Exploring The Texas King Ranch in a Ford King Ranch

Ford KR Trucks F350 4 II

By Sue Mead

Ford developed its first special-edition King Ranch pickup for the 2001 model year, and today, more than a decade later, its offspring include three luxury versions: an F-150 pickup, an F-Series Super Duty truck, and an Expedition SUV.

The King Ranch brand has been appealing to Ford buyers, and its heritage is similar to the actual family-run King Ranch, which is located in Kingsville, Texas, and which is known as the birthplace of the American ranching industry. The ranch is one of the oldest family corporations in the U.S., and is nearly the size of Rhode Island, a massive 825,000 acres of land that sprawls across six Texas counties. It comprises nearly 1,300 square miles in south Texas, several turf grass farms there, and has significant agriculture holdings in Florida.

The History

The Ranch dates to the middle of the 19th century, when Captain King was captivated by a region known as the Wild Horse Desert. King and his wife Henrietta developed the Ranch, regarded by many as the birthplace of some of the finest quarter horses in America.

Because Ford's design team used the King Ranch to "reinvigorate" and authenticate the update to the 2015 Ford F-Series Super Duty King Ranch edition, we drove the 2015 Ford F-350 King Ranch with the PowerStroke diesel engine to take a look at how the Ranch uses a fleet of more than 250 Ford pickups every day.

What drew Ford designers to the ranch for inspiration? "What really stood out is how prominent the 'Running W' is, and how it defines and unifies the ranch," said Barb Whalen, Ford color and material design manager. "Similarly, we wanted that brand to define the new Super Duty King Ranch." The Running W is actually the brand burned into cattle on the ranch.

On the new Super Duty King Ranch, that Running W is the focal point for the interior. It has been cut and stitched to make the seat backs and center console appear branded. What's new is a lighter, richer shade of Mesa leather that trims the seats, center console lid, armrests and steering wheel. The exterior has darker Caribou paint for the wheel lip moldings, bumpers and lower body, while the bed rail caps, bumper caps and running boards are trimmed in black, with Running W wheel caps.

Texas is a focal point for Ford, because more pickups are sold in Texas than any other state; in fact, it's the top truck market in the world. Not surprisingly, Texas is the top-selling market for Ford's F-Series trucks and its Expedition SUV, and the King Ranch is one of the top trims on the F-150, Super Duty trucks and the Expedition. Ford frequently conducts market research in Texas that helps shape future products.

The Ranch

Arriving at the ranch for our two-day visit, we learned that all the trucks and buses used by the Ranch are Ford King Ranch vehicles. "We depend very heavily on the durability and reliability of Ford vehicles," explained Dave DeLaney, the current VP and GM of the South Texas ranches. "This is very rugged country and we need trucks that can last."

King Ranch Chairman Jamey Clement agreed. "To us, there are so many similarities with Ford. We have the same value: taking care of people," explained the King family descendant. "What it's about is relationships and the more we understand each other, the more we get in a truck and it feels like 'us.' It's a way of life, and people want to be part of the winning team and want to experience it," he said. "What is the King Ranch 'family brand'? It's all interrelated; if you listen to our people talk, they say 'my truck, my cattle.'"

Finding the right partner is difficult, said Doug Scott, Ford Truck Group Marketing Manager. "We have a very select group of partners and the King Ranch is one of the few," Scott said. "It has to work right for us … with the idea of retailing and how it works for Ford dealers on the show room floor. One of the key tenets for us is brand authenticity and picking the right partners."

The Ride

How did the second-generation turbo-diesel 6.7-liter Powerstroke V8 Super Duty F-350 drive? We clocked from 14 to nearly 18 mpg on our highway drives, but we faced strong headwinds as we motored from Austin to the ranch, which borders the Gulf Coast. As we returned, we encountered heavy downpours, both of which took a nip out of the truck's fuel economy. Our luxury-laden Crew Cab model is a true boulevard-cruiser, with Clydesdale-like horsepower (440) and torque (860 pound-feet) and a host of electronic features like Bluetooth, navigation and the newly included MyFord Touch and Sync systems. 

What did we like best? The quietness of the interior, which has a plentiful array of nooks and cubbies for stowage, and the pickup's ergonomics. My driving partner and I are both height-challenged drivers and used the running boards to aid with getting in and out, we liked the adjustable pedals and height-adjustable seatbelts, as well as the overall ergonomics that provided good visibility and comfort in the leather-appointed Captain's Chairs. We came to the conclusion, after our time behind the wheel, that Captain King would have approved.

For more information about the 2015 Super Duty F-350 King Ranch Crew Cab, you can read about our first experience with the truck earlier this year. 

(Editor's note: Official Texas State Photographer, Wyman Meinzer, captured the spirit of Ford's long-standing partnership with the King Ranch in a series of photos of trucks at the Ranch. Those images can be found at: www.wymanmeinzer.com.)


Ford KR Trucks F350 2 IIa

F-350 Quik Specs

The 2015 Ford F-350 Super Duty, as tested:

  • $51,700 Base
  • $8,480 PowerStroke powertrain
  • $3,195 for the 4x4 package and options
  • $4,340 other assorted options
  • As tested: 14.8 MPG
  • Total: $65,715


Ford KR Trucks 1 II

  • In addition to its sales of top-of-the-line leather goods, luggage, and home furnishings, King Ranch is an agribusiness that has become a popular tourist and recreational hunting destination.


Ford KR Snakes II

  • Where the Running W Brand comes from remains a mystery. Some say it represents one of the ranch's many diamondback rattlesnakes or the ranch's Santa Gertrudis Creek, while others claim it signifies the sweeping horns of a Texas Longhorn bull.


Ford KR Trucks 5 II

  • "Kinenos or King's People" are families which have had enduring ties with the King family, dating back to the 1860s, when King recruited families in Las Cruillas, Mexico, to help him develop his ranch during a drought. Many have worked on the ranch or made their home on its grounds through several generations.


Ford KR Trucks F350 5 II

Ford KR Trucks F350 3 II

Ford KR Trucks F350 1 II

Ford KR Trucks 3 II

Ford KR cattle II



That's hilarious HemiV8. Tell us some more jokes.

8,500.00 for the engine...... to think I paid $7,500.00 in 79 for my Ford F 250.... Just insane.......

Looking at the amount of white trim inside the cab, I really don't think this would be a wise choice as to use a King Ranch as a work truck. It's a SUV that can tow a lot of weight.

I do like the PowerStroke diesels, they drive very well. Diesels seem to be an expensive option in the US. Hopefully as more are sold the prices will drop.

@Big Al--That is not white but light tan trim and yes most of these are not going to be used for work unless it is not dirty work but an executive perk or for a recreational vehicle to tow boats or trailers. In KY you see trucks like this towing horse trailers, RV trailers, or large boats. If you look at the actual King Ranch work trucks in the pictures they are mostly white. It is harder to find a actual work truck and it will even get harder in the future because the profit margin on Lariat and King Ranch trims is much more profitable. When you consider manufacturers average about 10k profit on these trucks it is a great incentive for them to sell as many of these trucks in the highest trim levels. If the Chicken Tax ever gets rescinded then the Chinese might enter the truck market--even at less profit the potential is very large. I think there could be a huge market for a real work truck.

I use a 2014 Longhorn 2500 6.4 in the northern Alberta oil patch and it gets used the same way a basic fleet truck does. We buy these for utility but also for comfort seeing as it doubles as your day home and office.

When I get back home with it it's just as muddy and beat down as the white painted McTrucks the fleets use. I'd never buy a fleet of high end trucks but some creature comforts go a long way in making working away in the northern patch a nicer place to be.

It's a mono black crew cab with cattle tan/ black interior. It takes more effort to keep clean but it cleans up fine. Being the owner/operator of it ensures it's not abused, scratched or dented. The original carpet mats were gone from day one and set of Husky Liners are in place front and back.

Many of these are used and worked but owners for the most part take extra care that fleet users won't.

@Jeff S
"KY you see trucks like this towing horse trailers, RV trailers, or large boats"
Definitely RV's here, not very much ,horse trailers or (called Horse Floats )in Australia or Boats
U.S Pickups have become very specific in use here, towing a Caravan/5th Wheeler or just driving around. 80% former 20% Latter

Papa Jim,
I'm really glad you are taking an interest in the quality of content being submitted by PUTC's users.

But the reality is even yourself do tend to wander of topic. I do think this is a very lame shot at a person with little substance in your argument.

To top it off I don't consider my comment regarding the colour of the interior of the King Ranch or my liking of the PowerStroke diesel offensive to anyone. If you do find my comment regarding the interior colour of the King Ranch offensive then I do apologise. Profoundly;)

I don't know how you came to this conclusion? Do you?

I'm responding to you in the same manner as I do Alex;) Get it?

I agree. The price of these trucks is out of control. If people would quit buying them the price would come down.

@magnum74--I can understand wanting the creature comforts in a work truck, especially heated seats in the Winter. It does seem that the price of these trucks put them out of reach for most of those who need a true work truck. There is an article on another website saying that car loans might be extended to 96 months to lower the monthly payments. It seems like something has to give.


I agree. The cost is ridiculous and I wouldn't have this truck if I was just rolling around getting groceries. In my situation, the truck pays it's own way plus a hefty oilfield discount at purchase.

I have a Grand Cherokee for around town which is a lot nicer day to day then the Ram behemoth. I use the Ram for recreational purposes at home too but I could get away with a 1/2 ton and less weight if I got out of the HD. A small diesel like a Colorado or Canyon is something I'd definitely look at in the future as well.

They'll gradually run out of ways to get people into new trucks. There's long term low rate financing coupled with large discounts. A guy can only keep flipping and taking a loss so many times. The truck market will balance with more economical choices over time. I love the big 6.4 truck but only a long as I'm in the field I am right now. If I get out of it I'll kick the 6.4 to curb and find a more economical solution myself.

I also have another vehicle I use to drive my wife around cause she's too beautiful to be seen riding around in my truck plus my truck is always dirty inside and I wouldn't want those precious buttocks sitting on a dirty seat in my truck.
I can relate with you.
My truck is my work truck.

Jeff S

Great article on 3D printing at Automotive News.

@big Al, and Papa Jim,

Can you guys go debate your shortcomings on another forum?

Back on topic, as long as people will pay for these nice trucks they will continue to cost that much and more, I cannot afford a new one, but a used low mileage one can be had for a lot less, which is exactly what I did.

$65,00 plus for a truck to deliver 14 mpg, you would have to be nuts to buy this over rated King Ranch. I drive a King Ranch for a company to tow their show trailer. My back aches after every trip and the ride without the trailer is so harsh, you better be buckled in or you are in trouble. And Ford's cruise control is not much to be desired. It ranges 8 mph above and below where you set it. When I get back in my Silverado after every trip in the Ford, I can feel the difference between the two pickups. And the Silverado wins hands down.

@ Greg, glad you like your Silverado. Never had a problem with the cruise control in my Ford. Rides a little rough here and there but hey its a truck. Gets the job done.

I find it surprisingly common to see fully loaded high level trim trucks being used for work. Self employed workers and contractors tend to go for the high end stuff. Base trucks are fleet favorites.
The king Ranch sounds huge if they use 250 trucks.

@Greg - In my part of the world I see mostly Ford and Ram trucks. GM/Chev used to be on par with Ford as far as truck sales go. It all changed around 2008.

@Papa Jim, where would we be without BAFO to keep us all in line? LOL! :)

Posted by: papa jim | Oct 26, 2014 6:53:47 PM
This was not me. I have not posted on this article.

I did, however, post the said comment several months ago:

I have to admit, the trolls here do have a unique sense of humour.

@papa jim , Alex - this site needs a secure log in process.

@Lou, I agree completely.

The article says the ranch relies heavily on the reliability and durability of the Ford trucks. I wonder how that worked out for them during the 6.0 and 6.4 years? 14.8 mpg is pathetic unless they were towing something.

I work with guys from Texas in the Marcellus Shale gas drilling business and all those guys drive Ram Trucks.
Maybe they like the Ram better cause the hemi engine is made in Mexico and that's close to Texas, huh?
No! That's not it cause when I tell them the hemi is made in Mexico they tell me I'm full of it.
Hey! You guys here in PUTC told me the hemi is made in Mexico and I trust you, I know that's true!
I was talking to a guy today about the 2015 Colorado and he was amazed how much I knew about it but I learned it from here on PUTC.
No! I didn't tell him that!

@Jake D--GE Aviation is using 3D printers to make parts for their jet engines. Jay Leno has used a 3D printer to make part molds for some of his car collection which some are one of a kind cars. If you have ever brought up his videos he has some really neat cars.

@Robert Ryan--Kentucky is horse country and there is the Ohio River, Kentucky lake, Lake Cumberland, and several other lakes. I can see a need for HD trucks with the size of the boats some have and with some of the large cattle and horse trailers.

The owner of the local landscape supply company I deal with buys King Ranches but he buys them when they are a couple of years old. He has 3 or 4 of them that he basically drives back and forth to work along with a Corvette. He also has a fleet of Kenworth dump trucks. You cannot believe how lucrative a landscape supply company is.

The real PapaJim responds

This is the first comment I've made on the PUTC site since they deleted one of my rather innocent remarks one day last week. WTF?

The posts today (above) ripping Big Al were not made by me.

Like the King Ranch people are gonna bite the hand that feeds them, don't think so. So do a real story about how much the ranch makes on copyrights and how many free pos they get from Ford! Now that would be a real story. Otherwise this was just another Ford advertisement.

Toyota made in Texas by Texans.

I agree with you.

I wonder who is the disruptive one?................. ;)

I do think it is only one or two people who are causing the problems.

Over the past couple of years or so, I have deduced that they also operate on PUTC under more civilised names.

I do think one of them isn't from the US either.

Hmmm......... It's getting easy to work this out. I do hope PUTC can nut this out as well.

As I've been told by PUTC they can't get a handle on the guy. I do think maybe Cars.com should employ someone or a business who can. It ain't rocket science.

Excuse the mistake, I meant GE in Evendale, OH not Avondale.

@Jeff S. - 3D printing technology is amazing. It is finding use in the medical profession as well.

JeffS - Big Al feeling the effects of isolation? ;)

@Lou_BC and Jeff S,
This might disappoint, but that comment wasn't mine.

Maybe PUTC can do a better job removing the comments that are posted by actually aligning the name against the email address.

I've did ask PUTC yesterday to remove that comment. They obviously have yet to do this.

@Big Al--I figured it wasn't you but then one can never be too sure. 3D printing is really revolutionary.

@Robert Ryan--Those are some nice rigs. Makes a King Ranch pale in comparison. Not knocking a KR just not in the same league.

@Jeff S.
They use a lot of different types of vehicles, to transport horses. Depends on the size and types of farms and the type of horse and where you are taking them

The largest ranch in BC is the Douglas lake Ranch at 425,000 acres. The next largest is the Gang Ranch at 38,000 acres. Both ranches are in the southern interior which are warmer more arid areas. If you head into the mountains or more forested areas you have to contend with wolves, cougars, and grizzle bears along with harsh winters.
The size of the King Ranch is impressive.

@Lou BC--Having lived in Texas for 29 years it is true that everything is bigger in Texas. I grew up in Texas. Texas is almost as big as France and Texans think of themselves as more of a country and not as a state which Texas was a Republic before it was a state. I had a boss many years ago that when he went through Canadian customs and was asked what country he was from he declared Texas--one custom agent looked baffled but the other laughed and said that Texas was so big that people from there thought it was a country. Most Texans have a lot of pride in their state more so than most states. Smart marketing on Ford's part especially since Texas is the largest market for trucks.

@Jeff S - funny story.
The husband of my wife's cousin is a CEO of a shipping company with ead office in Texas. He has a lot of interesting stories about managing a US/Canadian company. There were those that felt a call centre for their entire operations located in Texas was the best option but he argued that there are significant local differences within the USA and Canada. He had a meeting where an executive from the Eastern Canadian coast was present and some Texans present and they could not understand each other even though they were speaking English. it proved his point and also proved why he was the best one to be CEO. It is a hilarious story if you are good at imitating Texan and "Newfie" accents.

They are so overpriced they are ridiculous. Nothing on four wheels is worth that money.

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