2017 Ford F-350 Platinum Review – True Truck Testing
After introducing the Super Duty in 1998, Ford keptÂ making upgrades to the same basic cab and frame all the way up to 2016. Multiple refreshes across three generations could not hide the fact that this truck rode on old bones, making the 2017 model year redesign a welcome change.
WeÂ had a chance test out the new design by borrowing a 2017 F-350 Platinum for a recent trip to West Virginia, which appropriately featured a Miata on trailer behind us. While our race car and trailer combo only made up a fraction of the maximum towing capacity of the diesel-powered behemoth, it gave us an appreciation of having a little extra room while towing.
Our schedule said we had to be on track at Summit Point for a drivers meeting at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning, so we tried to pack as much as possible before the Super Duty arrived in order to hit the road quickly. When the truck arrived on Friday afternoon we ran over to the U-Haul store to pick up a trailer. Hooking up was a breeze â€” even in the tight confines of the back lot â€” as the backup camera, along with the birds eye view, quickly got us lined up with the trailer and on our way to load the race car.
After arriving at my brother’s house we started loading up plastic bins and loose parts into the bed, which was coated with an optional $495 Tough Bed spray-in bedliner.Â The liner is probably a smart option toÂ help minimize damage to the truck’s new aluminum bed. Cost is on par with other premium spray-in liners and it carries the benefit of being covered by the vehicle’s factory warranty.
The tailgate on this trim features an electronic push-button that slowly lowers it via built-in lift supports. It’s helpful, but could be a potential point of failure for trucks operating in rough situations.Â Our loaner was also equipped with the company’s once-ridiculed “Man Step,” which proved very helpful when loading up (and when using the bed as a viewing platform).
After loading up the bed, we strapped the race car down and did our final checks before hitting the road. The hood opens wide to expose a tech-laden 6.7-liter turbodiesel V8 engine that looks completely when compared to the old 7.3-liter motors I’m used to working on. The hood rises high enough for me to barely reach it when trying to close it. I can see how it could beneficial for future maintenance or repairs as one could easily climb up there for service and not bang their head.
On the road, the 4,000-pound load of Miata and trailer almost seemed like it wasn’t there due to the available torque and the 160 inches of wheelbase. Our routeÂ â€” up through the hills on US-220 toward Roanoke, Virginia â€”Â can be challenging for brakes, but the Ford’s transmission programming ensured that the truck dropped a gear any time we started to get into the brakes (and as long as we kept the Tow/Haul Mode enabled).
We made our first stop just as we were approaching I-81 near Roanoke, noting that we had used about nine gallons of diesel to cover 110 miles. That gave us an effective 12 miles per gallon â€” a figure that would only rise about half a mile per gallon for the remainder of our trip.
Arriving at our hotel in Winchester, Virginia, a little before midnight, we parked the truck in a remote corner of the parking lot and blocked it in order to minimize the chances of anything disappearing. We woke up to an exceptionally chilly morning; luckily I was able to start the truck remotely from our room, which was a few hundred feet away. By the time we got to the truck, the cabin, seats, and steering wheel were all toasty warm.
At the track, we dropped the trailer and moved the spare parts over to Jackâ€™s Silverado so we could use the F-350 to move around the track and watch the sessions. The built-in 400-watt inverter is a welcome addition that saw plenty of use as it charged the batteries for the electric impact and our radios. USB ports were plentiful on the inside, but charging through a standard adapter still seemed to be faster. This truck also features the fancy sliding cupholder we covered last year, though it was mostly kept closed as we used the left side for cell phone and snack storage.
The rest of the interior was appointed in plum leather and wood along with a few aluminum accents which wouldnâ€™t feel out of place in a Navigator. The seats were comfortable and the plastics on the dash felt significantly better than what I’m used to seeing in the XL trim trucks I usually spend time in.
Itâ€™s no surprise that Ford is adding an even higher trim level next year, as even this truckÂ â€” with a total cost approaching $80,000 â€” seems to have a place among a crowd that wants luxury and the ability to tow their boat, race car, or horse trailer. The F-350 Platinum 4×4 starts at $63,285; adding the diesel engine brings the price to $71,880. Most of the options, like the bed liner or the electronic locking differential, are a few hundred dollars each, and the only other significant add-on is the $2,785 Platinum Ultimate Package that includes a huge twin panel moonroof, towing cameras, and adaptive cruise.
The moonroof, while nice, isn’t something I would spend money on separately, but the towing cameras proved very useful and would be something I would select. We made extensive use of the adaptive cruise, which kept a reasonable distance and was very smooth even with the trailer attached. The lane-keeping function made itself very apparent, shaking the wheel as we were approaching the tiny roads into Summit Point. That is the extent of the steering assist, since the Super Duty appears to still run fully hydraulic steering â€” preventing it from pushing the wheel back or having the tiny wheel like the F-150 for backing up to a trailer.
The Sync 3 head unit got plenty of use, mostly in its native state playing music over Bluetooth from our phones, though we did try out Apple CarPlay for a bit and the transitions were smooth. There are lots of menus available in the head unit and some of the features are nested deep within them. Unfortunately, we didn’t figure out the Ford had massaging seats until our ride back to North Carolina, as the option was hidden under the advanced seat adjustments.
Parking the truck in smaller parking lots was a bit of a challenge due to the long wheelbase and large overall package. We ended up on the outskirts of some parking lots just to avoid having to re-position the truck multiple times in order to get it into a space. The large tow mirrors were helpful when rolling and backing up and the powered extension feature was useful when greater rearward visibility became necessary.
There is obviously a market for higher-end trims in the Super Duty lineup, as Ford is introducing an even more expensive trim for 2018. Still, we would likely go for something a little more conservative. The diesel motor would be the first thing on the chopping block, as the $8,595 premium is not really justified unless you’re towing huge loads. The F-350’s base 6.2-liter gas V8 is plenty powerful for towing something like a race car and would provide similar fuel economy. Interior appointments are nice but, coming from more of work truck background, an XLT with a few options in the mid-$40s would likely be plenty for our uses.
[Images:Â Â© 2017 Bozi Tatarevic/The Truth About Cars]
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October 10, 2017 at 11:18AM