Full 2013 Ford F-450 Super Duty Review
What's New for 2013
For 2013 the Ford F-450 Super Duty gets stronger brakes, adopts MyFord touch and adds the ultra-plush Platinum trim level to the lineup.
Up until fairly recently, truck buyers who had rather extreme towing and/or hauling requirements had nothing above the F-350 or its "3500" series rivals to consider. The only option was to make the leap to commercial-grade chassis cab rigs, which would then have to be turned over to an aftermarket outfitter who would supply a custom cargo bed and a reupholstered interior chock full of other amenities favored by RV enthusiasts, racecar haulers or ranchers pulling a 10-stall horse trailer.
Ford saw this niche need and met it with the F-450 Super Duty pickup. Just like other F-Series models, the 2013 Ford F-450 Super Duty is available in a wide range of trim levels, including the cowboy-chic King Ranch edition. The downside is that only one configuration is offered: crew cab with a long bed, diesel engine and four-wheel drive.
With its imposing big-rig styling and hefty dimensions, the F-450 can tow up to 24,700 pounds with a fifth-wheel hitch. The muscle is supplied by a 6.7-liter turbodiesel V8. It's mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that draws favorable comparisons to GM's venerable Allison automatic for its tow/haul shift mode on mountain roads, which is especially helpful for controlling downhill speeds.
Judging solely by the numbers, the 2013 Ford F-450 Super Duty is in a class by itself, as it's the only 4500 model available in full cargo-bed dress for the consumer market. However, competitive 3500 models (including the Ford F-350) aren't that far behind in terms of towing capacity. Nor do they apply as big of a hit in the pocketbook as the F-450 does. But if you want the most capable towing rig possible, the F-450's your truck.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Ford F-450 Super Duty is offered in just one configuration: a crew cab mated to an 8-foot cargo bed, with four-wheel drive and dual rear wheels (DRW or dually). Customers, however, get a choice among the five trim levels also found on the F-250 and F-350 models: XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum.
Standard on the base XL are 17-inch alloy wheels, a black grille and bumpers, running boards, roof clearance lights, manual-telescoping trailer-tow mirrors, air-conditioning, vinyl upholstery and floor coverings, a 40/20/40-split front bench, a 60/40 split-folding rear bench seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a two-speaker AM/FM radio.
Stepping up to the XLT adds a chrome grille and bumpers, heated outside mirrors, cruise control, full power accessories, the Ford Sync voice activation system, keyless entry, an integrated trailer-brake controller, carpeted floor, cloth upholstery, lockable second-row underseat storage with a power point, and a four-speaker sound system with CD player and auxiliary audio jack.
The Lariat trim level features foglights, power telescoping mirrors, rear parking sensors, a power rear sliding window with defrost, a rearview camera, chrome tubular step bars, dual-zone automatic climate control and leather interior upholstery. Additional standard equipment on the Lariat includes a 4.2-inch LCD multifunction screen, MyFord Touch, wood-grain trim, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, power-adjustable pedals and an eight-speaker audio system with satellite radio. The front seat also features a center console and 10-way power seats for the driver and passenger.
The King Ranch piles on power-folding and telescoping tow mirrors, two-tone paint, a body-colored grille with chrome insert, lighted running boards, unique exterior and interior badging, remote start, upgraded Chaparral leather upholstery, a navigation system, heated and ventilated seats and driver seat memory.
The top-of-the-line Platinum includes all the Lariat features and adds more chrome exterior trim, 20-inch polished alloy wheels, unique wood-tone interior trim, upgraded leather upholstery, 10-way power front seats, heated and ventilated seats, a heated steering wheel, driver seat memory and power-adjustable pedals.
Some of the upper trims' features are available on the lower trims as options. Other add-ons (depending on trim level) include a stowable bed extender, a transmission power take-off (for powering accessories like snow plows), fifth-wheel mounting points (compatible with Reese hitch units), a drop-in or spray-in bedliner, a sunroof and integrated accessory switches.
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. Other work-related options include snow plow and camper prep packages and the FX4 Off-Road package that provides skid plates and Rancho-brand shock absorbers.
Powertrains and Performance
A turbocharged 6.7-liter diesel V8 is the only engine available in the F-450 pickup. It packs a healthy 400 horsepower, with 800 pound-feet of peak torque. The F-450 also features engine exhaust braking to help maintain control on downhill grades while towing.
A six-speed automatic and four-wheel drive are standard. Properly equipped, the F-450 Super Duty can tow up to 17,500 pounds with a conventional trailer setup. When configured for fifth-wheel towing, this figure increases to a class-leading 24,700 pounds. Maximum payload capacity is also impressive, rating a stout 5,880 pounds.
The 2013 Ford F-450 Super Duty comes standard with antilock brakes, trailer sway control, hill start assist, front seat-mounted side airbags, side curtain airbags and an SOS post-crash alert system. Stability control isn't available.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2013 Ford F-450 Super Duty has an industrial-themed interior and it looks a little dated compared to heavy-duty trucks from GM and Ram, especially in the lower trim levels where hard plastics prevail. Opting for the upper trims will provide a more upscale experience, however, with rich leather and added amenities.
Storage and utility options for the Ford F-450 include lockable bins under the front and rear seats. The rear bin can accommodate long items like a hunting rifle and provides a 12-volt power point to charge computers or cell phones. The available front seat console can be configured to accommodate a laptop, hanging files and other mobile-office supplies. It also includes a 110-volt household-style outlet.
A large multifunction display in the instrument cluster that's standard on Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum models allows the driver to customize settings and relays trip computer, fuel economy, towing and off-road information. Platinum models feature a storage area atop the dash that includes two USB ports, audio-video connections, an SD card slot and an additional 12-volt charging port. Another perk of the Platinum trim is MyFord Touch, which includes an 8-inch touchscreen that controls phone, climate control, entertainment and navigation features and also includes an expanded voice control vocabulary. This version of MyFord Touch also includes large physical buttons for the climate and audio controls that allow operation by those wearing work gloves.
There is no direct competition for the 2013 Ford F-450, but the overall line of Ford Super Duty trucks is noted for a pleasant ride quality and relatively restrained noise from the engine, road and wind. The Ford F-450 is nearly 22 feet long and 9 feet wide at the mirrors, so it can be awkward in tight traffic and crowded parking lots. The front track on the F-450 is 6 inches wider than its F-250 and F-350 brethren, so turning around also requires more room. Another downside is the steering, which feels numb and instills less confidence (especially when towing) than other heavy-duty trucks.
Of course, towing is a big part of the Super Duty's capabilities, and the 6.7-liter turbodiesel V8 is up to the task. Even when lugging a 10,000-pound trailer up a steep grade, the diesel climbs with ease and the six-speed transmission is never caught hunting between gears. Drivers may also selectively lock out higher gears to ensure optimal towing prowess, going uphill or down, and descents are also more secure due to the diesel's exhaust brake.