How Ford Threw Away the Old Super Duty and Started From Scratch
Ford‘s new 2017 Super Duty range marks the first time since 1999 that the truckmaker started from scratch and built an all-new pickup.
For the first three generations of the heavy duty pickup, Ford largely used the same frame it had first developed for the Super Duty range when it split the series off from the F-150. Now, engineers at Ford have gone to an all new structure that makes the truck lighter, stiffer, and stronger for the first time in the history of the range.
How did they do it? Here are eight ways the Super Duty is now one of the toughest trucks on the planet, able to tow a small village or relocate a forest of evergreens in a single (power) stroke.
1. Hip to be square
For 2017, Ford introduced a new fully boxed frame with closed C-channels and closed-section crossmembers to stiffen its chassis by 24 times over the last generation. Engineers also added two more through-welded crossmembers to the frame for increased strength. The chassis is roughly 95 percent high-strength steel (up from 15 percent from the last generation) and 2.5- and 3.0-inch crossmembers help it haul up to 32,500 pounds in F-450 configuration.
2. All in the family
For the first time in the Super Duty lineup’s history, its cabs are shared with the F-150. That keeps the cost of engineering down and helps the Super Duty range keep pace with the F-150’s updates and improvements.
3. Lights, cameras, tow
Up to seven cameras are available on the new Super Duty range, including three cameras specifically designed to help hitching up to and towing a trailer. A tailgate-mounted camera helps hitching to a conventional trailer, with a recognition system borrowed from the F-150 to help the Super Duty recognize and adjust its blind-spot monitors depending on trailer length. (Up to 10 trailers can be saved in the system.) A Center High-Mounted Stop Light (CHMSL) camera placed high above the bed helps align gooseneck/fifth-wheel trailers for hookup, and an optional factory-installed owner-placed trailer camera can provide an unobstructed view behind the trailer during towing.
4. Robust rump
Ford increased the tube size on its front axles to help it achieve a 7,500-pound front gross axle weight rating (GAWR) on chassis-cab configured models. The rear axles — which are either Sterling or Dana, depending on configuration — have upgraded housings and increased ring gears diameters to help tow more than 30,000 pounds.
5. Fight for might
Ford’s biggest claim with its new Super Duty comes from its next-generation turbodiesel V-8 found under the hoods of some F-250 and F-350 models. The Power Stroke V-8 diesel creates up to 925 pound-feet of torque and 440 horsepower. It’s mated to a TorqShift 6-speed automatic, but before you get drunk on all that power: Ford tells us that the full 925 lb-ft of twist isn’t available in the first three gears. That kind of muscle has the ability to rip a transmission to shreds.
6. Slimmer body, fatter chassis
Like the F-150 before it, the 2017 Ford Super Duty will extensively use aluminum for its body panels to help shed weight. In the biggest trucks, that’s resulted in a 350-pound weight savings. Going on a diet may not mean much for people who need the Super Duty trucks to relocate entire planetary systems, but shaving body weight has let engineers put more metal into the chassis without a fuel economy penalty.
7. Comforts for creatures
Ford’s redesigned Super Duty interior borrows heavily from the F-150 in terms of ergonomics and infotainment. A new Sync3 touchscreen infotainment system is the hub for most of the tech features, but the Super Duty has added an available 8.0-inch driver information screen that displays fuel consumption, towing information, engine and transmission temperatures, and other vehicle information. If you’re worried that Ford has churched up its work truck, don’t stress: Vinyl floors are available all the way up to Platinum editions.
8. Yes, you’re in range
On four-door trucks equipped with a long bed, Ford will make available a 48-gallon tank that can increase cruising range of the Super Duty all the way up to 1,000 miles depending on load and towing. That’s a 16-hour non-stop journey from Chicago to Denver — assuming your bladder doesn’t need to empty well before you reach your destination.