2011 Ford Super Duty F-450 and Keystone’s Montana

April 1, 2010
Filed under Trailer Reviews

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2471707_ford_montana_ext.jpgWhen a tow-vehicle manufacturer unveils its latest offering for a new model year, it often
entails upgraded trim, a better stereo and a few more ponies under the hood. Ford has
smashed that mold with the introduction of the 2011 Super Duty trucks, which are as close
to all-new as one can get without a total overhaul. When combined with an innovative
front-living-room floorplan of Keystone’s Montana 3750 FL, it makes for an
impressive, cutting-edge towing combo that will undoubtedly turn heads.

 

2011 F-450 Super Duty FX4 Crew Cab

 

The ’11 SD trucks have been branded by Ford as “The Ultimate Trailer-Towing Machines,” and
after testing the 2011 F-450 Super Duty FX4 Crew Cab, it’s easy to see
why.

 

The test truck features an all-new Ford-designed 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel engine,
which utilizes compact graphite iron construction for reduced weight and maximum strength.
The reduced exhaust-system volume area minimizes heat in the engine compartment and
improves noise and vibration performance, and a variable nozzle turbine DualBoost
turbocharger with an industry-first dual-sided compressor wheel combines a faster response
time with the ability to produce more power than a traditional turbo.

 

2471707_ford_montana_engine.jpgThe new 6R140
heavy-duty TorqShift six-speed automatic transmission is specifically designed to handle
the increased torque produced by the all-new Power Stroke, and features a wider gear span,
advanced controls that optimize the shift schedule, reduced parasitic friction losses and
lower-rpm torque converter lock-up, all of which add up to improved performance and fuel
economy.

 

Also of note is the inclusion of a diesel-exhaust fluid (DEF) reservoir to meet
new emissions standards. DEF works to reduce harmful nitrogen oxide (NOx) levels, and needs
to be replenished every 7,500 miles. DEF can be purchased at Ford dealers and other
retailers.

 

But perhaps the most exciting news to the RVing crowd is the optional
factory-installed Reese fifth-wheel hitch that’s covered under warranty, eliminating the
need for aftermarket installations. The integrated trailer-brake control from previous
years continues in 2011 models.

 2471707_ford_montana_fuel.jpg

All right, enough of the techno-babble, how did it tow?
Well, the F-450 had zero trouble hauling the relatively lightweight 12,900-pound Montana
fiver around town, up a 7-percent grade and on moderate mountain passes. The Enhanced Tow
Haul Mode with Integrated Engine Exhaust Braking ensured smooth downshifts via a
brake-pressure transducer, which monitors the actual brake pressure applied and helps when
descending a steep grade. In other words, it towed great, and white-knuckle moments were
nil. With the exception of a slight turbo lag that’s common in turbodiesels (though Ford’s
engineers have greatly reduced this minor annoyance), We couldn’t find anything to complain
about. Lane changes, quick stops and even passing on the fly all went smoothly, and there’s
reason to believe a larger trailer would also handle well. As of this writing, fifth-wheel
tow ratings for all of the ’11 SD trucks aren’t available, though our tester is rated to
tow travel trailers up to 16,000 pounds.

 

In camp, one can truly appreciate the bold styling
of the ’11 SD. The new inverted power-dome hood and industrial-grade grille, plus a larger
Ford oval, all add up to an aggressive exterior sure to be appreciated by truck
enthusiasts. The King Ranch trim includes a painted grille surround, wheels, bed-rail
molding and running boards.

 

The optional Tough-Bed spray-in bedliner meant hauling duties
would be worry-free, and the Ford Work solutions straps with a handcuff-type clasp will
make sure your cargo stays put.

 

Inside, our test truck was outfitted with a brown leather
interior embossed with the King Ranch logo. The driver’s seat was very comfortable and
equally adjustable, including memory settings and manual lumbar support. There was ample
room for our four-person test crew, which included two youngsters in car seats in the back.
The center console is simply huge, and the main storage bin features a hanging tray for
files and includes plenty of room for maps, cell phones, wallets and the like.

 

The
interactive dash program features more settings than I could possibly get through,
including fuel economy, Electronic Locking Differential control, traction control,
tire-pressure settings, trailer memory and diesel-exhaust fluid readout, to name a few. If
a system needs to be monitored, it can easily be done from the driver’s seat.

 

Keystone Montana’s Front Living Room

 2471707_ford_montana_fp.jpg

We matched the big Ford with a 39-foot Keystone
Montana
, and although it was more truck than we needed, the combo looked great and
handled even better. The MOR/ryde hitch pin and rubber suspension system (part of the
mandatory $10,225 Montana Package) kept towing smooth in conjunction with the powerful
Ford.

 

Outside, the high-gloss fiberglass exterior looks sharp, and the cavernous drop-frame
pass-through storage compartment scores big points for practicality. The front and rear
caps and “Easy Flow” graphics create the look of a higher-end trailer.

 

The Montana features
an Arctic Insulation Package complete with a vented attic that should keep things at a
tolerable level inside when things get harsh outside.

 montana_int.jpg

Speaking of the inside, fit and
finish in the test Montana is superb. The mocha color scheme coupled with the Hickory
cabinet work is extremely pleasing to the eyes, and the solid-surface countertops were not
only a delight to look at, but were extremely functional for storing, slicing, dicing and
other food-prep duties.

 

The Montana 3750FL features a front living-room design, with the
living room up the stairs where the bedroom typically resides. This made for some getting
used to; when I sat down at either the streetside L-shape sofa or curbside sofa bed, I had
to duck to avoid banging my head on the slide’s molding. Once that adjustment was made, I
rather enjoyed the configuration, which features a 40-inch LCD TV (part of the mandatory
$5,420 Hickory Package), optional electric fireplace ($1,295) and tons of room to spread
out. There is ample cabinetry here for components, DVD cases, books and anything else one
stores in an entertainment center.

 

montana_kitchen.jpgDown the steps from the living-room area is the galley.
The 12-cubic-foot four-door refrigerator is residential-quality, as are the convection
oven, standard oven and three-burner stove. Cooking a meal in this kitchen was virtually
the same as cooking at home.

 

A freestanding dinette housed in one of the Montana’s five
slides made for a nice enough place to eat when we weren’t dining al fresco.

 

The bathroom
is situated mid-coach, with no less than three doors (kitchen, bedroom and exterior) that
need to be secured to ensure uninterrupted privacy. However, once that privacy is
guaranteed you have a good-size area to take care of grooming and bathing duties, plus
there’s a tall cabinet behind the toilet for towels and a large cabinet across the way
that’s plumbed for a washer/dryer.

 2471707_ford_montana_bed.jpg

The master bedroom houses a gigantic wardrobe unit, with
three doors and nine drawers, the latter of which push in when the slides are retracted.
The optional king bed with pillow-top mattress ($310) is befitting of such a spacious
bedroom, and a finished, carpeted area below the bed is a good storage option. The bedroom
also includes a panorama picture window to take in the surroundings, with day-night shades
to ensure your privacy is maintained. A 19-inch LCD TV in the bedroom is standard, but
almost seems too small in the vast surroundings of the master area – but that’s not a bad
problem to have at all.

 

Ford has definitely come up big with the introduction of the 2011
Super Duty trucks. Many of the specs/prices aren’t available as of this writing but, by the
time you read this, a lot of the blanks should be filled in. The Keystone Montana Hickory
Edition 3750 FL has been fully outfitted with all the amenities a full- or long-timer could
need, plus it gets high marks for attention to detail both inside and out. Put the two
vehicles together, and you’re sure to be living large for many years to come.

 

Sources

Ford Motor Company, (800) 392-3673, www.ford.com.

Keystone RV Company, (574) 535-2100, www.keystonerv.com.

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