Full 2012 Ford F-250 Super Duty Review
What's New for 2012
The entire Ford Super Duty line was redesigned last year, so little is different for the 2012 F-250. Some models receive a 100-200-pound boost in towing capacity. (Note: Tow ratings on select F-350 and F-450 models were increased by up to 1,500 pounds.) Other notable upgrades or additions include gooseneck/fifth-wheel hitch availability for the 6.75-foot cargo box and new "AppLink" smartphone integration functionality for the Ford Sync system.
Even though the F-250 Super Duty was redesigned in 2011, relentless pressure from its Detroit rivals prompted Ford to improve the diesel's torque and towing capacity, specifications that are critical to most heavy-duty pickup buyers. These upgrades reflect a highly competitive truck market. While brand loyalty drives the majority of pickup sales, the rivalry is so close that for picky cross-shopping buyers, the deciding factor comes down to the details -- a purchasing criteria in which Ford may have a slight edge over its challengers.
In some respects, the 2012 Ford F-250 Super Duty is more versatile and appealing than its bigger brothers, the F-350 and F-450. The towing and payload numbers are lower, of course, but the lighter F-250 is a little more nimble and might return better fuel economy. The lower price point gives customers more flexibility in accessorizing and personalizing their trucks with factory options or aftermarket equipment to suit their needs.
Ford's integration of high-end electronic features is another top selling point for the Super Duty. Besides available navigation, HD radio, satellite radio, the Sync electronics interface and AppLink features, there's the unique LCD productivity display on the instrument panel that provides vital fuel economy, towing and off-road-driving information.
Overall, the F-250 Super Duty represents a total package befitting a widely defined market and customer. The big-rig character is personified by the massive but well-proportioned styling that includes an imposing chrome grille and football-sized Blue Oval badge. The truck's gentler side offers comfortable seating and interior amenities to soothe the soul on long trips. For the hard worker or commercial owner, there's a long list of available packages, options and features that fit their needs and possibly enhance productivity.
Bottom line: We think quite highly of the 2012 Ford F-250 Super Duty and strongly recommend it.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Ford F-250 Super Duty is offered in two- or four-wheel drive with the choice of three cab styles: two-door regular cab, four-door SuperCab and four-door crew cab. The SuperCab has rear-hinged, access-style rear doors, while the crew cab has four full-size conventional-opening doors. SuperCab and crew cab models can be mated to either a standard (6.8-foot) or long (8-foot) cargo bed, but the regular cab model is only available with the long bed.
Buyers have a choice among four trim levels: base XL, midlevel XLT, upscale Lariat and luxury King Ranch. The Lariat is available on SuperCab and crew cab models, while the King Ranch is offered only on the crew cab. The XL is the workhorse of the stable, with standard equipment that includes 17-inch steel wheels, a black grille and bumpers, manual-telescoping trailer tow mirrors, air-conditioning, vinyl floor coverings and upholstery, a 40/20/40-split front bench, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a two-speaker AM/FM radio.
The XLT adds a chrome grille and bumpers, heated outside mirrors, cast-aluminum wheels, cruise control, full power accessories, keyless entry, an integrated trailer brake controller, a carpeted floor, cloth upholstery, lockable storage with a power point under the rear seat and a four-speaker AM/FM sound system with CD player and auxiliary audio jack.
The Lariat trim boasts foglights, power telescoping mirrors, rear parking sensors, 18-inch alloy wheels, a power-sliding rear window, dual-zone automatic climate control and leather upholstery. Also standard is a large trip computer screen, wood grain trim, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, power-adjustable pedals, leather seats, a middle front seat that converts into a center console, eight-way power-adjustable front seats (with power lumbar adjustment), the Ford Sync voice activation system and an eight-speaker audio system with satellite radio.
The range-topping King Ranch piles on power-folding and telescoping tow mirrors, two-tone paint, a body-colored grille with chrome insert, unique exterior and interior badging, remote start, upgraded Chapparal leather upholstery with matching floor mats and door trim, heated and ventilated seats, driver seat memory and a rearview camera.
Some features on the Lariat and King Ranch trims are available on the XL and XLT models. Other add-ons (depending on trim level) include 20-inch wheels, a stowable bed extender, a transmission power take-off (for powering accessories like snow plows), heavy-duty alternators, fifth-wheel/gooseneck mounting points (compatible with Reese hitch units), roof clearance lights, a spray-in bedliner, a sunroof, integrated accessory switches and a navigation system.
The available Ford Work Solutions package is offered on XL and XLT models and adds an in-dash computer that is customizable to suit commercial users and fleets. Also available is the FX4 Off-Road package (4x4 models only) that includes an electronic locking rear differential, all-terrain tires, hill descent control, skid plates and Rancho shock absorbers.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2012 Ford F-250 Super Duty comes standard with a 6.2-liter gasoline V8 that produces 385 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of peak torque. The optional 6.7-liter turbodiesel V8 is rated at 400 hp and 800 lb-ft of peak torque. To meet the latest air emissions standards, the diesel engine uses an after-treatment system that requires replenishment of diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) about every 7,500 miles. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Properly equipped, the F-250 Super Duty can tow up to 14,000 pounds with a conventional trailer setup. When configured for fifth-wheel towing, that figure jumps to 16,700 pounds. Maximum payload capacity tops out at 4,290 pounds when properly equipped.
The 2012 Ford F-250 Super Duty comes standard with four-wheel antilock disc brakes, stability control, trailer sway control, hill start assist and side curtain airbags. An integrated trailer brake controller is standard on XLT and higher models, while the Lariat trim level adds rear parking sensors and power-adjustable pedals. A rearview camera is optional on the XLT and Lariat, and standard on the King Ranch model.
Interior Design and Special Features
Most of the 2012 Ford F-250 Super Duty's industrial-theme interior carries over from the previous generation. Compared to the Dodge Ram, the Ford Super Duty is beginning to look a little long in the tooth. Hard plastics dominate the interior on lower trim levels, but are on par or better than other trucks in this segment. Opting for the Lariat will add a decidedly upscale experience with rich leather and added amenities, and the King Ranch model is arguably the best executed theme truck on the market.
Storage and utility options abound in the Ford F-250. There's a lockable bin under an available front center 40/20/40-split bench seat, which also folds to serve as an armrest. Another lockable bin that can easily accommodate longer items (like a hunting rifle) is located under the rear seats and also features a 12-volt power point to charge computers or cell phones. The available 40/console/40 seat can be configured to accommodate a laptop, hanging files and other office-style items. It also offers a 12-volt power point and 110-volt inverter for portable printers or other electronic accessories. The large multifunction display in the instrument cluster that's standard on Lariat and King Ranch models allows the driver to customize settings and relays trip computer, fuel economy, towing and off-road information.
Compared to the competition, the 2012 Ford F-250 Super Duty line is noticeably quieter, with wind and road noise pleasantly silenced. Even the diesel's customary clatter has been hushed to barely detectable levels. As with any heavy-duty pickup, the ride can be a bit jittery when unloaded, but the F-250 remains well-mannered over rough roads. The chief downside to the Ford's dynamics is the steering, which feels numb and instills less confidence (especially when towing) than its competitors.
Towing is a big part of the Super Duty's capabilities, and the 6.7-liter diesel will likely be the engine of choice. Even when lugging a 10,000-pound trailer up a steep grade, the diesel climbs with ease, and the six-speed automatic never labors, nor does it get caught hunting for the right gear. Drivers may selectively lock out unwanted higher gears to ensure optimal towing prowess, but the tow/haul mode does most of the work very well. Descending is also made simple thanks to the well-managed automatic transmission teaming up with the diesel's exhaust brake. However, we found the throttle a little reluctant to respond to small inputs while towing.