By H. Kent Sundling
New models, available a year from now, are bigger, stronger and high tech
In late September, Ford introduced its new Super Duty pickups at the State Fair of Texas. In addition to the fresh look and aluminum body, the big boys sport many of the same cab, bed and technology features and options found on the F-150.
One of the first updates you’ll notice about the Super Dutys is a boxer style. The F-250s and F-350s have a boxed frame, which is composed of 95% high-strength steel, making it up to 24 times stiffer than previous frames. An extra cross-member under the bed provides reinforcement for fifth-wheel or gooseneck towing. Chassis-cab models (F-350, F-450 and F-550) have a flat, thick C-channel frame from the back of the cab running the length of the bed.
The aluminum cab and bed construction shaves off 700 lb., but Ford reinvested 350 lb. to beef up the axles, frame, suspension and transfer case.
Sixteen years ago, the Ford Super Duty crew cab was the largest on the market, but as the competition evolved, it dropped to the smallest of the Detroit Three. The 2017 models take back the title. To steamline production, Ford now uses the same cabs on all their trucks, which means the Super Dutys sit higher and are 4" longer. On crew cab models, the second row floor is flat.
Ford is the only truck manufacturer that makes it’s own diesel engine, frame and transmissions. Engine choices don’t change much on the 2017 models. The base engine is the 6.2-liter V-8 followed by the 6.8-liter V-10, only available on the chassis cab models, and the 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbo-diesel. On the F-250, the 6.2-liter V-8 gasoline engine is paired with the TorqShift-G six-speed automatic transmission. Designed for more torque and power, the combination allows for a lower first gear for an easier start under load, faster upshift and more aggressive tow-haul mode. Horsepower, torque and fuel mileage figures weren’t available at press time.
Six-speed automatic transmissions are the line’s norm, which is a surprise since many half-ton brands offer eight speeds and the 2017 Ford Raptor will sport a 10-speed automatic next year.
When it comes to towing, up to seven cameras help eliminate any blind spots. Five cameras focus on the trailer. The optional second trailer plug, which is hardwired to the length of the trailer, allows the driver to monitor what’s going on at the rear of the trailer via an 8" screen on the dash. The new trailer cord also allows trailer tire pressure monitoring. Updated trailer towing and payload numbers haven’t been released.
Adaptive steering reduces the amount of wheel input needed when operating at low speeds and sensitivity to steering input at higher speeds.
Inside the cab, the 2017 Super Dutys mirror the F-150s. Auxiliary switches are integrated into the overhead console, and the trailer-brake controller has been moved closer to the driver.
The 2017 models will hit dealer lots in fall 2016.