Test Drive – 2018 Ford F350 Lariat

As luck would have it, a friend (Jeff) bought a 2018 Ford F350 Lariat diesel dually a few months ago.   Jeff had been wanting to drop it off at our house for the weekend to give me a chance to play with it – what a nice guy!  The only thing better than owning a truck like this is having one you can borrow.  So today I drove over to Jeff’s home as his wife Ester had a few questions about Microsoft Windows 10. After a couple hours of computer training I asked for the keys to his truck and off I went.

Santa Fe Trail Map
Bonus that Jeff lives next to Fort Osage (Lewis and Clark thing) down scenic roads that were once part of the Santa Fe Trail just 35 miles from our home. Nice place to test drive his truck I’d have to say.

I have owned two F150 4×4 trucks with the 5.7 gas engine and drove an older F250 diesel all of about three miles in the past.  That’s the extent of my pickup truck experience. I had been worried this monster F350 long bed truck would be intimidating. Well, in about five minutes I discovered it drives just about like every other truck I’ve driven.  It was not overwhelming at all.  I had been worried the power of the truck would cause it to lurch from a stop as I pressed on the accelerator pedal which was not the case. Yes, the back of the truck was distant. The monitor for the backup camera was large and crisp to view. I felt 100% comfortable backing the monster truck.

The seats were more comfortable than I had remembered sitting in at the auto show. They would not be a problem for long drives.  The steering wheel, seats and pedals were highly adjustable leading me to believe Karen would have no problem driving this truck as well. I really don’t want to sentence myself to driving her around everywhere for years on end, so adjustability of the driver’s position is important.

Like so many others, I watch all the YouTube video I can find to include test drives. I’ve never counted on the audio portion of the videos to reflect what the actual sound levels are in the truck. I can tell you this Ford truck was quiet as a passenger car inside.  The diesel engine outside was remarkably quiet to me as well. Really was impressed with that.

Yup, the ride was bumpier than our luxury car, my work SUV and such. But, it was not unbearable nor constant. What I did notice was this Ford’s turn radius – sucked.  Turning the wheel to enter his driveway at a 90-degree angle was not as bad as the old days with no power steering. But as I turned I felt the need to crank the wheel hard during the turn, thinking for a moment I was glad to have turned wide to avoid a light pole at the corner of the drive. Jeff said the Ram truck he drove has a tighter turn radius and his 2016 F250 turns on a dime. He came by my office a week ago. A road crew was working on a corner, thereby temporarily narrowing the lane for vehicles to pass. He told me he went around the block rather than trying to make a tight turn into a narrow space. I’d not eliminate the Ford just because of this. I had  never driven an F350/3500 class truck so don’t place much weight on my opinion regarding truck turning abilities.

A few people have posted in various truck forums one reason they eliminated this all new in 2017 Ford truck from their list is all the plastic in the interior. Well – I say BS.  Yes, it has a few hard surfaces, but the rest is soft in all the right places.  I must disagree with their opinion. At least in the Lariat trim package which, judging by the number of Ford trucks for sale online, is the most popular of all trims.

Jeff’s truck has all the electronic options he could get to include a way fancy trailer towing camera setup.  I did not have much of a chance to play with most of it. I did notice when the backup camera came on, a small truck picture showed up in the frame as if I could see if I was going to hit anything at any corner. I was most wanting to see the blind spot warning system.  Way cool. The sensors are on the outside of the rear tail lights. This is one feature I understand the 2020 Ram 3500 may add. The blind spot warning includes sensing other vehicle next to you – 35’ down the side of a trailer. I told Jeff a reader commented his blind spot sensor did not work with his trailer. Jeff tows a wide body toy hauler trailer and said the blind spot warning works perfect with his trailer. This must be an advantage when one is entering the highway on a ramp or needed to switch lanes quickly. As I began to back out of his driveway a vehicle passed behind the truck. Well in advance of the other car passing, the system set off a warning. I could see that being nice when backing out of a parking spot at the grocery store.

I forgot to ask Jeff what gear ratio he got with the truck. No need anyway. Unlike the Ram and Chevy trucks The Ford F350 dually has less of a chance of someone selecting the wrong transmission and gear ratio for a heavier fifth wheel. This turbo diesel has one automatic transmission to select from and conventional fifth wheel tow capacity is 27,500 pounds with a 4.10 gear and 27,300 with a 3.55 gear.

I have to say, I like the idea this is the second year for the all new Ford. Better chance of finding a used one in the next generation configuration. By the way, in my opinion Chevy’s television commercials where they throw a tool box in the back of Ford’s aluminum bed is BS.  Look closely; the metal tool box they are throwing is an antique. I’m sure they had to buy a heavy metal tool box at a garage sale. And anyone that does that to their truck deserves a hole in their truck bed. I’ll bet the factory bed liner helps a bit as well – and excluded from the Chevy commercials. And if you are worried the engine will outlast the body, I’d have to think aluminum will hold up better in the long-term because it does not rust. I’ve wrote it before that if any one manufacturer thinks they are the best then why are the warranties the same for important features like the engine and transmission?

I played with the fully electric tow mirrors on the truck. Ford is said to have the best mirrors. Jeff says the Ram truck mirrors reach out further. I sure like the idea of hitting a button inside the Ford to extend or fold the mirrors in. The view down the side of the truck was exceptional.

Sitting on the floor of his garage was a B&W Companion fifth wheel hitch. What a monster piece of engineering. The thing looked tuff with its huge jaws. Jeff says you can hitch up and unhitch easily even when the trailer is not level in a spot as if the fifth wheel pin was binding up at the hitch. Not a problem with B&W. He also looked at the Curt for all of 10 seconds. He said it just did not seem to be as well built as the B&W. Then again these hitches are rated for certain weights and I’m sure both hitches would be fine, as would many others for the weights we are looking at.  Jeff offered me a chance to lift the two hitch parts, those being the head and base. The head of the hitch has handles and was easy to lift. The base was heavier. I could lift it myself, but two persons would be better. Jeff said no worries moving the hitch from the truck with the F350 because it has old man stairs mounted inside the truck tailgate. Those stairs are another exceptional feature exclusive to the Fords.

These are the features I was most interested in testing out. Online videos do a better job of describing the finer details. I came away with feeling if anyone has driven a pickup truck for any length of time, the F350 diesel dually will not be intimidating to operate. I could not find any single reason not to buy this truck. Lee over on the Campers Chronicles blog may have the best approach for evaluating the details. I recall him writing once that it’s easier to look for the suckier parts.  For me, maybe feeling like the truck would not make real sharp turns or the brakes did not feel as responsive as a passenger car could be called the suckier parts in my humble and somewhat inexperienced opinion.

Here in a few weeks I’m going to call a buddy with a Ram dually. Better than test driving one at a dealership and being pestered to buy it. Oh, forgot to add I hit it lucky. Jeff’s son tows a fifth wheel trailer for a job.  Can’t believe I might be getting some towing lessons from someone I’ve known since he was four feet tall!

Here are a few internet links of interest:

Super Ike Gautlent by Fast Lane Truck for 2018.  Ram barely won over the Ford. They wanted to get as close to maxed out tow ratings as possible. The Chevy cannot pull these weights, so they were left out of the test.

Roads Less Traveled blog is the best for the Ram and general discussion of selecting a truck.

B&W Hitch has a neat page on their website to figure out what the tow ratings are for individual trucks. Of course, you can also surf the web to find the manufacturers charts. Or go to RV Tow Check if you really want to play with the numbers.

All this is most important to me because we are buying the truck before the trailer and I’d hate to make any mistakes. And that includes getting the right options such as fifth wheel prep on the truck which includes the puck systems that are pre-installed for hitches. These systems are a series of holes in the truck bed in which the hitch is mounted, making it easier to remove the hitch when you need to haul stuff flat in the truck bed. I’d be scared to buy the truck before the trailer other than we already know the top five trailers we are selecting from and their weights. Also, a one-ton dually diesel will pull anything in our top 16 trailer choices with plenty of room for moving to a heavier trailer later if configured appropriately. And has the cargo capacity for the pin weights were are considering. One best be nervous if you are looking at buying a single rear wheel truck before the trailer decision because of pin weight.

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12 thoughts on “Test Drive – 2018 Ford F350 Lariat

  1. It’s official! I just picked up my new 2018 RAM 3500 Cummins Diesel Dually with the Aisin 4.10 tranny (Laramie Edition)! This vehicle is AMAZING! I had to drive 3.5 hrs. to pick it up but it gave me a great chance to get the feel for it on the way back over hills and in CA rush hour traffic.

    The color is Delmonico red which is absolutely stunning. The driver who hauled it to our meeting spot said that people kept rubbernecking and giving him the thumbs up as they passed him. Here’s a picture: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10214247506933844&set=a.1411597142194.54860.1600474154&type=3&theater

    I am shocked at how great the turning radius is. (Big Truck/Big RV guy confirms what Mark said regarding the F350 having about an extra 3 foot turning radius. I guess the F450 has a specially designed front end that gives it the best turning radius of all.) I won’t lie, I was intimidated to drive it for the first time. The biggest thing I’ve driven lately has been a RAV-4! With the mirrors flipped up in the tow position, there is NO blind spot. That came in super handy when I was getting ready to exit and there was another lane merging on at the same time. I didn’t think there was another car there, but the bottom part of the mirror told me otherwise. Good thing I trusted the mirror instead of my instincts.

    The leather bucket seats are super comfortable, especially with the cooling seat option turned on. The 8.4″ display is easy to navigate but one nice thing the RAM does is give you manual controls as well. This was especially handy when on a bumpy road where it’s challenging to change the temperature on a touchscreen. (Of course, this was before I discovered the voice commands.) You can change the temperature by pressing the VR button and then just saying, “Set driver temperature to 70 degrees.”

    The display in front of the steering wheel between the odometer and manual speedometer is another great feature. You can scroll through a series of different screens to show either the electronic speed, current and overall MPG, even one where you can see when the turbocharger kicks in. It also shows you important alerts. Like when I accidentally left my turn signal on – it showed me a picture and told me about it!

    I’ve barely scratched the surface on all the electronic controls and bells and whistles. I have some serious homework to do! Ha!. Those of you who have newer cars will have a much shorter learning curve, I’m sure. The backup camera (and there’s a cargo camera too) is super clear, but it’s going to take me awhile to get used to using it and not just looking over my shoulder! Ha!

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    • Ha, just sent you an email…

      The link to the photo did not work. Are you just teasing me!

      I caught the no blind spot note for the Ram mirrors.

      Getting on the highway always seems to be my most nervous point. Merging into traffic is tricky without a clear view of what is coming. I’d hate to just rely on people moving over. I’ve been known to adjust the mirrors out at more of an angle and work them in closer as the angle in the on-ramp and road became less. Best I can describe it. I’ve also tried sticking my head out while on the ramp to get a view of on-coming traffic or at least getting the color of the car that I’d be trying to get in front of.

      There is no way one can go wrong with the truck you bought! That color is also amazing. I keep looking for it on the road.

      Congrads my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. About the only thing I had to learn with my F350 dually was to stop calling the accelerator pedal a “gas pedal”. It’s a hoot telling people you get a million miles per gallon when they ask for “gas mileage”.

    Yes the turning radius. It does suck. Backing into parking spots is the norm here. The F450 is better.
    The Superduty beds are thicker than the F150’s.
    I still have my truck under carriage sprayed annually with “Corrosion Free”. Of course the frame will still rot but just keep in mind that aluminum still corrodes though it takes more time.

    Now, about that gas pedal….heh.

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      • Stephen, I did not give the lane departure feature a try. I’d read about it. The electronics in the truck were amazing. Even had three separate driver memory buttons for seat settings and such. The buttons for the heated and cooled seats were straight out of the Lincoln car design. The truck had the full moon roof as well. It was huge as if the entire roof was a clear view to the sky. I’m skipping the moon roof unless whatever truck we get already has it.

        The massive storage in the truck was remarkable.

        Jeff had some kind of spacer added to the front springs that leveled the truck when not towing. He said it raised the truck a little. I was not sure if that is a good idea or not. He also commented the F350 has two turbo charges that work together at various times such as when hill climbing.

        The transmission was very smooth. I could feel the truck had power but was very controllable even when I stomped on the diesel pedal.

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    • I had to go back after reading the recent post and change gas to accelerator. Almost missed that. The turn radius on the F350 was nothing I could not live with and I’m sure it might become second nature after a while. Seemed like the brake pedal was stiffer also. Maybe because the brakes are so new?

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  3. Remember that once you have that fiver on, you won’t want to make sharp corners, Mark. The trailer wheels track way inside of the truck wheels on a corner. Glad you noticed how quiet the Ford diesels are. 🙂

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    • I hear ya Jim regarding making wide turns. I was just thinking when backing the trailer in a camp site it might make a difference.

      I put different pipes and exhaust on an F150 I had. Sounded nice, and I believed it increased the power of the truck. The noise got real old on the highway.

      I’ll be looking into the sound level on the Ram.

      I’m also concerned about getting any tires with heavy road noise as well. So the tire options are a bit intimidating.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Just a guess, but it sounds like the RAM has some mighty big shoes to fill to top your experience in the Ford. The V8 is quieter than the I6 so I’ve heard, but it wouldn’t be a reason for me to rule out any truck. Agree, for what you seem to be looking at for a 5er, whatever you pick is, it will more than up to the task. It really is a personal preference at this point. Happy hunting.

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    • Thanks for the comment Brian.

      If I had to guess it is going to be a tight race between the Ford and Ram. It may come down to price and which company offers the best new truck deals, or has the most used trucks should be go that way. I suspect the Ram will be hard to beat if it becomes a price war. Personally, I’m not concerned that Ram is coming out with their next generation 3500 truck in 2020.

      Found a Ram listed at a dealership in Iowa last week. Color I could live with, Aisin transmission, Cummins high output engine, 3.73 gears and auto leveling air bags (not that I’m considering air bags if new). Was one year old with 7,000 miles. Asking price was $8,000 lower than any thing I’ve seen others able to buy as a new truck. Karen told me to drive to Iowa and buying it. Passed because the time is not right. At least I now believe I can spot a good deal when I see one.

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  5. Mark,
    You are awesome in your details and research tenacity.
    I’ve commented before when I was looking for hitches & a Trailer.
    I was about the third or fourth person in California- at that time- in Oct 2016 to take delivery of the new 2017 Ford SuperDuty
    F-350 Single Rear Wheel, 6.7L Diesel, Long Bed (gets you the 48-gallon Fuel Tank!!!), 4-door Crew Cab, Lariat ultimate trim, 20-inch wheels, full Tow Package — mirrors, pre-drilled holes/pucks, Tow/haul mode for transmission, + Trailer Camera (hard wired not wireless) +trailer tire pressure monitoring stems (when I change out the factory tires-shortly) Factory sprayed-in liner…engine block heater(a mere $75 option) roof lights And it might even mow my lawn….ok, it won’t do that.
    I’ve been reading your blogs and I hesitated saying anything about the Ford as I didn’t want you to think I was biased. I see you have come to some of your own conclusions.
    I’m a Flight Instructor( 9,000 + hrs) who’s taught people to fly for 18+ years, i’ve Driven 40 ft School Buses, and I’ve driven 900 hp Porsche’s on tracks. In 2016 I asked the Head Mechanic at the school district I was driving a school bus (he owns a 4-5 yr old Chevy truck) “What would You buy for a truck to pull a fifth wheel” he took 1 sec and said “Ford makes the best truck right now, hands down”. Now, I Did, I really did, drive All of them, and they all will do the job, but the Ford is nicer inside, it’s the quietest Both Inside & Outside, the transmission is just as smooth as the Allison(Chevy)- same technology- and I like the screens& layout better. And the mirrors are the Best- Dodge sticks out but viewing area much smaller

    I was glad I got the truck first, not only for the break it in (I believe that no tow thing for ~1,000 miles or so is get the transmission gears well lubed worn in a bit) but to really get used to the truck & use it as a bargaining tool when looking at 5th wheels.
    On more than one occasion when a dealer was feeding me BS I just pointed at my truck and told them ‘the next thing you’ll see is my tail lights- – and have a nice day.

    IF my wife & I were going Full Time I would’ve definitely gone dually but we won’t be Full Time – maybe 2-3 months here and there and I just wanted to keep it single wheel in the rear.
    My wife (Cheryl- yeah, Cheryl& Darrall)
    Retired from Special Ed Teaching in San José, CA June 2017 and we bought a home in Washington State on Camano Island, WA – closed in March 2017- ( bridge access) about 1 1/2 hours North of Seattle.

    I took a load of stuff 1,000 miles north from San José, CA in April 2017 with a UHaul trailer and the Ford- then back empty and same trip again in June 2017. Escaping the Rat Race.

    I JUST got the 5th Wheel in March
    A Grand Design Reflection 303RLS (32.5 feet) the pin weight is ~1,700 lbs vs upwards of 2,300 + lbs on the bigger trailers, and the 5thwheel maxes out at 15,000 Lbs. Even with the SRW I can go to 11,500 lbs truck and 28,500 Lbs combined- I don’t need more and I can still put fuel and bodies/ stuff IN truck.

    The dealer where I was getting 5th Wheel said their hitches ‘Started at $1,500.
    Well, I told them I could order the BW Companion hitch through etrailer.com for $974 Free shipping and had them ship to the dealer direct where two inexperienced people (I watched them) took just 25 minutes to put it in!!! Arrrgh, these dealers!

    When you get out and about you will Love Love Love the Mountains & scenery out here in The West – And there’s Canada / Alaska …..

    I was just at Cape Disappointment at mouth of Columbia River and where Lewis & Clark First saw the Pacific Ocean- Beautiful WA State Campground- and just across the bridge on South side in Oregon near Astoria is Fort Clatsop where Lewis & Clark Wintered 1805/1806 before heading back to St. Louis. Very cool place to see!!!

    It would be great to meet you and your wife during your travels out here in the West.

    You have my email, send a message direct Anytime. As you said before it’s all about sharing and helping each other out in our travels on this journey.

    All The Best

    Darrall Dalberg

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    • Thanks for the post Darrall,

      That 48-gallon fuel tank is one of several features I like about the Ford. Thinking we can avoid adding an auxiliary tank for full time use.

      I think the Grand Design Reflection is best in class. Not sure if I would even get a dually for full time use pulling that trailer, given the pin weight. Although some say over 14,000 gross weight is in the range of needing a dually. Plenty tow without them while full timing.

      Funny how you bring up having a truck early gives you leverage at the RV dealership. I’ve had salesmen ask more than once if we had a truck and I did not think it was just to find out how heavy a trailer I could tow. Figure we will be ready to go when we find the trailer we want and be able to buy it on the spot if the deal is right.

      I’ve still not ruled out the Ram and plan to post on my experience/opinion in more detail. I have the most experience with Ford passenger cars, SUV and trucks.

      Liked by 1 person

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