DALLAS, TX. – There’s probably isn’t a more appropriate place to introduce a new truck than in Texas, the heart of truckin’ country in America, so picking the Texas State Fair as the venue to take the wraps off the next-generation F-Series Super Duty lineup was a no-brainer for Ford.
The big Blue Oval has been the dominant badge in the heavy-duty segment for years, yet this is the first ground-up redo for the Super Duty since it was launched in 1999. So while the current iteration has proven to be one tough truck, the all-new 2017 models take toughness to a new level.
For starters, the backbone of the F-250, 350 and 450 pickups is a fully-boxed frame comprised of 95% high-strength steel. (Super Duty chassis cabs get the new chassis up front, with an open-C-channel frame beyond the cab to simplify aftermarket fitments.)
Ford engineers say the new HSS frame is up to 24 times stiffer than the current chassis, enhancing its towing and hauling capabilities. No specific capacity numbers have been released, but Ford demonstrated the strength of the frame by suspending a stack of trucks totaling more than 27,200 kilograms from the new chassis. It didn’t appear to flex or bend a bit.
Following the lead of its F-150 sibling, the stronger frame is topped with a new cab and box structure formed from high-strength aluminum, which Ford says is more resistant to dents and dings than the current steel body and doesn’t succumb to red rust corrosion. In fact, the lighter-duty pickup is sharing its cab structure with the new heavy-duty F-Series, resulting in a sleeker design that’s also larger than the current generation.
Longer and roomier
The Super Cab is now 152.4 millimetres longer, the regular cab gains 101.6 mm and the Crew Cab adds 76.2 mm. Both the Super Cab and Crew Cab now have flat floors in the rear, allowing for easier loading of bulky items when the rear seats are flipped up.
The interior has been redone, incorporating many of the design features of the F-150 cabin. Some traditional Super Duty features have been carried over, including the dual-compartment glove-box and a panel of six auxiliary switches, although the latter has been moved overhead. The integrated trailer brake controller has been relocated closer to the driver.
One handy new feature is a foldable storage bin under the rear bench seat. When the bin is upright and the seat is in its normal position, the bin becomes a lockable storage area.
Five trim levels
The Super Duty cab is now offered in five trim levels – XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum.
No aerodynamic numbers have been released but visually, the new cab looks like it has a more aero-efficient shape. The windshield is more raked and the domed hood, which has distinguished the current generation from its F-150 sibling, is gone.
Several upgrades have been added to the cargo box, including Ford’s BoxLink cargo system of metal brackets and custom cleats, a remote tailgate lock and release, dampened tailgate and LED lighting. The folding rear step built into the tailgate has been redesigned so the tailgate surface is flat and unobstructed.
For 2017, the suspension continues to be leaf springs in the back and coil springs up front, but the lineup also gets a heftier driveline, axles, four-wheel-drive components and towing hardware.
These upgrades have been added to handle the new Super Duty’s increased payload and towing capacities. Despite beefing up these components, the overall weight of the truck has been reduced up to 158.76 kg, thanks to the use of aluminum and high-strength steel.
Three powertrains will be offered. Ford’s 6.7-litre Powerstroke V-8 diesel, enhanced for more horsepower and torque, is available in the pickups and chassis cabs; a 6.2-litre gasoline-fuelled V-8, with increased power, is available in the F-250 pickup; and a 6.8-litre V-10 gasoline engine is available in the chassis cabs.
Six-speed automatic transmissions are paired to all three engines. (No horsepower or torque ratings have been released.)
Adaptive steering, similar to the system introduced on the new Edge, changes the steering ratio as vehicle speed increases, easing the turning effort at low speeds and reducing the need for corrections at higher speeds.
The new Super Duty Series is packed with advanced technologies. Front-mounted radar measures and adapts to the distance and speed of the vehicle ahead when the adaptive cruise control is activated, as does the collision warning system with brake support. The cruise control will maintain speed even downhill with a heavy payload or trailer attached.
An industry-leading innovation with the blind-spot monitoring system is its ability to check the area not just beside the truck, but beside the trailer as well. Radar sensors built into the taillights monitor areas that may not be visible to the driver. There’s also a system that monitors not only the truck’s tire pressures, but the trailer tires as well.
With up to seven cameras on board, the driver has access to a full 360-degree view of the area around the truck that’s displayed on a new eight-inch touch-screen in the centre stack.
One camera is built into the front grille and it has its own washer jet to clear away dirt and debris. A pair of cameras are mounted in the exterior mirrors to help monitor along the sides of the truck, while a camera mounted in the inside rearview mirror provides input for the lane departure warning system.
A camera mounted above the overhead rear brake light peers into the cargo box, aiding the hook up with a gooseneck or fifth-wheel hitch. Another lens on the tailgate, along with a bright LED light, provides the same assistance when backing up and/or hooking up to a traditional ball hitch. Finally, a new camera kit will be available for mounting on the rear of the trailer to provide a view behind the trailer – a very practical innovation.
Consumers, even truckers, expect an advanced infotainment system in today’s vehicles – and the new Super Duty doesn’t disappoint. A new SYNC 3 system provides faster performance, conversational voice recognition and user-friendly graphical interface.
The new Super Duty Series trucks, which will be built at Ford’s Kentucky truck plant, will go on sale late next year.