Heavyweight Ford pickup trucks get a new look and fresh capabilities
It’s hard to believe, but Ford’s burly Super Duty pickups have been hauling loads across America without a redesign since 2008, and some components of that truck stretch back to the 1999 Super Duty. The Super Duty has aged well because Ford made significant upgrades along the way. A new 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel arrived in 2011, and in 2013 Ford tuned the monster to deliver 440 hp and a stout 860 lb-ft of torque.
The truck market is cutthroat competitive, of course, so for 2017, Ford has a new Super Duty packing even more grunt under the hood, a stronger frame and — you guessed it — an aluminum body. Just like its little brother F-150, the new Super Duty uses aluminum-alloy body panels. In fact, much of the new cab’s structure is shared with the F-150. For example, the door design is nearly identical. Because the new Super Duty borrows the F-150’s structure, the cabs are all longer than before, contributing to increased legroom — the Crew Cab, for instance, is 4 inches longer. Using the same cab for both trucks likely saves Ford money, but a benefit for the buyer, Ford truck spokesman Mike Levine says, is that Ford can bring innovations and updates to both trucks more quickly.
There are 16 segment-first new features – from LED lighting to adaptive cruise control – that assist Super Duty drivers to make driving and work situations easier and more comfortable.
Aero numbers aren’t yet available, but this new truck appears sleeker. Viewed alongside the outgoing Super Duty, the windshield is laid back at a far steeper angle. The side windows are also shorter, and the hood is flat. For the first time, this big truck loses its big rig-style hood — that raised center section has been a Super Duty design element since ’99. Thanks largely to all the aluminum, Ford says it saved “up to 350 pounds” compared to the old truck. The “up to” means depending on equipment; some trucks save fewer pounds.
The new truck’s revisions are not just skin deep. The frame is new, fully boxed and built from 95 percent high-strength steel. Because of all that boxing, it’s also heavier. The company says this new one is 24 times stiffer than the old frame; that should provide a robust platform for the suspension.
The new truck line features heavier-duty four-wheel-drive components, driveline, axles and towing hardware.
Here, Ford doesn’t stray too far from the past. Peek underneath 4WD models and you’ll find a solid axle at each end. Conventional leaf springs handle suspension duties in the rear with coil springs and radius arms locating the front axle as before. Ford says the axle specs are beefier than the outgoing model, so we expect higher tow ratings and payloads than the existing Super Duty.
Ford isn’t yet ready to reveal horsepower and torque numbers, but the engine lineup includes the gas 6.2-liter V8 as well as second-generation 6.7-liter Power Stroke V8 diesel with, according to Ford, “the highest combination of horsepower and torque ever.” Since the ’16 Ram delivers a whopping 900 lb-ft, Ford’s torque rating better be amazing. Regardless of output, all Super Duty trucks still use six-speed automatic transmissions.
As many as seven cameras help customers see more angles and monitor conditions surrounding the truck, and provide better trailering than ever before.
The new truck is packed with tech, including LED lighting, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning. The Super Duty still uses a hydraulic steering system, but an optional adaptive steering system uses a tiny electric motor in the steering column to provide additional assist at low speeds.
Any heavy duty truck’s core capability is towing, and customers want the tow experience to produce far fewer sweaty palms than ever before. The new truck has up to seven cameras for 360-degree monitoring of just about everything around. There’s even a camera in the center high-mounted stop lamp on the back of the cab to help guide gooseneck hitches. Ford puts some emphasis on the trailers, too: One of those seven cameras is offered in kit form to mount to your trailer. There’s also an optional in-cab tire-pressure monitoring system for trailer tires. The blind-spot warning system includes areas along the side of the trailer, too; it should make weekend haulers happy.
All-new 2017 Ford F-Series Super Duty offers a new interior design, including a dual compartment glove box and overhead console-mounted auxiliary switches to operate aftermarket equipment.
The instrument panel inside is largely an F-150 duplicate, but Ford decided to keep the dual glove box design from the old truck. Auxiliary switches (there are six) move from the dash up to an overhead console. The Supercab and Crew Cab floors are flat so items can be more easily loaded.
Ford says the new Super Duty has today’s trim lineup: XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum. They’ll be on sale late next year.