There’s nothing quite as gratifying as a drive in the F-350 King Ranch edition. Simply put, those neighbors who wouldn’t acknowledge you yesterday now gawk, slack jawed, as you strut up and down the block in the ultimate tow rig. Yes, it’s an ego-booster. But starting at $47,000 and peaking around $70,000 with options, who can afford living like a King?

Apparently, enough Americans have deep pockets, because Ford keeps producing the King Ranch year after year, and as we learned the reasons are many.

Road Tested

We road tested the 2011 F-350 4x4 King Ranch crew cab with the 6.7L PowerStroke turbo diesel V-8 and really got to understand most of its features. The truth is, though it is expensive on all levels, the single-wheel F-350 King Ranch is the perfect truck for towing. Ford couldn’t have made a better all-around tow rig that proves it is as luxurious as it is stout. But the sticker shock was tough to swallow, no matter the functionality.

Various road tests took us on a 2,200-mile trip across the Colorado Rockies and then on to a 720-towing-mile journey in California with a loaded Carson toyhauler trailer (7,500 pounds). The King Ranch never broke a sweat in all kinds of conditions and climate changes.

The fact is, with the one-time exception of a little trailer sway because of high winds, the King Ranch out-launched, out-braked and out-performed every other tow rig that we’ve tested to date. Looking and feeling good inside also bides well for Ford.

If there was a downside, the F-350 King Ranch does like its fuel. We got just under 14 miles per gallon with trailer in tow and 15 to 17 mpg without a trailer. But that’s not terrible for a 6.7L liter diesel four-wheel drive that spits out approximately 400 horsepower and 800 lb-ft of torque. Still, unless you plan to tow frequently, or you own a ranch, this truck might be more than you bargained for as a daily driver.

Features that stand out for towing begin with the Torq-Shift six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission that allows the driver to hold and lockout certain gears on the fly for smoother tows on grades. Essentially a driver can eliminate sixth gear if he chose and turn the transmission into an electronically limited five-speed automatic. If the driver wants to refine it even more, they can lockout every other gear down to first, but that strategy also lessens overall performance. The advantage is that if the vehicle is going downhill in tow/haul mode the driver can simply tap on the brake to drop down to the next lower gear selected. Without it, the transmission would hunt for the proper gearing. This manual gear selector works as long as the engine doesn’t exceed redline.