Last year, Ford rocked the conservative, evolutionary pace of change in the U.S. pickup-truck arena with the introduction of a radically new, aluminum-bodied F-150 family.
And now it’s following suit in the heavy-duty segment, with fully redesigned 2017 Ford F-Series Super-Duty trucks that build on some of those same developments—but of course with added attention to the even higher layload and towing capacity (and durability) that commercial users demand.
In what may be the biggest differentiator between the light-duty (F-150) pickups and the Super Duty models, which will again include F-250, F-350, F-450, and F-550 models, and ‘dually’ versions of some, the Super-Duty trucks stay with big-displacement V-8 and V-10 engines. The automaker hasn’t yet revealed power and torque specs—bound to change versus the current trucks—but has said that the lineup will include the 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8 turbo-diesel, as well as naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V-8 and 6.8-liter V-10 gasoline engines.
It’s likely a smart move, and a nod to market realities. Ford has dramatically downsized (and turbocharged) some of the engine lineup in its light-duty F-150 pickups, and while the automaker has gone to great lengths to show that its EcoBoost V-6 engines are up to the task of serious, long-distance towing tasks. owners will readily admit that much of those engines’ fuel economy advantage disappears when there’s something hooked up to the hitch or loading up the bed.
Like F-150, aluminum body, steel frame
Just as with the F-150, Ford describes the aluminum body as being made of “millitary grade” aluminum, while Super Duty trucks—including a Chassis Cab model—will ride on an all-new frame made of high-strength steel. Altogether, the new fundamentals save up to 350 pounds versus the current 2016 trucks.
F-250 versions of the Super Duty, with the 6.2-liter V-8, will include a new TorqShift-G transmission, an all-new six-speed automatic that’s designed especially for truck needs. There’s also a new steering system that varies the amount of steering assist depending on vehicle loading.
Towing and hauling ability, across the Super Duty models, is expected to be better than before, while these trucks get a new BoxLink system, with brackets and cleats, that helps secure a wide range of cargo possibilities. There’s also, for the first time, a remote tailgate lock and release—and as in a number of current pickup models, the tailgate action is now damped.
Design often feels like an afterthought in pickups—especially commercial models—yet Ford has put a little bit more attention into functional details here, with new quad-beam LED headlamps and taillamps, LED cargo-box lighting, and LED side-mirror spotlights.
Three cab styles, and way more features this time around
There will be three cab layouts for the Super Duty trucks: Regular, SuperCab, and Crew Cab. All three of them are longer than before, and Ford has given them some of the upgraded trims and layout of the recent F-Series redesign. There’s a dual-compartment glovebox, and SuperCab and Crew Cab models have flat-folding second-row seats for larger cargo that goes inside.
The F-Series Super Duty lineup is offered with the new Sync 3 infotainment system, with an improved, streamlined interface and eight-inch touch screen. And across XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum trims, we expect the range of features and comfort items to pretty much measure up to those offered in the F-150—quite a departure from the past, when the Super Duty trucks were equipped in more spartan fashion.
Safety gets a serious step up, too. There are as many as seven cameras in all in the Super Duty, including a 360-degree camera system that combines the view of four cameras to give a bird’s-eye view around the truck, while these trucks will offer an industry-first fully integrated trailer camera, which you can separately attach to the trailer. And for the first time the Super Duty lineup gets on the active-safety bandwagon, with the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) and Lane Departure Warning helping to prevent lane-change or fatigue-related mishaps, while adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support helps warn the driver of a possible collision and provides peak braking performance the moment the pedal is pressed.
The Super Duty trucks go on sale later in calendar year 2016.