Back in the day, the Ford F350 was all business, especially when you added dual rear wheels and a powerful diesel engine, but the industry and the heavy duty truck market has changed a great deal. While you can still get an F350 with nothing but the working essentials, we have seen a shift towards a more luxurious pickup and there are few trucks sold in America that personify that shift better than the 2015 Ford F350 King Ranch. This truck has all of the components needed to make it one of the toughest, hardest working truck on sale today, while the King Ranch package adds a hefty dose of luxury with a distinct western theme so whether you are headed to the worksite with your crew, or driving across the country with the wife and kids for a family vacation – the F350 can do it all.
MY 2015 Ford F350 King Ranch test truck with the Crew Cab configuration, dual rear wheels, the long cargo box and the 6.7L PowerStroke diesel engine carried a price of $67,885 – which is a big price tag for a “work truck”, but when you consider the fact that this work truck has all of the features needed to be one of the toughest trucks in America while still offering the interior comforts of a high end luxury sedan, the price is easily justified.
Before I get into the bulk of my review of the 2015 Ford F350 King Ranch, I should give you all a little background on myself while also sharing my views on the truck segment as a whole. When I am not writing about the latest and greatest in the automotive world, I run a premium horse boarding facility with some of Michigan’ finest horses. This allows me to put every test truck through the same punishment that my own trucks see each day, but it also affords me the luxury of meeting a great many truck owners. Many publications will insist that people who actually use their trucks don’t have any interest in these high end, high priced luxury trimlines, but I know a large group of people who own trucks and use them very regularly to tow a horse trailer or haul the items needed for horse ownership. These are truck owners who use their trucks to the fullest extent of their capabilities and almost every truck owner/horse owner I know has a premium trimline pickup. Every Ford truck owner I know – both those who own F150s and those who own newer Super Duty trucks – all have Platinum, King Ranch or some other luxury trimline.
Contrary to what big media would have you believe, those folks who spend long periods of time in their truck doing hard work don’t want to spend that time in rubber seats while listening to a cassette tape so they lean towards models like the King Ranch, as it lets them do the work that they need to do while letting them enjoy the pinnacle of pickup truck luxury while headed to a horse show. This is becoming more true every day, as those folks paying big money for a hard working heavy duty pickup expect a cabin that is plush and comfortable – and the F350 King Ranch is a glowing example of the kind of truck those buyers want.
The 2015 Ford F350 King Ranch is a premium luxury package, and that is very evident when looking around the outside of this huge pickup. Up front, the big, bold front end is clad with two huge chrome grille bars with chrome trim on the sides and more chrome trim in the headlights. The King Ranch package adds satin silver badging, 17 inch polished wheels and a two tone paint scheme with a great looking Blue Jean Metallic upper and a dark metallic beige lower portion. This isn’t a truck that is coated head to toe in chrome, but the chrome grille, the silver badges and the two tone paint scheme leave no question that this is a premium pickup.
Really, as luxury trimline packages go, the King Ranch isn’t all that substantial on the exterior of the F350, but it is still a great looking truck that is clearly a hard working machine with a premium design theme that has been a huge success since day one.
While the King Ranch package doesn’t add all that much to the exterior of the 2015 Ford F350, the interior is a whole different story. As soon as you open the driver’s door, it is very clear that this truck is a premium model designed with a western theme in mind. The cabin is clad entirely in browns with dark brown leather seats (front and rear) sporting lighter brown accents and that combination of light and dark brown leather extends to the center console armrest, the steering wheel and door-mounted arm rests. The carpeting, headliner, seatbelts, dash and door panels are all a lighter beige shade and this contrast against the darker leather seats creates a very high end look while high gloss wood trim is scattered throughout the cabin as a final touch of class.
The Crew Cab is the biggest interior option for the 2015 F350 and that translates to a ton of space for occupants. Whether you are sitting in the front or back, even very tall adults will find plenty of leg, shoulder, elbow and head room. If you are seated in the front seats or in the rear outboard seats, you are greeted with bucket style seats that are incredibly comfortable and even the rear middle seat is wide enough to comfortably seat an adult – although that obviously cuts into elbow, hip and knee space for the other rear riders. If you have three kids, this rear seat will easily accommodate them well enough for a long vacation drive and if you don’t have anyone seated in the back, the rear seats flip up to add a ton more cargo space inside. The front seats are heated and cooled while the rear seats are “only” heated, which makes for a very hospitable environment in the cold Michigan winters for a work crew or a family headed to Grandma’s for on a snowy Christmas morning.
Like so many other new Ford vehicles, my 2015 F350 King Ranch test truck was equipped with the MyFord Touch infotainment system and, as was the case with other Ford products Ive tested – I love the MyFord Touch interface. Ford knew that a great many F350 drivers would be wearing gloves that render the touch screen pretty much useless (without removing your gloves), so pretty much every interior control that you can access through the touch screen also has a corresponding knob or button in the large panel below the touch screen. Whether you are looking to turn the radio up, change the station, adjust the interior temperature, access the integrated trailer brake controller, engage the engine brake or select four wheel drive, you can easily do so with gloves on from the driver’s seat.
The navigation system of MyFord Touch doesn’t get buttons or knobs, but in addition to the stereo volume control and speed control buttons on the steering wheel, the driver can also use the voice control button to access the navigation program – including searching for businesses via the high tech MyFord Touch information system. Also, the unique gauge cluster of the F350 includes a collection of analog vehicle information gauges in addition to a small LED screen that displays a variety of information – from navigation directions to fuel economy numbers to “truck apps”, which inform the driver of the truck angle and the direction of the front wheels.
My 2015 Ford F350 King Ranch test truck was fitted with the 6.7L PowerStroke V8 diesel engine, which sends 440 horsepower and 860lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels, making this Super Duty the most powerful option in the Ford lineup and one of the top two most powerful trucks sold in America. This engine in this particular configuration (dual rear wheels, 172.4” wheelbase, 4x4) will allow you to haul almost 6,500lbs and tow 19,000lbs with the conventional hitch setup while the 5th wheel setup lifts the towing capacity to 26,500lbs. Also, while my test truck is the heaviest possible configuration among the 1-ton Ford trucks, this powerful diesel engine makes the F350 surprisingly quick for a truck that weighs more than 4 tons.
Every time I test a truck or SUV that has a towing setup, I have a 5,000lb horse trailer that I use for my towing tests. In the case of the 2015 F350, my 5,000lb trailer is a far cry from the 19,000lb conventional towing limit, but I use the same trailer for consistency across all of my truck testing and that allows me to get a good idea of how well each truck compares to the next. Not surprisingly, my little 5,000lb horse trailer was hardly enough for the F350 with the PowerStroke diesel engine to break a sweat. No matter the condition, the F350 pulled my test trailer effortlessly and while the phrase “pulled like the trailer wasn’t there” has become very cliché, I can safely say that at times, my 5,000lb trailer had no impact on the performance of this F350. Around town, acceleration from a stop and through the midrange was effortless for the PowerStroke and out on the highway, the King Ranch pulled my test trailer along at higher speeds just as easily. In terms of braking, I spent some time using the integrated trailer brake controller with my trailer’s electric brakes, but I also disabled the electric brakes to see how the F350 stopped without the aid of trailer brakes. The 8,000+ pound truck had no issues slowing down the rig with the extra 5,000 pounds of trailer weight out back around town, and when I engaged the optional engine brake, I was able to drive around town and on the highway with only minimal braking effort on my part. The engine brake works very well during highway use, allowing you to slow down simply by letting off of the accelerator pedal, although around town, the “jake brake” doesn’t engage quite fast enough to avoid the brake pedal so while you cannot execute one-foot driving techniques around town, you most certainly can do so on the highway.
Also, thanks to the long wheelbase and the wide stance of the dual rear wheel setup, the F350 was among the most stable and the most confident trucks I’ve towed with in the past few years. Really, it is hard to judge handling of a truck while towing a trailer, but even with the extreme length of my towing combo, the big King Ranch was very stable in tight quarters and out on the open road. This stability was where the F350 DRW truck stood out compared to the smaller single wheel pickups, as the extra size and weight leads to a truck that handles the rear load as well as any truck sold in America.
After spending a few hours trucking around Michigan with the 2015 Ford F350 King Ranch hooked to my little horse trailer, I dropped my trailer and headed to the grain store, where I picked up 1,200lbs of bagged horse feed. When the twenty four 50lb bags of grain were loaded into the bed, you could tell right away that this was a far cry from the maximum loading capabilities, as the stance of the truck didn’t change at all with the extra weight in the bed. When I hit the road, the added 1,200lbs out back had no noticeable impact on acceleration or braking and, as expected, this extra weight didn’t have any noticeable impact on handling. With some trucks, piling a half-ton of ballast in the bed can cause more body roll and more rear end pull around corners, but this huge F350 didn’t exhibit any of those problems – showing one more upside of the dual rear wheel design.
So, the 2015 Ford F350 King Ranch will tow and haul with the best of them, but how does it function as a daily driver when you don’t need to tow or haul? First of all, every heavy hauling truck sold in America has a stiff suspension system that is a requirement for a truck that can tow more than ten tons of weight and haul another three tons. If you expect a truck like the F350 to ride like a luxury sedan, you are setting yourself up for disappointment, as ride quality like that just doesn’t exist in the heavy duty truck world. However, when you expect the F350 to ride like a heavy duty truck, it is actually more pleasant than you might expect. The high curb weight and the overall size of the F350 allows it to eat up much of the road noise, so you won’t notice rough patches in the road, although larger bumps do jolt through the chassis into the cabin just like every other heavy duty truck.
In terms of handling, this is another area where you need to be realistic, as a truck that has a 172 inch wheelbase isn’t going to handle like a Mustang, but Ford has done a very nice job of making the F350 a truck that is easy to drive in all situations. Driving around the tight streets of Milford, Michigan, I had no issues navigating the tight two lane roads and when I hit the open roads, the F350 delivers the stable cornering that you would expect from a dual wheel pickup.
Finally, my area has more unpaved roads than you could imagine, so I had a chance to test the F350 King Ranch on some of the roughest roads that Michigan has to offer. The stiff suspension did allow the deep ruts to echo into the cabin, but this high riding F350 with four wheel drive engaged (from a knob on the dash) had no issue pushing through the deep, muddy “natural beauty roads” of Milford, Michigan.
For anyone who has experience with a heavy duty truck, there is literally nothing to complain about when driving the 2015 Ford F350 King Ranch. It makes short work of almost any towing or hauling load yet it is surprisingly maneuverable in daily driving situations. The ride is stiff by the standards of those who aren’t used to a big truck, but among truck owners, this 2015 F350 is a real treat to drive every single day – whether you are towing a big trailer, hauling a heavy load or just driving the kids to school.
The Final Word
If you are shopping for a true heavy duty pickup that will very comfortably haul and tow almost any load that the average truck owner deals with on a daily basis – but you also want a truck that looks great on and outside and offers premium luxury amenities on the inside – the 2015 F350 King Ranch is your dream truck. This truck is surprisingly quick under normal driving circumstances so you won’t have any trouble keeping up with daily driving traffic and when you hook up a trailer or fill the bed with cargo, the truck is hardly hindered at all. Best of all, the massive cabin of the F350 Crew Cab will very comfortably hold four tall adults or even five adults, if those in the back seat don’t mind sharing some leg room with others.
The 2015 Ford F350 King Ranch takes all of the attributes that you could ask for from a modern luxury sedan and installs them in a big 1-ton truck that will tow and haul almost anything that you can find while seating five adults. This is the perfect vehicle for someone who needs a truck that can do the hardest jobs, comfortably seat a family or five (or a five man work crew) and seat everyone in the lap of luxury. The King Ranch is a beautiful package and spending a week with this truck made it very clear to me why so many people in the working world have opted for the King Ranch Super Duty pickup.