When there's heavy lifting to be done, you'd be hard-pressed to do better than the redesigned 2017 Ford F-450 Super Duty.
If the other two models in the Super Duty pickup lineup, the F-250 and F-350, aren't burly enough to handle your towing needs, the F-450 stands ready to get the job done.
As ever, the 2017 Ford F-450 differentiates itself from the F-350 through its use of 19.5-inch commercial-grade tires and a beefier wide-stance front axle that helps the F-450 execute tighter turns than its stablemates. But the 2017 F-450 is even more capable than before thanks to substantially beefed-up underpinnings, a more powerful turbodiesel engine and a larger crew cab (the only offering) that can be equipped with a broad array of new convenience and high-tech features.
Underpinning its increased capabilities is a significantly larger fully boxed frame that's now made of 95 percent high-strength steel. One noteworthy practical detail is the hitch receiver is better integrated into the frame, making it possible to tow conventional trailers up to 21,000 pounds without the hassle of using a special weight-distributing hitch.
Ford has also revised the F-450's standard turbocharged 6.7-liter diesel V8 to boost both horsepower and torque numbers. All-aluminum body panels reduce the truck's weight, and larger crew-cab dimensions taken from the F-150 make for a larger, more comfortable interior.
The list of available technology includes several new features, including LED headlights and foglights and adaptive cruise control. Towing-related technologies include an updated blind-spot monitoring system that can cover the length of the trailer, a seven-camera system that gives a 360-degree view of the truck's surroundings, a second rearview camera that greatly simplifies fifth-wheel and gooseneck trailer hookup, an integrated trailer tire-pressure monitoring system, and a backup camera that can be affixed to the tail of the trailer.
Although other heavy-duty models are on the market, the F-450 is the only 4500 series truck that's available as a regular pickup for consumers. General Motors and Ram have 4500 series trucks, too, but those are chassis cab-style trucks for custom commercial use only. It's important to note that the F-450's capability comes at a cost. Compared to the still quite capable F-350, for instance, the F-450 is more expensive and has a less comfortable ride. Still, if you've got a massive trailer to tow, and you want the most capable pickup to pull it, the F-450 is the only game in town.
Standard safety features on the 2017 Ford F-450 include antilock brakes, stability and traction control, trailer sway control and hill start assist. Front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags that cover both rows of seats are also standard. Inflatable rear seat belts are offered as an option on all models. Ford's post-crash alert system is standard, as is the automaker's MyKey feature that allows owners to set restrictions for other drivers.
Rear parking sensors standard on Lariat and higher trim levels, and a rearview camera is standard on XLT models and above. The Ultimate Trailer Tow Camera System adds a total of seven cameras and can be had with an additional camera that's meant to be mounted on the rear of the customer's trailer and viewed on the in-dash display.
Other options include a blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert and coverage for trailers up to 33 feet, adaptive cruise control with forward collision warning and automatic braking, lane departure warning, automatic wipers and automatic high-beam control. Available trailer tire-pressure monitoring reduces the chance of a trailer tire blowout.
trim levels & features
The 2017 Ford F-450 is a heavy-duty pickup offered in five trim levels: XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum. Unlike its Super Duty siblings, the F-450 is only offered with four-wheel drive, dual rear wheels, a crew cab and an 8-foot bed.
Base XL models come standard with 19.5-inch commercial tires mounted on polished alloy wheels, black grille and bumpers, front tow hooks, manual front locking hubs, automatic headlights, LED roof marker lights, intermittent wipers, manually adjustable, telescoping towing mirrors, running boards, a removable locking tailgate with tailgate lift assist, a 3-inch trailer hitch receiver (with 2- and 2.5-inch inserts), air-conditioning, vinyl upholstery, a 40/20/40-split front seat, a 60/40-split rear seat, vinyl floor covering, manual windows and door locks, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a dual glovebox, an overhead console with storage bins, a driver information display and a six-speaker AM/FM audio system.
Step up the the XLT, and you get a chrome grille and bumpers, manually telescoping power-adjustable, heated mirrors, four locking cleats in the bed, keyless entry, cloth upholstery and carpeting, rear under-seat lockable storage, power windows and locks, rear privacy glass, cruise control, a rearview camera, the Sync voice-controlled infotainment system, a 4.2-inch display, a USB charging port, a CD player and satellite radio.
Springing for the midrange Lariat trim level gets you a shift-on-the-fly four-wheel-drive system, foglights, upgraded mirrors (power-folding and telescoping side mirrors, driver-side auto-dimming, integrated LED spotlights), tubular side steps, a power sliding rear window, rear parking sensors, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, 10-way power front seats with a center console, power-adjustable pedals, a rear-seat center armrest, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an 8-inch center touchscreen, the upgraded Sync 3 voice-controlled infotainment system, two 110-volt household-style power outlets, and a premium Sony 10-speaker audio system with two additional USB ports.
The Western-themed King Ranch model adds a body-color grille, accent-color bumpers and lower body trim, automatic high beams, automatic wipers, LED box lighting, unique fender badges, keyless ignition and entry, remote start, upgraded leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, driver memory settings, an easy-entry/exit driver seat, a power tilt-and-telescoping and heated steering wheel, and a navigation system.
Choosing the top-of-the-line Platinum model adds adaptive steering, LED headlights, LED foglights, a remote tailgate release, a built-in tailgate step, LED taillights, a blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert, illuminated door scuff plates, multicontour front seats with massage, and a leather- and wood-trimmed heated steering wheel.
Many of the standard features offered on upper trim levels are available as options on the rest of the lineup. Other noteworthy add-ons include a sunroof, a fifth-wheel/gooseneck hitch prep package, adaptive steering, adaptive cruise control with collision warning and automatic braking, skid plates, an Ultimate Trailer Tow Camera System (with a total of seven cameras), a separate rearview camera that can be mounted on a customer's trailer, trailer tire-pressure monitoring and a spray-in bedliner.
The 2017 Ford F-450 comes standard with a turbocharged 6.7-liter diesel V8 that produces an impressive 440 horsepower and 925 pound-feet of torque. That engine puts the power to the ground via a six-speed automatic transmission. Four-wheel drive is standard, as is a dual-rear-wheel configuration.
Properly equipped, the F-450 is rated to tow conventional trailers up to 21,000 pounds. The limit on fifth-wheel trailers is 27,500 pounds, and gooseneck trailers max out at a class-leading 32,500 pounds. All F-450s have a maximum payload rating of 5,320 pounds, which is superior to the F-350 crew cab but not as high as an F-350 dually with a regular cab, a configuration that's not offered here.
Even a short test drive in the 2017 Ford F-450 will show how much the Super Duty's road manners have improved. The stiffer frame and revised suspension tuning combine to deliver more confidence-inspiring handling and a somewhat smoother unladen ride than that of the previous generation. Still, for many practical reasons this truck isn't at its best when unladen. Clamp on a trailer large trailer and it settles down nicely.
The F-450 has a wide-track monobeam front axle that allows a shorter turn radius. Do a U-turn in an F-450, and it will require 5 fewer feet than when executing a U-turn in a comparable F-350. The available adaptive steering system quickens the steering response during such maneuvers to lessen the driver's workload. It then slows response as speed increases for greater confidence and stability during long highway stretches and while towing.
When it comes to muscle, the F-450 has no shortage. The standard 6.7-liter turbodiesel's abundant torque gives the big truck very satisfying acceleration even under heavy loads. And the F-450 comes standard with a new 48-gallon fuel tank that promises to improve the truck's range between pit stops.
Buyers who frequently find themselves driving on the open road will appreciate the new adaptive cruise control, which maintains both a set speed and distance from the vehicle in front of you. The system even works when towing, with the Tow/Haul mode's automatic downshifts and the automatic engine brake effectively keeping speeds under control even on downhill stretches.
Off-road, the F-450's rugged four-wheel-drive system gives it the ability to tackle everything from muddy construction sites to the loose dirt of farm fields.
Step inside the 2017 Ford F-450, and you'll find a cabin that's noticeably more roomy than that of the outgoing model. The additional 3-inch gain comes courtesy of the larger aluminum crew cab the F-450 now shares with the recently redesigned F-150.
The combination of the 10-way power-adjustable front seats and power-adjustable pedals on upper trim levels make it easy to achieve an ideal driving position. Top trim levels can be had with the available multicontour front seats with massage that set a new standard for comfort, especially on long drives. Rear seats now offer adult-sized legroom.
Interior amenities and materials run the gamut from drab to deluxe. Work-truck-oriented XL base models get hand-crank windows and easy-to-clean vinyl upholstery and floor coverings, while the top-of-the-line Platinum version is dressed up with all the latest high-end features set off by top-quality leather and soft-touch trim.
What really sets this new Super Duty apart from the previous generation, however, is its enthusiastic embrace of highly practical technology. Topping that list is the available Ultimate Trailer Tow Camera System, which includes a front camera with a 180-degree field of view that can come in very handy when pulling out of a street or driveway where visibility is limited. Two rearview cameras make hooking up fifth-wheel, gooseneck and conventional trailers a thoroughly straightforward process, and four additional cameras provide a 360-degree top-down view of the truck and its surroundings that can be extremely useful in maneuvering in close quarters.
Clever low-tech features include a two-slot cupholder in the center console that slides open to reveal space for two additional drinks. There's also a lockable storage bin under the rear seat that folds flat when not in use, along with an optional vehicle safe.
As far as the bed goes, all F-450 models use aluminum that is both 20 percent thicker than that used in the F-150 and backed by beefier crossmembers designed to stand up to more rugged use.
edmunds expert review process
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