 3500 is a competent truck, but is about a decade old now. GM is bringing updates for the 2017 model year, but since we don’t know what they entail beside a new hood scoop, it’s impossible to judge the new truck.

Regardless of the competition, Ford’s new Super Duty offers a surprising blend of creature comforts and brawny muscle for heavy lifting. It’s hard to believe trucks can cost more than $70,000 these days, but with the advancement in diesel design, towing and camera technology, and outright luxury, it becomes easier to understand how automakers can charge so much.

Anyway, let us know what you think about our build configuration in the comments below. Also, tell us how you’d spec your dream truck.

Mark McNabb
Mark McNabb was a contributor at TopSpeed from 2013 to 2018. Growing up, Mark always had a mind for tinkering on random items throughout his home and dad’s garage, including a 1953 Ford Mainline and 1971 Corvette Stingray.  Read More
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