In March Ford invited Grainews to put one of its newest F-350s equipped with a 6.7 litre Powerstroke diesel to an on-farm test. We gladly accepted the challenge and spent a full week evaluating the truck. In the process we added over 500 kilometres to the odometer reading. But we didn’t cover all that ground just using the truck to run into town to pick up the mail. We wanted to get a feel for how it would handle all the jobs farmers actually make trucks do.
Our four-wheel drive F-350 arrived equipped with that V8 turbo diesel under the hood (a $9,950 option), which is rated at a pretty impressive 440 horsepower and 925 pound-feet of torque. The Powerstroke uses a graphite engine block that is lighter than cast iron. So it helps give this truck a roughly 60-40 weight distribution between the front and rear axles. (We ran the truck over a Commercial Transport Patrol weigh scale to calculate that number.) That’s pretty well balanced for a pickup with a massive diesel under the hood at the front and an empty 6.5-foot bed at the back. And that balance gives it pretty good stability, especially when travelling over gravel roads with washboard surfaces.
The F-350 came with the Lariat trim package, which means it had no shortage of high-end features, such as heated and cooled leather seats along with a locking compartment in the centre console to store valuables. And for those who can’t leave “stock” vehicles well enough alone and love to add driving lights or other electrical gizmos, there’s a bank of six, factory-installed auxiliary switches ready to be wired into any add-on circuits. So no need to stress at the thought of drilling holes in a brand new dashboard.
There is also a myriad of digital safety features. The adaptive cruise control wouldn’t let the truck get too close to traffic ahead, throttling it back to keep a safe following distance after catching up with slower vehicles. Veer across a fog line and the steering wheel starts to vibrate to alert you to the fact you’re leaving the driving portion of the road.
Then there is the camera display on the dash that provides a 360-degree view around the truck to help prevent bumping into vehicles in a parking lot or hitting something when backing up. Given the size of this truck, that’s a pretty handy feature. There’s even a cross traffic alert to let you know there is a vehicle moving behind you when backing up. The monitor also has a jackknife alert. That helps prevent turning too sharply when backing up a trailer. It’s particularly useful for low flat deck trailers that are impossible to see out the back window.
One problem with the rear camera, however, is it often gets obscured. During the testing week snow occasionally obstructed the camera lens. We had the same problem with mud accumulations on a gravel road when we road tested an F150 with the same feature last summer. Realistically, though, there isn’t much that can be done to prevent that problem, although the front-mounted camera gets its own washer system that activates with the windshield washer.
The trailer load we put behind the F350 amounted to only about one third of the truck’s 6,800 kilogram (14,960 pound) trailer tow rating, but it gave us a sense of what it was capable of. The Powerstroke diesel barely seemed to notice our 2,300 kilogram (5,060 pound) load behind it. And with a 310 kilogram (682 pound) hitch load, the rear suspension height seemed virtually unchanged.
When braking with the loaded trailer behind and the six-speed transmission in Load-Haul mode, downshifts seemed to get more aggressive, adding a fair amount of engine braking to help slow the truck down with minimum brake effort. The FX4 Off-Road package also included engine braking as part of the Hill Decent Control feature.
With all of that packed into this truck, we expected to like it, and we did. This F-350 certainly didn’t disappoint when it came to comfort and capability.
So what was there to gripe about with this truck? Well, not much. Really, the only thing that made us cringe a little was the MSRP. The test F350 had a window sticker price of $96,163, plus freight, taxes and miscellaneous surcharges. That puts the total asking price somewhere around $107,000 in this part of Saskatchewan.
So, the Powerstroke F-350 could be a pretty useful piece of kit to add to a farm fleet, especially for anyone who expects to spend a fair amount of time towing or hauling. It’s just that capability like that comes with a pretty healthy price tag.